Thursday, 4 December 2014

How to Not Completely Lose Your Shit as an Online Creator


I think one of the biggest things I've come to realise from my years of blogging, is that:

Choosing the life of an online content creator is not to be taken light-heartedly.

As a person of the internet, not only do you have to be on your A-game and working pretty much 24 hours a day (or schedule your content to post as you sleep), you constantly have the pressure to be relevant, you serve yourself on a silver platter for untold amounts of abuse, trolling and anon hate mail, and you're pretty much signing yourself up to be professionally deluded about reality.


And unless you have Benedict-Cumberbatch-Sherlockian levels of self-awareness, self-assurance and self-control, it's pretty much impossible not to get completely overwhelmed every now and again, 'cause it's all just too damned much.

Trust me, I've been there, done that, messed around, now I'm having fun, don't put me down. Wait those are La Roux lyrics aren't they. Anyway.

I guess you can look at the internet, especially in online creative communities such as blogging, a bit like a black hole. It's this swirling, fascinating, intoxicating prospect.. but the deeper you go, the higher the stakes, the stronger the pressure, the fiercer the competitiveness and the intensity borders on crippling.

And get in too deep, it will consume you. 

I can pinpoint the exact moment with pristine clarity, that I realised the internet had totally fucked me up.

It was earlier this year, I'd just celebrated my first anniversary of having a blog, and more than ever I was determined to grow it into something big. My content was straying left right and center as I tried to find my voice and discover what category I'd eventually be able to lump myself in, when during a Twitter blog chat, someone posted the question 'Out of curiosity, would anyone say their blog is the most important thing in their life?'

With smug little fingers, I eagerly responded that I did.

And if it was a movie, there would be this shot of me looking down at my laptop screen with a twitching smile and Jack Nicholson eyes as my entire room explodes around my head in slow motion, and I don't even flinch, hands in crooked claws above my keyboard.

Because whilst all of my attention was focused on piling useless, meaningless content into a blog that had completely convoluted into this weird, desperate space devoid of any worth, my entire life was falling apart before my oblivious eyes. What had become an obsession with building this future, was completely derailing my present. I had completely shifted my life priorities into a very problematic order, ruining friendships and relationships with my selfishness, and screwing up monumentally at Uni because I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to give a shit about it.

What followed was a complete collapse of my perceptions of what my life was and an identity crisis that could rival Britney circa 2007, and it finally all got the better of me.

Now of course I can't solely attribute this just to blogging, there were a lot of other undesirable extraneous variables in my life at that time that contributed to this breakdown, but one undeniable truth was that I was substituting the losses and problems in my real life with the creation of a perfect impression of a cyber life, and was using it to distract myself from confronting these issues.

And that's when I came to realise the bottom line is, if you place more value on your internet life than your real life, then you need to ask yourself some serious questions about the kind of person you want to be.

Thankfully, that was a while ago now, and today I had the beautiful realisation that this is the first time since I began this whole messy, glorious business, that I've felt at peace at my place within it.

After so long of feeling anxious, stressed, deflated, over-zealous, obsessed, and over-immersed, I took my absence, I reassessed my life, I developed a healthy amount of cynicism and a long-overdue skin thickening, and now I can say I actually feel very comfortable and happy with the person who I have become, the content I am creating, and the place I am in life.

Last night, instead of rushing home to participate in a Twitter blog chat, on a whim I drove over to band house to surprise my bandmates and just hang out. And just kicking back laughing with these beautiful-minded, talented and passionately creative humans felt so damned good. 

It was like I had taken that necessary rocket ship into the cold, dark depths of that black hole, felt myself rattled and stripped and torn apart and seen the harrowing truth in the event horizon, and come out alive. And then as I looked back, I decided to settle in a little place close enough to observe the finer details, but far enough away not to get sucked into it's hypnotic and dangerous slipstream once more. And here I've found my home.

Or maybe I just like, really liked Interstellar.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, the internet will screw with your head if you're not careful. And it will screw with your real life too. So you gotta keep one foot on the ground.

The distance between your online identity and your personal identity needs to be clearly defined, and you need to understand when it's time to disconnect, and reconnect. I know I sound a bit preachy, it's just I'd never wish that level of mental derailment I experienced, on anyone. 

Because when you're crying into a pillow at 3am at some cyber dickhead who's giving you grief, those two hundred-odd hearts next to your latest insta selfie aren't going to make it all better. But your housemate tentatively knocking on your door with a sympathetic expression, holding out a steaming mug of cocoa with the whipped cream exactly how you like it, just might.

