Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is It Egotistical To Assume Someone Reads Your Blog?

Way back in the long, long ago time when the internet was still powered by two hamsters running in wheels (which later was changed to gerbils because they run faster), I had a gay friend who talked about his website and how he used it as his diary.

“That’s stupid,” I said. “It’s not really a diary if you want other people to read it. It’s just an ego-thing. You just want people to care enough about you to read your thoughts about your life.”

My friend denied that was his motivation, ego-tripping. But he did tell me one thing, that he sometimes used his journal to write things about people in his life that he wouldn’t say to them and then basically wait for them to read about it. A very passive-aggressive way of passing messages.

I guess I’m bringing up this story because I’ve been fighting two urges recently. Take this blog public in the sense of stripping it of anything deeply personal or embarrassing, or just say “fuck it” and write what I want about myself. Blog out-loud, as it were.

I do read other people’s personal blogs. (And if anyone wants their blog to be read by me, post a comment. I think I have tracked back everyone who posted and wasn’t anonymous.) I don’t follow them every day, but I might read a month or so of postings in a stretch. I usually like reading the very first blog post because I’m always curious what motivated someone to start the blog. I find the more deeply personal someone else’s blog is the more interesting it is to me.

But I recently had a mixer with some fairly well-known (well known to me at least) writers and bloggers. And I was just dying to show them my blog. But I couldn’t. There’s a little too much of me remaining and I don’t think the blog is interesting enough to show off yet. Weight-blogging, date-blogging, job-blogging, these are ways of blowing off steam. Not unlike writing in a diary. But there is an ego-trip about blogging about yourself. You are hoping someone cares. Maybe a stranger, but someone is going to read your life and find it interesting. But what happens when potential (or current) employers and dates find these things? Not to mention family and friends? Do you really want your relatives to know that much about you?

I’ve talked about not writing about people I know anymore, but this is a little different. What happens when a future (or current) employer finds out about my James Frey moment? (Still one of my personal favorite posts.) Or how I talk about blogging at work?

The ironic thing is some of the jobs I’m applying for are to be a paid blogger. But no one wants to pay me to write about my life. I wish I was David Sedaris but I’m not (at least not yet). And I'm not living in Iraq or some other kind of interesting situation.

Let’s face it. Writing about your life is easy. It takes no research. It takes very little to craft a post about yourself. But writing about pop culture or politics in a way that someone else wants to read? Well that takes a little skill. And it’s a competitive market, lots of eyeballs but there's probably 100 blogs for every pair of eyes who want to read about Aaron Sorkin.

I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do. If I strip out the embarrassing stuff a lot would have to go, some of which I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of yet. But in the spirit of this post, here are some of the personal blogs I’ve read from time to time and I’ll add more as I think of them.

Dan Blog
The Virgin Files (So out-loud I wish she’d write more)
Weight Watchers, eh? (She’s Canadian)
Mental Hygiene Unit (A divorced child-free vegan with talent, she blogs out-loud hard)
The World of Von
Jon’s Blog (An actual friend of mine)
And said friend’s wife (they’re having twins!)


Carol said...

I found your blog by doing a search for "Seattle" and "career" (which is often what my own blog is about) and I can't believe that you posted something that could have been taken straight from my thoughts! I, too, have thought about "going public" with my blog by instituting ads... but I just can't bring myself to do it. I'd love more traffic, but I want people to be driven to my blog because of its content, not it's ads.

Not that the content is riviting in any way... I'm just a Seattle career woman and mom to older teens and young adults. But still, something just doesn;'t feel right about ad icons and links all over.

Nice to "meet " you!


mental hygiene said...

Hopefully none of us out-loud bloggers learn our lessons the hard way! Honestly, I am not a professional writer, and I am not an authority on anything. So people like me wouldn't even consider writing about anything but ourselves. Egotistical? Perhaps. I've been a faithful diarist since I learned to write, and I've always considered what might happen if my diaries were read. In fact they have been. This just seems like a natural progression.

OTOH, if you have something here that you are proud of (indeed you ought to be), I see nothing wrong with "cleaning it up" and making it be the something which you may freely share with everyone. From my limited exposure, I find that professional bloggers tend to keep most personal information out of their blogs.

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