This morning, I read a post from a blogger who hadn’t updated in several months. She explained away her absence by admitting that she had fallen out of love with blogging because, in a nutshell, she found herself writing to please others instead of being true to herself. Once she amassed a following thanks to a couple of Freshly Pressed posts, she began censoring her thoughts in order to avoid offending others, whereas before she had written whatever she wanted and never had to worry about what anybody else thought…because there wasn’t anybody else reading. Tori found herself suppressing her views on politics and race, among other topics.
Immediately before that, I read an update from a blogger who is the exact opposite: he never holds anything back. I’m convinced that if you look up the word “TMI” in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of Ron. But his posts are funny as hell. Most of the time, anyway. Today he wrote how he believes that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by the government. Personally, I could not disagree more. I rarely subscribe to the whole “grassy knoll/second gunman” types of conspiracy theories many folks cling to. But, I do believe in ghosts and think aliens exist, if not in a hangar near Area 51 then somewhere in the universe, at least. So, who am I to judge?
I appreciate the dichotomy of these two individuals, and can relate to each of them.
I’ve alluded to having another blog before. It’s no secret that I met Tara through our mutual writing there. I wrote, off and on, for about ten years at the “other place.” I eventually gave it up, and while there were several reasons for my departure, a big one was because I, too, felt the way Tori does. I think it’s a problem common to many bloggers: you start out with good intentions, just looking for a place to record your thoughts and feelings, but eventually people discover you, start following, leave comments, and suddenly you’re writing FOR them instead of TO them. The name of my blog over there was very telling: “Here We Are Now, Entertain Us.” Which is exactly what I was doing. Once upon a time I wrote honest, heartfelt entries about my failing relationship and eventual divorce, words that captured every detail of what I was going through at the time. Reading that stuff today is downright painful, because the emotions were so raw. Sometimes when I think “maybe things weren’t that bad,” I’ll look back on that fateful summer and remember that they were, if anything, even worse than I remembered. It’s good to have that record, if nothing else.
Those entries attracted a very large following, because – let’s face it – people love drama. But after the drama faded and I was happily ensconced in my new townhouse (and new life), I felt the pressure to entertain these people. I began holding back personal thoughts and focused instead on less trivial (yet humorous) matters. But, that wasn’t what I wanted to write about. Like Tori, I fell out of love with the very act of writing.
So, I came to WordPress in 2010 for a fresh start. After experimenting for a bit to figure out what course my writing would take, I settled on the idea of a blog that would incorporate both Ron-style honesty (I too have been accused of oversharing at times) and The Other Blog-type humorous anecdotes. It’s a combination that works well for me: one day I’m writing about being deprived of a Big Wheel or making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and the next I’m pouring my heart out with declarations of love for Tara, or cursing the bastards at my last job for letting me go. It’s a nice balance for me, and unlike over at the other place, I never feel pressured to make people laugh or entertain them. Yes, some of my posts are entertaining, but I’m still writing them for me and not anybody else. Hell, my comments have decreased by half these past few months, yet I’m churning out more posts than ever.
I’ll admit it hasn’t been without its share of challenges, the biggest one being the fact that my family and friends read the blog. At least at the other place, I toiled away in relative obscurity. Nobody knew the blog existed, not even my ex-wife, not even when things were decent between us. Now I’ve got my parents reading, my girlfriend, her mom, my brother and sister-in-law, my close friends. Even, on occasion, the ex-wife. Sometimes, that’s scary. My parents, for instance, were convinced that when I was unemployed I shouldn’t be writing “down with corporate America and by the way I’m drinking at 3:00 in the afternoon in my pajamas” posts as that could have negatively affected my job search. I don’t think it ever did (and besides, I usually waited until 4:00 to drink), but I still had to contend with their vocal disapproval. At least I didn’t fall into the self-censorship trap. And for the record, they’re great about the blog, often suggesting topics for me to write about.
So I’ll keep on keeping on, as they say. In fact, because I haven’t rattled the cage quite enough lately, here are a few random thoughts sure to bug some people. I throw these out there as a show of solidarity to Tori, and any other bloggers hesitant to speak their minds.
- I am convinced that, if Mitt Romney is elected President, America won’t “go to hell in a hand basket,” but we will take an enormous step backwards in terms of progressiveness. Not only did he support health care reform in Massachusetts, but his plan served as the blueprint for Obama’s own care package – which Romney wants to repeal. How does that make the least bit of sense? The man is an expert at sticking his foot in his mouth (am I right, London and Palestine?), has waffled on many issues besides healthcare (including evolution, automotive industry bailouts, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” abortion, and LGBT rights), would probably fire a nuclear missile at Iran the first chance he got, is completely out of touch with the average citizen, and his social views are downright antiquated. Then again, that’s the problem with the Republican Party as a whole. Ideologically, they’re stuck in the 1950s. It wasn’t always this way. Abraham Lincoln was a pretty amazing guy, and also – gasp! – a Republican.
- On the issue of gay marriage: why is this even an issue in the first place? Who cares if a gay couple wants to get married? Why is it ANY of your concern?! Should women be allowed to vote? Should black people be confined to the back of the bus? Discriminating against gays is just another form of racism. I have zero patience for intolerance. Live and let live, dammit! That would make the world a better place. And if you think “but the Bible says…” is an argument that is going to sway me, boy, are you mistaken.
- Dave Matthews is overrated. There, I said it.
I know there are people reading who will disagree with me, and that’s great! It’s what makes this country so wonderful: the fact that we aren’t all pigeonholed into the same sets of beliefs. I’m all about diversity, after all. Some of my closest friends are staunch conservatives but still great people, and I know a few liberals who are real pricks. I’ll never make crass assumptions about anybody without getting to know them first. The bottom line is, if you respect me, I’ll respect you.
Now, blog away, my friends! I’m curious to know, are there topics you shy away from in your writing? How true to yourself are you on your blog? Do you hate the idea of self-censorship or view it as a necessary component of the whole blogging experience?
- More likely to be conspiracy theorists? (guardian.co.uk)