So take a walk alone in the woods with a notebook or sketchpad, go out for dinner with friends and put your phones in the middle of the table, curl up with a blanket and read a book by candle light, call a friend and tell them why you love them, remove your camera from it's perfectly positioned tripod and take some pictures of your pet frolicking in the late afternoon sun. You need to feel the cool, brisk breeze of reality on your cheeks once in a while, to not only balance out your perception of life, but also to remind yourself who you are and what you're about.

And when you die, those will be the moments the make you smile in the last few minutes of your time on earth, not those nights sat alone in your room, hunched in the dim sterile glow of your computer screen, reading tweets of how pretty someone thinks you are.

So then, if it's all such apparent arduous self-sacrifice and starving loneliness, why do we do it?

Because being an online content creator is a beautiful, incredible thing.

And these negative traits are not necessarily a prerequisite - it might not happen to everyone.

But underestimate it's power or fail to treat it with the caution and understanding which is necessary, you could ultimately find yourself rapidly losing control, or worse, causing a lot of damage to yourself and other people. You don't need to look too far to find some 'internet personalities' who have well and truly, spectacularly and monumentally screwed up their own lives, and the lives of others. 

So when you feel that familiar pressure building up, you find yourself lost in a sea of stats and figures or you start to become obsessed with the idea of it all, don't be afraid to step back, take a breath and admit you need to take a break, or even decide to permanently distance yourself from toxic characters and circles. If you have a loyal, appreciative audience, as you usually find in these communities, they will more than understand, and be eager and waiting for when you return.

Because when it comes down to keeping your audience happy, or keeping your sanity, I don't think it's a hard choice to make. 

And never, ever lose sight of which one of those is most important.


37 comments :

  1. Love this post Katie, your writing inspired me to start my own blog!

    Anika Heart // UK Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a beautiful and honest post! Glad to see you're looking out for your readers! <3 xx

    nessiehere.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jesus Christ I love your writing. Such a great post and I was write there with you, I nearly got sucked into that black hole. So glad I didn't. I am so happy you have found your happy place.

    Zoe Newlove | Beauty Blogger & MUA

    ReplyDelete
  4. Loved all of your blog posts and your unique style of writing it always inspires me! Definitely cant wait to see more and love how your so truthful about important and less important matters from your posts xx

    www.krystelcouture.com | £100 Christmas Giveaway

    ReplyDelete
  5. Brilliant article and one I will be keeping in my Favorites <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wise words once again, i think it's important not to get too wrapped up in the online world and all its pressures and you've explained it brilliantly! I like that you're so honest about such topics.
    Hannah x
    Hanniemc.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  7. Really great post and well-written too. I only discovered your blog a few days ago but I'm definitely getting hooked!

    x

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is so damn true and I can totally get where you're coming from. I think you couldn't have made you point any clearer and better :)
    Brilliantly written piece :)



    creepersandcupcakes.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this post, it's so well-written and I really get where you're coming from

    Sophie x | sophhskii.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post, and very timely. I'm currently reassessing my priorities at work and home. Life should be enjoyed. Some people have a life, and others exist. I choose to live a good fulfilled life.

    Illustrated-teacup.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  11. That black hole is harsh! I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Glad you're ok now. Great blog cannot beleive I only just recently discovered it. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is beautifully written, and I definitely get where you're coming from. This is such a necessary thing to remember.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Katie, I can completely relate to this. Before, when I knew for sure that no one was ever really reading the blog (not that things have improved that drastically since then), I put whatever the hell I wanted to on it! Feelings, personal life issues, opinions, without a care in the world! But now, as I invest more of my time and myself into my blog, I start to question whether the piece I will be uploading soon is appropriate to readers—is it too personal? is it too political? is it the tone I want the overall blog to reflect? what if I lead people astray accidentally? is it substantial? Most importantly, is the quality something I'm proud of?

    Now, all that runs through my mind every time I'm brainstorming what I'm going to write next. And it shows no signs of stopping. But I think that it means we're doing something right. We're not just producing useless little tidbits online, but genuine, thoughtful pieces. At least, I hope so ;)

    ReplyDelete
  14. God I love your writing! I literally just want to applaud you on your work :') beautiful.
    x

