I have always been an ‘internet person’. I don’t know why, but I have. In year 7 when everyone had a Piczo website, mine had to be better than my classmates’. As a young teen on msn (may it rest in peace) I interacted with countless people I had never met, never would meet and never cared to meet, from the same town as me and from across the world, just because I could. When we moved onto Myspace and Bebo, I had more ‘friends’ than most people I knew irl. I enjoyed interacting with people, I enjoying sharing words and pre selfie era selfies, and I enjoyed getting responses and, in a way, validation from my peers for that.
Those platforms died a sad death, and I started gaining hundreds and then thousands of followers on Tumblr and Twitter and Lookbook, and eventually I started this blog. I’m not an over-sharer when it comes to my personal life or feelings (not post Myspace bulletin era, anyway) but I am a sharer, and sometimes ‘real life’ people don’t like that.
I am still recipient of some contempt towards my ‘internet life’ from some ‘real life’ people. Very few real life people, but they do exist. In the abstract, the fact that I built this career for myself from scratch is something very admirable about me, but when it comes down to what I actually have to do (and more importantly what I enjoy doing) to keep it up, some are nothing but critical. I’m annoying, everything I do is for show, and I am “only motivated by getting likes and by other people who get likes”.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that everyone thinks my blog is amazing, or that everyone I’ve ever encountered likes me, and that’s fine. I know full well that people – both people I considered friends and people I didn’t know at all – took and likely still continue to take the piss out of me for it, and this is something that most, if not all bloggers have experienced. The fact that my blog and overall online presence has become ‘successful’, to the extent that I make my living from it, is a joyous ‘screw you’ to those people, but ultimately I don’t think that the fact that this is a job for me now should even matter. I should not have to use the fact that I now have to share online, which I do, as a defence or an excuse for wanting to share online.
I know myself better than anyone, and I know that I am not ‘only’ motivated by ‘getting likes’. Of course it feels good to have people appreciate and enjoy what I do and share, be that from a business perspective or a personal one, but the assumption that on a personal level I, or we as bloggers, only care about internet popularity is a misguided and unfair one. That being said; I do enjoy being online, I do enjoy interacting with other online people, I do enjoy seeing my follower count go up, and I do enjoy the validation I get online in the same way I enjoyed it back on Myspace. Is online validation what ultimately matters to me and makes me happy? Absolutely not. But I’m not going to apologise for enjoying it.
If I wasn’t an internet person, I wouldn’t have made some of the real life friends I made years and years ago when everyone was active on Tumblr and Twitter. If I wasn’t an internet person I wouldn’t have made any of the friends I’ve made through the blogging community. If I wasn’t an internet person then I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, and so I am entirely NOT sorry for wanting to tweet every thought, Instagram a book I read, a record I buy, or a band I watch. I love being an internet person and I am extremely proud of where that has got me, and no matter how “self-centred” or “attention seeking” that might be perceived to be, I should not and will not apologise for it.