Spring is being bi-polar here in Milwaukee: yesterday it snowed, hailed, and rained, alternatively. It was like a recipe for baking horrid weather pastries. And now it’s sunny out and we are airing out our soggy basement and some of the drowned suitcases, turned over with their wheels in the air like post-crash snowboarders. I’m really supposed to be doing paperwork for my immigration procedures, but I read everything I needed to and now I’m out of steam to do the actual paperwork. So instead I’m having a gratuitous update on my About page.
When I first started this blog I wrote using unconventional grammar, omitting all of the capitalization in the beginning of sentences, as well as the “I”‘s, like this. I got some fire for it after explaining my intent behind the de-capitalization. Not the same as decapitation, thank you very much. Now that I am about two months in, I have been back and forth on the capitalizing, and this place feels somewhat like a personal space, although it still doesn’t have a category, which might be why I am tagging each post haphazardly. The writing here reflects my person to a degree, full of everything and never quite specializing in one or even two topics. I used to feel embarrassed about having a personality in the state of zerrissenheit, which is German for “disunity” or “the state of being in thousands of pieces”. My German savants, feel free to correct my rough translation. Then I read on Anton Chehkov and John Keats and didn’t feel as outlier-ish for being multifarious and not easily categorized.
We live in a time where systems and categories can be synonymous with popularity, if we happen to choose the right categories. Social media promotes this too, urging me to follow a certain label, artist, celebrity, politician, social stance, religious sect, so I would gain an identity by my publicly expressed interests. To a certain extent that’s true: I identify myself with the association I make in my surroundings. At the same time though, it is mildly reminiscent of high school, where there’s a huge pressure to join the cool crowd so I don’t feel insignificant.
And maybe we never quite grow out of those insecurities, and we are still searching for the popular and “in” crowds to hang out with no matter how old we are. Writing a blog is part of it too, I’ve found, since being a chronic overachiever I wanted to write some earth-shattering truth that brings readers to my page in throngs. I read all of the “7 Tips to Get Freshly Pressed” and “Golden Rules for Bloggers” and slapped on cutesy images and catchy aphorisms and kept refreshing the Stats page. Then I realized I, in my inherent insecurity, wanted approval, recognition, and popularity. I wanted to be “in”.
I wonder if this need for social acceptance is a first-world problem, or strictly an American problem. Probably the former, since (what I remember of) the Chinese culture is driven by the need to excel and be accepted, too. But I feel it more acutely right now, in my age and my time, where social expectations sprout up and spread like anthrax so young women would rather die than be fat, people work maniacally, and we glorify busy. I came across these thoughts on our generation, through the blogging community, written by our generation, and I realized people are aware of the pitfalls of social acceptance, and we are trying to shake the grains from the chaffs. It also made me aware that I am unlikely to write anything novel and earth-shattering that would get me lots of Likes and Follows and Shares. But that’s okay, I would much rather write quality posts than lots of attention-grabbers to hike up my blog traffic. And this little appendage of me, in the form of many many pixels on a screen, will remain happily scattered-brained.
Hence, you probably won’t see me on Freshly Pressed anytime soon. But that’s okay, too, I am probably too distracted by myself and my hobbi—look, kitty!
© 2013, Hannah Zhang. All rights reserved.