I grew up with social media. At nine, I was typing away on the chat boards of popular pet site Neopets. By 11 I had created a Bebo account – a cross between MySpace and Facebook. I had a Facebook account at 13. A year later I was on Twitter and by 15 I was a regular on Tumblr.
I was relatively late to Instagram and Snapchat, but it wasn’t long before I was #selfie-ing with the best of them. If you can name it, I’ve probably had an account on it at some point.
I was also brought up on a diet of debates and opinions. For as long as I can remember, family dinners have consisted of blazing rows and discussions on everything from the Wars of the Roses (“We are Lancastrians, gosh darn it, not filthy Yorkists!”) to politics (“Flaming useless, the lot of them!”), and everything in-between.
At school, I quickly gained a reputation for being an argumentative so-and-so. By the time I was 16, I was well known for being an angry, shouty feminist.
Given my upbringing, it would seem inevitable that one day I would start a blog. After all, blogging is the perfect pastime for people like me; people who vaguely understand how to use a hashtag, and who have opinions on everything under the sun, including what type of biscuit you should eat (chocolate digestives during a crisis, rich tea if you’re unwell, custard creams when you’re slightly tipsy, and ginger nuts for everything else).
Yet it took a long time before I finally plucked up the courage to start blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I thought about the idea constantly. As soon as I learned what blogging was I began to daydream about how wonderful it would be to plaster my well-crafted arguments across the internet.
But that daydreaming was matched equally with fear and trepidation. It wasn’t the trolls I worried about (I knew full well that the internet could be a terrifying place for women). What scared me the most was that I might be exposed as a fraud, a silly teenager with a laptop and no life experience.
Fast forward to the end of my first year at university, and I was fed up. University had exposed me to a million new ideas. I was more angry and shouty about social justice issues than I had ever been before. I was furiously tweeting about my outrage and posting my rants on Tumblr at every opportunity. After a brief conversation with my mum one day in the car (Her: “What do you want to do with your life?” Me: “Write!” “Her: Well then, why don’t you set up a blog?”), I finally caved in. At 3am that night, I nervously wrote and published my first ever blog post and Petticoats and Patriarchy was born.
Today I post at least once a week, writing about things that matter to me. I’ve had countless people message me to say that my blog is making them think about feminism in a new way.
People who never gave me a second thought at school are reaching out to me, telling me they read every single post I publish. People all over the world are liking, following and commenting on my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had several people tell me that my blog has given them cancer, or that I should just sit back down and be quiet. But overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Just to say, I’m still terrified. Every time I hit ‘publish’ I worry that this will be the day that my readers realise I really am just a silly (no-longer) teenager with a laptop and no life experience.
Putting my voice out there is a scary, scary thing. But the joy that blogging brings far outweighs the fear.
Homepage image: fearlessflight.com
About the author
Olivia Woodward is a blogger, social media enthusiast and history student at the University of York. She has been actively involved in student journalism from the age of 16, writing on a wide range of topics from politics to theatre to fashion. In 2014 she launched Petticoats and Patriarchy, a blog that tackles social justice issues and popular culture from a feminist perspective. Since then, she has become increasingly interested in the way that women are using the internet to speak out against injustices, and the effect that the digital world is having on young women and girls globally. On Digital Women UK, Olivia will blog on social media trends that impact on women and young girls, intersectionality and intends to highlight examples of digital platforms being used to innovate the way women communicate and share online.