Long ago, in a world far away, I had a job. Not a career, but a job that got me out and about, meeting people and trying to make a difference. I felt useful, it paid the bills and I liked my colleagues. The time came when I couldn’t get out of bed. I missed being useful, but, more than that, I missed social interaction. Sleeping on the sofa during daytime TV for months is very isolating…
One day, I searched for something on the internet and it led me to a whole new world. I discovered beaut.ie, known for years round here as the ‘pink blog’. You’d think I’d avoid something too pink, but this was different. It was funny, and real, and happened to be about make up, style and how to make those work outside of glossy magazines.
I learned about brands and primer and mascara. I read hilarious reports of waxing of delicate areas or colonic irrigation, and decided never to try either of those. I won a make up bag and a packet of biscuits. I learned that young women play tag rugby. I realised that the social aspect of the site, the Blather, had become my ‘watercooler’ life. When Kileen and I got together, we’d chat about the people on the Blather as if we knew them. Internet people became real characters that we cared about. There were blather bust ups and trolls were dealt with promptly. It was generally a warm and fuzzy place, with common sense prevailing. Somewhere along the way I found out that some commenters had their own sites, and I started to read their ‘blogs’.
Over the years, beaut.ie became more than a virtual meeting place for people with a sense of humour, with an interest in looking good in the real world. It became a brand itself, with books and events. The writers branched into the national press. Hundreds of beauty blogs were set up in its wake.
Sometimes I felt too old for the blather, too far from the Dublin hub. I was really more of the ‘Mammy’ category, but why would that be a problem when Marian Keyes was writing articles?
Life took over and I moved away from the blather. I was lured away by the variety and challenge of twitter and the range of blogs I’d found.
Last weekend beaut.ie shut down. I was horrified, despite not having read it for months. Why was I so bothered? Because I cared about the people. Did they choose & plan to move on, or did something happen? Kileen and I exchanged theories. We weren’t happy. What about the young people? Were they going to be left with daft body images to aspire to? Who was going to let them know that feminism is important?
It turns out that fairy tales happen, even in the mysterious ether of the internet. Beautie is back. The real people made real connections and the soul of Irish beauty has been restored.
The internet is about people, it’s about communication, and personality is key. Beaut.ie taught me how to communicate, as myself, about what interests me. It doesn’t matter what the content is, how big the audience is- it’s ok to just be me.