“If we can persuade others of my generation to join in and enjoy blogging, we may have altered the whole picture of a lonely old age!”
Blogging is brilliant! I had no idea.
“Blogging,” said a friend of mine. “Why on earth would you want to do that? It is just sad attention-seeking people scribbling.”
But I did want to do it, or at least to get some understanding of what blogging is. I had heard of bloggers, but what they actually did had passed me by. I felt rather silly and out of touch not knowing.
Three months ago I noticed that a class called Blogging for Beginners was about to start. I doubt they expected an 80-year-old to turn up, but their patience was superb even when my first question was, “Could you please explain what a blog actually is?”
To begin with, I thought that I should be writing about me. I started with my travels, my experiences and, in one early blog, about my unfashionable name. Rather pathetic really, as if I was still writing that school essay “What I did last summer.”
But that changed. As I wrote more, a huge range of possible new topics began bubbling up, particularly the nonsenses you find as you become older. I found I wanted to challenge the unthinking ageism in today’s world. It became exciting to think of topics and fun ways to raise them—like, “Why don’t restaurants and shops want my custom? ” Why the noise?!!”
Serious? Funny? Quirky? So many styles to play with! A bottle had been uncorked—one that I hadn’t even realized had become sealed. I want to share my excitement. It was a reawakening !
I have always loved words and writing. Our generation wrote a great deal—we had to. We had few telephones, no emails, no Skype and only thin wispy airmail for overseas friends.
When we left home we kept in contact with parents and friends through letters, usually weekly. After the obligatory “How are you, I am fine” bit, we described our excitements, experiences, and sometimes even ideas. Writing these regular letters became a weekly point of reflection, though I don’t recall realizing that at the time.
In the blogging class, we were told to start writing and not stop until we had written 30 blogs. Once I began writing, that old feeling of writing the letter home began to return. I am sure you, too, will remember the mixed feelings you had as you sat down to the next one. It was a chore, but you had to do it, and when it was done you were rather pleased with it. Now I saw how much I had been missing that.
Until now, I hadn’t noticed that composing and writing in letter or essay form has almost disappeared from today’s life—at least, in the paper world. I no longer compose long letters to distant friends. Nor do they. It isn’t that we aren’t in touch. We are, almost daily, but a quick email or a Facebook picture isn’t the same. Photos have almost become my diary.
Unwittingly, I had let one of my life’s pleasures slide away!
But now blogging! The light has dawned!
Historically, thinkers like Addison, Swift and Hazlitt had to put their thoughts into essays. Aiming at the general public, they often published them as handbills. Today, they could just have posted a blog. Can you imagine how thrilled they would have been!
When I wrote to my mother only she, a neighbor and an aunt would see it. Now I can write for the whole world. The world may not choose to read it—it may never reach most of them—but it is at least out there. And when a few people read one of your blogs it is delightful. Contact! Even better is when you get a reaction and start a conversation.
What a super thing to discover at 81 that writing is still alive and that a pleasure you thought had been lost is still possible—and better than ever! It is free, it is quick, and it’s open to anyone. No editorial hand or printer or publisher is in the way. It is direct, me to you and you to me. Blogging has revitalized my life at 81. I feel as if I have the whole world as pen pals!
If we can persuade others of my generation to join in and enjoy, we may have altered the whole picture of a lonely old age!
Joyce Williams has traveled the world, written books, and been a physical therapist and TV Presenter. At age 80 she took up blogging about being “ancient in a modern world” and experiencing everyday ageism. Joyce lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Follow her on her blog, grandmawilliams.com and on Twitter.
A version of this post was first published as “Blogging at 80+: Opening up a whole new world! Or maybe an old one?” at grandmawilliams.com