    ReplyDelete
  15. city asked the relevant departments at ugg australia all cheap nike jordan shoes levels to discount nike jordans strengthen the dust pollution christian louboutin remise 50% controls, including the construction site dust and muck car management, thorough investigation "drip, Caesar, leak," uggs outlet added the number of urban cheap jordans road watering; christian louboutin shoes do discount christian louboutin "non-green label." car limit line, prohibited "smoky vehicle" on the road; strengthen enterprise management of wholesale jordan shoes emissions of air pollutants, excessive emissions ugg pas cher of coal-fired boilers, all open Cheap LV Handbags dumps the coal pile, take all the material covered or yard sprinkler measures such ugg boots as wind ugg soldes and dust is cheap christian louboutin prohibited; strengthen restaurants Christian Louboutin Daffodile smoke management, rigorous Discount LV Handbags treatment restaurants fume Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags purification uggs on sale device is not installed, non-open-air ugg barbecue; christian louboutin prevent open Discount Louis Vuitton burning Bags Louis Vuitton of biomass, strengthen patrol, controlled burning is prohibited afforestation, direct burning of Christian Louboutin Bois Dore straw, straw and other biomass.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love your writing skills! Enjoyed this entire post! Thanks for sharing :)
    www.ensembledeux.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. All so true. I told my friend I was taking week maybe even two weeks away from blogging to really enjoy the Christmas and new year break with my kids, and her face was a picture, like it would be death if there wasn't a new post even for that length of time..

    ReplyDelete
  18. uggs uitverkoop Dit is niet de nacht uggs outlet online om daadwerkelijk armer dan dagen, dan wilde hij nog steeds van hem, net uggs uitverkoop CEO's naar buiten komen met een groet die mensen eigenlijk weten kinder uggs sale dat bumpkin River City vliegen voorzitter groep. goedkoop is niet een goede hand om smiley mensen spelen. Draaide een uggs uitverkoop beetje in zijn zak, en ten slotte komen met uggs bailey button sale een vuile dollarbiljetten Zou Baba.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Really impressive post. I read it whole and going to share it with my social circules. I enjoyed your article and planning to rewrite it on my own blog.
    mahjong | agario | minecraft|halloween | pacman| kizi | hulk | mickey mouse games | sniper games

    ReplyDelete
  20. 20151014xiaodaige
    camisetas futbol baratas, http://www.futbol-baratas.com/
    golden state warriors jerseys, http://www.warriorsjersey.com/
    toms outlet store, http://www.tomsoutlet-stores.com/
    minnesota vikings jerseys, http://www.minnesotavikingsjersey.us/
    michael kors outlet, http://www.michaelkorshandbags.in.net/
    ray-ban sunglasses, http://www.rayban-sunglassess.us.com/
    ray-ban sunglasses, http://www.raybansunglass.com.au/
    nike roshe run, http://www.nikerosherunshoes.co.uk/
    nike free, http://www.nikefree5.us/
    louis vuitton outlet online, http://www.louisvuittonus.us.com/
    canada goose outlet, http://www.canadagooseoutlet.com.co/
    patriots jerseys, http://www.newenglandpatriotsjerseys.us/
    toms outlet, http://www.toms.us.com/
    ugg outlet online, http://www.uggboots-outlet.co.uk/
    vans sneakers, http://www.vans-shoes.cc/
    blackhawks jersey, http://www.chicagoblackhawksjersey.us/
    oklahoma city thunder jerseys, http://www.thunderjerseystore.com/
    air jordan 11 free shipping, http://www.airjordan11.net/
    timberland shoes, http://www.timberlandboots.name/
    hogan,hogan outlet,scarpe hogan,hogan sito ufficiale,hogan interactive
    prada outlet, http://www.pradahandbagsoutlet.co.uk/
    louis vuitton bags, http://www.louisvuittonhandbagsoutlet.co.uk/
    coach outlet store, http://www.coachoutletstoreonline.in.net/
    cheap uggs, http://www.uggboot.com.co/
    dolphins jerseys, http://www.miamidolphinsjersey.com/
    snow boots, http://www.wintercoats.us.com/
    cowboys jerseys, http://www.dallascowboysjersey.us/

    ReplyDelete
  21. Welcomes to google terminal from Austin Texas! google snake
    Amazing insight you have on this, Happy wheels it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists... Age of war 2 This article always blew me... Earn to die For how many times I have read this.
    slither io Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while slitherio it's nice to find a website that details so much big farm

    ReplyDelete
  22. The war between humans, orcs and elves continues. Lead your race through a series of epic battles, using your crossbow to fend off foes and sending out units to destroy castles. Researching and upgrading wisely will be crucial to your success!
    slitherio | unfair mario 2 | age of war 2
    The game controls are shown just under . Movement mechanisms primarily include acceleration and tilting controls.
    cubefield | tank trouble | happy wheels | earn to die 3 | earn to die 4

    ReplyDelete