Part of the life of a blogger is dealing with the comments. I love bloggers like Constance Hall, Emily Writes and Liz Carlson but I don’t know how they handle the comments they get! All have written about the negative comments they can get, Liz even creates an annual feature around it. I’m not a controversial person (and I’m also no where near as popular as these awesome ladies), so I generally don’t create a lot of controversy (and therefore comments or debate) around my posts. But even with that mindset I still get people who disagree with what I say or tell me that I’ve got it wrong.
It’s a bit of a personality flaw of mine that I can’t let it go when it happens and I usually dwell on it for days (or weeks) after.
So a week ago I had a comment on a post from about 3 years ago. I thought about the comment, about the validity of what I wrote, about the hastily scratched out reply (when will I learn), about the role of bloggers, about why I worry so much about such things (!!) and I decided 3 things.
- I deal in colour, not black and white.
- That’s okay.
- I need to write about this
Story telling, not reporting
Blogging is not reporting (I googled it to check – the juries out but refer to point 1 above). It’s story telling – a writer sharing their views on a subject. Most Bloggers, like me, write simply because they love it and the audience that may or may not read it is just icing on top. It’s the need to share that’s a really primitive part of our DNA that seems to exist more so with bloggers. That by being honest and open we may make the path a little easier for someone else.
You read a blog because you identify with a person, how they view the world or share the same beliefs. (Or because they had a really good SEO strategy and you ended up on their site through a Google search in which case you’re going to have to figure out if you like them first before you take on what they say).
Me, I come from a long line of storytellers.
My earliest memories of my Grandma are her telling me stories, and my Mum tells stories to thousands of people every day.
One of my favourite stories about my Grandparents is one about my Granddad. My Mum told me the story. I’m sorry Mum if I get it wrong, but that’s the way that stories go as they get handed down – each generation adds their own nuance.
So Granddad was at a party. He was out to impress some business colleagues. There were a few beverages in hand and as my Mum walked through the room she heard my Granddad inviting the men out on his boat the next day. There were general rounds of agreement as Mum walked past puzzled at how Grandad would fit them all on his dingy!
Now that’s maybe on the more clear cut side of embellishing but we only need to look at history to see how stories evolve over time.
I will often be telling a story and the kids will interject. “Mum, that’s not how it went”. And they’ll re-tell the story, but from their perspective, the way they heard and saw things. At which point I will say “That’s exactly what I said”. Because we both told a story about the same thing, but from the way we saw it. Perspective changes everything. Our stories are coloured by our experiences, world views, biases and expectations. We’re not reporters, we don’t have to be impartial. Hopefully the very reason you read us is because we do tell you how we saw it.
It’s not that dissimilar to an artist painting a picture. You paint it the way you see it not necessarily the way others see it.
I wander around writing stories in my head about the things I see. The words swirl around, my imagination races and I see things unfold in lines and lines of words. James often jokes as I tap away that “the words must come out”. And really they must. I really should carry a recorder with me so I can write them as I go. I’d probably be a damn site more factual!
What we are not
We (that’s me and James and Getting Lost) are not your typical travel bloggers. We don’t have a typical family structure. I generally don’t look good sashaying down a beach in a floaty dress (lord knows I’ve tried) and James is more at home on his Harley than following any of the typical travel tropes.
Following our blog are my former Mother in Law, my current Mother in Law, my step daughters Mum, my ex husbands new wife, my boss and work mates, my kids, family and friends and about 30,000 other people. It’s an interesting audience to write for…
So who’s best to give you travel advice?
If you want impartial recommendations from loads of people you shouldn’t read us, we’ll tell you what we like, not what thousands of people like. You should go to Trip Advisor. We do. It’s awesome for getting a good read on what’s popular in a new town.
If you want information on absolutely everything on offer in a town you shouldn’t read us. We only talk about the stuff we’ve done and liked (we don’t talk about the stuff we didn’t like!) You should check out the local council websites – they are amazing! We use them all the time too.
If you want a directory then you shouldn’t read us. We know there will be things on our site that we experienced a couple of years ago that have changed by now. You should try to find a directory that is constantly updated. It’s a full time job in itself keeping everything up to date and correct and I take my hat off to people who can manage it.
If you want factual information about the history, geology, natural fauna and wildlife you should definitely not read us. I try, I really do (I spend hours researching for my blog posts as well as physically being everywhere we write about) but I’m known to skirt around the details for the more romantic version of things with sometimes selective facts, even though I’ll never lie or make things up. What you should do is check out DOC (Department of Conservation) – it has it all that and more. We do.
If you want hard line reporting you should not read us. These guys have amazing access, resources, money and time to investigate that we simply don’t – try NZ Herald or Stuff, or even better Radio NZ.
If you like us, think a bit like us and want to see the world and the things we experience through our eyes then you should read us. And we’re ever so grateful that you do.
I’ve also been told (by a 6 year old at a photoshoot that I was doing for his family) that his Mum said I should lay off the “back shots” in this shoot (love that unfiltered sharing of something Mum clearly said at home). I LOVE “back shots” (for the uninitiated this 6 year old lingo describes taking a photo of someone walking away from you and usually unaware the camera is on them). For me they are all about exploration and seeing things through others eyes. They are less posed and capture more moments. But yes, if you don’t like “back shots” then maybe don’t read us. If you do however – fill your boots!! 😉
And if you want to say screw the lot of you and just leave it up to chance we’ve got a game for that too – it’s called the Getting Lost Game and it sends you in random directions that no search engine, blogger, reporter or review site could do!
So if you love a blogger, send them a nice comment. You have no idea how many words that one nice comment can create.