I’ve seen a lot of posts and tweets lately discussing the state of book blogging and the blogging community. And I’ll be honest – I understand the frustration. But I wanted to write this post because 2014 was probably my most enjoyable year of blogging. I felt inspired and motivated, and I think I know why. It started when I wrote this post about putting Twitter in time out, and then that mindset grew from there. I found ways to tune out the noise and distance myself from the things that made me feel negatively about blogging.
That’s not to say I stopped interacting with people! I went to BEA, YALLFest, and book signings to meet other bookish friends in person… and I was still chatting away on Twitter and in comments about the things that made me happy. I didn’t disconnect completely – I do love this crazy, nerdy community! But I made it a point to close that tab or exit that app when everyone was in a tizzy.
So, I thought I’d share my thought process and the reason I feel the way I do. This isn’t meant to tell you what to do – it’s just a reflection and a reminder to myself more than anything else. And if it helps you, too, even better!
I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard this quote from Gandhi before: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s almost become a cliché, hasn’t it? Do you ever stop and think about what the words mean? Because here’s the thing: you can talk all day long about what you do or don’t like about blogging or the book community. But talking doesn't necessarily change anything.
If you’re not happy with the state of book blogging, here’s my mentality:
You must be the change you wish to see
in the book blogging community.
I’m all about taking personal responsibility for things, even though it’s human nature to do the opposite. If something goes wrong at work, I want it to be someone else’s fault. If I got in trouble growing up, I wanted to offer an excuse. If I don’t like what I see around me, I want to point a finger at everyone who I feel is to blame.
I think I’ve seen that a lot online lately, and I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself. It’s often easier to identify what’s wrong than it is to actually do what’s right. Or, as Jesus asks in Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Regardless of how you feel about the Bible, I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty pointed question.
I don’t want to spend more time concerned about other people’s behavior than I do about my own. I have control over my actions, my responses, my thoughts and my attitudes. And if I think things need to change, the first step is for me to BE WHAT I WANT TO SEE. So, I first asked myself: "Am I part of the problem? If I am, what changes can I make?" If I don’t like something, then I don’t do it. I don't focus on policing everyone else – I try to take an honest, critical look at my own words and actions.
Be the kind of blog you want to read.
Be the kind of blogger you want to follow.
Anna has always said, “Work hard. Be nice.” You know what I love about that mantra? It’s a reminder that it’s all in your hands. Because holding others to a higher standard than I hold myself doesn't help at all. When you have grace for people, they're more likely to have grace for you. When you're kind to people, they're more likely to be kind to you. When you believe the best about people, maybe they'll choose to believe the best, too. And maybe they won't... but you can still feel good about YOU.
When you choose joy, I think it spills over. It's my hope that modeling joy will make others more joyful. At the very least, I can almost guarantee you’ll attract other like-minded people. And that will make a huge difference in how you feel about this community! I promise you - finding people who make you happy matters.
I want 2015 to be a year where
I spend more time talking about what I do like
than I do talking about what I don’t.
I don't necessarily love everything about my neighborhood. I don't have to like the color they paint their house or the way they raise their kids or the fact that they don't know how to drive in a roundabout. But I also don't have to tell them I feel that way. It can stay in my brain or in a private conversation. Because all those things I might not like? They don't change the fact that I can be kind to them. I can wave and smile and be gracious. I can treat them the way I'd want to be treated, even when it's difficult.
The same is true for blogging and reading. You won't like everyone and everything. I'm not saying you put on a mask, but there's nothing bad about having a filter. And hey, sometimes it's just good manners.
Let's all be slow to anger,
quick to apologize or offer forgiveness,
and full of grace for others.