are you addicted to blogging porn?

are you addicted to blogging pornYou flip open your computer with innocent intentions. You’ll only spend a few minutes here and there before you get down to business. But a few clicks later and your hooked. Again. You wonder how things got this out of hand, how you could let yourself waste so much time doing something you know you shouldn’t.

It’s seductive. It’s destructive. It’s blogging porn.

Blogging porn is voyeuristically viewing how other bloggers write, design, and monetize, fantasizing about their careers, lives, and circumstances, thus, avoiding the real work and goals of your own internet space. Blogging porn is hurting bloggers everywhere, killing creativity, stifling individuality, and sabotaging productivity.

We are quick to recognize how sexual pornography can ruin lives, but do we realize other forms of porn exist and have related negative effects? Consider some of the problems with actual pornography and you’ll begin to see why blogging porn is a similarly slippery slope.

5 dangers of blogging porn

  • Porn damages relationships. It hurts both the user and the people around them, not only in the present, but in the future as well. Scanning the internet, endlessly comparing yourself to others, leads to jealousy. You covet the platform, the design, the writing ability and soon you are too consumed with envy over what they have and you don’t that your friendship dwindles. Existing relationships are tainted and future relationships are stopped before they have a chance to blossom.
  • Porn promotes unrealistic expectations. It capitalizes on out-of-the-ordinary (often digitally enhanced) people doing out-of-the-ordinary things that most real people don’t do. Similarly, blogging porn pits your skills against industry leaders who have teams working behind the scenes, who blog full-time, who are exceptionally gifted with talent and resources. The average blogger can’t dish out thousands for a stellar design or devote hours to creating viral content. Comparing your blog to the top 1% of bloggers will leave you dissatisfied with reality.
  • Porn is distracting. The internet has made pornography easily available to the masses at any time of day or night. Blogs are equally accessible. How many of us have allowed a quick “inspect element” turn into hours of drooling over other blogs’ theme and social media icons? The time spent oogling other blogs and judging that post could be spent investing in our own blog.
  • Porn cheapens the real deal. Something is always lost in translation when you endlessly consume the unrealistic. What was once fun, meaningful, and fulfilling is left wanting because you’ve been inundated with a deceptive standard. However small or amateur your blogging efforts, they are worthwhile because they come from your heart and your passions (I hope!). They are the real deal. Don’t let blogging porn diminish the work you do and the effort you put forth.
  • Porn leads to more, more, more. It’s never enough. The pornography vortex redefines success. You can’t be satisfied with what you have – you need to have a podcast or an online course or an ebook. Those things often come at the expense of time and energy you should be expending elsewhere. And for what end? Another platform for you to compare to others?

I’ve fallen into this trap too many times. I’ve let hours go by as I Iooked and coveted. Repeat. My envy has driven wedges between friendships and kept me from connecting with others. I’ve let blogging porn make blogging more of a commodity than a ministry.

I don’t think you need to delete your feed reader or stop looking at blogs for ideas and inspiration, but blogging pornography is a real danger if you let those practices consume your time and energy.

Blogging is hard work; but it can have a real impact and build real relationships. Don’t let blogging porn cheapen your work and steal your blogging joy.

photo credit: AhmadHashim & Ivana Vasilj via photopin cc

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Authenticity and Grace

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 4:29

Maybe it’s because of some thoughts I was having just this morning – ugly, judgmental, critical thoughts – that these words from Paul hit an unusually tender (and sore) part of my soul. As I read them over and over, digesting the truth and rebuke I found there, I had to swallow hundreds of justifications rising to the surface from my sinful heart. What if those “unwholesome words” were witty or true or honest or smart-sounding?

Ephesians 429

I want very desperately to find the loop hole so I don’t have to acknowledge the dirt in my mouth, so I can still spew my opinion – whether out loud or not – without consideration of others. My words aren’t always seasoned, weighed, considered, prayed over, and tested. Sometimes my words are reactionary. I can barely keep my mouth closed until someone else is done speaking because I want to chime in, be heard, be the one who said what everyone else wanted, or could have said, first. Other times I give what hasn’t been asked for. I haven’t considered “the need of the moment” and I spew forth for the sake of contributing.

I can write without considering the need of the moment, too. That’s the danger with any sort and size of platform – be it a blog, a small group, social media accounts, or close friendships. It’s just so easy to speak and share without pausing.

Platform danger

As I’ve been making changes and refining this blog, authenticity and transparency have continued to be major goals. However, authenticity in one’s writing and online presence (and personal life) comes with quite the challenge – being honest while still offering edification and grace. In my efforts to be vulnerable and honest, I don’t always let the Spirit be my copy editor, allowing His fatal red lines to make my sentences more full of love.

With the last few weeks of 2013 and the expanse of 2014 ahead of me, I am purposing to steep my words and writing in grace and to consider what is needed in the moment. Some practical steps I’m going to take to do this:

  • Take time to consider the motivation behind my words. If that means I remain silent or miss the opportunity to speak, so be it.
  • Wait a few seconds before I would normally respond to hear my ideas from the other person’s perspective.
  • Let some posts sit in drafts while I let my Copy Editor do His fine tuning.
  • Memorize Ephesians 4:29 so that I have an ever present reminder to consider the grace factor of my words and writing.

How do you balance authenticity and grace in your life and platforms?

What’s New With The Blog

When I started this blog in September of 2012, I had every intention of writing a post explaining how I landed on the name Primitive Roads. I’ve touched on the primitive roads theme in posts here and there, but I’ve never actually recounted the time Tim and I veered off a paved highway an hour or so outside of Spokane onto a narrow dirt road that took us on a wild ride I wasn’t sure would leave our rental car unscathed. I’ll always wish I took a photo of the “Primitive Road Ahead” sign that was posted where pavement met dirt.

