Thursday, July 1, 2010

On The Blog-Self OR Whether to Let "Real" Friends Read Your Blog

I was at a long-time friend's brother's graduation party recently when talk turned, briefly, to my blog. When we starting talking about this blog, I tend to get a bit blushy and embarrassed and hope the conversation will change before anything I don't particularly want to discuss comes up.

It's not that I write really anything on this blog that I'm embarrassed of-- I just show different sides of me than I do in "real life."

That's what a friend of mine said when we mentioned my blog last time. She said it's interesting to look at because it's like seeing a different person at times-- and this is coming from someone I've been hanging out with for the past 15 years. It didn't turn into an in-depth discussion, but it got me thinking about what it's really meant to allow the people I know in person to read what I write her, in relative anonymity, on the Internet.

Over the past year or so, I've been disclosing a lot more information here that's truly personal than I've ever done before. You all have been privy to internal struggles that I hadn't really discussed with anyone. I've talked about bad relationships, weight and body image, being a non-drinker, and a slew of other things that I really don't like to get into with my friends. It's strange to think, sometimes, that I'd rather talk about very personal things to strangers than the people I've grown up with. Maybe growing up with these people is what makes it the hardest for me to feel completely comfortable disclosing certain information: I sometimes feel like they've known me for so long that it places me in a box, where I sometimes would rather not see myself, us, growing up so fast and maturing and making mistakes and being romantically involved, etc. etc.

I don't know if this post will be awfully articulate when I'm done. It's hard to put into words what I feel when I know someone I actually know has seen something I wrote here.

First, yes, this is me. Everything I say here is a genuine part of who I am, just like the things I say to another person face-to-face is.

I guess that knowing Vanessa Who Blogs along with Vanessa Outside Her Blog is how you know the whole of me right now. And the idea of someone getting to know everything about me all at once is actually pretty terrifying. It's not that either Vanessa is any more genuine-- you need all of it, I suppose, to really get who I am.

What's most interesting to me about this, though, is that I never intended friends to see this blog, as it is today. Before I started writing more "lifestyle" based posts and things on body image and the like, this was supposed to be a fashion blog. It was something I was really into-- I still am-- and I wanted to take a crack at writing about it. I found that shows and clothes weren't really my passion, and I started writing about topics that were, at times, intensely personal, topics I felt I truly had some stake in and passion for. The blog that I originally wanted to show off to friends had a lot less "me" in it, and as this blog changed, I wasn't quite as comfortable with the idea of friends seeing what I had to say.

My blog is still listed as my website on my Facebook, and I don't have any real desire for friends to stop reading it; that said, it's still a little awkward to remember who sees this at times (no offense to any IRL friends reading this post!) I wonder if I'd known the direction my writing here would take if I'd still have made my blog public. I know of several bloggers who say their Internet space is kept secret from friends... and I tend to believe I would have been one of them. I'm often glad I'm not, though.

There's something to knowing that my friends know a side of me I'm just starting to know myself that makes them even a little more dear to me: that these people can take me for my passions and my mistakes is awfully wonderful.

Is your blog self different than you in person? Do your "real" friends know you have a blog? If they do, do they read it? Do you talk about it? If you've chosen to keep them out, why?


Elaine said...

This is a really interesting read. I kept it a secret for a little bit until I realized if I don't let my friends read it, nobody will ;). So I started posting my website on facebook. Lately, I've found old HS friends on facebook and I kind of worry about what they think of me now. I was never like this in HS - I was awkward, snarky, and mostly kept to myself and my friends so for HS classmates to see me "modeling" my insignificant outfits everyday is weird, especially because I never cared too much about fashion back then. But then you have to realize that we are constantly changing and growing even if people don't realize it apart from your blog.

clothed much, a modest fashion blog

Katie said...

