So, maybe there is some benefit to being anonymous in that you can really write whatever you want – consequences be damned. The downside of anonymity is that you don’t get the legit acknowledgment that you are probably after in the first place (and it seems to me that anonymous attention seekers really have no boundaries in terms of the desperate levels to which they go to for attention, so the theory that all of this is a plea for attention seems substantiated.)
The thing is I love to tell stories, about me about adventures, about whatever. I enjoy this simply for the opportunity to be a rocking raconteur. The other thing is, even if you harbor a rom-com inspired fantasy that you may write something and somehow the one person on the planet who is supposed to read it does, and then somehow you live happily ever after because s/he understood/had an epiphany/realized they had been right (or wrong)/saw the light/determined they could not live without you (or would finally live without you)/offered you a movie-book-tv deal… the reality is that the people who “read” you generally have a personal reason to do so; they found you through a friend or friend of a friend, they are your family or your actual friends, they have a common interest that brought them to you (sorry hot stuff, it was your kitty not your pussy that brought them around…) [Note: I am excluding stalkers here, because those people are not reading your shit anyhow, they are tracking you, which is really different; like I have this ugly group from Akron, OH and San Antonio, TX who are constantly tracking me, as well as a very strange individual from KNX, TN, but it is not because they want to read my blog it is because they are
freakishly jealous of my life creeps.]
The way I have conducted my on-line life is as simple as my real life is, which of course is not simple. It is, however, authentic and not some fantastical version of what I might wish my life was. I have chosen to write about real shit that happens to me (sometimes pretty fucking embarrassing shit), real shit that happens to people I know (sometimes pretty unbelievable shit) and real people (sometimes seemingly unreal)… because I am real.
This has led to some interesting consequences and outcomes.
And why do I do it? What is the compulsion, not of a generation, but of an entire culture, that feels compelled to share things from the grandiose – death and politics – to the minutia – I am eating a sandwich – ? I have justified blogging through a variety of explanations:
- It is an easy way for my family and friends to know where I am and what I am doing as I trip the light fantastic around the world [the Glamorous Justification]
- It is a way to disseminate opinions in a mostly one-way conversation that avoids arguments (not always) [the Know-it-all Justification]
- It is a way to totally show off with some degree of erudition or sophistication [the I-Fucking-Hope-It-Is-That-Way justification]
- It is a way to process, cogitate and contemplate professional issues that I find interesting, which others may not, in a less annoying way [the Shop-Talk-Talk-Shop justification]
- It is a way to share somewhat intimate stories in a less exposed way [the Totally Ironic justification]
And of course, all of this, the blogging, the Tweeting, the Facebooking (not MySpacing, as apparently anyone who now admits to having a MySpace is a loser at best, pedophile at worst) is all totally self-indulgent at the end of the day. But we do it. We seem to like it. I suppose it connects, in some measurable way that I do not want to measure, to the modern obsession with reality television… somehow people are fascinated by the lives of others, and so we assume people must be fascinated by ours…?
My BFF tells me that blogging is totally self-indulgent, and while I am certainly initially irked by this, it is essentially, completely accurate. I also know that she reads my blog. I know, too, that she occasionally enjoys it. My parents read my blog. They do this with some combination of parental pride and personal horror. There have definitely been questions as to the “intimate nature” of some of the posts. There are also lots of insider stories in the blogs I write. I imagine that is true of most mid-level bloggers. Like, you have to know a little of the back story to really appreciate the front-line. I sense that by the time you hit the big time this style probably has to go as it would likely come across as pretentious and elitist.
That actually works [see Ocean’s 11-12-13]. People like to be in the know, or act like they are. Whether it is my friends discussing my latest crisis/debacle/success… or people discussing the intimate details of some Kardashian or Real Housewife or something.
