I don’t know why, but ever since I was young I have been obsessed with the idea of creating things and sharing it with other people. Before Facebook there was Bebo, a social media platform on which you could write ‘notes’. I, in all my foolish angsty teenage splendour, used this feature to blog (in far too much detail) about my personal life and thoughts on my classmates. For good or for bad, it was what I became known for in school. Since outgrowing that horrible phase that I try my hardest to forget ever happened, I have expanded into other mediums. I have dabbled in podcasting, I have tried my hand at stand up comedy, and I have started numerous blogs over the years, all with one purpose; putting myself out there.
Of course, a factor that is obvious and should be acknowledged is the sheer narcissism a person has to have to even begin to put their thoughts out to the world (hence the name of this blog). There has to be at least a degree of self-confidence that you don’t necessarily deserve to think that anybody should read what you write. But I think that that line of thinking gets quite badly stigmatised by people. It seems to go hand in hand with arrogance – the idea that what you have to say is more valuable than what anyone else has to say. I know that, for me at least, this is nonsense. I come from a perspective where I think that everybody should share their thoughts, ideas and opinions about everything (within reason obviously – splurging your personal life over the internet isn’t good for anyone). But this line of thinking isn’t confined to blogging. I also think that any creative project – from photography to writing poetry – should be shared with people. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t any good. As long as you can acknowledge that and appreciate that what you are doing is part of a learning process (this again ties in with the idea of not being arrogant), then I see absolutely no problem with people sharing things like that.
I know people who are frozen with fear by the idea of sharing their creative efforts. I get why, I really do. People (and I am definitely guilty of this) tend to have an automatic reaction of frowning upon someone for really putting themselves out there. People love to hate what other people produce in an amateur capacity. I think this really needs to stop. The world we live in at the moment, with Facebook highlighting how amazing people’s lives are and all the rest, has made society bitter. Think about how many times you have seen a juicy bit of drama going down on Facebook (or anywhere online) and jumped all over it. We are so embittered by seeing how perfect everybody else’s life is, that we can’t wait to see proof that somebody isn’t an expert at something, or that somebody, like you, makes mistakes. I think society as a whole should be unashamedly supportive of people putting themselves out there. That doesn’t mean we have encourage people who have obviously written absolute garbage, and criticism should always be given and received with an open mind, but we shouldn’t come at something that a person is probably really passionate about with scepticism and scorn. It scares too many genuinely talented people away from throwing their hat in the ring and developing their craft.
If we look at the idea of sharing your opinions with the world. So many people feel scared of getting involved in a conversation because they think they will make a fool of themselves. They feel like they might not know enough about the topic. I always have this with politics. I try my hardest to be politically engaged and quite active, but I am always terrified that people know more than me so I shouldn’t share what I think. But this is such a counter productive way of approaching politics. Surely, by sharing opinions and thoughts, and being told about your ignorances and having those gaps in your knowledge filled, you become a more informed person. Debate is essential in a democracy. As long as we are able to find a way to better deal with biases and close-mindedness, everybody should constantly talk about what they think about things – whether it’s music, movies, or politics.
Creatively, I will again use myself as an example. I have always wanted to write. It’s just been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. I have never known exactly how I wanted to express myself (I’ve considered novels, scripts, and music, to name a few), but what I did know was that it was something I wanted to do. If I didn’t have this belief that everybody should just be open, then I don’t think I would have had the confidence to, for example, start this blog. It’s taking a huge risk and making myself very vulnerable to criticism because I know that my writing isn’t amazing, I know that if anybody were to look at my blog and social media at this point it would be embarrassing, but I also know that I am trying. I’m trying to grow, to develop my skill. Very few people are born with a natural gift and so the only way to improve is to create and, crucially, share it. What other people think is ultimately what matters in a creative field, so to lock yourself in a room and create in isolation is not going to give you an idea of whether your work is considered good in the eyes of an audience. It also makes me really sad, because I see people who should be full to the brim with self confidence shutting themselves out.
I do understand and appreciate that a lot of people create for themselves. They aren’t really interested in what other people think about their opinions (or at least don’t think a public forum is an appropriate place for them) and they are happy to share with close friends how they feel about things, or whatever they have created. While I understand this, I would still strongly encourage to share publicly purely on the basis of why not? It can only be an informative and growing experience. If it wasn’t for stigma, then I am certain that a lot more people would be open to the idea of sharing online because then there really would be no reason not to. But people often say that they are scared what other people will think if they share it online. What they mean is that they don’t want to be one of those people. It’s a real shame. This stigma is really harmful and, I think, holds us back from expressing ourselves.
I will close this post by saying, again (in a slightly cheesy kind of way), just do it. Just post it online, tell everybody about it, sing it from the rooftops. Why not? Fuck it if people judge you for it. If people think you are just being one of those people, then they aren’t going to offer you any constructive feedback anyway. What matters it is that you know you aren’t one of those people. You are just a person who wants to share and contribute to an increasingly inter-connected world.