Monday, April 09, 2007

Truthiness

I left a comment over at De's recently wherein I said the following "Blogging has given me a way to reach out in a controlled way - I get to decide how much of me everyone sees....". This was said within the context of De describing how little she sees of her neighbors and how little she feels a part of the neighborhood. What I meant to say was that I was much like her in that I see little of my neighbors and that blogging has given me a way to reach out and create a community that I feel I can belong to. But I do believe Freud intervened and I have inadvertently stated a truth.

The challenge for me in blogging is, much as it is in real life, to be completely candid in what I write here as well as what I comment elsewhere. None of you know me in "the real world" and can't call me on any untruth I might tell. It would be easy to write about myself as I wish I were instead of how I really am. But I don't. At least, I don't here any more than I do when talking about myself anywhere else. Much is said about the anonymity of the internet and the license it carries to do and say anything. But I don't exercise that license. Bob is my real name (nickname), but I haven't shared my full name here nor the specifics about where I live and where I work. I worry a bit about something I write here coming back to haunt me, but I don't know what. I'll never be popular enough for groupies nor controversial enough for someone to seek me out but there is this niggling worry I haven't yet got rid of. All of that being said, I really try to tell the truth about myself and what I think about any given topic.

But I haven't discussed several things here that I might have. There is a line that I have yet to cross. I'm not sure where the line even is, but I am aware of the reluctance in me to discuss certain things. Sex or politics, for instance, are topics that I don't see being discussed in the blogs that I read that in turn read here - so I don't blog about them. It isn't that I don't have views or opinions about these topics (ask Laura, she'll tell you in a hearbeat that I have an opinion about everything!) but I guess the absence of posts about them in the blogs I regularly read leads me to believe that they aren't topics for discussion here.

Don't get me wrong, there is little I won't talk about if asked. But much of the decision to talk about something depends on who is asking or who the audience is. I don't see the anonymity of the internet as freeing. I tend to base my decision on whether to post or comment about something as if I were talking to someone.

Do you have topics that you consider off-limits? Why?

*** This post was really published Thursday, 12 April - not Monday as stated above. I began it then and forgot that blogger hangs onto the original date unless you tell it otherwise - and I forgot to tel it otherwise. I only mention this because I am frequently disconcerted when seeing a new post at a blog I visit daily and it is dated 3 days ago!***

23 deeply creased, dogeared comment(s):

Thailand Gal said...

Good question.

There are no topics off-limits, perhaps with the exception of those I know nothing about or wouldn't discuss in polite company. I also try to avoid posting when I'm angry. That doesn't mean it never happens.. but it's something I'd rather avoid. Who wants to go read someone's blog and read angry thoughts?

To a degree, since I write largely for others, I'm amazed when people just stop coming by ~ and I always wonder if they were offended by something.

So it's a delicate balancing act, all the way around.


Peace,

~Chani

Sober Briquette said...

I think you should include posts about topics that interest you, whether you think they will interest your current readers or not.

I want to learn about new things. You might get new readers. You might find out things you didn't know about your old readers.

I think it would be more challenging to create a fictional self and not get tripped up than it is to be candid. Then again, I've been know to contradict my own convictions with record speed, so obviously I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I'm sure curious about your line in the sand. Yep, I am.

Mir said...

There's lots of things I won't blog about, for various reasons---most often that I feel it would upset someone if I broached the topic.

Authenticity in my blog is important to me. If I can't speak freely about something, I generally will just avoid the topic. And I think there are plenty of blogs out there where people talk about stuff that is traditionally verboten either to get a rise out of folks (which I find disingenuous) or because they're badly in need of professional therapy (which I just find sad). Motive is just as important as content, I think.

And that and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee. ;)

Lex said...

There are things I choose not to blog about simply because some of my readers do know me in real life. Most of them already know the ideas I choose not to share on the blog, but some of them could be used against me for the moment. It's a temporary restraint.

I try to be as honest as possible and I find blogging a way to challenge me about my honesty with myself. I probably require more integrity of myself in a posting than I do walking around my apartment gleefully in denial. Writing calls me to examine my true self. If I feel I can't write something honestly, I don't write it.

