Have you ever done a Myers-Briggs personality test? A friend of mine told me about them so I gave it a go, for a bit of fun. The result was a type called ENFP. To cut a long story short, my type is the most introverted of the extrovert types. It makes a fair bit of sense to me.
My personality, who I am, is why I write here about absolutely anything I want to. I rarely shy away from any topic. Deleting and blocking trolls is not a problem. I don’t hesitate in publishing anything unless I don’t feel up to arguing with detractors. I’ve written things that lost me Facebook fans or Twitter followers with honestly zero fucks given. Those people aren’t who I write my stuff for, anyway.
My personality is also why I can walk into a room full of people, even people I know, and head straight for a quiet corner. I love talking to people and socialising but it can be overwhelming at first. I’m the person at the edge of the swimming pool, easing my toes in slowly and dreading getting to hip level because it will be so cold. I know, though, that once I dive in, it will be amazing.
It’s just much easier for me to bash out my thoughts on a keyboard. If I’m angry, sad, tired, amused, bored, watching too much television or reading a book, this is where I end up.
Initially, this website started because I was angry. I’d been angry at David Koch for telling breastfeeding women to be discreet when feeding in public. I co-organised a protest and before you could quote the relevant section of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, I found myself in the paper, on the radio and on t.v, trying to politely tell Kochie what was wrong with his views. I just kind of kept running with that.
For ages, I wrote to an audience of about 3 people, including me. I didn’t care too much because I was amusing myself. Slowly, that changed. My readership (That’s you! Hi!) is still very small compared to some, but that’s not a huge concern. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I can live with that! This website chronicles lots of my thoughts and opinions, but also chronicles the evolution of what inspires me to write at all. I slowly started to build an audience and connect with people through the comments and social media. Those connections have become more important and my focus has shifted from entertaining myself by prattling of whatever was in my head to actually trying to provoke thought. The other focus is giving a voice to issues that are important to me because there is a good chance they are important to other people as well.
Inspiration is commonly served in bite-sized portions in our social media feeds. Quotes, from the pithy to the profound, plastered over pretty pictures. These morsels are intended to provide inspiration for everything, from being a nicer person to having a more socially acceptable bum size. That’s not the kind of inspiration I aim for, though I’m not against a good quote. The only inspiration I hope to provide is the inspiration to think. Putting opinions out into the world means you’ll certainly encounter people that disagree with you, and that’s okay. The dialogue of those disagreements has value. People who read articles online might never comment on them but that doesn’t mean they aren’t reading the comments sections. Taking the time to bring balance to a discussion by disputing a harmful opinion may well inspire a change of heart or mind.
Social media is a varied landscape of memes, personal updates and pictures, among other things. It’s also a place we share pieces of writing that resonate with us, for whatever reason. There’s something pretty cool about reading something that aligns with our views. Lots of people have strong views on things but don’t have the time or the inclination to write them down. Opinion pieces can sometimes hit on something a lot of people are thinking about or feeling. If people read something that strikes a chord with them, they comment or share because what they’ve read helps to validate their own beliefs.
Validation is very much a two-way street. I might not hesitate in hitting the publish button but I often have only a vague notion (if any) on what the reception will be. One time, I had a light-hearted gripe about being a shift worker. My list of grievances has been viewed over 60,000 times and was shared on Facebook over 25,000 times. This showed me that, although it wasn’t going to change the world, I wasn’t alone! Another time, I asked why the Australian Financial Review kept giving Mark Latham a platform to denigrate women. The AFR republished a version of that, Women’s Agenda republished it in full and Mark Latham himself hit my comments section, which gave lots of readers a chance to share their views with him.
Just a few days ago, I wrote about why we need to stop defending blackface. It’s been shared a few thousand times and gotten people talking. Plenty of people still think it’s totally fine to use race and skin colour as a costume, but I saw at least one person change their mind in the comments. I almost fell off my chair. What could be more validating than someone actually taking in what you’ve said?
This is the other reason I’m here, bashing out my thoughts every week. It’s not always deep and meaningful. Sometimes it’s a bit of a laugh at the kids driving me up the wall. Other times I’m excited about a movie I saw or a book I read. Sometimes I’m just having a whinge for the hell of it. Even when it’s a bit of light-hearted fluff, it’s still about relating to other people. Blogging is about community. The community of writers who support each other and the communities we build around our blogs. Communities are good for inspiration and validation, for sure- but it’s also great to have a community that can engage over the smaller stuff, too. What I’m getting at is pretty simple. This isn’t a completely self-indulgent waffle about my blog. If you’re thinking about writing stuff, you should. It’s great. It can be as big or as small as you like. Find a niche- or don’t! Whatever floats your bloggy boat!
#IBOT @ Kylie Purtell.
This blog post was written as part of a competition sponsored by ProBlogger, Shoebox Timeline and The Good Guys.