Why is it that one shitty comment, even in a sea of positive ones, stands out and effects us more than the rest? Is it because being unpleasant is such an incongruous act in this very supportive and positive community of ours? Or maybe there are others which also share those negative views but don’t actually go as far as to leave them as comments? Whatever, I’m not going to waste a chunk of my Saturday dwelling on it too much. But I will say that my Me-Made/Self-Stitched challenges have garnered a few negative comments since their conception, in fact I received one the other day which I thought may be interesting to look at.
‘Samantha’ (who left no link) said 'This month not many bloggers participated in the me made june event. I think they are all over this concept and time for something new I guess'. Now the sheer number of comments on the same post proffering an opposing view of Me-Made-June ‘11 et al, should be reason enough to gloss over her’s, yet I naturally found myself internally responding to her’s the loudest. So let’s have a look at the two points she makes. The first is that, in her opinion, not as many bloggers have participated in MMJune ’11 than previous challenges. Well, let’s pretend that the number of participants actually matters in anyway to the value of the challenge; if we look at the number of participants signed up and contributing to this recent challenge’s Flickr group, we will see that more people were actually part of this than both the proceeding Me-Made-March ‘11 AND Me-Made-May '10. But Me-Made-June ‘11 etc, are not some sort of numbers game, like how many friends you have on facebook or something. If only a handful of participants took part and found it a fun and useful experience, then it can be viewed as a firm success in my book.
The second point she makes, it that people are ‘over this concept’. Once again, the numbers would tell the opposite. If by ‘over this concept’ she means that it is no longer new, then yes of course that is true. I fail to see that the newness or otherwise of the idea has any impact on it’s worth in anyway. I would also like to point out that the majority of participants of this most recent challenge had either taken part previously OR had followed one or more previous challenges as other stitchers participated, which would indicate to me that people are not actually ‘over the concept’.
I am only bothering to address this thoroughly irrelevant comment of ‘Samantha’s’ because it reminded me of one particularly unpleasant and, to my mind, unjust comment I received last year about Me-Made-May '10, which really upset me. I let that one dwell on my mind for a while, and in the end I deleted it because I didn’t like having it hanging around in black and white for me to revisit whenever I was feeling masochistic. Well, I have since come to regret not flagging up that comment and answering it, not that most ‘hit and run' commenters ever tend to return to get involved in a balanced debate. But by deleting it I kind of muffled myself and I never got to vent my counter-arguements. Now, I’m not getting involved in a whole freedom of speech debate, but I am a firm believer in the phrase ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it’. Or say it on your own blog if you really feel it’s relevant and needs voicing.
Ok, done. Unpleasant comment addressed. I now want to talk about a couple of the lovely aspects I experienced by participating in Me-Made-June ‘11 that I didn’t specifically talk about in my last post. The first is the ability to meet and ’hang with’ the other participants, particularly through the Flickr group. If time/money/relative distance could be overcome, I’d love to meet all the challenge’s participants in the flesh. A few examples: I’d love to go for a coffee with Hilary in Fargo and chat 'subconscious-association outfit-making’ and see if the locals really do say ‘Yah’ like the characters do in the film; I’d love to go novelty-print fabric shopping with Stacy, and hopefully locate a Catlanta Cat en route; I’d love to throw on a summer frock and go and see Cecili and talk tattoos and teaching English, and pray she’d let me have a peak at her stash; to name but a few experiences I lament I am unable to have. Neither is there time in my day to hold down a full-time job and relationship AND follow every single creative person’s blog that I come across. But if it wasn’t for these challenges, I possibly wouldn’t even know about most of these cool, funny, insightful, intelligent and inspiring women who chose to particpate at all, let alone get to know them on some level and share some banter.
The other benefit I’ve experienced in Me-Made-June ’11 that I’ve found to be more pronounced than through previous challenges, and that is one of body/self-image. Now, unfortunately like most women I’d say, I have a pretty distorted and constantly shifting view of my body and appearance. Some days I think I look pretty good, other days, to be frank, I detest what I see (or think I see). In fact, my view can swing back and forth from these extremes within hours, let alone days. I know that it’s all the result of a construct of media manipulation of female imagery and advertising etc., and I’d like to think I have a more balanced view than many, but it still effects me and I do waste precious brain space thinking about what I look like and how I am subsequently viewed. Since turning 30 in many ways I have become much more confident and relaxed, but I can also sense myself and my life moving from one distinct period towards another unknown one. And that’s pretty unsettling. My face is changing, my body is changing, what is expected of me is changing, and although I’d say I’ve answered (or chosen not to answer) a lot of the issues that seem to arise, my self-perception is still influx. Seeing a whole month’s worth of images of myself, as someone else sees me has actually calmed me down a bit and stopped my imagination running out of control. A solid record of a month of my life, a month of myself.