October 25, 2004
My Mother's Kitchen
A few blogger friends are facing some heat over their steady flow of anti-Bush posts. Where do we draw the line? How much of our personal side should we show on our blogs? Or should we not express our feelings about causes, politics, economics and religion on a blog that also represents us professionally?
Isn’t that the idea of a blog? I didn’t start a blog to leverage my business although it certainly could and may be a great idea. Many newcomers are drawn to blogging as a business tool or publicity stunt.
And yet, that’s not what drew me and many I know to the world of blogging. Despite the fact that the ‘role of the blog’ has changed over time and will continue to morph as their value unfolds, I’m not sure the “feeling” that creating a blog post invokes for so many of us will change.
We may create new blogs with different voices on different topics as the tools evolve. Today, I see the blogging experience in a way that many women view the world.
I remember sitting in the hallway floor as a kid, listening to my mother and her friends talk in this 1940’s kitchen.
They would connect about everything over tea and sometimes a martini -- their children, their husbands, Vietnam, politics, whether they should get a part time job. They would chat about the neighbors, community support programs, family get togethers, the church where they volunteered or the annoying woman in town who just joined their Bridge Club.
I'd listen eagerly and later, go find where the men were hiding out, only to discover that they were watching a sporting event on TV....and barely talking at all.
I think of my blog like I do my mother’s kitchen, which was warm and inviting. I vividly remember the colors, the smells, the texture of the carpet, the soft yellow walls, the faces and personalities who passed through over the years, the left out pie on the counter after a gathering.
We all had a favorite room we retreated to as a child and today, as an adult…...you know, the room where we go to disappear and just be ourselves.
When I log on, I’m entering one of my favorite rooms, a place where I can think, express, be myself – just like the women in my mother’s kitchen.
Here, I write whatever comes to my mind; things that I’m passionate about, people I care about and issues that disturb or alarm me.
It’s my view and politics are one aspect of my view and everyone else’s view who is passionate enough to write about the Bush Kerry circus. If you believe strongly in something, you stand up for it. Your medium may be through the written word, music, dance or lectures, but bottom line, you stand up for it.
These are the things that make us feel “alive”…..beyond the wonderful physical experiences of feeling warm rain on your face, seeing a sunset and remembering how lucky you are, feeling the force of a strong wave wash you to the shore, running barefoot on a beach or rolling in autumn leaves with a child.
Beyond the physical are our emotions about a particular issue and our political bent represents many of the issues so important to us – from education and the environment, to war, the economy, civil rights, the aged and healthcare.
And aside from our leanings to the “the right” or “the left,” doesn’t it really boil down to integrity? Who do we believe? Who do we ultimately trust?
After living in ten countries around the world, it shocks me whenever I am referred to or labeled a liberal. A liberal for wanting Bush out? When I look at the hundreds of people I know who want Bush out, I'd hardly classify them as liberals, certainly not the media and Republicans definition of a liberal.
Is it liberal to be in one of the highest income groups in America and not be able to afford a house on your own?
Is it liberal to want to put an end to another Vietnam before we kill more innocent people?
Is it liberal to expect the government to be fiscally responsible?
Is it liberal to want to see tax cuts hitting those of us who make less than $200K per year?
Is it liberal to want to enforce stronger regulations on those who can bear arms in a country that has seen a steady increase in violence over the past decade?Is it so radically liberal to want more money spent at home to improve the quality of our schools and healthcare system?
And is it really so liberal to want to ensure the security of medicare and programs like it, so we don’t end up dying in the stark nursing home my grandfather landed because economically he had no other choice?
When you can truly express how you feel through a vehicle you ‘own,’ one which has the potential to touch and impact others, we need to do it every step of the way even when we feel the heat from the narrow minded few.
Speak your mind – on your blog, in your kitchen, at a dinner party, on an airplane.
Go into that favorite room and voice “it.” That voice, “your voice,” is what makes us feel passionate and alive. Certainly not an un-noble way to live.