With that said, I will talk about just about anything. Sex, politics and religion aren't off limits. I don't discuss them often, but I will from time to time. I don't think I worry about losing readers. I welcome dissenting opinions. I have, however, chosen to start separate blogs for my religious journey and my weight loss journey. I just figure most people aren't that interested in my calorie count for the week, so I tuck that away elsewhere.

I do try to avoid the already overly publicized topics...like Imus and Anna Nicole's baby's daddy.

katrice said...

Bob,

I think it would be harder to write untruths about yourself, because then you'd have to keep track of the lies. I like that you keep it honest here, as I try to do as well on my blog. Sometimes maybe I'm too honest.

I also understand your hesitation to tell too much. I have one person who continues to search my blog out and read it who I wish would stop. She means me no good. That said, I feel comfortable with the community of bloggers that has built around me.

I think you should go ahead and deal with topics that you don't see around much. Open a new door. People will join in or they won't.

meno said...

i like what Mir said about blogging about certain topics just to get people to fight. It's boring.

I don't blog about politics as anything that needs to be said has been said by others far more qualified that i. (Other than to say i think Bush is duplicitous beyond my comprehension.)

I don't blog about the Mister's business. I mean both his job and his life, except as it pertains to me.

I don't write about my sex life, but i will write about my values about sex.

I don't blog about controversial topics like abortion or death penalty because you have your opinion, i have mine, and for the most part, i respect your opinion.

But if there are topics that you would like to opine upon, i would not let the lack of others doing the same prevent you from doing so. We might learn something.

patches said...

I avoid religion and politics because those often lead to heated discussions, and I don't consider myself adequately educated in either topic to successfully defend my beliefs. I'm not interested in converting the masses to my way of thinking, nor am I opposed to consider the other side of things. What I oppose are malicious mud slinging, and passionate arguing lacking in data. Debating=GOOD, Arguing=BAD.

The Atavist said...

Since I use my real name on my blog, I suppose I should be careful about what I write. I guess my line in the sand is that I don't like to impart things told to me in confidence or to invade the privacy of people I know now or have known in the past.

I don't mind what people write about, because I am intersted in everything.

Bob said...

Chani - what is polite company?

I agree about the anger thing. It will come out as a diatribe - and most probably not a very balanced treatment.

De - I was thinking something of the kind about lying - the effort of trying to keep the lies straight. I'm still trying to figure out what to write about and what not. I don't want to hurt anyone that I know by violating their privacy, discussing something they don't want made public.

Mir - hey - I value all input. I'm not sure I will always know if what I write will be upsetting to someone. I agree about avoiding a topic I can't speak freely about.

Lex - I'm not sure that I'm worried about losing readers so much as offending them before they leave!

Katrice - I'm sorry to hear about your stalker.

I work hard to be honest with myself and y'all here. I will keep on trying.

Meno - I don't understand people who chose to provoke.

useful guidelines, I will keep them in mind. And I will continue to opine as the opinions form. You might learn something you didn't want to know!

Patches - I too don't like to make statements that I cannot defend. I don't like to argue, but I do enjoy the occasional debate. I am always interested in the reasons behind someones position on a topic, especially when they hold opposite opinions than myself.

Sieg - I wouldn't reveal something told me in confidence either. I would like to think that people would recognize the honesty with which you write and not hold it against you, but you never know.

urban-urchin said...

Blogging if anything allows me to be totally honest because with the excpetion of joan of arf - no one who reads my blog knows me in *real* life.

jen said...

bob,
good post. i really enjoy hearing your thoughts on this. my blog is anonymous, but yet i don't write anything i wouldnt' want others to read..yet the privateness makes it mine.

i don't so much think things are off limit as much as i think i'd prefer not to talk about it...i am going to think why that is.

and i'd like to hear more about you and your opinions.

Bob said...

Urban-Urchin - anonymity is freeing!

Jen - I am, if nothing else, full of opinions!

Thailand Gal said...

Bob, what I mean by "polite company" is varying people with varying sensibilities. I don't use foul language (an occasional slip.. but I use asterisks, etc), bring up topics that may be offensive to a lot of people (some of my nastygrams have indicated that there are those who consider my opinions to be anti-American. I ignore those). If it's not something I'd discuss in mixed company, I don't put it on the blog. You know.. that kind of thing.

Make more sense?


Peace,

~Chani

Bob said...

Chani - I understand. The reason I asked is that the definition of "polite company" varies. Where I live it tends to mean conservative, church-going folks so you have to have an understanding of christian values to know what is and isn't a topic for discussion. For others it might mean people you don't know well. In other words, it is a vaguely defined, culturally dependant thing to know what topics are and aren't considered general conversational material.

Thailand Gal said...

Aaah. I get you. No, I don't limit my topics in that way. I would never make ugly remarks about Christians, certainly, but I can't stay within the confines of what they consider acceptable.

Even in my own chosen culture, some of my topics are edgy. I'm far more open about my insides than you'll find in others who live within those cultural boundaries.

I like edgy, actually. I just don't like vulgar. :)


Peace,

~Chani

Aaron & Alaine said...

First time visiting your blog - so glad I did.

I tend to write about anything, but self-sensor a bit when I realize that I have kids stuff, next to Barack stuff, next to politics and hot topics stuff....and it all represents a part of me. I do, however, try to protect the innocent - and the not so innocent too. My dear husband has been the source of some of my rants at times, and I know that I have to balance what people see and read, because there is an entirely different side that people don't see. Some topics are intimate in a way that prompts me to write an essay and label it...to be considered. I may pull it into my blog, may not.

I lost the ability to be politically correct after being trained as a community organizer - and learning that some diamonds in the rough, will never be a diamond at all.

Best Wishes on your journey.

Mother of Invention said...

I am usually posting about a feeling I have about something that usually ends up like a poem. I don't actually share or write about things happening in my life and I probably should do that more. I reveal more of my thoughts in comments on others' and my own replies.
I'm not that interested in politics. I do have ideas on religion but don't express them that much...people are pretty diverse in that area.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I post about whatever is on my mind at the moment. I agree with Meno about not writing about my sex life, but will write about my attitudes toward sex. And I agree with Chani about liking edginess but not vulgarity.

Only two people on my link list know me personally, and one is my daughter. (I don't think she reads my blog often.)

I cannot imagine being dishonest here or presenting myself as anything other than who I am because there would be no point.

All I want from my blogging is the release of writing my thoughts and feelings. The fact that I have become part of a community online is a bonus. I do care about my blog buddies and think about them as the friends they are. Knowing their faces is not important because they give me a window into their hearts, and that means so much more.

Ian Lidster said...

Hi. I found you here via Heartsinsanfrancisco;s blog and she suggested I pay a call since you and I have both blogged on a very similar theme today. Interesting, and I like some of the points you raise that I didn't in my own.
One topic I consider off-limits is religion, and another about which I'm very cautious is politics. My beliefs are my own, and so are my politics and I'm not about to impose my views on anybody, nor dispute theirs.
Good blog,
Ian

Bob said...

Aaron & Alaine - Thanks for stopping by. I too hate political correctness, but I do embrace respect for others.

MoI - Sometimes poetry gives license to be more personal than you would be in prose. Sometimes I catch those personal glimpses in comments!

Hearts - I understand and appreciate the parts of ourselves revealed in our blogs, but for me it is a starting point. There are those I read that I would love to sit opposite and continue the conversation started with the blog post.

Ian - Thanks for the comment and the complement. I read your post and I tend to agree that being honest doesn't mean you cannot be circumspect in your writing.

Lee said...

Since my kids are often highlighted on, know about and sometimes read my blog, I try to keep it mostly PG-13. I don't dicuss or name-call my ex and his new wife the way I would like to because I know they read it. I don't post pics of myself, mostly because I'm terrible camera shy. Everything else is open season.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

When I said that knowing the faces of my blog friends is not important, I didn't mean to imply that I would be averse to it. I would be delighted to actually meet some of them whose minds and ideas I particularly enjoy.

Since in most cases, that is unlikely, I content myself with what I do have.

And again, just because I'll probably never meet people would still not justify dishonesty about anything.

Bob said...

Lee - would you rant if you knew your blog were anonymous? (I might - temptation is a mighty thing!) I too am careful about what I write since my wife and daughter know about this blog. (I don't know if my son does, but I assume so.) The task for me is to balance respect for their privacy with my need to express myself truthfully and as openly as possible.

Hearts - I am happy to hear that. Maybe one day we will bump into one another.