A strange thing happened the other week. A “tradition” called #FriFotos came to an abrupt end. This involved, as the name suggests, encouraging people to post photos online on a Friday, based around a certain theme.
Now swings and changes in social media aren’t usually the kind of thing that whizz and ping onto my radar. They’re more like those unidentified shadowy creatures that live in the deepest oceans, where diving lights can’t reach. You know, down with the giant murky eels and, perhaps, the Lost City of Atlantis.
But for some reason, this one felt different.
It made me feel nostalgic.
Somehow or another, it’s been almost seven years since I started this little blog. Seven years of writing, taking photos, learning code and improving my craft. When I began, I knew nothing, or next to nothing, about building a career as a writer.
And now, I realise that while it’s been years since my words earned me a living, perhaps it’s also been years since I gave time, thought or energy to building that career.
When I first started blogging, most traditional journalists ignored the whole thing. They dismissed social media, and often everything online, as an ill-educated fad fated to die and die soon.
Events proved otherwise and after a slightly stuttery start, the mainstream world soon clambered to catch up.
Looking back, I suppose I enjoyed my position on the sidelines. Watching this change from afar while enjoying the thrill of being in the right place at the right time (and working hard.)
And the #FriFotos “movement,” for want of a better word, formed a fun part of that.
I posted here lightly, with snippets and snapshots, spliced in between the longer in-depth articles that I always loved to write.
The online world was smaller: it was possible to reply to every tweet, respond to every comment and to learn the names of the community around you and enjoy the company of my intelligent online fans.
For me, then, life intervened for a while. A series of medical and other misfortunes meant that just trying to keep the show on the road, the bills paid and my sanity somewhere in sight had to become my top priority.
And I am thankful that I am no longer there.
Instead, I look around and find myself in the position my former colleagues did when “the internet” first came on the scene.
Seven years is a long time: long enough to train to be a doctor and notch up two years on the wards, for example. Or to move from child to adult.
In those seven years, younger bloggers have grown up with the world of social media. The divides we see as new and to be navigated are, to them, simply how the world has always worked.
Back in the day, bloggers blogged solely for the joy and creativity of it: now it’s a staple of J-school and marketing studies and bloggers begin with a concrete business plan before they ever put thumb to touchscreen.
So…for want of a better phrase…what?
So, I think I’ll keep on doing what I’ve always loved doing: writing for joy and to say something about the world. I’ll continue with my photography and I’ll continue trying to improve. I’ll also, unless the world changes drastically in this regard, need to continue to earn a living.
But I’ll make a few tweaks along the way to adjust to the new world order: the wise man doesn’t train to be a blacksmith once the automobile comes to town.
So, here are my thoughts for a fresh focus for the lab. I’d love to hear what you think.
Ah, yes. The baobab trees in Madagascar.
These magnificent works of art from nature can grow up to 30 metres tall and 11 metres wide. They store thousands of gallons of water within their trunks to allow them to survive through the dry periods.
And although six species hail from Madagascar, not all of them do. There are three more: found in Africa, Arabia and Australia.
I travelled there on a “digital detox” in September of this year.
They stand tall, they stand proud and they can survive for over one thousand years.
That’s suitable enough, I think, for a dose of early morning inspiration.
So, goodbye to #FriFotos. It was helpful, challenging, inspiring and fun.
But now it’s time to look for something new – without saying goodbye to the things that matter.
See you again soon!