Plans for Blaugust

Happy Blaugust! I’m so excited to be part of this terrific community of bloggers. If it wasn’t for this event, I’d still be overthinking the whole blogging thing. This blog would not exist. You wouldn’t be reading it. My fiancé and I wouldn’t have started playing World of Warcraft again. (Yeah, after more overthinking we decided to give it a go. We rolled a couple level 1 Goblins just for fun. Let me know if you want to play with us!)

The concept of the initial Blaugust was to write one post every day August. Blaugust Reborn has different goal tiers. I’m aiming for 15 posts. I could do more, but I’m a parent, and I have a full-time job. Sometimes writing a blog post during my lunch break isn’t what I want to spend it doing. I don’t particularly like doing thing-a-day style challenges. 15 gives me enough days off in case something comes up but I’ll still get the Silver award. If I write more, awesome. If a catastrophe happens and I end up writing less, oh well.

Lucky for us, I already have a plethora of post ideas bumbling around in my head. Stay tuned for thoughts on topics such as:

  • Nerding out when you’re in a relationship with a Jock
  • Why “nerd” is a way better term than “geek”
  • Protecting your data online
  • Kids and online bullying and harassment
  • Adventure game recommendations
  • Parents in video games
  • Learning to code
  • How parenting has changed since we were kids
  • Pictures of my cats
  • Screenshots of my adorable shoblin

If you have a suggestion of a topic that intersects parenting and technology, please send me a note. I’m also looking for stories and insights from parents of older kids. When do you give them a cell phone? How much should you monitor what they’re doing online? As a parent of a 2-year-old, these are things I’m thinking worrying about already.

August makes me think of sunflowers. Photo by Marko Blažević on Unsplash.

 

Anonymity, Kids, and The Internet

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Except–that’s not true anymore. Social media killed Internet anonymity. That can be both good (it’s a lot harder to be an asshole online and get away with it) and bad (no more anonymous soul-bearing). Since I am blogging about parenting and my family, I have to decide if I want to use real names.

I rarely post photos of my child on my Instagram. If I do, they’re usually from behind, at a weird angle, from a long distance, or heavily filtered through Prisma. Facebook is a different story. I’m constantly hearing from relatives I barely get to see in real life how much they love seeing photos of my son on Facebook. As long as he doesn’t object, I’ll continue to post those.

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Thanks, Prisma, for allowing me to share this image of my son pulling his wagon without guilt about posting his face all over the Internet.

Something feels off-putting about the mommy insta-celebrities who constantly post photos of their children to shill products. I try not to be judgmental about others’ parenting unless they’re harming themselves or others. This is not a “mommy wars” blog.

I’m using my own real name, and I’ll refer to my fiancé as my fiancé until mid-September, when he becomes my husband. But what about my kid? Calling him “my kid” feels weird. What if I have another kid? I’m not going to use his real name. I actually had a post written about why I was going to use it, and then I changed my mind. I don’t think it’s worth it.

Safety is one reason. If someone wanted to find his real name, they can. It’s 2018. But I don’t want to make it easier for them. I’m also concerned about bullying. While I’d rather kids be taught not to bully, I’d hate for a bully to find an upcoming post on potty training and use it as bullying material.

Because I don’t want to keep calling him “my kid” I’ve decided to use a made-up name for him. Henceforth he shall be called “Indy” for his independent nature. It’s not his real name. It’s not even similar to his real name. As a fake internet pseudonym coined by his mother, it suits him.

Parents, do you post photos of your kid or use their real name publicly online? Why or why not?

 

The WoW Itch

I used to play World of Warcraft.

I used to be ashamed of it, too, because I was generally ashamed of being a nerd. I started because a friend showed me the intro video, and then I got my boyfriend at the time to play with me. I was a human warlock. We found a small guild and hung out with them mainly letting them bring us through low-level dungeons. It was all good until the guild leader started to get a bit weird.

