Over the course of my career, my most viewed and best received posts on any platform have been those that are in some way personal or issue-focused. Like my recent piece on heartbreak, something I wrote about my mental health over the course of 2016, this piece I wrote with Grace about different bodies in the blogging industry, and even a simple introduction to myself that I wrote at the end of last year. My favourite pieces of writing from other bloggers and writers are often similarly personal.
There are increasingly few fashion bloggers who just write about the clothes that they are wearing. Instead, we are overwhelmed with beautiful outfit photos coupled with heartfelt paragraphs about life, love, mental health, personal tragedy, and whatever else. I wrote my piece about heartbreak over the course of a few hours when a surge of emotion and inspiration hit, but it took me weeks to figure out how to write about myself for Hi, I’m Hannah. Even this piece, the irony of which I am painfully aware of thank you, is a result of months of thinking and of discussion with friends and other bloggers. I love reading these posts and I love writing them too, but I could not bear my soul to the internet every week. When they are churned out on a regular basis, how many can really be sincere?
When I’m having a bad time I find the process of writing and publishing my thoughts and feelings very cathartic and healing. This works well with the internet’s ever pressing desire to be moved in some way by what we are reading and consuming every day. It seems like a win-win: I get the catharsis and the healing from writing, and readers are, if I write well, moved or even helped in some way. And of course, they get views.
My point, which I should perhaps be making earlier than four paragraphs into this thinkpiece about thinkpieces, is that I am becoming increasingly dubious of the lack of sincerity and integrity behind personal essays, issue-focused writing, and the deep and meaningful relatable content that blogs are becoming filled with. Blogging does not always need to be sincere (I would actually prefer it to be less sincere most of the time) but now that blogging as an industry has caught up with the age of the thinkpiece and we know that feelings=views, there is a danger of bloggers and readers alike becoming caught up in writing which, if you think about it a little harder, does not really say anything at all.
While this (sometimes) faux-feelingsy writing is not quite as on-the-nose as Youtube’s ‘I almost DIED?!’ or any given online magazine’s clickbait tweets, pulling sincerity out of our collective arses week after week is not doing anyone any favours. Writing and publishing can really help healing, but we all owe it to our readers and mostly to ourselves to write profoundly about our feelings only when it feels pertinent to do so.