That primitive road experience stuck with me. Several months later when it seemed like my life was one upheaval after another, I couldn’t help but think of our adventure off the beaten track. I was about to leave friends and family behind to move to Northern Idaho so that my husband of four months could start a new ministry job. In other words, I had one foot on the pavement of a controlled and comfortable environment and one foot about to land in the dirt of change and uncertainty.

Thus, Primitive Roads began as a place to write about navigating those unpaved paths that inevitably show up in life. Even though 15 months of blogging has come and gone, I still resonate with the original primitive roads concept:

Being a Christ-follower doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. Life is unpredictable and anything but paved. We desperately need God’s love and grace to navigate our unpaved paths successfully.

My primitive roads look a bit different now than they did 15 months ago. Tim and I have been married for over a year and a half so I feel a tad dishonest claiming to be a newlywed. I will always love Southern California but I actually like living in Northern Idaho now. We bought a house and are expecting our first child – a son – in 9 weeks! These are all good things, but certainly not easy to navigate. Lots of changes and lots of refining.

So it is with this blog – change and refining.

Emily C Gardner resize

The Change

The major change is more of a shift. The themes of Primitive Roads are the same, but the blog now has a new URL: emilycgardner {dot} com.

In an effort to simplify and give you less things to remember, the blog URL (my name) now matches all the other ways I like to communicate with you.

A major thank you to the oh so talented Gretchen Louise for making that all happen. If you or your blog is in need of techno savvy and unparalleled patience, she is your gal!

The Refining

Vulnerability and honesty have been goals in my personal life the past few years and I strive to make my writing reflect those goals as well. Even when I talk about books, food, or crafty things, I want to be authentic – the Emily C. Gardner you would meet in real life.

Though I do want to be transparent, I also want to represent my Savior with grace and humility. It’s important to me that writing authentically about my own experiences is an encouragement to others. My heart is that this blog would be a way to virtually do life WITH others, not a way to tell people how to do life.

I want to be the kind of writer who is awake to the realities of heaven but engaged in the realities of this world. I hoped I could invite people into realities they’ve never experienced, I hoped I could wake them up to a life they wanted to be living.

Allison Vesterfelt in Packing Light

I pray you find encouragement and rest (and maybe a good recipe or two!) around here!


New York Bound

I realize Primitive Roads has been pretty quite lately. I’m still trying to embrace the seasonal side of blogging, although I wrote that post thinking I was trading consistent blogging for hiking, training for a half-marathon, and fixing up our new house instead of being pregnant. Not that pregnancy has kept me from writing, per se, but my mind and body have been super occupied adjusting to our growing little one (the size of a lemon this week!).

The lake

Tim and I are leaving for a much needed vacation today. We’re trading Lake Coeur d’Alene for another, much smaller, lake in Central New York. Not only do we get to revisit our honeymoon spot, we get to spend time with my parents and brother – a mondo treat for me!

I’m praying this getaway is the time and space I need to refocus and reconnect spiritually – something I’ve felt slip a little the past few months. A sweet friend reignited my passion for women and community recently and I’m excited about connecting and collaborating with her. I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to pray and think and hopefully come back with renewed purpose for Primitive Roads.

In the meantime, more blogging silence from me as I soak up the next week!

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

I’ve been waiting for this for six months. Summer has arrived in Northern Idaho! Well, that’s a bit optimistic – let’s just say Spring is in full swing with it’s sudden showers, new growth, and increase in sunshine. I’m okay with that.

On this brighter side of our four seasons, I’ve become more appreciative of the weather’s ebb and flow over the past nine months. I look back at the Winter with some fondness for the pretty, fresh snow and the chilly wind as an excuse to drink hot cocoa and make soup. (Please remind me of this come November…)

As I’ve begun acclimating to Idaho’s seasonal changes, I’ve begun to notice some personal habits morph with the seasons as well. The warmer weather has a powerful influence on how I spend my time. Where Winter prompted me to hibernate with books and movies, Summer has pulled me outside with walks and projects around the house. Those seem to be natural shifts, but I was a surprised to note a shift in my blogging habits too.

Writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a necessary means for me to process life. So, to see my main outlet for writing drop in frequency made me pause. It was hard not to feel like I had failed somehow – I wasn’t on top of my blog schedule or keeping up with social media outlets as much. How could I call writing a passion if it didn’t consume me regardless of the season?

The truth was revealed in the very definition of a season: a period of the year characterized by a particular climatic feature or marked by a particular event or activity. Just like I’m beginning to see the beauty of our changing weather patterns, I’m also beginning to see the importance of changing rhythms in my personal life. Some periods of my life will have different priorities and activities; I need to make space in my life for those natural changes to occur.

The electric green of new growth in Spring wouldn’t be possible without the frost of Winter nights. Autumn’s deep hues are a lovely contrast to the technicolor landscape of Summer come October. Letting words flow for hours during the long evenings of a cold winter breathes life into my soul just as much as working in the back yard on a warm summer afternoon. I need both the feast of writing and famine of silence to keep my passion alive and healthy.

Making space in these shifting seasons requires grace. It means having open hands with the way I spend my time, allowing God to direct those priorities and activities as He sees fit. As much as I like to, I can’t allow my expectations or a previous routine dictate the standards of each new season.

What does that mean for Primitive Roads? I’ll still be navigating this unpaved path with you, just on a less regimented basis. I have two writing projects (an ebook! and this year’s 31 Day Challenge posts) that I’ll be focusing on this summer, but Primitive Roads will not be forgotten.

How are you embracing the rhythms of this new season?

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc