Blogging was one of my very first ventures into writing. Back in 2010, when I started to pursue this as a potential career, all the best advice was: write a blog.
It was good advice. I honed my craft, spoke my thoughts, gained an audience, found my niche(s). Back then, blogging was all the rage. Millions were doing it, before the days of vlogging and before Twitter made the 140-character ‘word-bite’ popular (and a lot easier than writing articles).
Along with the advice that blogging was good practice for writers came the advice that to get an audience you need to read, follow and comment on other blogs. It was good blogging etiquette in those days to follow someone who follows you. Sure enough, I waded in, following hundreds of blogs.
My problem is that I’m a very loyal kind of chap and I tried to read everything that was posted. With some bloggers, in those heady days, posting two or three times per day it was too much. I had to cut down – especially as my writing career was truly taking off. These days, it’s a labour of love to write for my two blogs at all. The social media community has changed and blogs are no longer so popular. Those of us who continue them do so with a more professional eye, seeing them as websites rather than blogs. Indeed, most business websites I write for now use WordPress formats and work behind the scenes just like a blog. There is no difference.
One large difference in the blogging world though is that the number of likes on your posts is no longer indicative of your audience. In the early days having 2000+ bloggers following you page was a sign of prestige. Now it isn’t. The vast majority of my readers are not from the blogging world any longer but from such an assorted variety of places that I can’t keep track! Bloggers are the minority now.
Nevertheless, there are some from those early days who continue to support me and, on the whole, most of them have become firm friends. Some have come and, eventually, gone again. It is always disappointing when that happens. But others have grown into true friends well beyond the blogging platform.
Confessions of an Apple Junkie
Back in the beginning I didn’t just pick blogs willy-nilly to follow. I went for ones I would be interested in. Education, living abroad, politics, writers and, of course, Bangladesh. Some were heavy, most were deep, many touched my soul.
And then there was Confessions of an Apple Junkie…
This was a totally different blog for me. This young girl, fresh from university when I started following her blog, spoke openly and intelligently but also with great humour and honesty. Forever getting into mishaps and misadventures, her posts entertained me and gave me light. She wasn’t a comedian; she wasn’t trying to be clever. It was just all about her life and the bizarre things which happen along the way.
We followed each other and regularly commented (she rarely blogs these days but still continues to follow mine and leaves lovely comments) but somewhere along the line the girl I came to call ‘Apple’ got in contact with me privately and a true friendship was born.
This girl’s real name is so secret that even I don’t know it. Well, ok, I’m lying about that – I do know! But in honour of all these years of calling her ‘Apple’ on the blog-o-sphere I will continue to call her that here.
These days, with my world largely being sat around my laptop or on my phone, everyone I get involved with comes from the virtual world. As someone who likes to ‘make it real’ as much as possible, I soon have phone calls and video chats with new friends if they live too far away to actually go and see. But even the ones further afield I keep a bucket list of intentions to go visit as soon as I can afford to.
Weirdly, Apple and I had got so used to text communication that we’ve never video chatted or spoken on the phone – not even voice messages! But as we both live in the UK, we have talked about meeting up for years.
It finally happened last week. Apple came to stay with my family and I for three nights up here in Cumbria and it was only as I opened the door to her that I realised I didn’t even know what her voice sounded like. It’s not the first time I’ve done something as mad as invite a stranger (in real life) to stay with me, but even for me I realised this was taking a risk.
Apple goes ‘wow!’ – a lot…
What an adventure it turned out to be.
Friendship, for me, is one of the precious jewels of life and I’ve got so used to what seems like gems eventually turning out to be worthless fakes that it’s hard to take anyone seriously any longer. But Apple proved to be a definite exception. I’ve known her so well for so many years but I was taken aback by her sense of humour and love of life. I expected some awkwardness, some compromise which is normally the case when someone invades your house. Not in this case – Apple was a member of the family by the end of the first evening. She slotted right in, accepted the chaos which is my family and brightened the place by her enthusiasm.
Equally enthusiastic was her response to Cumbria which I, as good host, showed her around. Apple brought superb weather with her (as I write this, it has been raining solidly ever since she left!) and as a result had the perfect conditions for seeing lakes, hills, fields and beaches. She was constantly stunned, forever taking photos and saying things like “oh wow” and “how can this even be possible in this country?” I’m pretty certain the Lake District was a hit for this apple junkie!
The last evening was spent humiliating Apple at pool (this video is a good indication of how the entire game went) which, in my family’s language, is the best way to tell someone you love them.
The down side to friendship
There is, however, a negative to all this.
In the end – all too soon – Apple left us to go back home down south. To say I felt bereaved is too strong a statement; and not possibly true seeing as I’m messaging her on my phone as I write this! But it is true to say that this house feels a lot emptier without her and is missing her bounce.
Apple has been invited back, and she has promised to come back. I hope she will and soon. It is for moments like this that I spend time online developing friendships with interesting people, hoping they will blossom into more than just casual acquaintances. The world is so bleak at times that it is the love, the friendship, the fun and the laughter we share together which makes life worth living. For three days my online world met my real world and it was a joyous moment.
But now she’s gone and the sky is, quite literally, grey outside. So what do you do when such a pain occurs?
Well, you blog about it of course because that’s what bloggers do! And while the blogging community may have changed over the years I’m still proud to be keeping this one going – spouting political opinion one moment and talking mushy about a friend the next. If nothing else, it makes life interesting – and that can’t be all that bad, can it?
Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Ken has two new books coming out over summer – don’t miss them!
Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org