Long evenings at home and snow outside, as well as the year coming to an end put me in a bit of a melancholic and reflective mood. So I hope you’ll bear with me for this episode of navel-gazing.
I didn’t prepare anything you’d expect from a menswear blog around Christmas. It’s a custom in my family to give one another books, hence no gift guides – it’s just not something I’m personally interested in. Similar with winter sales which are starting about now – I have my buying list and some custom orders coming slowly along, and I don’t pay much attention to whatever’s on sale.
And I believe I’m justified in doing that – after all one of the reasons people read blogs along with or instead of other media is the personal touch and the authenticity. I’ve been writing about things that interest me in a way that suits me – and you’ve been reading it, for almost two years now. And some of you for even longer, because you might have followed my previous blog.
And when you start blogging and gain some following; when people ask you questions and take your answers at face value – and then when brands come offering you things and money in exchange for some photos on your blog and instagram – it very nicely strokes your ego. It’s easy to get lost, and actually believe that you are more of an expert than you really are.
I’m learning a lot while writing All Tied Up. I’ve had a chance to talk to people very good in their fields, be it tailoring or shoes or leather accessories – whose knowledge far surpasses mine. And I see how little being a blogger means in and of itself. The entry barrier is low, anyone can start writing and publishing online. And there’s a plethora of resources already available, so you’ve got material for your first several entries. How a jacket should fit, what’s the difference in formality between oxfords and derbys, why Goodyear Welted shoes are so good, and why Four-in-Hand is the only tie knot you’ll ever need.
Most of this this information comes from other blogs, and it’s difficult to trace the original sources, verify their accuracy. There’s a lot of misinformation going around. A lot of misguided opinions masquerading as absolute truth. And many people will read this anyway, not because they’re somehow intelectually inferior or lazy, but because they assume that a guy who’s passionate about clothes enough to go and write about it publicly probably knows what he’s doing.
I’m guilty of this as well – especially with my first blog, which I started in December of 2012, so five years ago. I was very ignorant, and very unaware of my ignorance – so in essence a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Writing a blog can reinforce it, because it puts you and your readers in an asymmetrical relation – you’re the creator, and they consume the content you create. Comments and e-mails allow for communication, but it is by design biased in your favour.
Over time I’ve reexamined many of my views, and I try to not be as judgemental as I used to in terms of style, of what’s proper and what’s not. I realized how much there is I don’t know, and try to listen to people who know more. I try to improve, to write better things in a better way; recognize my mistakes and be open to the possibility that I’ve been wrong about something. Otherwise there’s very little room for actually making decent content, and if you’re not trying to do that, what’s the point?
And I am aware that writing a blog is a very vain thing to do – after all, all this listening and learning and so on is done so that I can sit down and write a post on a platform that focuses exclusively on what I personally find interesting. But I would like to believe that it’s a journey for you – my readers – as well. And that it’s helpful, and informative, and entertaining. It’s possibly the only important thing about blogging – so thank you for being along for the ride.