Image via Instagram.
On Sunday, I attended a funeral for fashion blogs, hosted by Danielle Meder of Final Fashion fame. Four of us gathered outside a church in the East Village, doused ourselves in sage, and reminisced on our experiences with the blogosphere: the good, the bad, and the indifferent.
For the record, I don’t think that blogs are dead, although it’s true that they aren’t what they used to be. It has been at least a year since I’ve stumbled upon a blog that has made me think, “I have to meet this person!” (I still get this feeling, but it is more likely to arise now from Twitter, or Instagram, or books, or journalism, or art, and the blogs, where they exist, are more compendiums of work that has been created outline the blog, rather than the locus of creation itself.)
Earlier this year, I closed down Disqus on this blog; not because I was being inundated with abuse, but because although people were still sharing and reblogging and responding, that action wasn’t happening in the comments section. And it is true that, like Danielle and Rachel and Autumn, many people who started out blogging in order to find their voices have since found them, and turned their passions into paid careers.
I didn’t start blogging to build a writing career. I’d already been freelancing for a couple of years when I started this blog. I started posting to Tumblr because I wanted to build a community; because back in 2007, this was where all the cool kids were. Because I wanted to create a space where the people who read my paid work could connect with me as a three-dimensional human being.
The second part of that didn’t work out quite as I had planned, in part because it turns out most people aren’t interested in connecting with journalists as human beings (or at least, they weren’t back in 2007 – I suspect things are a little different now that so much content consumption happens online rather than in print). But I did find the community I was seeking, not just in the fellow bloggers who became my offline friends (among them the three ladies who attended the Danielle’s fashion funeral), but in the community of people who have read this blog over the years, who have responded to what I write with more passion, gusto and connection than the readers of most of the work I am paid to write.
I love that you guys care; and that you care about the same things that I do. I love that you reblog and respond like crazy whenever I put together a post that means something, and that you absolutely could not give a fuck when I phone it in. Your approval (or lack thereof) is a surprisingly excellent measuring stick for the quality of my work. I love the intimacy of the relationship, even if the writing in question is posted on the internet for the world to see. And as a reader, I love that blogs allow me to discover new and beautiful minds (even if I have not been discovering enough of these lately!), in a way that newsletters, however fashionable they may be, just don’t.
All of which is to say that blogging may be dead, but this blog is not. I will continue to send you missives from my heart, even if those missives don’t come as often as I would like (a girl has got to eat, and my constant writing deadlines sometimes leave me in a state of paralysed anxiety).
And if you have any thoughts on the kind of writing you would like to see on this blog - or beautiful online minds you think I should discover - please let me know. I may not have Disqus anymore, but there is always email and the ask button.
Criticisms of women’s magazines are 50% feminism, 50% misogyny.
My best friend is back in New York. On Monday, we took our lunch to the park together and talked loudly and enthusiastically about everything, but mostly about her business and my work. “I love it when you say exactly what you think,” she said to me. “You should be more like that in your writing.”
It is easy for me to be direct with her. In fact, it is the only way I know how to be around her: to tell her directly what I think she is brilliant at, when I think she is messing up, which of our wide circle of shared acquaintances I think are wonderful and which I think are ghastly users. Our friendship is sufficiently secure – and free of any pretence that we are the same person in different skins – that we are able to disagree, sometimes passionately, without it threatening our connection.
And she is probably right that if I threw unfiltered opinions and bon mots at the internet with the same ease that I fling them during my conversations with her, I would have twice as many Twitter followers; that my articles would get more shares.
But you know what? I’m cool with that. That is to say, I am cool with not sharing that part of myself with the world. Because in the same way that some people believe that sex should not be sold because it is too intimate, the body too much a window into the soul inside, I believe that (some of) my thoughts are private; best saved for trusted friends. Or at least, that they are more comfortably shared in spontaneous conversation (even on stage!) than carved forever into the WWW.
And on an internet where so many people are invested in looking like the Coolest, Nicest, Most Funnest Girl Ever (or the Fiercest, Most Opinionated, Doesn’t Give A Shit About Anyone Girl Ever), I think there is something delicious about the surprise of being more fierce and more fun in person than in text.
(Besides, as a reader, I prefer writing that is searching and philosophical anyway. Which is why that’s what I try to do in my work. Bon mots are more fun in a rapid fire conversation.)
Sure, drop me a line :)
As you may recall, for the last month or so I’ve been writing Cosmopolitan.com’s Sex Talk Realness column. Each week, I interview 2-4 people on their experiences with difference topics related to sex, gender, and relationships - you can find some of my previous stories here, here, here, and here.
Over the next month, I’ll be covering sexting (I would love people who are under 25 for this one, as I’ve already got a couple of over-25s signed up), threesomes, anorgasmia (people who have trouble reaching orgasm), abortion, and trans* issues.
Can you help with any of these? Email me at rachel dot hills at gmail dot com.
Women and men, straight and queer people all welcome. Age-wise, I’d prefer you were in the general “Cosmo” demographic of 18-35 years old. And all interview subjects are completely anonymous. You will be known only as Woman A, Man B, Person C, etc.
Weekend reading a la me.
I wouldn’t mind being in here right now. (Katrin Korfmann)
"By the time I was 27, I was pretty successful, but I didn’t feel like I was doing work that was meaningful." I loved this interview with Molly Crabapple. (The Great Discontent)
“This first struck me as an almost hysterical overreach, but I came to see it as something else: Christian conservatives acknowledging feminism’s revolutionary potential, taking it far more seriously than did mainstream society.” Kathryn Joyce in Medium’s Backlash Book Club. (Medium)
This is the best and most complete resource I’ve ever found on book publishing, including the (many, many) things that happen after you get the book contract. (Ian Irvine)
I’ll be your mirror: a cautionary tale of a former dream girl. (Rookie)
Okay, I’ll admit it: the last time I caught a medium-haul flight, I was quietly incensed when the person in front of me put their seat back, meaning I had to either A) crick my neck for the rest of the flight, or B) put my seat back, and similarly inconvenience the person in front of me. (I chose option A.) I considered it an act of selfishness; or prioritizing your comfort at the expense of others. But it turns out that other people consider it equally selfish to be incensed by people putting their seats back, and that these two tribes of people are not-at-all-quietly getting into fights on planes. What to make of it? I could write a whole post on this very First World Problem (and will, if people want me to), but for now I will just direct you to this post on Jezebel. The comments are fascinating. (Jezebel)
The Nation has put together a “state of the nation” on the new wave of racial justice organizing on the United States. (The Nation)
“In a way [Orange Is The New Black's] Morello is like the mirror image of the Santa Barbara shooter, Elliot Rodger: the same but opposite. Rodger took his anger at his lack of attention from women—spurred on by porn and men’s rights forums—out on the female population in general in the most violent way, whereas Morello continues her stereotypically feminine obsession with romance and fixates on one man, dangerously crafting an alternate life with him.” (The Scarlett Woman)
"With Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century still on best-seller lists and New York City’s new spate of mixed-income housing developments, it is becoming harder for the fashionable rich to deny their disproportionate wealth.” Elissa Strauss on how income inequality is shaping high fashion. (The Week)
And a couple of stories from me over the past couple of weeks that you might have missed: I wrote about the rise of the #bossbabe and #girlboss (the hashtag is vital) for The Daily Beast, and interviewed two women about asexuality for Cosmopolitan.