But I like to blog. I suppose that is my most authentic justification. I find writing cathartic and therapeutic and calming, and it lets me get shit out there in the ether rather than throwing literally throwing shit at people when I may really feel like doing so. I like the practice of it. The ritual of it. The way I can play with words and the synthesis that it inspires, at least in my brain. I like that I can break all sorts of rules with conjunctions and run-on sentences and be overly alliterative and incorporate myriad triplets and literary allusions that I could never get away with in some other lexicon-based arena.
And I love when I get a random connection from somewhere unexpected… the comment from someone else who really does get what I mean. The shout out from an old, old friend who remembers me in a way that lends a very special view to my current conundrums and capers. The question from a stranger who wants to know what I would recommend for here/there/dinner/books/music. I love to be surprised by what resonates and what is more generally overlooked. It is fascinating and, somehow, validating.
Why this is, I still do not know.
I went through a period of time where I was completely consumed with my blog statistics… who was reading, what they were reading, where they were from, how they were finding me. And then that got boring. And complicating; it fostered a weird desire to try to play the game and guess what kinds of things would garner the kind of attention (hits!) I proclaimed from the beginning I was not seeking.
So, I went back to the basics. That being Me, Me, Me, Me.
And then, the consequences.
I learned that my BFF did not want to be quoted in the blog, though I had done this a lot and I felt kind of bad about this. I had a particular preemptive request from the parents, could I please not blog about XYZ? [There have been occasional, perhaps in jest, declarations that if I blog about thus and such I am so finished…] I realized that the world being as small as it was, it was totally likely that total strangers would be able to piece together things about me, my life, my family, my friends, that might not be in any of our best interests. Hmm.
And I started to contemplate anonymity. My problem with anonymity is its inherent ability to be completely bogus. And the way that anonymous presences on-line craft and create their image is annoying to me. If you are so amazing as you say you are, why hide? I started seeing and hearing about people being totally deceived by on-line entities. I realized that in several cases I too, had been taken in by personas who were just that and nothing more. It is like the bad cartoon of the sex hot-line, where the hottest girl ever is pictured taking the call, but behind the proverbial curtain stands a fat, disgruntled, barely feminine housewife, ironing some shitty WalMart clothes, cigarette dangling haphazardly (not suggestively) from her lips, dirty baby on her hip.
There are all these anonymous people out there who derive such satisfaction from their online lives I have to wonder about their real lives. Like, do they have one? Waking up in the morning to beg for more followers on Twitter, posting cryptic and suggestive bullshit to entice people into imagining a certain things about you… talking about how hot you are, but never showing people (we all know the truly hot need not talk about it anyhow)… talking about your amazing social life, but never so amazing that you stop tweeting/posting about it… describing sitting home in front of your computer with a handle of some post-collegiate, poorly selected liquor as a #party… posting pictures of your overly abundant rack (which, let’s face it, generally coincides with an overabundant gut) and carrying on about your horrible husband/job/town/children/life… without seeing the sad irony.
To me that is what anonymity breeds. So I have prided myself on authenticity and transparency.
But faced with really wanting to write about certain things, events, people… and realizing that I could not do that without hurting real people, who I really love, I paused. Why did I want to write about those things to start with? What was the underlying motivation? Those are still the questions that perplex me. Is it to let people know that “I feel their pain”? Is it to get a laugh (perhaps at the expense of others… cue guilt)? Is it simply self-indulgence?
When I first read Eat, Pray, Love I loved it and recommended it to all my friends. The book resonated with me in ways that I clearly did not articulate adequately; most of my friends said that they could barely tolerate Liz Gilbert because she was so unbelievably… self-indulgent. Hmm. Pressed to generate a legitimate reason for being so publicly self-indulgent myself, I am stumped.
I am not a Kardashian or a survivalist or a person of some extraordinary noteworthiness.
I am just me.
I am not some version of a person that I think will get me 2,000 Twitter followers by Christmas.
I am just me.
I am not someone who has greater mishaps or successes than most of the other people out there today.
I am just me.
But the best thing about that is, being just me has always been just enough.
And that is a True Story.