Blogger Integrity: Writing for Yourself and Not for Attention

We hear about journalistic integrity, but what is blogger, or blogging integrity? Does it have a place in the online community?

In the age of internet and technology, everyone is fighting to be seen.

   I’m still new to the blogging arena. I’ve only been posting since January, still going strong with a few breaks every now and then, and in that time I’ve noticed something that goes completely unacknowledged by most. I’m talking about how often the success of a blog is defined, and exclusively defined, by the amount of viewers and followers it pulls in.

It’s possible that I’m not the only one, but I appear to go about my definition of success very differently. Yes, views and followers is ultimately the main goal, as it is for everyone. But I seem to have naturally avoided this common idea of success that pushes everyone to write more, and do more, for the approval of others and the goal to reach a wide audience. Instead, here is a list of things, a rubric of sorts, that I’ve caught myself judging success by:

1. Integrity. This is the biggest factor. I will not write something to get attention, or to get more followers. I only post something if I feel it is important, and if it resonates with a core truth. I state in my About Page that the goal of my blog is to be a pillar of authenticity amidst the shallowness portrayed by the media, and our every day lives. And that is what I’ll do. With this particular goal, I am very stubborn. I will die without admiration, or without a pile of worthless money, if it means I still have my integrity.

2. Commitment. Sure, every post is not perfect, or as good as the other, but I made an effort and have stuck with it for almost a year now. I think thats a good indication that I will in the foreseeable future as well.

3. Self improvement.  I’m not just talking about my writing. I’m talking about my confidence, and my creativity, which are unknowingly linked. I don’t often share what’s in my head. To most, my thoughts are foreign. They’re strange ideas that have no relation to a typical life. I go on philosophical rants, and have bouts of spiritual truths on a daily basis, probably more in one day than the standard person goes through for an entire year. For some, an entire lifetime. I can’t help it. Its who I am, and its my reality. Ive always kept these things inside trying to avoid being that person who thinks too deeply into things.

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 In a way, blogging has freed me. I don’t care about what others think anymore. If someone doesn’t like what I share, thats fine. They click onto the next thing, and thats the end of it. I’ve realized that even if someone were to attack me for my thoughts, its not worth placing limitations on myself, limitations that could severely sabotage my next idea or my next beautiful creation. Its not worth the risk, and I urge you, whoever is reading, to see it this way as well.

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 Even though I feel bombarded with blogs and other internet paraphernalia that is clearly meant for attention and appreciation alone, I still find many blogs with amazing insights, positive messages, and unique depth. There are blogs and media outlets that I follow with topics that I’m not even interested in, but because they are different and create what they want without caring how it looks, I am motivated and inspired by them.

Please let me know what you think! I am eager to hear what others have to say on this topic.

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Misguided Advice: An Experience With Undergraduate Advising

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”

-EE Cummings

I’ve recently read the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Although it is a little long for my taste, it’s extremely well written, with several brilliant take away messages. There is only one brief observation Tartt made in her work that I wish to focus on. It is how she describes college from a young Theo Decker, who applies to the University early due to circumstance.

Tartt chose to write about Theo’s perspective of his college professors. All of a sudden, you see that every adult in his life is certain about his interests, and think they know him and what he needs. The Philosophy teacher sees that he is obviously a philosopher who should get involved in their events outside of class. The English professor sees a paper he has written, and believes he must be dedicated to the topic he wrote about, as does all his other professors, who urge him to come to their club meetings and be involved with their pursuits. It reminds me of the expression “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.

These people take what they know best, and project it onto youth as if it should be their truth as well, the only truth, rather than taking themselves out of their limited perspective and placing it in other positions. With good intentions, its all they know how to do, as that is how they became the people they are in the first place, seeing it as the best method.

   Ive experienced this as well. Everyone thinks they know what you need, and who you are. So much so that they are comfortable with defining you without close inspection, asking broad questions that, at best, link your identity to how you want to make money rather than your character or integrity. It is a fad carried by a world that doesn’t think for themselves, and believes whatever they are told growing up and into adulthood from people in seemingly (and I stress the word seemingly) higher positions than their own. They follow blindly without really asking any questions and assuming their given role indifferently. There are little opportunities, all which mask individuality and demand that you look like everyone else.

At my University, I learned that advisors don’t like it when they ask you what your goals are, and you inform them that there is nothing quite specific in mind, but rather a desire to be involved in something that has a positive impact. That is the answer I gave my undergraduate advisor, that I wasn’t certain exactly where I wanted to end up after this last year of college and beyond that. As long as it felt constructive and that I was doing something meaningful, it didn’t matter to me.

This answer went over her head, and she supplied a response that completely missed the point, blatantly ignoring my expressed desires, with the simple advice to research what employers want, take actions to become exactly what that is (like I couldn’t come up with this obvious plan on my own at this point in my life), and that perhaps I should look into sales (mind you, I have an Environmental Studies major).

I have to admit this pained me quite a bit. I patiently listened to her rant, politely nodding my head in between sentences and quietly giving her a restrained approval at each point made. “Your help is not helpful” I wanted to say. I shook her hand, and left her office feeling alone with my thoughts, sadly without much surprise either, filled with the helplessness of not knowing if there was anyone in this world I could approach who saw things differently. I knew in my core that what she said was so inconsequential to myself and my purpose, so useless that it hurt to think I was expected to adhere to people like her. Certainly I was not the only person who felt this way, (although I don’t know where to find these kindred souls), but was there even any other options to begin with? Did she give this response because there really is no way to make a difference and support oneself simultaneously? Are there no openings for improving the environment despite everything thats wrong with the world?

Many thoughts came to me as I left south campus and drove home. How she was just doing her job, and her advice is a product of the corporate world that we live in, which wasn’t wrong, but not necessarily right either. Where people, as I just explained, only have what they’ve pursued. They’ve followed what they were told to do out of fear of not being able to have the success others defined for them, not driven by integrity, but by what everyone else is doing. It seems that anyone who strays slightly from this line will either be excluded, or take on the allegedly difficult task of creating a place for themselves out of nothing.

“What am I going to do when I know I don’t belong in this world?”, I thought.

I didn’t know, still don’t know a week deep into my last year of college, and probably never will until everything is said in done in the next chapter of my life.

Unlike most of my posts, I didn’t write about this to prove something or produce some kind of conclusion, but rather draw attention to this. The lack of integrity. The scorn for being unconventional. Schools that aren’t focused on preparing youth for our broken world, but rather for the promise of a paycheck. No one asking the true state of things, or challenging what they’re given. Has anyone else noticed?

Thanks University, and thanks society, but I think I’ll be much better off without your ill-advised guidance.