The Displaced Nation is five years old today, hooray! Who ever dreamed, when we originally formed a more perfect union for expats and other internationals with a creative bent, we’d still be around half-a-decade later?
And no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke—though as I recall, the other two founders and I thought it would be quite a good wheeze, and a bit of a hedge, to start up a collective enterprise on April 1st.
At some level, we regarded our mission of carving out a space in the already overcrowded expat and international travel realm as rather foolhardy. But we persisted because of our belief that expats and other internationals needed a space where they could be free to express both the bad and the good of what it feels like to be displaced, living in someone else’s culture, eating their porridge (okayu, or congee, for those of us who’ve lived in Asia), sitting in their chairs (or on floors, ditto), and sleeping in their beds (or on futons, ditto).
And as the years passed, we wanted to celebrate those who created something out of experience, whether that was a memoir, a novel, a play, or a set of paintings…
Are we any wiser now? Or, I should say: Am I any wiser now, as the other two founders have since retired…
Here are five lessons from the past five years:
1) Even a site that prides itself on encouraging eccentricity and humo(u)r, especially of the self-deprecating variety, isn’t immune to blogging trends.
We blog less frequently than we used to; less interaction happens around our posts than before because of the rise in popularity of social media; visuals have become more important; and our most popular posts are lists. Indeed, one that I wrote in the first year of the Displaced Nation’s life, “7 extraordinary women travelers with a passion to save souls,” continues to be one of our most popular to this day. One social media trend we’ve resisted, by the way, is Instagram—but can an Instagram account be far off? We shall see…
2) Changing with the times doesn’t mean letting go of the past.
We’ve had pretty much the same site layout, and banner, since we started. Hm, but will we opt for a fully responsive design, the kind all the big kids are playing with, in 2016?
3) As predicted by the blogging coach we consulted at the beginning of this enterprise, a collective blog can work if one person serves as editor. It helps to have a house style.
That would be me. And, because of that, I post much less often than I used to. As Displaced Dispatch subscribers will note, I tend to show some of my eccentricity and humo(u)r in our weekly e-newsletter. Check out a recent issue here—and get on our subscriber list NOW. A weekly newsletter is a major commitment. Who knows how much longer I’ll be able to keep this up?
4) Friendships and alliances of the nurturant kind can happen through the blogosphere.
In an age when we are becoming obsessed with the ways technology has enabled terrorists to spread their messages of hate and fear, I think it’s worth remembering, as tech journalist Nick Bilton put it in his last New York Times column of yesterday:
[Technology] connects us to people who are not with us, geographically or physically, and make[s] us feel a little less alone in this big confusing world.
At this point in the Displaced Nation’s life, I feel I know all of our columnists quite well, despite having met only one of them in person. Likewise for our frequent commenters. I love the way we’ve connected through our writing about common experiences. The circle we’ve created over the years is precious. On days when I need to know there are others out there who feel as displaced as I do, it keeps me going.
5) When you can pick your blogging launch date, make it a memorable one.
I’m afraid I must disagree with Bruce Feiler, another New York Times columnist, who tweeted today:
Au contraire, my good man, I continue to find it amusing that we started up the Displaced Nation on April 1st. I like that it gives me an annual chance to tweet/say/announce: “No foolin’!”
After all, in a world where too many people have had displacement forced upon them, it can seem incredible that there are people like us who choose to occupy this kind of life. But it makes sense when you realize that for most of us it is, as we indicate on one of our Pinterest boards, an enchanted realm.
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Thanks so much, readers, for staying with us—and if you want to give prezzies, here’s what we’d like:
STAY TUNED for next week’s fab posts.
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