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Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

Part of blogging is letting a large audience of strangers into your world -- your life, your mind, your thoughts. It is sharing a part of yourself with people you have never met or heard of, in the hope that your writing will put a smile on someone's face, teach someone an idea he/she had never heard of but finds interesting, inspire a person, or show them that they are not alone in feeling or thinking a certain way.

But opening yourself up to this vast, unidentified audience also has its drawbacks, such as a loss of privacy to a certain degree. In fact, one of the things people have said to me in trying to expose the 'evils' of blogging was, "Why would you want your life to be out there for everyone to see? Why do all these people and strangers have to know this about you?"

Well, first of all, this is not my whole life. I am quite selective about what I put up on my blog, and I have often started or planned blog posts that never materialized only because I decided that the subject was unnecessary for me to share.

Also, I choose to share some thoughts or happenings because I hope others might benefit from it. It might open new channels of thought, provide them with information or inspiration, or help them come to terms with things in their own lives because they see that they are not alone in some of their doubts, frustrations, thoughts, or emotions. And, of course, it might on occasion provide people with some much-needed entertainment after a long, hard, or boring day. I personally love reading blogs when I feel stressed because it helps take my mind off things and sometimes even makes me smile. And if one of my anecdotes about my life does that for someone else, then it's worth it.

One of the interesting things about blogging though is that you are tricked into feeling that you know the author of the blog when, in reality, you are only skimming the surface. When I blog, I am not putting my life out there. My life is not a book or a movie for others to jump into. I will not give you detailed stories about my day (unless there is something highly interesting I can relate or I am in a foreign country and feel as if I already am a character in a story). I will not tell you what I am thinking about now or what I have been struggling with the entire weekend. Unfortunately though, some people assume that because I have a blog I have no more privacy left; that my personal life is on display and I am making a story out of my feelings. I am a writer, and that is how I express myself, but that does not mean that everyone has to see it. Those who care to observe me (or simply cannot help noticing) will see that I am constantly writing in notebooks. I write pages and pages about my life and what I am experiencing, and not even a tenth of that ends up on my blog. I know quite well how to maintain my privacy.

Sometimes, when I read other blogs, I think, "This is getting kind of personal... How is he/she comfortable with sharing so much?" But obviously, for every one thing that a blogger shares, there is another one or two or even twenty that he/she does not allow you to see. It is all a matter of deciding what you want to make public and what needs to be kept to yourself.

Another thing that is important is not only knowing how to maintain your privacy but knowing how to respect that of others. There are many bloggers who are anonymous and can freely write about their families and friends because nobody knows who they are anyway. It seems as if they have a license to write whatever they want because of their anonymity. I, on the other hand, am somewhat limited in what I can write about. My family reads my blog, as do my friends, and I cannot write much about them because I never know what they might object to, and people will read it and know who I am talking about. So for the most part, I am limited to writing about myself and about unrecognizable acquaintances or strangers (and of course ideas).

But even when I write about myself, it is not quite enough to let other people know me as a person. It will give my readers little snippets here and there as well as some general ideas about who I am and what I care about, but that is about it. In order to get to know me, you would have to actually talk to me and develop a personal connection. You would have to get to know me not as inkstainedhands, but as Hannah.

Conversely, I feel that those of my friends who do not read my blog do not know a certain side of me. One of the reasons I keep a blog is that there are messages and thoughts that I would like to discuss and put out there that I would be unable to bring up in casual conversation. There are so many things I want to let other people know and I want to talk about, but it is impossible to do so face to face. What I write about is important to me and it is a part of who I am, but even my closest friends would be completely unaware of it if they do not see my blog or my writing. I feel more comfortable expressing myself through writing, so a lot of who I am is contained in it.

It is all summed up quite nicely by a remark one of my friends recently made: "There is a lot more to you than meets the eye." That applies to each and every one of us. We are complex and human, and it takes a lot of effort to get to know each person. It is not so easy as reading a blog, nor is it as simple as being my friend.

The bottom line is that in order to know me more closely you would have to both get to know me through my writing and as a friend, because each of those paths will lead you to a different side of me, which combined make Hannah Rozenblat.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 27, 2009 at Sunday, December 27, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

"The bottom line is that in order to know me more closely you would have to both get to know me through my writing and as a friend"- My own experience has been that people I know in reality that know full-well that I have a blog, but don't read it, don't necessarily "know me less" because they don't read my little online articles, and those that do read it have no idea who I am nor are they exceedingly interested to find out. ...could have to do with the fact that my blog isn't really about my own life though.

December 28, 2009 at 2:43 AM

This was definitely something I thought long and hard about before venturing into the blogosphere. I enjoyed reading other people's blogs (some of whom I know, and others I don't), and wanted to contribute my own perspectives in a positive fashion just as you mentioned. I know my own opinion probably counts very little in the long run, and I certainly don't expect to gain any real or lasting popularity as some have achieved.

Nevertheless, blogging is a means of expressing what I feel can be meaningful with an outside audience that reaches beyond my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. I chose to make an attend to keep a "professional" distance from being identified with the blog, and especially since some matters (such as dating) should be private at any rate. Anything I do share is carefully worded to conceal identities, because I would hate to cause harm in my attempt to make a point or tell a story.

I do wonder, though, just how much you can learn about a person after following their blog for several years (I began to write a post about this, but stopped) - and you make a very good point about that. Unless the person is totally open about everything they post, and presuming that they aren't fictionalizing any details, one really doesn't get to know the person that well. Nevertheless, there is some aspect of understanding gained from reading posts for an extended period of time. Each piece reflects some aspect of the person, unless they are simply writing fictional stories (which even though reveal some details about the author, however debated those points might be).

Each blogger is different, though. I think you make good points - but some are specific to you and your personal perspective on WHY you blog - and hence no universal.

At any rate, this is another thought provoking piece, and well worth the read.

December 28, 2009 at 10:37 PM

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