Greetings from this Patriotic Filipino!
I’ll be honest: as I was with my fellow Nuffies for our annual company outing, I actually missed Day 1, albeit I’ve heard some stuff about that. On day 2, though, if in case you missed it, we had some very notable speakers, including Fitz Villafuerte and his semi-controversial discussion on growing your web following without using SEO; the ever-hilarious Roy dela Cruz, who covered how to deal with writing blocks; a sassy discussion on forming online communities through Mike Rubio; the need for a National Podcaster’s Association (A shame about the acronym, though.) through Jeric; and the very concise but insightful talk on Blogging 101 by Jonel.
All the speakers I mentioned were awesome (And there are no complaints about the ones I failed to mention as well, by the way.), and the lingering spectre of Mike Abundo’s absence was undoubtedly permeating the air, having been only one of two people (Yours truly, being the other one.) who has never missed a single iBlog. Nonetheless, he did show up at the end, despite the fact that I had to put on my own Bluetooth earpiece and be his (shudder) spiritual successor for a couple of hours.
Coming from a psychology background, there was no question that Ria knew her subject matter, and it showed with how she managed to share both researched information and personal experiences in a very light-hearted, refreshing talk that made people realize that as technology marches on, virtual relationships have fast approached the same level of importance as offline relationships. I loved how inclusive her language was. It never once felt condescending or holier-than-thou.
By now, most of mainstream media recognizes that bloggers are the exact same citizenry they used to deal with, only more public by virtue of the internet. While there are some attempts to make it seem like bloggers are so wildly different such as the infamous PGB feature in some news outfits, overall, bloggers have been successfully integrated in the mainstream scene now, and there’s no reason to look upon them as some kind of oddity. While it’s true that the medium is the message, there is now enough weight put into the content of bloggers now such that their content is no longer being put down solely by virtue of it being in a blog. That’s progress, and that’s certainly a good thing.
Having said that, and in an effort to remind people that the Philippine blogosphere, while important in some facets, shouldn’t be all srs bznz, I have a few things I’d like to say, coming from my nearly nine years of experience as a blogger without qualifiers.
I’m sure some of the new bloggers might have seen a few discussions in iBlog, or at least heard of them, and they’re left wondering “where do we fit in?” True, there are cliques within the community, but then, which community wouldn’t have that? We place so much emphasis on the differences between the virtual community and the offline one that we tend to forget that the similarities are just as important.
So to the new bloggers, I say:
1. Don’t fret over the possibility of becoming the next Big Bad Blogger or the next Patay-Gutom/Blogger Quolorum without knowing it. There are hardly any special rules in the blogosphere to worry about. If you’re a decent person offline, simply be a decent person online. You’d be surprised how awesome the golden rule is for living a quiet internet life. It’s actually not that hard, and you don’t need a Masters Degree or Wikipedia to tell you how to be a good person. If you can honestly say that your online behaviour, if taken offline, is just fine, then you won’t magically break some unwritten ethos in the community because really, human decency is more than enough to get you by. This should also guide how you write, of course. Do you hate people saying mean things about you? Try not saying mean things about other people, too. There will always be people who don’t respect these basic golden rules (and not just online), but you don’t need to be one of them. And hey, if you do make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world! Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology.
2. Bloggers are people, too. They don’t bite, unless you’re dating. I know it can be daunting to be surrounded by some people in a blogging summit whom you’ve only heard of online. How do you even begin to approach a superstar blogger like Ade? Or a gorgeous blogger like Sarah Cada? Or a veritable guru like Juned? The thing is, you can. They’re people, too. They may be insular at times, but like most people who meet strangers, people generally assume the best out of new people they meet. Don’t sweat it. You’re fine.
3. Being a pro or a hobbyist doesn’t make you a better or worse blogger. I don’t even know why this issue crops up, really. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn an honest living from something you like doing. Really, there isn’t. There’s also nothing wrong with choosing not to earn from blogging. It’s all a matter of choice, and respecting the choices people make, and not shoving our own beliefs down other people’s throats. It isn’t hard, and I’m sure you guys already know this, but you might have gotten bogged down with all the intrigue going around lately. Your opinion is every bit as valid and subject to assent or disagreement whether you have ads in your blog or you do not. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
4. The community does not shun new blood. Don’t let the reminiscing fool you. There were bad eggs among the elder members of the community. There will be bad eggs in the new ones. People always look to the past with rose-colored glasses, but if you’re not someone who’s contributing to the things that give other bloggers a headache, why should you feel bad you’re among the so-called “newbies?” Everyone was a newbie once, and this community can only grow with the influx of newbies who blossom into amazing people (or already are) over time. Please don’t fear us. It’s all good. Really.
5. Ultimately, it’s a free world. You don’t need the community to validate you. This is not to say the past four bits of advice to fitting in are irrelevant. It’s just to say that there’s no need to make a goal out of fitting in. Just let it happen, but, if for some weird reason, it doesn’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a person or even a blogger. Your existence as a blogger does not have to be given meaning by being an active part of the blogger community. A lot of standout bloggers have never taken part in a single community event, online or offline. Nobody would have the right to tell them they’re not true bloggers just because. Neither would anyone have the right to tell you that.
iBlog 7 made me feel that finally, some imaginary walls are being taken down in favour of a more inclusive community that respects each other mutually, and works towards mutual betterment. This isn’t Sparta anymore. And that could only be a good thing.
Looking forward to iBlog 8!
In the meantime, sugod, mga bloggers!