Of course, part of that return readership is no doubt related to the dialogue and rapport we establish on our blogs. But let's face it, part of the appeal of blog reading is the glimpse we get into someone else's life. That life may be one you envy, one you relate to, or one that makes you feel superior and relieved to be you. Sometimes it's all of those. Frequently it's all of those.
I know that I personally enjoy reading about politics, social issues, and things we can do to make a difference. But the blogs posts that haunt me are personal. They incorporate real experiences, real relationships, and real problems into hauntingly beautiful writing. It's like a never ending novel with my favorite characters. But I get to keep reading about Lizzie and Mr. Darcy's life after their marriage. I read about their restrained arguments, fertility problems, and intolerable in-laws.
Sometimes, I get to meet my favorite characters in person.
When I think about the things I leave off of my blog and cloak in "privacy," I frequently try to compare it to writing a novel. I ask myself "if I put this fight with my husband in a book with different names, would he be angry?" The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. But a blog is different. There is no line stating "any resemblance to real people is entirely coincidental" to hide behind. We aren't characters in a novel. This is my life out there for all the world to Google, read, and judge.
So how do I maintain that thin, but important, veil of privacy around those I love?
I do have certain rules. I don't blog about my sex life or my personal relationship with my husband. This has left some readers with the impression that T is annoyingly perfect. Trust me when I say he is anything but perfect. He's a hell of a lot closer to it than I am, but no one is perfect. But our marriage and the trust we have to share our innermost feelings is far more important than a blog post. T's issues are not mine to share. They belong to him. My issues with T are not mine to share. They belong to us.
I also refrain from blogging about family problems. As with my relationship with my husband, trust is more important than airing my parents' dirty laundry. That's why I have a therapist!
I don't blog about work. I have no desire to be Dooced, destroy my relationships with opposing counsel and co-workers, or be disbarred.
Those are the easy rules.
The hardest rules are those with my children. That's a post for another day because I don't have 5 hours to share my thoughts (and guilt) about their privacy.
What about other people I interact with or people from my past? They fall into a gray area. I can't avoid blogging about any of my personal relationships or this would be a pretty boring blog. But I do have to think about how I would feel if that person found my blog. Or how I would feel if anyone from my past found my blog.
I've written about a painful relationship and break up I had in my early twenties and my still, somewhat, unresolved feelings about the whole matter. How would I feel if my ex-boyfriend read my post about him? How would he feel? I don't think I would be upset. In fact, I know I wouldn't. I would never post something about someone I know that I wouldn't tell them in person if they asked.
But the ex? I have a feeling he might be a bit upset about my revelations about his more recent past. I would apologize for hurting him, but I don't think I would remove the post. If he had confidentially shared the information about his past, I would never have written the post in the first place. But he didn't and ultimately the post is more about me than anyone else.
I was forced to think about my invisible cloak of privacy because two people I knew in high school are now occasionally reading my blog (Hi, K! Hi, B!) one of whom I suspect had a crush on me once upon a time.... (Or maybe I'm projecting.) Somehow it's easier to think of strangers reading my intimate thoughts about a deeply personal topic than it is to think of friends who knew me and my ex-boyfriend, who knew the people we were then.
Happily Ever After was one of the most personal posts I've ever written. It says a lot about me and who I am now. And so, ultimately, I guess I'm happy to have anyone who knew me then, know me now.
When you're looking at me on display in all my naked glory? Just try to ignore the stretch marks.
This post is for Julie's weekly Hump Day Hmmm.