Nicky's Blog

external validation and the need for connection

We're coming up to a year since I started writing this blog1 and very occasionally I've had the treat of having a post talked about elsewhere. AJ Bourg wrote about my post Getting Around The Brick Wall, for example, and my post, Being Fatter Than Homer Simpson still gets the occasional click through after reaching 11k views in one day2 thanks in large part to Hacker News.

More recently though, my comeback post dipping my toes in the water has had a couple of crossposts that have left me pondering.

First, Colin Walker worked it into his post Friday, emphasising the mental aspects of it. That was followed yesterday by Bix Frankonis writing Being a Real Human, collating mine and Colin's words with various others along with various others along a similar line and emphasising 'in a very real way, even if none of them ever see the others’ posts, they’re also talking to each other'.

A key failure of my personality is how I react to being misunderstood; I either take it as a personal failing at best and an unbearable hindrance at worst. If I can't get my point across, that's one thing, but when it's a solution to a problem that other's aren't seeing and want to be slow my roll and explain the details, well let's just say patience is not a virtue I value in those instances. So it's always incredibly validating to have to your work not only seen by others, but responded to and in some cases furthered on.

For instance, Colin pointed out 'I've taken more breaks from blogging than I care to remember and have, after the fact, realised that such breaks are as reliable indicator of my mental health as any'. I'd always considered it from the reverse; the break was a response to the mental health episode, rather than a symptom of it. It sounds like two sides of the same coin, but the more I think on it the greater the difference; one implies a level of conscious thought on the matter, a choice so to speak, whereas the other implies a causal relationship. I didn't take the break in response to the episode, but the break was a symptom of it, and it's definitely an aspect to be more mindful of.

Bix's post got me thinking in a different direction. He pulled in quotes from mine and Colin's posts with others on topics from meaningful writing, publicly publishing, and presenting things to a room full of people who don't care. In his conclusion, Bix wrote:

All of these things are interconnected, even if barely any part of it is in direct response to any other part of it. Even when not talking about blogging, specifically, all of these people are talking about the same things.
In a very real way, even if none of them ever see the others’ posts, they’re also talking to each other.
Matt Webb tried to figure out what we could use as wards against “fake humans”. My ward is this. This post. Everyone here is a real human trying to write their way through being a real human.

That last part sung to a side of me that I often keep strangled in the corner. I'm not by nature a very social person. Interactions often exhaust me after a few hours3, and the darker I get the less I want to talk with people who I can't fake being okay. This ultimately leaves me feeling alone in the shadows, where's I'm safe to be depressed and in pain.

But try as I might, there is that human side that wants to feel a part of something, that yearns for connection. The reality that I'm singing in part of a chorus filled with others I've never met nor heard goes a fair way to soothing that, but it also serves a higher purpose.

I need that connection. I need to engage more with my humanity and less with my deterministic and rigid approach. A chorus of unknown strangers singing their own verse is validating; let's just see if I can't make it a little more intentional.

None of the bloggers mentioned in this post have asked for a shout out, nor vice versa. AJ's blog is one I've followed via RSS since he linked to me months ago; the other's I've only seen fairly recently. All of them are fully recommended though. Plus, if you like acid house, Colin has some tracks on his site and available at Bandcamp. I only found it yesterday, but Litmus Test part 2 was on during the house work and I'll more than likely be buying soon.

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  1. After reserving the URL many years ago, coming across Bear as a blogging platform on Reddit and going 'huh, that seems neat'.

  2. It's also netted Herman £60 in subs from me so I can could get the mailing list and additional analytics. 100% worth.

  3. In part because I'm often careful with my words, part of that quirk about not wanting to be misunderstood. Get me tipsy or get my hyper and I'll switch on a bit more, but neither are overly advisable...