African cryptid dinosaurs. This simple phrase packs a host of problems. Several mythical creatures from various Sub-Saharan African cultures have been described as “dinosaurs” and later sighted as cryptids. This by itself is not unusual. I’ve mentioned several mythical creatures that became cryptids in the modern era. However, these specific “dinosaurs” are tied to outdated and even harmful ideas about the African continent and the people who live there. Worse, they are popular enough that the cryptid image tends to obscure the original mythical version. It’s time we take a good hard look at why people are still looking for dinosaurs in Africa. Continue reading “Questioning Fossils: Problems with Cryptid Dinosaurs in Africa”
Month: August 2020
Blogger Recognition Award
Kacha from Food.for.Thoughts nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award! I’d like to thank her, both for the nomination and for being an awesome blogger and blogging friend. Reading her posts has taught me so much about depression and burnout, and about psychology in general. I hope that her record of her journey gives hope to those who are still struggling with their mental health. Thanks, Kacha!
- Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
- Write a post to show your award.
- Give a brief story of how your blog started.
- Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
- Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
- Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them, and provide a link to the post you’ve created.
My Blog Story
I feel like the story of how my blog began is so much simpler than the journey I’ve been on since then, but I’ll share it all the same. I’d say it began in college. I have a complicated relationship with academics, as I genuinely love to learn but I hated the pressures of grades and deadlines. I majored in English, which today means looking at literature and sometimes media through various social commentary lenses. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed learning how to apply academic standards to research. Yet I also felt restless. What I wanted more than anything was the freedom to choose my own topics, to talk about stories both old and new and the connections between them.
When I graduated, I was sick of writing papers, but I knew I still wanted to explore the world of ideas out there. There was so much more to think and say! I thought several times about starting a blog to share my ideas so that they would reach the people who found them interesting rather than just weighing down the ears of whoever I found to chat at. Yet I worried it would be too much and I’d end up abandoning the blog after a few posts. Then, as I began to pursue my main dream of publishing my creative writing, I noticed that most would-be authors are encouraged to maintain blogs. I didn’t want to just blog about writing before I had even published anything, however. If I wrote a blog, I wanted it to be about topics that truly interested me. So I decided to go back to my dream of writing about myth and media.
The next step was choosing a name. That’s its own separate journey that you can read more fully about it here, but the short version is that searching for a phrase that connected myth and media led me to come up with “Fool’s Mirror.” There’s a book and a tarot spread that both use that name, so I added “Illuminating” to make it unique, and my blog had a name. I still hesitated. I would work through almost all the steps to create a WordPress account and then backspace it out of existence again. Finally, though, I drew a deep breath and basically booted myself through the last step. Since then I’ve been working my way through post by post while discovering the incredibly supportive and friendly WordPress community. It’s been an amazing journey, and I thank all of you who have made that possible by encouraging me with likes and comments along the way. Illuminating the Fool’s Mirror will reach its first anniversary at the end of this month, and I’m so grateful to still be here exploring!
Advice for New Bloggers
This first one is super nuts and bolts, but it’s something I wish someone had told me earlier: test your theme before you start posting. I chose my current theme, Lyretail, based on overall appearance. I like the clean look with lots of white space around the text and a simple banner on top. However, as I tried to develop my site more, I realized that the way this theme does menus is really confusing. If you didn’t realize my site has menus, don’t feel bad. The only way to access them is to click a little arrow at the top right. I would have preferred sidebar menus that are easily visible, but now I’m stuck until I upgrade to a full-fledged WordPress.org download. So yeah, test out all your potential dreams for your site before you start writing content that could be lost.
Second piece of advice: Follow other blogs because you enjoy them, not because you want them to follow you. This is a common tip, but it’s important enough that I’m saying it yet again. It’s easy to think that a high number of followers equals blogging success. But most people won’t follow back automatically, so using that strategy yourself will gain you little but a clogged inbox. Some of those bloggers might have amazing content, which you won’t notice if you’re wading through a bunch of posts you don’t bother to read. So take the time to read and comment on the blogs you follow. Yes, it takes more time, but the time will be more rewarding if you find people whose ideas inspire you or make you think. You’ll have an easier time writing those comments and you just might make some awesome blogger friends in the process.