Thursday, 3 July 2014

Blog Topics

I'm starting to run out of things to blog about. Or at least, I'm starting to struggle to think of new topics again. I have a couple of half-ideas knocking around, and if nothing else comes up I'm sure they'll see the light of day soon, for better or worse, but the reason I'm blogging today rather than a couple of days ago when a new post was about due is that a couple of days ago I realy didn't think I had anything ready to say.

I feel like I blog best when I blog about my own personal experiences pretty directly. At least, when I stick to quiet little stuff about how my life is going and what it involves, I incur far less scorn (and outright anger) from people whose judgement I respect. My hit counter has been climbing a lot faster since I started trying this approach, too: after generating less than 5,000 hits in the last quarter of 2013, I've had more than that every month in 2014, with June topping out at over 18,000.

The problem is, though, that 'my own personal experience' is a pretty narrow field at the moment. Life is good: I write, I play video games, and everything else is ordinary domestic routine. However good I am as a writer, I'm pretty terrible at writing about writing. And I have some awkward hang-ups about blogging about video games, at least to a non-gamer-specific audience (okay, I guess that will do for next week's topic).

There are, of course, plenty of topics in the real world that need talking about, but past experience suggests I'm not the one to be addressing them, at least in this kind of context. The legacy of spending so many years in academia is that I tend to write quite stiffly, even arrogantly, about 'big issues', and to cloud over my core message with either laboured humour or needless pedantry.

Another problem with the idea of me blogging about topical issues is how isolated I am from them. Cash-poor though I may be, my material wealth is considerable. My family provide a generous safety-net (which I am determined to never rely on again, but having it there does a lot to help my confidence and courage). As a straight, white, middle-class man in Britain, I sit in a position of considerable privilege; I can live my ordinary life and never experience discrimination, violence or hatred unless I seek them out.

That doesn't excuse me from thinking about them, but it does mean that my personal experience - the kind of thing I can blog about - is largely irrelevant to those issues. My engagement there should be founded in listening to the voices of others, learning from them, and doing what I can to boost their signals, rather than trying to add my own. The best I could do here, in a blogging context, would be to write about how I'm trying to change my behaviour to reflect what I've learned - and I'd have to be rather more confident that I'm on the right track before I could find the courage to do that.

I'm starting to worry that even this is too preachy - one of the things I have learned from listening to others, particularly people whose lives are routinely affected by injustice, is that my judgement about how the world does or should work, and about how I should behave, is profoundly unreliable. That lack of confidence in my own instinctive opinion is probably healthy (after all, I mainly write about men whose surfeit of self-confidence causes tremendous harm to those around them), but it does make sharing my views a little more intimidating.

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