Tuesday 27 March 2012

How Deep is Your Blog?

I've long been on the fence over the issue of how personal a blog should be as I read a diverse mixture myself - everything from issue based political blogs to lifestyle - but another question occurred to me recently; is my blog frivolous? As I posted yet another selection of thrifted/vintage finds at the weekend I did find myself wondering whether I should be using this platform of self expression for a nobler purpose or championing a cause of some kind, and does the fact I love photographing and writing about the pretty things make me shallow? I looked back over posts from the last few months and couldn't find one among them that was indicative of my opinions on current affairs - the Iraq war, economic policy, the NHS Bill, tuition fee protests, the census and it's effect on privacy - I have fairly strong views on all of it and much, much more besides but if you didn't know me personally before you visited Beautiful Clutter you would never know. Twitter followers may have caught occasional tweets about whatever Guardian/Times/Independent article or local issue has put a bee in my bonnet that week but I never tend to go into too much depth.

As bloggers and readers we all seek something different from our experience with blogs, I think for many of us blogging is a creative outlet slotted into an otherwise busy life or a form of escapism, somewhere to disappear for an hour and melt away into the grass-is-greener aspects of someone else's life. I don't know about you but there have been moments when I've emerged from a lifestyle blog binge in a free hour with a little cloud of guilt hovering overhead feeling as though I'm somehow letting the side down. Up pop the rhetorical questions: Does it really matter how pretty a bunch of peonies look arranged in a Bonne Maman jar tied with the ribbon recycled from an expertly wrapped gift? Shouldn't I be channeling my energy into informative-but-wryly-humourous posts bursting with thoughtful commentary on dealing with anxiety, opinions on the ethics of mass produced goods and child labour or the fight to make clean water available to all? This is when I put the kettle on, cradle a steaming cup of tea and try to fathom where the guilt comes from.

As the only female student in my A-level Politics class I was in the habit of getting into the thick of it when it came to debates on almost every issue - particularly those affecting women - I felt as though it was my responsibility to represent my own gender in the midst of an overdose of testosterone and to do as good a job of that as possible. It always came as something of a surprise to me how many of my female friends were disinterested in current affairs and yet now I find that I'm almost going the same way. Fast forward to age 26 and the last time I watched the news was about a fortnight ago, I haven't picked up a paper in over a month and seem to be getting most of my daily news from BBC and Guardian tweets. True, it is difficult not to feel disheartened by rising unemployment, a constant shadow of economic gloom and yet more revelations of corruption in the powers that be. It can't be denied though that it IS important to know what is going on outside your own bubble.

Here comes the 'but' part of the somewhat jumbled ramble; why NOT celebrate simple pleasures, little things that bring bursts of happiness and end up as the highlights of our day? Someone commented on my tent post recently that: 'the reason so many ''grown-ups'' are boring sods is that they'd just never think to do stuff like this even if they had the urge to' and to some extent I agree. I just enjoy using my little corner of the web to share a few of the bits I love and indulge a passion for old things which isn't shared by many of the people who are close to me in my 'real' life. Perhaps I don't write heartfelt tomes about the negative aspects of my life or share many of my struggles and so could be classed as a fair weather blogger who doesn't show you the untidy box room. I'll freely admit that I like to take as positive an approach as possible to what I blog, and I don't get up on my soapbox too often either but that doesn't mean I lack conviction. Maybe I've been mulling it all over too much and shouldn't beat myself up for appreciating lovely pictures and flights of fancy.

At this point I'm really interested in hearing some of your views - are you a fellow gratuitous snapper of pretty things? What do you like to get out of blogging and reading blogs? Are picture heavy blogs all a little airy-fairy to you or do you think it is important to escape once in a while?

{Note the lack of any pictures in this post ;-}  


  1. I have only been blogging for about 2 months. For me my blog is my chance to be frivolous. Your blog can be what you want it to be and if that's showing pics of your latest thrifty finds then certainly don't feel guilty about it. That's why I follow your blog and you're right twitter is a good place for getting an issue that troubles you off your chest instead

  2. Hi Jem, fab post.
    Lots of this resonates with me. In fact I started a post a couple of weeks ago with something like "With all these craft/ vintage finds posts you may think I've forgotten there are other ways to make the world beautiful" and went on to discuss the dilemma I felt when blogging about activism- readers just don't engage with it. I sometimes feel I am being cheeky even when I air my political views! But personally I can't NOT. I also think crafting and thrifting has a kind of inherent activist edge, it is often a creative rejection of consumerism, whether articulated (which I try and do) or not.
    Also though, I love your blog and do think it is important to allow simply celebrating beauty to be enough -and guilt free!

