Friday, May 23, 2008

Blogger Burnout: How Honest Are You?

I've deleted other posts from this blog, posts never made public, and so this post will be my first official post to Whose Shoes are these Anyway. For almost a year now I've been deconstructing myself, partly because I've moved back to my hometown. Consequently, my old blogs that closely identified me with a different location became defunct.

I've spent some time looking after my elderly parents, one of whom has Alzheimer's. Observing and caring for them pushed my life through a partial metamorphosis that's caused me to reevaluate why I do what I do, who made me what I am, and really what/who am I? I've also been contemplating faith, not necessarily religious beliefs but the beliefs we consume about ourselves, and I've been wondering how have my beliefs about myself brought me to this place?

Indulging in inner reflection is how I arrived at the name of this new blog, but I don't know that I'll be writing on these subjects or going deep into any soul issues in my posts because writing honestly can be dangerous. People may misinterpret what's been said even if you say it accurately, and sometimes, misinterpretations aside, the truth hurts .

Over the last year, I've been drawing myself into myself and becoming less likely to share details of my personal life online because when we blog about ourselves using our real names and real places and lay bare our hearts or humor on the Net, we fling wide open a door to our lives that family, friends, potential lovers or employers, and frenemies may enter at anytime. So how honest can we really afford to be in a blog that can be traced back to us? (I wrote on my now defunct blog about people losing jobs or failing to get jobs because of what they've said in blogs. I've even heard of a woman losing custody of her children because of what she said in a blog.)

Pondering the perils of being honest on the Web paralyzed me. In the last few years I've been stunned at times how my own words, sometimes even my words in jest, have come back to haunt me. What's most surprised me is how people I thought were fairly intelligent fail to use critical thinking skills when reading and surfing the Net. Some people even read poetry and fiction that's clearly marked as poetry and fiction as fact and believe everything you write even when you write as a fictitious persona.

This is not surprising when it comes to harmless surfers, trolls, and stalkers. Usually the people who visit our blogs don't actually know us and come from a cross section of the population varying in intelligence and cultural exposure. However, you will still find that people who know you and should know better also draw stupid conclusions while reading online.

I've had an attorney argue to a court judge that I'm earning lots of money from the Web because I've linked to sites that earn money (divorce proceedings). On some level the judge believed this, I'm sure, because she said in her final ruling that I could earn money publishing a novel some day. (Apparently tales of starving writers escaped this judge.)

In addition, I've had extended family members spread rumors to other extended family members that I'm involved in nefarious activities simply because an intriguing graphic I've posted on a web page titillated them, one not created by me but by an artist unrelated to me. And it's also come back to me that relatives, people with a high level of education, have gossiped that I run a pornographic website because I linked to a site that sells women's lingerie. (Yes, simply women's lingerie. ) I suppose this is the cyber age version of guilt by association, a link.

Dealing with people's stupidity takes a toll on the psyche. It's a wonder more humans don't become hermits.

As someone who wants her only job to be writer, preferably fiction writer, I value the exposure the Net gives my work. Yet, I've spent parts of the last year removing my work from the web--burying blogs, asking website owners to delete my writing or spoken word audio posted by others, and archiving poetry and articles to locked subdirectories. I feel like I've been burying myself.

Nevertheless, I'm back, resurrected as Vérité Parlant, waiting to see where this new road takes me. Perhaps I'll play it safe this time and write as though all my readers are under the age of 10. Maybe I'll always write as though an ex-husband, employee background checker, or gossiping relative who needs to get a life is lurking in the shadows. Maybe I'll be a journalist blogger and only blog news, movies, TV shows, and political mess. Maybe I won't.

Photo from All Posters.

Updated for other purposes on July 12, 2011: The poem is now offline.



michelle said...

Great blog. I applaud you for re-entering the blog world on your terms with honesty and determination. I have stepped back many times only to be brought back in again...sometimes I read my words and wonder who is this person writing...and other times, even worse, I read what I wrote and thought, "how dull" because I have had to resort to writing about dull daily topics for fear of who will read (or comment) on the truth.

ByJane said...

I don't think there are any 'maybes' about it: if you are true to your name, you can only speak the truth.

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Vérité Parlant said...

Thank you, Sanam.