We moved to DC and after a while got the itch to play again, so we switched servers and joined a casual RP guild, which unbeknownst to us was run by another DC-area couple. My happiest WoW memories were during this time. We met up with the guild leaders a few times and I became a guild officer. It was during vanilla and Burning Crusade and I remember having a lot of fun running Karazhan. It fell apart when my relationship ended.

When I felt the itch to play WoW again, I felt strange about going back to my old guild. In retrospect, it probably would’ve been fine. But instead I joined a different RP guild and had fun with them for a while running regular RP events and raiding in Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm.

I left them to start a new character, Horde-side, with some friends from work. That didn’t last very long, but I remember it fondly. I think this was around the time of Mists of Pandaria, and that whole expansion completely turned me off from the game.

When Warlords of Draenor came out, I thought I’d look up the old guild from Burning Crusade times. They were still around and had decided to get back into WoW after spending some time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I played for a few days. I wasn’t having fun. I apologized and quit, saying to myself:

This time it would be for good.

But now there’s a new expansion coming out and the hype train is trying to get me on board. What’s making it hard to resist is that I haven’t been able to find another MMO to occupy this WoW-shaped hole in my gaming life. This is really the topic for a whole different blog post, but I’ve tried Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, LOTRO, SWTOR. I play The Secret World: Legends, but I play it as a single player game. Here I am, days before a new expansion, and I’ve got it bad.

I’ve got The WoW Itch.

I’ve missed it. I’ve felt like playing in the past, and always pushed it back with the thought “Nah, I said I’d quit for good.” With Blaugust starting, I’ve had the idea that I could try it for Blaugust and see how it goes. If I’m still having fun at the end of the month, I’ll continue. If not I’ll quit (for good for really for realz this time).

for-real

It would give me something to write about. It would be fun. Right?

If I play again, I want to play Horde. I’ve always loved Goblins in the game and never played one.

Would my fiancé want to play with me? Maybe, he’s been playing Diablo III every night for a while now.
My old character is still on my old guild’s roster, but as I said before, I want to play Horde. Even if I play Alliance, I’m certainly done playing a warlock.
Would I be able to find a new guild?
Would it be a complete waste of time?

Help me decide! Should I play WoW again?

 

Where’s My Blogging Community?

Remember when blogs were fun? Remember LiveJournal? You and your friends were all on LiveJournal and it was mostly completely uninteresting to maybe one or two friends but you wrote in it anyway because it was fun. I met my first serious boyfriend through LiveJournal. I got my first programming job through LiveJournal. Somehow, the tight knit blogging communities like LiveJournal turned into people posting professional quality photographs of their perfectly curated minimalist homes.

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This is pretty to look at, but do you really want to live like this? It would get so dirty, so fast. This isn’t (as far as I know) some blogger’s home office, but a photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash. It could be, though.

Maybe blogging still has a community somewhere, and I’m hoping to find that again. I used to write on this blogging platform called Vox. I didn’t tell my real life family and friends about it, and it was an essential outlet for me to get through a difficult time in my life. The best part of Vox was the community, or as they termed it, your “neighborhood.” I’ve since met some of my Vox neighbors in person and I’m still friends with a few of my Vox neighbors today, even though the platform died years ago. Maybe some bloggers today, even the super minimalist ones, do have a tight community like that and I truly hope they all do.

I could wax nostalgic for hours about how amazing the Internet used to be before social media came along and “internet life” and “real life” joined at the hip and became inseparable. But the point of this post is to explain why I started blogging again. I knew I wanted to start another blog for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be. I definitely didn’t want to go the whole “here’s a bunch of photos of my perfect home where everything is white except all my plants” route because for one, I have a toddler. And two, I kill plants. RIP, plants.

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I’m so sorry, plants!

