Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I've been thinking a lot lately about blogging. I started blogging originally back when Xanga was cool. Does anyone remember Xanga? I know Vidalia people do because it was HUGE there. But, anytime I mention it to DeLand people, they have never heard of it. I still go back and look at my old Xanga from time to time just for the memories. I started that one around the time that we began the process to adopt from Russia and before Dan became the pastor of FBC, Vidalia.
Blogging was very sporadic back then. No one really blogged every day. That would have seemed obsessive. And, no one really uploaded many pictures. It was more about your thoughts and things you had to say. Oh, and awful forwards copied and pasted into blog posts. That is what most teenagers did. They found as many email forwards as they could find just to copy into a blog post. I avoided reading those just as I do most forwards. Granted, I will read a forward if it comes from someone who hardly ever forwards anything. But, pretty much, if it has FW in the subject line, it goes directly to trash. Dan is worse than me about that. He blocks the sender of forwards after a few to many. Anyway, back to blogging...
Through the Russian adoption process, I met a wonderful lady named Karin who had met her son in Russia but had not brought him home. Karin blogged about everything. I was intrigued. Here was this lady that I didn't even know but I cared about the tiniest details of her life. I knew her favorite color, favorite movies, what she had for dinner and where her family lived. Then, when she traveled to Russia to bring her baby boy to his forever home, I was mesmerized with every detail.
As time passed and I eventually was surprised to discover I was pregnant, I decided to switch from Xanga that I used maybe weekly to this new format called Blogger. You know, because that is what Karin used. She helped me with details and I got the blog set up and ready for my new baby boy. I had this really cute name called "All About Jonah" and planned to debut the new blog right before he was born. Looking back, the very first post on the blog was from Dan. That makes me laugh. The original plan was that we would blog together. You can obviously tell that didn't go very far.
We didn't initially tell many people about the blog. It was intentionally developed for one sole purpose: GRANDPARENTS! When God called us into the ministry, we never thought far enough down the road to realize that we would probably never live near any of our parents or family therefore our children would grow up knowing them from a distance. All of the sudden, this whole idea of blogging became the way we could share the life of our child (through words and pictures) with people who loved him but couldn't be near him.
As I look back on the early days of ALL ABOUT JONAH which has now been merged into THE GLENN GANG, I find it very funny that I didn't even blog about or post any pictures of Jonah's birth and hospital stay. I did tell the birth story but it was very brief and didn't include any hospital pics. Micah will definitely be able to say he one upped Jonah on that one. :-)
If you were around back when Jonah was a newborn, you might remember how easy those days were for us. He was so laid back and minus a little recovery time from the birth, I had ZERO issues being a new mom. It came so natural to me and was so very easy. So, I had time to take pictures, immediately upload them and then come up with some creative way to talk about them on the blog. Some of you early readers might remember the first year of Jonah's life was done completely from his perspective. Whew! That took creativity! But, it was fun! I had time and enjoyed it.
Dan loved the blog from the beginning. It gave him a way to feel like he had not missed so much of Jonah's day because of being at work. When the craziness of life with a baby started to take over, he came up with the idea of giving me time at night to blog by him doing the bedtime routine with Jonah. That gave him a chance to spend time with his son while I had some uninterrupted time to upload pictures and write.
By this time, the blog had grown in popularity. It was being read by people who saw Jonah most every day but still wanted to see pictures and read stories. Then, friends from college and high school heard about it and people from previous churches and before I knew it, we were having 50-60 hits per day of people reading about our little boy.
Many people blog because they don't want to scrapbook. This is an easy way to keep a record of your child's life without all the product that scrapbooking requires. I choose to still scrapbook but I'm way behind. I usually stay pretty current with the blog (within a week or so) but I know I can always use this as a reference for catching up on scrapbooks.
There were times over the last 4 years of blogging that I considered stopping. I felt like the blog allowed some family a chance to see Jonah every day (online) therefore took away the desire for them to make an effort to see him in real life. I understand that even better now because of my friend Amanda. She has blogged about her little boy Eli since his birth. I left Vidalia when he was 10 months old. I didn't see him again until last month when I visited. He was 22 months old then but I didn't feel like I had missed any part of his life or him growing up because of seeing pictures and videos of him on his blog. I know it isn't intentional on their part now. When you see a child so often online, you don't realize how much of their life you are missing because you never really notice the changes. They are gradual day by day.
