Created or Curated?


I’ve been writing less lately, online at least. I think I’ve become confused about what blogging means, I know I’ve definitely become confused about social media in general. Blogging used to be a platform for online storytelling a vehicle for creative non fiction. Whether the writer was weaving a story of their lives through words or images or food, there was substance. Not all of it was my cup of tea – but that’s the beauty of blogs, you scroll until you find a writer that speaks to you, in a voice you can understand.

Now more often than not I can’t understand any of it. I’m often confused by how overly monetised blogs are know. Now, I don’t regret a writer making money for their work – I think they should. I don’t think anyone should work for free unless they truly want to do so. I think that photographers should be paid for their images, writers for their stories, foodies for their recipes. Always. But the over saturation of product placement and gifted items and hashtags and bloggers pushing products left, right and centre. Sometimes tasteful and carefully crafted, but more often than not… not.

People should be paid for their work – but gratuitous gifted product placement, is that the way forward for the salary of online writers?

I look over the carefully curated posts and Instagram feeds and I can’t help but wonder what it is doing to us all. I wonder what it is doing to those who aren’t using social media as a business (because that is a different model entirely) but those who are using it personally, and trying to live up to the curated lives that are as beautiful as they are unattainable.

What is happening to our creativity when we all try to squeeze ourselves into the same carefully designed box in the hope to get more free stuff to adorn our lives with?

Do we want to create or do we want to curate?

We can create whatever life we want to live, except one that looks perfect – because a perfect life doesn’t exist. The more we buy and the more we need to create lives that mimic the little snippets we see of lives that we don’t truly know – we run the risk of losing ourselves to the consumer machine.

There will always be more. There will always be better and bigger and newer and more fashionable. But if we chase them, endlessly, we run the risk of not just being a part of the machine but becoming it. We can let go. We can filter the noise. We can disconnect for a while. We can avoid the chase. We can remove ourselves from toxic relationships. We can buy less and grow more. When everyone around us is looking for more, we can focus on the things that really matter.

We can focus on the relationships that bring us joy. We can learn skills that sustain us. We can spend more time in the sunshine. We can grow our own food. We can share what we have. We can experience the joy that comes from finding joy in the simple things.

When everyone is focussing on getting more, we can focus on making the most of living with less.

We can stop seeing happiness and success as a competitive race with the world around us.

We can focus on accepting ourselves and being grateful for the lives we already have.

Earlier this year I started to remove myself from areas of social media. I removed blog readers and social media from my phone. I removed all ‘friends’ from my friends list that I don’t have personal relationships with. I spent a lot more time focussing on who I am in real life. On the parent I am when no one is watching. On the woman I am when I am on my own. On the friend I am to those who I see face to face.

A month ago I stood up at a Neighbourhood Soup event (a micro-grant in person crowd-sourcing event where door tickets go into a pool and the audience votes for its favourite project). I stood in front of 120 people with no persona and no agenda. I told them we didn’t need the money for the project (because we didn’t – we run a moneyless project based fully on volunteerism), I spoke as myself about the need for connectedness, for our need to focus closer to home. I spoke about participatory economies and why it’s the future that we should all strive for together – as one. As a crowd they voted for my co-founded timebank Project Bunbury to receive the very generous micro-grant to grow our membership pool – to connect with those who would otherwise not be connected. Do you know why? Because people want to help each other. Because people are desperate for community. Because despite the fact we have constant online connection we are all desperate for the connections that we are missing. Those that don’t fit into a little box or a status update. Those that we can’t capture in a blog post.

Those we can’t sell for a price or a sponsorship. Those we can’t buy.

I don’t know where my future lies in the world of social media. What I do know is that focussing on growing our communities and connecting to each other is the only way forward. I’m always looking for online reads that are more created than curated. Images and stories about real lives, you can take beautiful photographs of chaos, reality shouldn’t be hidden, it’s the most beautiful thing of all.

And you know what reality costs to create? Absolutely nothing.

It’s all around us.

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  • August 31, 2015 - 7:36 am

    cath - Totally on board. I love reading your posts because they resonate with my own reality. I hate that my life never lives up to the “reality” of my friends with their carefully crafted photos and posts and so on. I stopped writing in my blog as well for (some) of the same reasons – my blog also started to interfere with my job, so I kind of had to.
    Be good to you xReplyCancel

    • August 31, 2015 - 8:35 am

      Sash - I spend a lot of time talking to young people about mental health and self image – social media comes up a lot in conversation. i’ll say to you what I say to them… ‘you can’t compare your complete reality to a snippet of someone elses curated life – the two are not the same thing at all.’ xoxReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 7:40 am

    John James - I know exactly what you mean- I’ve been having the same feelings about blogging and social media for a long time now…

