It’s not all freewheeling and cartwheels in the land of blogging. There are challenges and genuine conflicts that rage behind the scenes as well as in front of the scenes.
Technical Issues – you finish a terrific blog post and discover your server is down. Or Facebook is showing the wrong thumbnail image for your post. Strange code appears on your page. Spellcheck isn’t working. Images won’t upload. There’s a conflict between the draft on your phone app and the draft on your laptop. Welcome to the wonderful world of learning how to DIY techie stuff. This tends to happen more often than not when your post is incredibly relevant and needs to be published NOW.
Haters Gonna Hate – back in the day, I permitted pretty much any comment to be shared. Now, I shut that down quick. Every comment requires people to log in and get approval before it shows up. I don’t approve comments that are ugly and/or are clearly messages to me. Message received, but nope, not gonna post it. I now realize that with Facebook and Twitter, people have their own opportunities and spaces to share whatever they have to say. I’m happy to engage in a dialogue, but not lend my resources to a diatribe that is vicious.
Emotional Toll – writing about violence and death is difficult. That seems obvious, but I until I began more diligently working to document the lives and deaths of members of our community lost to violence, I didn’t really get what difficult means. Each time I learn about a new death or a new violent incident, my heart flip-flops. I feel anger and sadness surging inside me, in part due to the tragedy and in part due to the pattern of tragedies. When I write these posts, I search for details about the victims and survivors. I don’t make assumptions about their gender identity or sexual orientation; I try to confirm both and other elements of their identities. I search for photos, links to fundraisers or vigils, and I try to put their loss into the larger context as I see it. Those steps help me channel my own emotional response. I don’t blog about every death, I skew more towards the deaths that are most often overlooked. And I try to express my rage without tipping my hand too often to make it about my feelings. But stuffing that down inside has a tendency to erode me from the inside.
Benefit of the Doubt – I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. People are 150% in my corner when I’m blogging about a topic they champion (such as the EQT Delta relationship) and turn on a dime when I’m asking them uncomfortable questions. This has happened over and over again since 2006, so it is not about any one person or any one organization/issue. I get that someone might not be pleased to be the focus on awkward questions, but I get exhausted with the response. Certainly, I’m not immune from criticism, mistakes, errors, fuckups, and the institutional fallout of racism, ableism and more. I don’t want credit for good intentions when I write something racist. I do want credit for good intentions when I ask a question about a policy matter that isn’t transparent. And sometimes it would be nice if people realized that after 12 years of municipal blogging, I have a perspective that most people don’t. I don’t expect people to agree with me or even support me, but it would be nice if they didn’t hurl accusations about my intentions.
Working for Free – when I began in 2005, I had a FT job. In 2011, I was disabled and now my income is less than 50% of what I earned when working. Ledcat works, but for the City so there are no merit raises or bonuses or anything like that. We get by just fine, but the costs of blogging take a bigger chunk of my actual funds than they did 12 years ago. I used to be able to attend fundraisers and events without stressing, but now I cannot. I crafted the ‘Social Media Sponsorship’ idea to address this, bartering tickets and ads for promotions. I do a lot of crowdfundraising management to invest in the community. And I more actively ask people for donations for general blogging & for specific projects. I don’t want to be paid to sit around on my couch and surf the Internet. That’s a gross mischaracterization of what I’m doing and what I’m asking. If you want me to blog about your event or activity, please be mindful of the bigger picture.
Time – there’s never enough time to write all of the posts. I can feel this most acutely when I realize I haven’t touched my library books in days or weeks. I used to feel compelled to blog every single day about everything. I wrote link roundups, what “i missed” posts, and so much more. Posting on social media channels has helped reduce that problem, but in 2017 Western Pennsylvania has no LGBTQ media outlets at all. In 2005, we had two and eventually three. We have only three outlets that use the GLAAD style media guide (WESA, City Paper, and PublicSource) and only 2 openly LGBTQ journalists working for mainstream outlets. We have the Erie Gay News newsletter, the Johnstown based Keystone Alliance website, and the QueerPgh website. And we have blogs. This is a tremendous issue, but not one with a clear solution.
Blogging’s Bad Reputation – many sites consider blogs to be ‘self-promotion’ and ban links. See pretty much every subReddit and many Facebook groups. I have been asked repeatedly (not by the same person) to post the entire contents of a post, such as an AMPLIFY Q&A, versus posting a link. I don’t do that because AMPLIFY is an archive, not a series of single posts. I just bow out of that group to avoid mistakenly breaking the rule. But why the hate on all blogs?
Web guys – I’ve been with my same webhost since 2005. It’s a gay owned company which I like and the owner has been pretty responsive to me, plus he’s fun to talk politics with. I’ve learned a lot of techie stuff on my own, but recently had to find a new web design/master to work with. It took weeks because most of the Word Press folks were too busy to take on new clients, especially since my gig is small. I finally found a friend of a friend who has been doing great. But there’s another bill to pay. And I hope he doesn’t go anywhere.
That’s a lot of complaining. But the prompt asked.
If I had a handful of wishes of what I’d like to see happen for blogging:
- Funding locally (Pgh region) to help actual blogs address actual blog issues. We need a local PR firm to specialize in working with local blogs,both for special event coverage and coordinating local ad revenue.
- Funding nationally to help LGBTQ blogs flourish and grow. If the national LGBTQ donors funded blogs to the tune of a few thousand a year (even as ad revenue), imagine what an impact that could have on their ground game?
- Education to help people export Facebook data to a blog so they can preserve it on their own terms.
- More political blogs on a local level. We need more discourse.
This post is part of my National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) efforts. I set a goal to blog daily throughout November and to find 30 new donations to our #AMPLIFY project. Will you join us by making a donation of $10 or $25 right now?