Even though this blog gets around 125 hits a day from people all over this country, I now blog for me, for us, for Jonah and soon to be Micah. No one enjoys his blog more than Jonah. He loves to sit in my lap and tell me to "show more pictures and tell me the story." We did that today for almost an hour. He grins at himself and laughs out loud at his videos. He really does love the journal that has been created here.
Just recently, I've really toyed with the idea and gone back and forth about making this blog private. The thing is, when you go private, you limit your number of readers and those readers have to be invited by me personally. There are several pros to this and several cons. My biggest pro comes from a hurt that I recently experienced that I can't just shake. I was informed (by more than one person) about someone close (as in VERY CLOSE) to our family who "makes fun" of our blog. If I told you the relationship between them and us, you would be appalled just as I am. To my face they brag on how much they love the blog but behind my back, they make fun of it. It really is hurtful! I don't plan to stop blogging because like I said earlier, it has become a journal and documentation of Jonah's life. But, I do wonder if I put too much out there? Then again, if it were too much for people to care about, then why would they even click on it?
My initial impression is that those people should not read if they think that? I mean, no one is forcing them to click on my blog or read what I have to write. They could just as easily remove us from their favorites and never even peek at what is going on in our world. I rarely link a blog post to my Facebook so it isn't like I inundate people with having to click. According to my analytics tool, 90% of the people that come to our blog, come from a direct entry into their toolbar. Not from a link from Facebook or email or twitter. They come because they choose too come.
There are blogs that I used to read or follow that have taken turns that make me no longer want to read them, so I don't. I unfollow them through Google then I remove them from my updated list on my blog. I don't feel obligated if the content isn't something I care about. So, my feelings aren't hurt if my blog isn't read by someone. There are so many different types of bloggers out there right now and I have been and probably always will be a mommy blogger. My goal is to share the life of my children with people who care about them. I'm amazed on a weekly basis at the people who tell me they read about Jonah or saw something on the blog that made the smile or laugh out loud. It gives church members a way to know our family on a more personal level. It gives former church members and old friends a way to stay in touch when we don't always get to talk on the phone. It gives family a chance to see their grandson, nephew, cousin, etc. grow up and find his place in this big world. But, apparently, it also gives people a chance to criticize and be mean and that hurts me most.
So, for now, I haven't decided what to do. The one drawback of going private is the extra steps people have to take to log in. I'm not sure most would. I've quit reading some of the blogs I know who are private because I forget about them since they don't show up in my updated blog list. But, one pro to going private is that I have to allow you to be a reader and that would certainly allow me to weed out the hateful people who seem to find joy in making fun of something as simple as a blog about a four year old little boy. In some small way, knowing they couldn't read might make me feel better?!? I don't want to be mean but at the same time, I don't want to be hurt by their meanness.
I've got a couple of weeks to decide because I want to make this switch before Micah arrives. I've already begun the switch on Facebook. Several weeks ago, I started deleting "friends" who don't use Facebook. You know, those who sign up, request you as a friend but never add a picture, write on a wall, comment on pictures, etc. That creates the whole stalker mindset for me and I just wasn't comfortable with it. As of now, I've deleted over 50 people. Not that they would know because they don't really use Facebook. But, it makes me feel better about using Facebook for the purpose it was created...keeping in touch with people.
Let me know your thoughts. You know, if you are still reading and all! This was quite long but I'm pregnant, wide awake and seeming to dwell on the meanness of a few people rather than the thoughts of all. I'm leaving anonymous comments open for this just in case you'd rather not sign your name. I'm curious what people think. Do I put too much out there for the average person? Are you sick of pictures of Jonah? Would you read if I went private? Do you really not even care at all but just wish I would finish this post so you can get on with something else?
My comment moderation IS turned on so I can read all the comments before they make it to the blog.
**EDIT** I fully realize the two people this post is about might not even realize it was about them because they would never dream this would get back to us. But, after reading so many sweet comments that I published and some that I didn't (due to their request) I don't plan to go private. But, I do plan to remind myself that some people are just mean by nature all the while being so 'appreciative' and excited about the blog to my face. This is my way of documenting the lives of my children and family and honestly, their negativity is their issue...not ours. :-)