  3. Very interesting point you've raised.

    My blog is my "happy place" it is full of frippery and irreverence. It's like this on purpose because it is an escape from everyday life, or rather it's a smattering of the nice things in my everyday life.
    I too, have strong opinions but these tend to be aired with my husband and close friends on those evenings where you chat until the small hours.

    Your blog is just perfect as it is. If you want to throw a pretty picture in there, fantastic. If you also want to make a point about something you feel strongly about, that's fantastic too!! :D xx

  4. I'm the worst sort of bloggy hopper because I dont actually BLOG anything. Set up my account aaaaaages ago with every good intention but then 'oops' just never got around to posting anything I come to your blog Jem because you post such stunning pictures and when you post a wordy post it's always a good read and to be honest I prefer coming to beautiful clutter than I do picking up a magazine that costs best part of a fiver. you should set up your own online magazine you know - there'd be so many takers.

    can understand the conscience issue though as its hard to feel like you make any difference in the world sometimes and I guess when it comes down to it lifestyle sorts of blogs are pretty frivolous but I think escapism is okay as its good to get away from the world for a while. on the personal stuff I actually really like the fact that you're a very positive person. so many blogs Ive read put me off because it seems every other post contains a whinge about a broken washing machine or an undelivered parcel or not liking their job as though its the end of the pigging world when really it isnt.


  5. My blog started when i was doing my masters so I was often posting things about feminism or stereotyping which I was researching at the time. But when my MA finished so did those kind of posts. I tend to keep my political views aside from blogging because I feel it's my personal views and I would ate to bombard people with it all because I would hate that to happen to me. However with moving to the states i've made passing reference with it in regards to religion and politics when it comes to comparisons but I often feel with regards to things in the news i'm not knowledgeable enough to write anything in-depth about it.

  6. Oh Jem such an interesting post, because I often find myself in a world full of pretty and frivolous things also. Blogging for me is an escape and I often worry that I may come across as a whimsical one at times, but I enjoy doing what I do and writing about a bunch of second-hand stuff might seem irrelevant in today’s world, but I find passion in doing just that, and whilst doing so I hope that I might just inspire somebody along the way xxx

  7. In real life I'm a bit of a "grumpy old woman", but I love having my blog where I can write about things that look pretty and give me pleasure. I love reading other similar blogs. Don't feel guilty! Keep blogging about whatever you want!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  8. I like little posts about happy moments noticed in passing. We should do more of those. My blog is mainly to document all the charity shop stuff I buy and share it with others, as well as gaining a sense of community and confidence from the lovely things people say

  9. I often worry about being too shallow, but then I think that life can be hard sometimes, busy and stressful. Sometimes its a good thing to have little things that give you something to smile about and no body should judge us for that. Especially if you know that there is more to you than the vintage, thrifty things that you love to photograph and talk about (and we love to read about).

    Personal/opinions blogs can be great but I guess in the end you have to do what makes you feel good, even if it only represents a small part of the person.

    Lexie x

  10. I feel the same as Liz .... it is my little corner where I am me and not someone's wife/mother/nan .... a place where I have been able to meet like minded peeps and form new friendships. Very good post Jem x

  11. My blog is my little bit of frivolous escapism, a million miles away from my day to day job. I love my work but it means I spend a lot of of my day dealing with the harsh realities of life and when I come home I have to switch off and leave all of that at the front door. Like you some times I feel my blog is superficial and frivolous and I feel a little embarrassed about it all but I enjoy keeping an on line diary of the things I find and the places I go that make me happy. It's fun to look back over old posts and photos.I think it's fine to just present one aspect of yourself in your blog, like you I have strong political views and have been very politically active over the years but have decided that my blog is something separate.My blog is one of the few places I can share my love of vintage finds and know that there are others out there that appreciate the same things as most of my family and friends think I am mad !
    Ann x

  12. This was such an interesting post. It's tricky isn't it... Sometimes I worry that keeping a cheery tone on my blog is almost like I'm dumbing down. Maybe dumbing down is the wrong word, more... well frivolous like you said! But I think ultimately, who decides what's important? The little things are so much more frequent than big issues in daily life if you think about it, and where else do they get such a great platform than on blogs? Basically this is my round about way of saying you have hit the nail on the head here, great post. xxx

  13. This is such an interesting topic Jem. I too wonder if people think my blog is not "deep" enough, i dont express my opinions on topical issues and tend to focus on the fun things in life. Basically im a cup half full kind of gal, i love a good chuckle and i look for the best in any situtation and therefore i hope that my blog can make people smile or be a bit of escapism in a world where there is a lot of crap going on. Its real food for thought for me this one. Scarlett x

  14. Adding to the chorus saying great post. It's a tricky one, and I am actually feeling very guilty myself at being SO clueless about current events at the moment. Like you I get snippets of news from Twitter and occasional shared stories online, I'm not sure when I stopped having time to be fully informed. That said, a) I don't think there's actually anything wrong with a bit of frivolity (although frivolous sounds like a slight - your blog has plenty of substance, it's well photographed and written, a very different prospect to some) and b) it's YOUR space. If you feel the need to be a bit more serious on the odd post, go for it. I sometimes indulge myself with posts which don't really fit my blog, and they don't get as many comments - but who cares?