I am always asked if my blog is personal or business, and I say who cares? I don't try to categorize it and my passion and energy isn't neatly slotted into buckets. I'm writing about what I want to write about. I've already abandoned one blog because it was too confining. I think inhibition and the obligatory pressure are a major factor in blog abandonment while self-expression, sharing and meeting others with same interests (and you won't find out if you hide them) are the major factor in blog addiction.
Coming from a PR professional, perhaps others will take to heart your advice to be less inhibited in their posts.
Posted by: Evelyn Rodriguez | Nov 11, 2004 5:24:26 PM
I know a whole era has come and gone since you posted this -- I was steered here by way of a post on Ted Shelton's blog -- but it's a subject I think about a lot, too. Beautifully put.
Posted by: Dan | Dec 3, 2004 8:49:48 AM
As I consider starting a blog, I thought I'd google the phrase, "Why I blog" and see what came up. Am I on a similar path of seeking/sharing as other bloggers??? Surfing a bit brought me to your blog and ultimately your post, "My Mother's Kitchen." ...One thing that has been bugging me is the apparent lack or disproportionate number of blogs by women. So is it a wonder that I have been balking at creating a blog, if there are so few women-created blogs to reflect myself back to me? Reading your blog helps, though. Just wanted you to know that your cyber-presence gives me something more to think about.
Liz in Minneapolis
Posted by: liz | Jan 26, 2005 5:17:43 PM
Renee, I love the way you have characterized you blog! Your mother's kitchen conjures up meaningful images and is a great analogy. I got into blogging when I started a fellowship at Stanford's Center for Internet & Society in 2004. My blog has been almost all business and I've thought about starting a more personalized blog. This inspires me to do more than think about it!
I found this through your email responding to the flickr photos JD Lasica sent around. I met JD (finally) at the Portable Media Expo this weekend. It's great to be connecting to folks like you too. Best,
Posted by: Colette | Nov 15, 2005 7:57:20 AM
I like your blog a lot! I have been stymied by people who try to put words in my mouth about "current events" the last couple of years and your blog says it all and how to combat that with words. I was drawn to "Down the Avenue" page while looking for the stock ticker for Lenovo on a google search. Go figure? But, I could not leave because I was stunned because I have never seen anything like it but it looked so familiar and reminded me of things I never really think about anymore or sometimes ever, so I looked around. Then, I researched Blodgett Communications and found your link to this blog. Actually, I have a friend who's working back and forth in China and Europe and looking to further his network of people / direction in the US. His firm works in network security on IPv6 and the sort. I may contact your firm in the future when I decide to become more entrepreneurial as I seem to be getting pushed out of technical web development and programming positions and may need a career change to inspire me to the next level. My creativity is stifled by the way of the "stereotypical IT organizational type" thinking where project managers actually inhibit career growth as part of a wall that is esatblished between you and your manager who may be a really good manager but, as I say the organizational wall is in place to prevent the good relationship and the career growth. Feel free to email me because, I procrastinate and take time when I think about networking type opportunities.
Posted by: tony imbresci | Feb 17, 2006 11:12:22 AM
Thank you for that post. I love the way you look at blogging. Really is a wonderful way of seeing an amazing technology that is so easily taken for granted.
Posted by: Paul | May 8, 2006 11:21:10 PM
I am a working mother who is taking a survey from other mothers on working and children. Please take this if you can--it will help me with my research paper for class.
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Posted by: Sheila Topstone | Nov 30, 2006 4:57:20 PM
As a good part of my life was been in the branding business, and my most recent challenge has been involved with kitchens, I feel a certain kinship with your kitchen analogy. I have two views. From an analytic point of view, I know that the American kitchen has changed greatly since the 1940s-1960s where it acted as an operational center of the home. Home design featured the kitchen as a closed off, "walled off", area where cooking was done, then the socializing moved to the dining room or den with TV trays. Of course, today that has all changed. The kitchen is the social hub of the house. Stories are told. There is laughing, sharing, arguing, helping, everything seems to happen there. So, your mother was slightly ahead of her time with her kitchen crowd - was she a trend setter? Yes. And it is no surprise that it left an emotional impact on you, as the little voyuer, absorbing all the wonderful things about that experience.
