I have been in the midst of a very intense emotion all day today and I can’t identify it. Whatever it is, I’m afraid to go near it but I am drawn to things that touch on it, that resonate with it. I called my friend D while I was running errands this morning and D suggested I blog about it, that maybe by writing about it, whatever it is, I could identify it.
So that is what I will try to do. But not now. Because it’s still too scary right now. Maybe when I’m done with this post?
Instead I will write about something else that has come up that has left me with mixed feelings. When I started this blog, I didn’t really know what I was doing (I still don’t, really). I looked at a lot of other blogs and here and there I picked up references to various aggregators and the whole feed thing that I still don’t understand.
But I submitted my blog because I knew that if no one knew I was here, no one would read anything, and I knew–I just knew–that eventually I would use that as a weapon against myself, a way to prove that my depression was right all along and no one cared and I was just babbling away to no one and it wasn’t going to make a difference so why bother?
I am moved beyond expression that the blogosphere in general and the Jewish blogosphere in specific has proved that train of thought very, very wrong. That potential weapon has been neutralized. And now with mixed feelings I have become aware of another.
I didn’t realize that one of the aggregators encourages readers to rate posts, or that it automatically rates the post as soon as it becomes aware of it. The aggregator appears to rate the post based on the number of words; short posts, even if they speak of something important, are rated lower than long posts even if they are about nothing. One of my readers pointed me toward this aggregator (JBlogCentral) and explained to me about the ratings and how readers can rate posts and what it meant that I had an overal rating of 4+ stars with only a couple hundred points. And then I found out about the JBlogAwards.
It took me a while, clicking on things around the site, to figure out how it worked, and then I felt uneasy when the site itself encouraged bloggers to rate their own posts.
Because when I write something, it isn’t here to compete with everyone else’s posts or earn me international attention or win a Pulitzer prize. I’m not qualified to offer psychiatric advice or rabbinic advice or medical advice. It’s just me, trying to muddle through life the best I can while dealing with depression and anxiety, and relying very much on the strength I have found in being Jewish.
I know that competition is a good thing, generally. Competition is what allows me to afford my prescriptions. Competition is what drives my need to give my children the Jewish education I never had. Competition keeps a paycheck coming into our family.
But how do I take it when some people rate a post that to me is raw and vulnerable and just lays my reality out there for everyone to see, a five and others rate it a three? Or a one? Was I just not angst-ridden enough? Not compelling enough? Not provacative enough? Not political enough? Perhaps I didn’t provide enough gossip or badmouth people in shul or threaten to out my rabbi? Or perhaps I was too much out there, too emotional, too honest. I don’t know.
I remind myself that I am writing this blog primarily for me because I have never successfully maintained a written offline journal. As a bonus, the feedback I’ve received is tremendously helpful. And a result I never expected was that it’s apparently helping others, those who are experiencing similar issues, those who are caring for those experiencing similar issues, and those who want to help via their profession or vocation or simply because it’s important to them.
At the same time I’m reminding myself of this, I’m noting that some of the blogs I enjoy visiting, like Rabbi Without a Cause and A Mother in Israel, are at least today on the Top 50 blogs list. Yid With Lid, who hosted the most recent Haveil Havalim, is today number three.
What do I feel? Disappointment? A touch of benign envy? Happy with the overall ratings despite individual votes? Does it affect my ego? Should it? Why does it even make a difference? Who relies on those ratings anyway? Is that last question at all a sour-grapes sentiment?
I want to be Seen and noticed and valued, and the ratings and awards seem like a good way to accomplish that, but there is dark territory in there for me.
My feelings are very mixed. The only way I know that my blog is anything positive in the world is from comments and email that people have left, and the occasional mention on another blog. I can’t at this time trust ratings and awards. There is too much potential for me to criticize myself or stomp on an already wavering self-esteem if I allow ratings and awards to define the worth of what I write, which on this blog, is most certainly tied to the worth of me.