    Also, as Scarlett says - we're performing a valuable service in cheering people up! Readers can enjoy the Guardian to Beautiful Clutter in the same way as I can flip between Victorian literature and YA novels, or techno and folk music.


  15. My blog probably appears unimportant to most people, but I guess my intention was for it to be a "happy" place...a place that might crack a smile once in awhile. I don't care about the number of comments or followers I have. My blog serves as an opportunity for me to work on my writing/thinking skills that pertain to my hobbies. I read so many blogs each day. If they were all written about "heavy" topics, I think I would go mad!!

  16. The beauty of blogging is that you can please yourself what you write. If people like it and it interests them, then they'll read it, if not they'll find another blog. What's important to us (serious or frivolous) changes at different times in our lives and if you're in a "frivolous mode" at the moment and you enjoy blogging about it then embrace it. There's so much in life to be serious about, that in my spare time I love reading blogs like yours and I certainly enjoy seeing pretty pictures. :-)

  17. Blogs should be whatever you want them to be.

    If you particularly desire to get up on your soapbox and let us all have your thoughts and opinions on all the various current issues, then by all means, go for it. But be prepared for some controversial comments and possibly even some unpleasantness, because when you put yourself out there, some people do bite and get quite heated and even aggressive and nasty. I don't think I could handle that so I keep my (very strong) opinions on current issues for my husband. :)

    If you just want a place to express the gentler, more pleasant and fun side of life then do that. It doesn't make you shallow at all. It just means you're only sharing a particular aspect of yourself.

    Humans are multi-faceted, and our interests and life focuses change over time, so why should our blogs not be the same?

    There's too much pressure to try and put bloggers into a labelled box - keep yourself free and jump about as much as you like. I doubt that there's anyone judging you over your blog - and if there is, they're so smallminded they aren't worth bothering about,

  18. Such a fantastic post Jem!Reading someone's blog to me is like peeking into an aspect of someone's life (the part they want to share)and often seeing their blog evolve is the most interesting aspect for me.You have a strong authentic voice which shows through your beautiful photographs and writing so I feel your blog would never be viewed as superficial in any way.
    My blog is a way to share my work and experiment using the stories which fill my head(as many others have commented,it's a form of escapism too)My blog looks totally frivolous but I just hope that reading my blog might inspire someone or bring a smile to their face - as yours does:)

  19. Oh Jem, I love all the pretty pics.... I am afraid I don't tend to read the wordy political stuff... It may be shallow but my life is busy and full as it could be.... Blogland is my escape.... I want to share my creative endeavors and be inspired by others. I love your pretty pictures and thrifty finds! X

  20. It's funny, just this moment I was thinking how my blog is quite the opposite - I always want to include the quirky, pretty, exciting things I've dug out in charity shops, and the cute moments of my life with my daughter, but I feel that what I've started is just too political for me to share those things without it seeming out of place. Don't stop doing what you do, it's wonderful to see people looking at the brighter side of things, finding something positive in little treasures, and giving the all-too-serious people like me a place to dream of teacups and crafty things.

  21. This is a great posting I have read. I like your article.

  22. If you want frivolity, look no further than the identical comments 'busana muslim' has left us!
    The content of your blog should always reflect your interests and have a personal, unique style. Yours does, and your personality filters through more than you realise. I feel I know you, that's the mark of an excellent blog in my book. Keep it up!

  23. "how personal a blog should be" I would guess that would depend upon the blogger. We show all our personal life we can without setting our blog to 'Adult Content'.lol. Politics and Religion are personal information we keep to ourselves.
    We are very curious Twins we like to know what other girl bloggers are thinking and doing.
    Very interesting post. Love it!


  24. Hi Jem....I so enjoy your artful blog. I have enjoyed reading your comments on this topic. It took me years to actually start my blog and I'm still fairly new at it. I thing blogs are so creative and reflect the owner. I adore that and find the personal expressions interesting and refreshing. Life is challenging and I enjoy the break that our blogs seem to give us. I tried for years to keep a paper journal and failed year after year. I look at my blog as a journal, a record of my life, especially now that I am retired! Life is a journey and how wonderful to share it with so many all over the world, if so inclined. So...post away and enjoy!