The second point of view is, as a fellow TEDster, I see your kitchen entry as charming and engaging and smart. We all have opinions that need to be heard, we all need to force the conversation to continually seek the best answers. Jst like todays kitchen design, the walls have come down and the space has opened up. And the amazing kitchen is each of ours personal town halls for discussions and debates just like that.
Posted by: Steve Beshara | Mar 9, 2007 5:41:14 AM
My path to your blog was an interesting one. I had been Googling for information on the movement of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates and then going through the pages of info that had been returned to me when I finally clicked through to your blog.
I browsed, I read, and I found your blog quite fascinating. I then came upon this post about why you blog.
I've worked as a telecommunications technician for 20+ years, starting in the Air Force and then working for several different companies, most of them in the cellular sector. Since high school, I've had a love of reading, writing, and travel, and I found much in your blog which resonated with me. As a matter of note, I just recently returned from a two-week trip to Portugal (Porto, Braga, Guimarães, and Lisbon) and Ireland (Dublin, with a tour of the nearby coast) to spend time with my girlfriend, who lives in Porto (I'm in Maryland).
An Air Force brat, I've lived in and/or visited 18 different countries and 39 of the 50 states and I have every intent to increase those numbers. I don't say this to brag, but because being raised as a military brat made me more a 'citizen of the world' than a citizen of any individual country and therefore instilled in me an insatiable love of travel. Some have said that I must have 'issues' because I refuse to 'settle down' and live in one area. I prefer to think of myself as a modern nomad.
I first got into blogging when a friend from Christchurch, New Zealand (who had been a fellow member of an online writing community) introduced me to it. I've since started several blogs, but there are two which I update regularly... http://garrulus-grommeler.blogspot.com/ (my personal blog) and http://townshende.blogspot.com/ (my writing blog).
If you don't mind, I think I'll bookmmark yours.
Posted by: Gary Townsend | Apr 7, 2007 7:26:01 AM
I like to think of blogging more like wood bar stools. Quaint. Very country. Simple. Personal.
Posted by: Shawn | Jun 19, 2007 9:34:33 PM
Exceptionally intellectual conversation. How delightfully different.
Posted by: Nora | Jun 11, 2008 7:46:58 PM
What is a blog today?
One might say Lenovo was a great idea piloted by IBM but a couple of years later we see it as nothing more than equipment for a niche market that even DELL could not capitalize on. Technology companies have changed: Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.. Oracle consumes Sun Microsystems but, while activism seems dead, the state of technology and the employment of technology professionals in the U.S. still leaves something to be desired. Will Oracle change the world with the acquisition of Java and servers? Maybe. But, I recall a day when U.S. companies were given tax breaks to hire displaced U.S. technology workers (at median wages) prior to the year 2000? This one idea can return us to the booming internet days. For job creation to stick we also need a coordinated approach including tax breaks and improved technology and social networking that really means something. So much of America's infrastructure is in dire need of upgrade and replacement and most states are broke because so many people have been out of work since the year 2000 and cannot contribute to the infrastructure (by spending money) and because of the unnecessary housing bubble of course. Yet, what communication is necessary to preserve freedom in our democracy and enhance the employment needs of citizens? How do we implement a fair wage type system for U.S. workers spanning all industries, in the face of two brutal post 2K recessions and in the face of belligerent outsourcing of work in all industries? Only time will tell but, I for one think that this sort of thinking begins at home. As each of the stock market indices recover (as they are currently under Obama), in order to reach full potential, the U.S. workforce is what we need to enhance and preserve along the way and this includes training and education.
Posted by: Tony Imbresci | Aug 31, 2009 2:19:46 PM
this is one of the best things i've ever read about the balance between personal and professional concerns on the web
thanks so much
Posted by: Noebie | Sep 18, 2009 7:21:33 PM