    Great post!ReplyCancel

    • August 31, 2015 - 8:34 am

      Sash - Thanks John.ReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 7:50 am

    Michaela Fox - Love this post and I think you have “created” this story beautifully. I, too, feel torn about social media and my place within it these days. I have a blog and out of 200 personal posts, about 10 of them have been sponsored. I love the written word and I love visual storytelling, too, and occasionally I am able to make some pocket change combining these two loves on my my blog. And that change disinvested back into my blog. I agree that some monetising of blogs is not done tastefully but I also don’t feel that those choosing to earn an income from blogging should be judged harshly. There are many bloggers who combine the wonderful art of storytelling with earning a dollar or two. But I love your approach to the changes and think simplifying our lives in general, both online and in the “real” world is a wonderful thing. Great post, thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • August 31, 2015 - 8:34 am

      Sash - Choosing to earn an income from blogging is a fine thing to do. xReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 7:59 am

    Zanni Louise - Much of this world leaves me cold too. But still – amongst it all is a lot of sharing, vulnerability, connectedness and authenticity. And I think the backlash to the saturation of ‘branded’ blogs and social media will be a craving for these things. I am with you on all accounts. But I have a picture book coming out tomorrow, and much of my blogging/social media has been about the genuine excitement of its release, as well as obviously promoting it. I use hashtags! I guess I have a brand in a way, though it’s not deliberately cultivated. I think what you do here, and the thoughts you share on this topic are very important in the haze of ‘brandness’ ‘blandness’. Ultimately, we crave stories and connectedness. Nothing can beat that. xReplyCancel

    • August 31, 2015 - 8:32 am

      Sash - Congratulations on your picture book! That’s a beautiful thing to be sharing and promoting and what an achievement! xReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 9:44 am

    Reannon @shewhorambles - i am well aware of the affect that social media has on me. I can feel when it’s becoming less than fun & more draining. I can feel when I’m scrolling Instagram & instead of feeling interested & connected I feel down & as if what I’m doing isn’t enough compared to others. I’m getting better at stepping away, putting down my phone & seeking out the stuff in my days that fills me up.
    I know for me, as a stay at home mum, social media is a great place to feel connected to people but there’s nothing like connecting in real life. Sure the likes on my Instagram pics give me a little smile & the comments on my blog posts make me feel like I’m not alone in the way I think about things but honestly my favourite thing is to see my people in real life & have them tell me my cake is delicious or share our gardens excess or have them look me in the eyes & give me a squeeze when I’m pouring my heart out.
    Social media has its place & as long as it’s not taking the place of real life interactions or feelings I think it’s ok.ReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 9:44 am

    Druimé - Really great words. I am struggling with this big time. I feel suffocated by all the noise. Everyone posting the same thing, for me this especially rings true on Facebook. You are right it is the real live people on our lives we should be connecting and creating with.ReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 11:57 am

    Rae Hilhorst - So refreshing to read my thoughts exactly xReplyCancel

  • August 31, 2015 - 6:17 pm

    rachel - After having my fourth baby this spring I stopped teaching full time and started waiting tables a couple nights a week. Last week I was working with another server and he made 3 times what I did that shift and at first, I was so painfully jealous. I had to talk myself out of the jealousy. Sure, I could find a way to spend a couple few extra dollars, but the truth is, I need nothing. Our bills are paid. We have what we need, and most of what we need, can’t be bought anyhow. So what actual good would it have done?
    That same jealousy sneaks in all over the place, frequently when looking at blogs or Instagram. And I have to talk myself down. That rug isn’t going to make me happy. A dip the ocean. A night with friends. Those things will make me happy and they don’t cost.ReplyCancel

  • September 1, 2015 - 8:52 pm

    lisa thomson-the great escape - Yes! I agree and I just came off a 1 month much needed blog break only to learn how important keeping my site adfree is (morally speaking). We have so much noise coming at us everywhere we go online and in person that I feel a clutter free, ad free, pop up free site is a refreshing gift 🙂 That’s one of the things that drew me to your site, Sash, is the quietness of it. Of course, your words always resonate with me, as well.ReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2015 - 4:31 pm

    Claire Raciborska - Beautifully put. I’ve been turning over the same questions. I just wrote about accepting the mess that is my self and my life, and not letting social media bamboozle me into thinking that my private chaos is anything less than who I am meant to be. Finding authentic writing is like a slow and careful treasure hunt. But I suppose community building has always been a sacred, slowly-evolving, complex process. Hashtags and algorithms can’t change that. Which makes blogs like this one even more of a gem!ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2015 - 12:44 pm

    Sophie Isobel - Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking, feeling and writing lately. Thank you for finding the words, it’s beautiful to read, to know I’m not the only one feeling like this.
    Sophie xReplyCancel

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