Instead, I wanted to write about nerdy stuff, and what it’s like being a nerdy parent, and what if my kid doesn’t turn out to be a nerd, and how to deal with a partner who’s not as nerdy as you are. I wanted to write for new parents who wonder how the heck they’re going to find time to play video games now that they have kids, or for people who are wondering what the best adventure games are, or to crowdsource what MMO I should be playing, or just to talk about how great the Internet was back in my day.

This brings me to Blaugust. I’d been hemming and hawing about starting this blog when I heard about Blaugust. I was less interested in the blog-for-30-days challenge (I’m a Questioner and that sort of thing doesn’t work for me) and more interested in the community of gaming bloggers aspect.

Blaugust is about blogging in the month of August, but it’s also about the community. Blaugust has a Discord server where participants can get together, get advice, share posts, and game together. When I heard about it, I thought, this is just the thing I need to actually start this parenting/gaming blog I’ve had in my head, and hopefully keep at it, too. Click the link below (or here) if you want to sign up.
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Screenshot of the old LiveJournal home page via The Toast.

 

How Not To Start a Blog

Don’t start a billion blogs and then neglect them and hope that people will still be interested when you announce “I’m starting a new blog!”

They won’t. Except maybe your mom. Hi, mom! This is, maybe, the 59th blog I’ve started.

Don’t start a blog until you’ve mastered all the skills your blog requires, or can at least pay someone else to do them for you.

I always thought I’d be good at blogging. I’m moderately-decent-to-exceptional at all the skills required for blogging:

Writing: I have an English degree and I’m published in FastCompany, so I must not be half bad.
Making graphics: I can use Sketch.
Brainstorming: I can sit on Pinterest for hours.
Basic coding: I do quite a bit more advanced coding for a job and am paid money. I must be fairly good.
Photography: Well I have a nice camera, but I don’t see this blog requiring much photography. I’ll take screenshots and grab images from Unsplash. I think we can cross that one off.
Social media: We’ll put this in the “moderately decent” and “not really necessary” category.
Networking: Eh, okay, most of the skills.

Don’t insist you have to do everything yourself, just because you can.

I’m starting a blog and I feel super guilty because I don’t want to develop the WordPress theme from scratch by myself. I’m a programmer. I’ve used WordPress as long as its been around. Building my own theme should be a slice of peach pie.

But it would be a very time consuming slice of peach pie. Instead I can download a theme and tweak it until it’s perfect. It’s like buying the peach pie at a bakery. It might not be as lovingly crafted as if I made my own and I might have used some different ingredients, but it’s still delicious peach pie.

Don’t Use Comic Sans or Papyrus.

They are terrible fonts and should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t buy into all the “find your niche” advice.

This blog is about parenting, video games, and other nerdy stuff, and probably some feminism thrown in. Who knows what might end up in it. Instead of starting a blog in some super focused niche (because who is going to want to keep writing stain remover reviews or about fishing in video games after three weeks?) start a blog with a wide focus and then write different posts and see how much you enjoy writing about them.

Note that I didn’t say: see how well different post topics do on social media or see what gets more hits on search engines. Because if we all wrote for social media and search engines we’d all be writing the same stuff. (This is why so many blogs these days look and feel exactly the same.) Way back when, blogging was just a thing people did for fun. Let’s make blogging fun again!

Don’t get bummed out by the other blogs.

The internet is full of gorgeous, polished blogs completely free of grammar mistakes. It’s easy to feel inadequate. I think there’s some value in just starting something and figuring out what it is as you go along. Maybe you think you’re going to write about puppy training but end up getting really into making your own dog treats, and then suddenly you have a homemade, organic dog treat empire. You might start out on a WordPress dot com blog with a free theme and maybe that’s 100% perfect for you and you’ll never leave. Or maybe you’ll want to get your own domain and you’ll learn how to code your own theme. Just make sure you’re not using Comic Sans or Papyrus.

Don’t follow all the advice here.

Don’t follow all the rules. The best thing about rules is knowing when to break them.

Except the one about Comic Sans and Papyrus. That one’s really important.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash