Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And heeeerrrreeee's ....... me

There was an article in the Times recently which was very negative about blogging and Facebook. And presumably Twitter if they were with it enough to know about it.. While there is some attempt at maintaining a balanced view, the overall tone appears to be that sharing your feelings and experiences online is part of "a creeping desensitisation towards squandering personal privacy" and they back this up with some scary stories about a woman who met someone she had never met before who knew about her child's recent accident, and others who are "so obsessional [about their blogging and getting material for it ] that the author sometimes puts the virtual life before the real one, never really living in the moment". I was really irritated by this article and until I sat down to write this post had not really put my thoughts together about why it irritated me so much. I suppose because, perhaps like many of you, I am not surrounded by other bloggers. Few of my friends blog, or read other blogs. So when I tell people I know that I blog people often seem to think this is a very strange habit, and raise some of the points raised in the Times article. And there's no denying the writer of the Times article has a point - you have to take some care in giving out details of where you live and your family and you have to exercise some judgment about the information you share with the world. And there probably are people out there who "put the virtual life ahead of the real one". But I think there are far more people out there who spend every evening zoned out in front of the TV instead of having experiences themselves. Blogging is, at least, doing something - creating something. However flawed or self-referential. Moreover, most of the blogs I read are by people who very much lead real lives and who, far from holing up in their virtual world, are probably more self-aware and "in-the-moment" in part because they write about an aspect of their life. Finally - my main blog is about running, and I am not surrounded by running. Discussing the ins and outs of training schedules, workouts, and good and bad runs is not something I can do with many people in my "real" life. My blogging buddies add a dimension to my life that would otherwise be lacking. And finally finally - blogging has created some very real relationships and events in my life. Without blogging, I'm not sure I would have carried on running after my injury last year, I would not have met Maritza, Jen, Charlie, Melisa and Maddy last year and I would have missed out on some great runs. So, while I take the points made by the writers on board, overall I disagree with them. Blogging is what you make it - and most of our lives are enriched by it.

What got me onto this rant was a recent realisation that some of the meme's that make their way around FaceBook and the blogosphere are really very good things - the recent 25 things list on FaceBook was a great read for me, very revealing about some of my friends, and a fun thing to write myself. Another goodie was a meme that Aron or Jen started recently - asking interview questions of your friends. I asked Aron for some questions, and here they are. Read the rules at the bottom if you would like to be your interviewer..

What is your running history (how you got started, how long you have been running)?
I had lurched from diet to diet in my twenties but had, predictably, done nothing but steadily gain weight. By June of 2003 I had reached a low point - I was fat, not working, felt hemmed in by my move to the countryside and two tiny children - my self-esteem really was terrible. One day I bought yet another slimmer's magazine and there was an article in it by John Bingham about how he ran - slowly. It had never crossed my mind that you could do that - I knew I couldn't run fast and I thought that disqualified me from trying at all. Somehow this triggered a glimmer of hope in me. So I started running around the farm. There's a 1.4 mile loop on the farm and it took me weeks before I got round it without stopping. But I just went at it, every day, and this was the first time in my life that I had persevered with exercise. At the same time I started weight watchers online and the combination of exercise and diet finally worked for me. Over the course of the next few months I lost, in all, 25 kilos. And here I am - 5 and a half years later and I'm training for my 6th marathon. Who'd of thunk it?

If you could have any job what would it be?
Hmmmm. I would say architect - because that is what I wanted to be when I was younger and I regret not seeing it through all the way, even if only to find out I couldn't do it. But recently I have to come to believe that sometime "the place you need to be" if I can be so vague, is the place you're at. The job I have at the moment, Marketing Manager of a lawfirm, is not particularly exciting. However, over time it is allowing me to develop a much sharper idea of what I'm good at and what I enjoy - more so, perhaps, than the "ideal" job ever would. So the answer is - I'm not sure but I think it will become clear..

