This post is for the July Carnival of Aces, on the theme of “then and now.”
In the past five years or so, my relationship to the ace community has changed, gradually. There’s a difference between saying that and saying that the ace community has changed, and I don’t think I’m in touch enough now (or have ever been) to confidently make a case like that… but, because there are so many bloggers I know who are burned out on ace discussions or dead sick of the usual unmerry-go-round, I also know I’m not alone in feeling tired, and drifting, and withdrawing, and sometimes, closing the blinds. But this isn’t a post about being jaded and frustrated with the state of things (as fair as those posts are). This is also a post about changing my online practices to better suit what I actually want out of ace blogging, and how that’s still a work in progress for me.
To give you a little big of a rough timeline, I started tentatively identifying as gray-ace sometime in my sophomore year of college/undergrad, a decision that was the product of a bunch of personal “research” on AVENwiki (lol), ace tumblr, and various other places. But before long, I got tired of only reading without being able to speak back, so around the beginning of junior year I created this blog to share my own evolving thoughts. That was in 2013, when ace tumblr was just coming out of a recent aggression wave I believe, and there would be another sometime around 2014 if I recall correctly. It feels like, thanks to algorithms, the current one has been going forever, like a sinkhole that too many people are unable or unwilling to step up out of.
In any case, my attempts to stay connected to the online ace community have always involved reading more tumblr blogs than wordpress, disrupted by a difference of platform and feeling like I’m watching everyone else through the windowpanes. It’s a lot easier to communicate directly with other people who are also on wordpress, of course, but we’re proportionally far fewer, and it feels a bit like sharing a room with a couple of other people while you’re skyped in to a much bigger party, one where you can see more of them than they care to see of you. It’s a bit of an awkward dynamic, is what I’m saying.
And I know I can’t accurately represent the whole of tumblr in a sentence or two — what I see of it is only the product of which handful of urls I decide to check on a regular basis — but from my vantagepoint, with the part of it I’ve been keeping up with, ace blogging has become so… homogeneous, and tiresomely repetitive, in what’s being said, that I’ve really scaled back how much I keep up with ace discussion at all.
I’m not at peace with that, because my connection to the ace community serves an important role in my life and helped me through (and out of) a seriously detrimental relationship. I don’t want less of it in my life. But it’s not enriching to me or anyone else to keep going to the window to watch the same dog chasing its tail, day in and day out.
It’s not that people are out there being Wrong on the Internet, although there’s certainly that. What I’m getting at, here, is that I want to redirect my habits so that I’m reading less of tumblr (which is a site I don’t really blog on in the first place) and set up house in a place where I can do more mutual, dialogic interaction than even here on The Ace Theist. WordPress is a fine place, especially for long posts, but y’all know its downsides.
That’s why, despite the recent burn of Imzy, I’ve been putting my energies into building a pillowfort. It’s no replacement for this blog, but it is a place much more suited to short, spur of the moment untitled posts and themeless personal blogging, and where the reblog option’s actually meant to be used (but can be turned off), and all of my nominal followers seem to be actual people actually reading my posts on their dash, as opposed to WP’s weird thing of promofollows and heavy silence.
While Pillowfort has its own drawbacks (and is still in beta), I’ve been enjoying talking to people in the comment sections there and actually using a website’s dash feature for once in a lifetime. I have a personal blog there, I occasionally make ace posts (sometimes short like this or this, sometimes more long-ish), and — get this — nobody has harassed me for it. At all. Heck, the most common type of response to my ace/sex-averse posts? Is “mood.”
With that said, I haven’t completely weaned myself off of checking various tumblr blogs. Even the ones of people I don’t know personally. I remain ambivalent between wanting to see more of “what’s happening,” on a site where the users are numerous and the ace community disproportionately involves itself, and wanting a positive experience where I’m actually talking with people regularly and building relationships instead of banging a fist unheard on the glass. But the way things are going, I do actually have hope, for a change, that I can step back from the window more often, at least, and nestle into a more rewarding situation.
Note: if you like the sound of pillowfort, please consider supporting the Pillowfort.io Kickstarter that’s going until the 25th of August.