I got a notification today to tell me that today is my three year blog-iversary.
(Pretty sure they didn’t phrase it like that.)
There’s a lovely story in that, about how blogging has changed my life – which it has – but that’s not a very interesting story for anyone other than me, really, or at least it’s not yet.
But I wanted to mark the occasion by writing something less introspective about writing.
Writing is interesting now in a way that it wasn’t, twenty years ago. Writing is more democratic, more mainstream, more accessible. Twenty years ago, no one was tweeting, no one was blogging, no one was setting up Tumblrs to showcase weird punctuation mistakes on food packets. People were writing, but unless you were a writer, or a journalist, it was very hard to get your writing read. An audience is not a necessity – which is dead lucky for me, with my teeny-weeny blog audience, but writing for any audience is a powerful thing. And since the internet happened (again, that’s technical phrasing) it’s a powerful thing that’s been possible for many, many more people. Normal, non-journalist, non-famous, non-literary-giant, ordinary people.
And it’s no surprise that this kind of accessibility has encouraged a kind of writing that focuses on the ordinary, the everyday things. It’s easy to mock people who -ahem- instagram their cats/children/snacks all the bloody time, but the flipside of all of this ordinary writing and recording is that it gives ordinary life, and ordinary people a platform .
Not many of us lead extraordinary lives, or have important things to say all the time. The people who do, they still have a platform, and a voice. We’re still listening. That’s why I read books and newspapers and always, always the shiny bits of the Sunday papers, still.
But now, the vast majority of people also have a platform. Maybe it’s much smaller and you can’t see many people from it, but the opportunity is there in a way it didn’t used to be. The people who want to talk about that funny time when the toddler took all her clothes off in M&S, or the appalling pasta bake they made for tea. Or rant about the small, medium and large unfairnesses in the way of things. The people who want to tell you, or not you, but somebody, that they have ideas, and thoughts and opinions and reflections; that they’ve found meaning in their experience, or something that’s happened to them.
You can listen, or not, read it, or not. But they’re saying it. They have a voice.
And I think that is just brilliant.
For a long time I’ve been slightly obsessed with an essay by Raymond Williams called ‘Culture is Ordinary.’ (1958)
In it, he says (alongside lots of other brilliant things)
“Culture is meaning generated by ordinary men and women.”