What is your favorite part of the day?
My instinct is to say morning because I truly am a morning person. I like to get up, go for a run, come in and have my bagel and coffee and read the paper - often before anyone else in my family wakes up. Mornings are good. But then I like the evening as well - day accomplished, everyone home from their days out at work and school - we all come together and wind down.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I could say my children, but they are not my accomplishments and their accomplishments are their own and for them to be proud of. So then I would have to say my health and fitness turnaround, as described above, in my early thirties. And what I am most proud of, in that turnaround, is that I somehow managed to overcome a degree of low-level depression and total lack of faith in myself and forced myself to do something that I never thought I was capable of doing. To go against the grain of expectation that everyone and you yourself have of yourself - looking back that was amazing. Having done it once, I hold that experience very closely because I now know that it IS possible. You CAN change things in your life that don't work.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Oh man - I am such an irritable person! I have so many. But somehow on this beautiful Saturday morning I am totally unpeeved. OK. A few come to mind:
  • I hate it when people say "I was sat" or, worse "I were sat". The grammar! How hideous! Wash your mouth out! "I was sitting" please.
  • Littering. I can't stand people throwing rubbish out of their car windows as they drive. I honk and shout at them.
  • Excessive packaging. All the cr*p they put in inserts in magazines and newspapers, and then wrap in plastic. You can see I probably don't have a lifetime in marketing ahead of me..
And that's it. There's far more once I warm up but I'm not going to go that way .. The day is too beautiful.

So - if you want me to interview you,
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Easy peasy. Till soon!

12 comments:

Susan said...

Interview me!

I agree with every word you wrote about blogging. For me, it is such a wonderful outlet! I have connected with soooooo many wonderful people (present company included!) that have truly enriched my life. I know for 100% certainty that I am a better runner for it.

I assure you... being an architect is NOT the glamorous, fun job people think it is (unless, perhaps, you're one of the world's top 10). It's like anything else - a headache and a lot of hard work! :)

Road Warrior said...

Well put! Blogging doesn't have to kill personal privacy. It's an outlet, as you said, and it provides perspective.

You have a great story, Petra. I'm so glad you chose to share it with us.

Irish Blue said...

Interview me! Sounds like fun. I've still not finished my 25 things for facebook, but I did start it! I will finish and post. My little basement disaster is eating up all of my fun time.

I agree with you on the blogging. I can't imagine NOT blogging about my running and what that would be like. I too get the "that's kinda weird" looks from people when I tell them I blog and I don't think there is a single person in my running club who blogs, but wow, they don't know what they are missing!! I've learned volumes from fellow running bloggers. Getting to meet you, Charlie and Maddy...well, it's been priceless really. So, I will blog on my friend!!

aron said...

great post!! i totally agree with you on the blogging subject. i have met SO many amazing people and have received so much support, i really think it's one of the reasons i kept with running.

love all your answers too :)

ShirleyPerly said...

Some of my family members are concerned about my blogging and amount of personal info I put out there but I think it's worth the risk. OTOH, I have no desire to do much more than I already do, i.e., Facebook.

Thanks for sharing more about yourself with us via the interview!

Marathon Maritza said...

This article has been going around various papers and on tv programs here too (current hot topic?) and I agree...as long as your careful, I have to say blogging has only added to my life. I can't imagine not having the friendships I have now that came through blogging, yours included. :)

I loved your answers! I wish I had seen medical school through, but c'est la vie. :)

Chris Barber said...

Great idea! Bring on the interview. I'm an open book. Don't be afraid to ask any five questions you can think of.

If you want to do some research first, check out my bio at http://www.seriousrunning.com/blog/page/2/

This should be a lot of fun!

jamieatlas said...

Can I agree as well about the blogging aspect - I am a personal trainer/running conditioning specialist with a blog that I use to try and help my clients (and anyone else that wants to improve their health). I have found that yes, people may know about my life, but that by sharing I help others learn from my own stupid mistakes -of which there are a veritable bevy to choose from :) as a society we are not socializing the way we once did - this needs to change - blogging is one such way we can reach across the globe to find others that have similar experiences and interests, thus creating a new breed of community - one where people talk openly about their lives and learn and share. What can be wrong with that?

Fitness Insights by Jamie Atlas

jeanne said...

brilliant post. I have the same reaction to that times article, and certain friends who don't get what we do. I'd say that blogging and facebook and e-mail and the whole digital revolution has rekindled an interest in good writing and communication! the times can put that in its pipe and smoke it. Sheesh!

Funny I wanted to be an architect too, and Susan we've seen your glamorous lifestyle so don't try to kid us.

I think your turnaround story is quite amazing. To think it was all started by john bingham! have you ever told him? you should! maybe you'll end up on the back page of runner's world! You inspire me.

Sunshine said...

You sound really GOOD!!
Congratulations on the running.

kilax said...

I was sat?!?!? AHHH!!! I truly hope no one says that! I cannot stand bad grammar either.

I read the article and thought it was interesting, but one-sided. And I definitely agree with your point about people who just sit around and watch tv. I know A LOT of people like that. I love to write. It lets me think out things. There are a few things I keep to myself because family reads, but I am not ashamed of anything I write.

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