Sunday, August 5, 2007

Am I my blog?

There have been a series of posts making there way around the blogosphere addressing the false sense of intimacy readers can feel through reading someone's blog entries. This discussion was inspired by a post, and I think particularly this quote by Everyday Mommy:
"But, for all our feigned intimacy with the blogs that we read, we’re really only relating to a section of their lives. Blogging is a neatly compartmentalized world. It is life condensed into bite-sized stories which the author crafts from the viewpoint of humor or faith or what have you. They are a snapshot, a glimpse into a life. They are not the embodiment of that life."
and subsequently by the response, "I am not my blog" where the author questions whether we are all our blogs. I found this topic fascinating and have been contemplating for a week now whether or not, you could really come to know me by reading my blog.

There is a lot that one can discover about me from my writing. You will quickly come to know that I have four children that I love passionately and that exasperate me daily. I think you can tell that I have a husband I am sincerely thankful for and that I call out to my Heavenly Father in times of need and self doubt, of which I have many. From my style of writing you may ascertain that I am sentimental and long winded. And that I am serious more than I am funny, although I wish it were otherwise. These would all be me. The stories you find on my blog are one hundred percent honest. What they are not, is complete.

My blog gives me a chance to portray myself in a calculated way. I hate to use the word calculated because it sounds as though my intention is to deceive. While that is not true, I do calculate. Have I whined about my children too much on my blog lately? Maybe I should write something upbeat. Have I been too sappy and sentimental? Maybe I should attempt something humorous or light. If this were truly a journal, to be read by none, other than myself, you would find a different, probably less likable, person painted in my words.

There are also parts of myself, significant parts, that I have chosen not to address in this medium. I have political views that I hold strongly, but you will not find them discussed here. I have chosen not to address controversial topics such as politics on my blog because this is primarily a record of my life with my children. There are plenty of other blogs out there to debate such issues. But does that mean I do not have opinions because I don't mention them? Of course not.

In the same way, there are personal parts of my life that I do not feel should be on the Internet for all to read. My husband and I, while we have a wonderful relationship, do sometimes argue. You will never find that written about here. I will also never write about disagreements I have with friends or family members. That probably makes me appear much more affable and soft-hearted than I actually am. When in fact, it's just that I believe it is harmful to write about those things in a public forum. Unfortunately, I do get angry, spiteful and gossipy. I just don't do it on my blog.

I write much less about Brandon than I do about the rest of my children. Does that mean that I love him less? That he is less a part of my day-to-day life. On the contrary, I think I could fill my blog with nothing but tales of my life with Brandon, but he is fifteen years old and is sensitive about what I write about him for others to see. For the most part, I try to respect that.

In these ways a blog is similar to a movie-trailer. The trailer reveals different scenes from the movie, but often, when you watch the show you find out the scenes didn't accurately represent what the movie was about. I am able to edit, to chose what to disclose, and so in that respect, I may be falsely advertising myself. If you were to get to know me, to come and live in my home, or even just to become a close friend of mine, I think you would find that I am in many ways less, and more than what is written here.

So in this respect, I agree with Everyday Mommy and Hiraeth that my blog is not me. How could any form of writing possibly represent the entirety of a person? But what then, does this mean about the community, the sense of connection and support we feel with other people through our blogs? If we are saying that is presumptuous to assume that you know someone through their writing, is that connection real? Where I believe my opinion differs with these other authors is that I would still like to say, yes.

I often write about the trials of motherhood and I am buoyed up by the comments I receive from others who have walked that same path. I do not think it is necessary to know the depths of a person, to touch them, encourage them, challenge them to think differently. We are connected by the commonality of the threads of our lives we have chosen to reveal. Beit motherhood in all it's beauty and challenges, or simply a love for writing.

In an effort to document the lives of my family I awoke a sleeping dragon. I uncovered a love for writing I am not sure I ever realized I had. More and more now, I come back to my blog, not just to tell about a moment with my children, but to see if I am able to paint a picture, to convey the emotion of that moment with words. I love that I am able to connect to others that share that same passion. I am inspired by their writing styles, by their talent. I do feel a connection to them, just in knowing that they will stop, as I do when they read something beautiful, something perfectly written.

So yes, my blog is only a small part of me, but it is a genuine part. And while I would warn you not to assume you know me based solely on what I write, I chose to believe that the connections forged by it are genuine even if they are limited in their scope. If you feel an affinity towards me because of something I have related, then I am glad. Because what we need is more connections. If you saw the whole of me, you may find that we are actually quite different. But in just seeing this one thread, pulled out of the context of the whole, it is sometimes easier to find a commonality with the threads in your own life. And I think that's a beautiful thing in a way, the sorting of our lives into pieces that others can find kinship with. And for that reason I say:

No, I am not my blog, and I am thankful for it.

And now I pass this torch on to you. Are you your blog?


slouching mom said...

Absolutely. I generally say that you don't see all of me on my blog, but what you do see is honest and true.

Very thought-provoking post!

Kim said...

What a lovely post! You developed what I was thinking--beautifully!

I love this line:

"The stories you find on my blog are one hundred percent honest. What they are not, is complete."

Well, said!

Kim from Hiraeth

Lori said...

I have thought about this a lot too. And there is so much you have said that I can relate to. Yes, I'm honest, but I don't share everything. I too choose to avoid politics, but I'm not afraid to tackle religion. Why? Probably because at my core I am a spiritual person, not a political one, so one I cannot hide, but the other I can choose to ignore.

I completely agree that if my readers (few in number they may be) were to ever meet me in person, I think they would find me somewhat less and somewhat more than they thought I would be. But I don't think, I would come as a complete shock. My blog is a decent, if not comprehensive, representation of me.

Great post!

Kyla said...

What I have discovered is that while we cannot be fully represented on our blogs, it IS an honest representation of the real heart of who we are. Sure the words can be chosen and calculated, but the beating heart behind those words, it really shines through. You can't disguise that part of yourself. Every blogger I have met in person, I have been pleased to find are a more fully dimensioned version of their text-selves. The person I've fallen in bloggy love with, is the same one I see standing before me. Because I think through blogging, you really get to know someone's heart and that is 100% transferable to reality.

Lisa writes... said...

Beatifully written, as always...

Sarah said...

I think I am but a small part of my blog. While I choose to focus on the funny, there are many other aspects to my life In the Trenches that I don't write about. I am always conscious of my audience and would never want to offend. So I definitely censor myself.

Great post. I think I may write about this topic myself!

thirtysomething said...

Hmmmm. Yes, I see. What I write on my blog is true, but the scope of it's entirety is narrow. Different than if you and I were sitting and having coffee one afternoon and just chatting. A blog allows the author to only expose a small portion of herself. I think I could accurately compare my blog to one of those peek-and-find books that young children enjoy. A story, with a few inside peeks at the greater picture.