…is probably the most polite way to describe my past two days. On the bus ride back (and surely I cannot be the only person who frequently composes blog posts, or even sometimes poems, when on public transportation?) I started to think about some central questions regarding blogging.
What is a blog exactly? And how much does one share about oneself on a blog? It feels strange here to deliberately withhold information, but at the same time, it’s not as though I promised to reveal everything about myself when I started this thing up. It’s a curious thing, to feel beholden to share when you’ve made no explicit promise to do so. And yet, for me, I feel like blogging hasn’t quite fully separated itself from the act of writing in a diary. If I were writing these posts in a private diary, I would feel that I was not being entirely honest with myself if I were to pick and choose which aspects of my life I were to write about.
In the 19th century, when letter writing became an art form, people wrote hundreds of letters to family and friends knowing that someday their correspondence would be published. They kept personal diaries which they assumed would one day be made public as well. A diary today seems a fundamentally secret thing. Think about how outraged people are when the diaries of famous people are published posthumously, without the consent of the deceased. I went through a pretty serious phase of loving Nirvana in ninth grade and I remember feeling sort of queasy and definitely uncomfortable when someone bought me Kurt Cobain’s published diary as a gift. I gave it away and never read it.
But a blog is different. Like letter writers of the 19th century, I’ve already agreed to some measure of public exposure simply by posting on the internet. I’ve accepted the lack of privacy upfront and have chosen to continue writing in spite of this warning. Certainly I have little pity for those who write things about friends, family members, or perhaps even about colleagues online and then get outraged when those same subjects find what’s been posted. It’s the internet! There’s no lock and key here.
And yet a blog has a certain measure of intimacy to it that feels very diary-like. I’m posting stories about my life that I usually share only with close friends. I’m posting poems and stories here that I wouldn’t show to my closest friends, for fear of being ashamed. I’m writing about my plans for the future, my fears, my embarrassments. And I’m doing it all in public.
Truly, the act of blogging is something of a striptease. And I’m willing to peel away the layers, but only up until a point. I just wish I knew where that point was.