For this week’s Discover Challenge:
For this Discover challenge, think about the ways you’ve connected — big or small — to others through blogging (or any online community or outlet). Was it an unexpected thoughtful comment from a reader in a different country? A series of tweets with a celebrity or person you admire? An online exchange that led you to meet someone in real life — and become dear friends? Tell us that story, or show us what that connection looks or feels like, in any format you prefer.
I have two related stories with a common thread when it comes to connections, the common thread (or “nostalgic hip”) being my blog, and the connections being the concept of commenting and the connection of family.
First up, commenting…
I have my own blog, and like every good writer/blogger/contributor that spends enough time in this medium, I have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Facebook page for my blog, Pinterest, Google+, and a You Tube account. I promote the heck out of my blog, and while I do have a small but mighty fanbase, I get likes, the occasional comment, and if I’m really lucky, my stuff get shared. I would love to do better, but I’m happy with how my blog has grown since I re-established myself on WordPress last year.
I began writing for Retroist last summer, as a way to flex my nostalgic muscles and connect with other nostalgia writers and readers. I didn’t expect much to come of the opportunity, but was surprised at the connections I’ve made.
I’ve gotten likes and reads from people I don’t know, who are friends with the moderators and other writers. I’ve seen comments. I’ve seen people say “Hey, I remember that!” I’ve made connections with others. I converse with them through things we post on Facebook.
A connection feels like you’ve made an impact on someone’s life, no matter how small. If I’m the reason someone remembers a little piece of obscure nostalgia, or reconnects with their childhood in some way, and the reaction is positive, then my day is made. Of course, my day is made when I hit “publish” or “submit for approval” (when I’m over on Retroist), but it is the reaction I get for my work that makes the day even better.
And my second story, about the connections of family…
As a writer with a nostalgic focus, it is one thing to dig into the past of pop culture, it is a whole other beast to dig into a personal past, especially when family is involved.
When I memorialized my maternal grandmother last year, the outpouring of compliments was overwhelming. At the time that I wrote it, I was planning to stop writing, or just do it sporadically. I knew 98% of the people who responded to it (family members, some related to my grandma, others were from my dad’s side), but there was a 2% that I didn’t know – friends of my mom’s relatives and my dad, from when they shared the post on their Facebook pages. I was at a low point in my life emotionally (I ended an unhappy relationship the day before my grandma died), and I just felt the need to pour it all out in a blog post.
I filed the post away (having written it two days after Grandma died), and waited until after I got home from the funeral to publish it. And even then, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. Part of me said “no one reads your stuff anyway, why would a personal story be any different?” and another part said “let people see it. If no one reads it, you’ll know that you said what you needed to say.”
I never expected the response to be so huge. (Related: The Tribute I Almost Didn’t Publish…)
It seems strange, but the response of my family actually overwhelmed me (not true of people I don’t know, I’m used to getting responses from people I don’t know). My writing gift is my own, and not something I have in common with my family. Given the material I regularly write about, I was expecting no one to notice it. They did. And like I said, they shared it. For a few days, I felt connected to my family for saying something about a woman we all loved dearly.
It’s important to be connected to those we love. I admit, I’m not always good at it myself when it comes to family other than my parents and brother. I’d love to do better, but that is not always possible when people keep the schedules that they do. Normal life doesn’t always allow for constant connection, and that’s where a familial/blood connection tends to be stronger.