  25. This is such an interesting debate Jem and one I've considered too. Just because your blog is 'pretty' (ie you take care and pride over its appearance) doesn't make it shallow or vacuous. Likewise, just because you celebrate the simple pleasures in life and mark the things that bring you joy, doesn't make your blog any less worthy of reading than one that discusses more serious issues.

    Your blog is just one aspect of your multi-faceted personality and it can be anything you want to be.

    As in life, I sometimes worry what people think of me / my blog, but we really shouldn't. Those that like will stick around and those that don't, well, who cares?

    Keep on doing what you do, it's wonderful!

  26. Excellent post ... and interesting comments in response.

    My blog is just a little journal chronicling those "little bursts of happiness" - it's not deep at all and I did have slight concerns about that ... but those concerns have dissolved!

    It's my blog and I'll do what I want!


  28. Uhhhh yes! This post is great. I have definetly had that same niggling feeling of doubt before about my blog, like i hate blogging about clothes or similar frivilous things when their are so many people out there who dont even have clothes to call their own! I have to admit I get awkward putting my views out there on such a public forum such as a blog though and i prefer to debate such things with the 3D folk in my life.

    However i completely agree with every word of the 'BUT' section you wrote- my life is so busy with work and other pursuits that often blogging is the only time i have to be creative and satisfy my more shallow side. I do LOVE your blog (it is just dreamy!) and you certainly do not come across as concieted or vain or ignorant to the world so do not worry in that respect! xxxxxx

  29. You know there is enough 'debate' and 'discussion' about these things- but does it really get us anywhere anyway!!?? I dont blog as often as I could but when I do I like to share what I'm doing in my spare, crafty, gardening, collecting time!

    We all have our moments ( ALL?, well those of us who do) where we think and discuss the current political issues- I wouldn't visit a blog where there were no pretty pictures! ( and yes I do read the broadsheets!!)

    Your blog is refreshing, interesting and fun- keep it just as it is!!

  30. Hi Jem, sorry I've been a bit quiet of late, but have actually been thinking similar thoughts to you about the purpose of my blog and what I was posting about. The results of my heady thinking leave me to believe that the small beautiful things in life are important. They make up the overall picture of the beauty that life holds for us. By celebrating them on your blog you aren't frivolous, but I believe, are actually sharing the concrete beauty of your life. I believe there are many ways of stating your beliefs about life, and that focusing on what makes your life beautiful brings more beauty into your life. I have very strong opinions about current affairs, poverty, feminism ( I consider myself a feminist and am proud to say so) as well as politics, racism, education, sexism, but for me, my blog is about celebrating the beauty of my life, creativity and the joy I feel in the small things of life that combine to make my life joy-filled. I am aware that some people may believe my blog is very "pretty" and may make a judgement call that "pretty" is somehow less important than the painful stuff of life, but life is very beautiful, as well as being painful, and sharing what makes a person's life beautiful isn't frivolous. I believe it's a gift you're giving to the world, because you are offering your readers your view of the world, a piece of it through your eyes. That's very important. Big hugs and lots of love, Em xx (Am loving your enw blog look. very fresh and spring-like!)

    1. Good Gordon this comment is wordy and meandering, am tired, but know you get my drift!!! Em x

  31. I just discovered your blog (though a thrift link party no less), and I can really appreciate the thoughts here. I've played this soundtrack in my head as well about what is meaningful about what I blog. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not rightly sure, but as long as it makes me happy, I'll keep doing it. I do post rarely about some feminist or social issue, but it is often void of strong emotion. In real life, I tend to be very introverted and "let" others win debates. Others do not change my view points and frankly, I don't care to hear their opinions on politics, so in return, I don't impose my own. I have unfollowed blogs that got too personal and vocal on issues I disagreed with. On the flip side, I've grown very attached to other bloggers who have shared beliefs that I share. Definitely a balancing act to not come across as vapid but also not zealous.

  32. suffice it to say i agree with your statements that we should celebrate the little pleasures, things that make you happy! i never thought deeply when i first created my blog, i thought i just created it to escape all the problems in my life, a blog that i can rant and raves and say what i want and don't care what other people say and even didnt dream of anyone visiting my blog or even comment it on it, I still dont really thing about what my blog would be about, or what other people say, i just thought if anyone want to read it, it's okay, if anyone wants to comment on it, i'll return the favor, being nice is important to me, coz really if we wanted to talk about all the subjects in life from politics to world peace, i think we wont have time to do anything else coz we'll be writing a blog all day and everyday! so a few times a week, blogging something that we love and give pleasure to us or just rambling about things that we wanted to get it off of our chests and perhaps that will help if only in a blog :)

    and your blog is awesome! i love this post!

    xx susan


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