The problem with blogging is that you can never show the full truth.
This is not something which troubles me much, because I am well aware that no one ever knows the full truth about, well, most anything. There is, however, a special problem with personal blogs. People often think that they know the blogger, when that is especially unlikely due to the inherently incomplete nature of this form of communication.
There are two main problems: the first is that the blogger can never say enough to make the full truth of her reality clear. The second is that the reader will always infer things based on the reader’s reality rather than anything the blogger intends to imply.
I learned a lot about the first issue from That Wife, when once upon a time she posted daily and often received the most absurd comments from people who could not grasp that there might possibly be more to her life than what she wrote. After all, she wrote so much about so many topics, it was easy for them to imagine that they knew everything.
And the second problem was clarified for me by Felice mi fa who most graciously explained (in far better words) that when a reader misreads based on the reader’s experience, it is a sign that the blogger has somehow reached the reader personally, and that is something for which to give thanks.
Misunderstanding is fine, so long as everyone benefits. It is almost always the responsibility of the reader to move on if something is not beneficial, but I have occasionally seen bloggers struggle to hang on when it seemed clear that their efforts were an unrequited emotional drain of energy.
I have frequently found that people have great difficulty distinguishing between personal posts which represent countless hours of anguish, and posts which are the result of random thought hurriedly typed out to meet a self-imposed deadline. This means that it is almost impossible to determine how to read the post correctly, because one could under-read the emotion expressed or–and more likely in my experience–think that a casual thought is an expression of deep and lasting anguish.
A great challenge for me is that I prefer to blog as if anyone who would bother to form an opinion about a post would only do so after having read a significant amount of what I have posted previously. I don’t imagine that many people would do that, but I do not post for the sake of building an audience.
This is an even funnier assumption because sometimes I privatize previous posts, and then forget that I have done so. And sometimes I don’t get around to posting things that I have written, so I don’t realize how much it is impossible for a new reader to know, even if she actually was crazy enough to read my archives.
Sometimes it takes the kindest comments to make me realize how incredibly I unintentionally mislead my readers. And then there is the fact that just typing that last sentence makes me smile a little at such a joke as one that implies that I have “readers!”
Ehem! Anyway. The problem with personal blogging is that it always involves people sharing stories, and people reading stories. That will always be a blessed mess, but it is a mess that happens to work quite well for me.
- Why Be Well?
- January Deeds, February Theme