I did a post like this too. I never give my blog's url to my real life friends I tell them to google my name and it will come up I guess this is my way of ensuring they care enough to google my name. My blog is vaguely personal though it's always a little more optimistic. I have a don't ask don't tell policy with discussing my blog. I understand my friends may read it but I don't want it to spark conversation or be commented on by them.
Awesome post as per usual :)

Kelly said...

Not many "offline" friends know about my blog. Since my blog is mainly a fashion blog, and I didn't even really start getting into clothes until a couple years ago, I'm still embarrassed by how superficial I come across in my blog. I started it because I didn't really have any friends who give a shit about clothes, and I wanted to find people who ARE interested, and be able to have conversations about it. Basically, I had a new interest that wasn't shared by anyone in my life, so I wanted to create a way to find other people who shared that interest. But because it's mostly about fashion/clothing, I know that only seeing that one side of me probably makes a LOT of people think I'm vapid and empty and only really care about which dress I'll wear to a party or how my hair looks.

One friend who found it (through a google search, actually) mentioned it and I immediately got all flustered and embarrassed and started saying "I just didn't have anyone in real life to talk to about stupid superficial things..." He is one of the people I would think would be the most "unapproving" of my blog. But he made me feel a little better about it. He said, "You needed a sewing circle...and the internet was your only avenue. Quite understandable."

With most friends I guess it's like a lie of omission. I wouldn't deny it, but I don't bring it up. My boyfriend has a few times, he thinks it's great and can't understand why I start blushing as soon as he tells people.

Kelly said...

By the way, I bet any of your "real" friends who read this are happy to be able to see this side of you. If one of my "real" friends had a blog like this where she discussed her fears, personal challenges, etc. I would be honored that I knew about it and felt like I could peer into this side of her. So often we don't discuss the big, personal issues in our lives with those closest to us. Sometimes I feel like the people who have known me the longest barely know me at all anymore. So I'm sure they appreciate being able to read this.

amanda said...

I've recently realized that my online life/persona is very different from my real life persona. I generally don't write the way I speak (Twitter being a huge exception); I don't speak that much in general. I'm quite shy and reserved in real life, and writing helps me express my thoughts and feelings in a way that I simply couldn't in a "real world" way.

Like you, I've touched on things in my blog that I've never, ever told my friends, mostly because telling perfect strangers was infinitely less frightening than telling my best friends. Writing about my struggles with depression and self-injury did, however, make me feel less alone. I found the support I needed through the Internet, and I am so, so grateful.

On the other hand, I am kinda terrified of people I know IRL finding my blog and reading these terribly personal, painful posts. A very, very close friend recently found my Twitter (and subsequently, my blog) and no joke, I nearly wet myself. I'm still keeping my blog relatively under wraps, since I'm still finding my voice and testing my boundaries, subject-wise.

Zmaga said...

I don't like friends knowing about my blog. I usually don't mention it, unless I really want somebody's opinion. It is listed as my website on Facebook and one of my friends recently wrote on my Wall: "Oh, I've just seen you're making a blogging break :(" and it was so sweet, so I guess maybe I shouldn't completely hide that side of me.

Mackenzie said...

Delurkin'! :)

I loved this post. And it really got me thinkin'. With me, I'm pretty sure that for the first part of my blog ONLY my friends were reading it as I posted whenever I had a new post on Facebook (lame? maybe? Oh well!). and it actually had an interesting effect! It turned out that a lot of people in my friends group that I hadn't really spoken to in high school read it more than my close/best friends! And these near strangers were the most supportive whereas my best/closer friends always apologized for not reading it. Which was totally fine with me, I wouldn't want to force anyone to like my blog! :) But with me, having my friends list on Facebook was a really interesting way to promote my blog because it really allowed people to keep in touch with me since we were all away in college and also for a new group of friends I had never really spoken to to get closer to me! And it also made me realize how some of my closer friends weren't as supportive as I would have hoped? Weird how that works out! :)

Laells said...

Interesting thoughts.

I never meant for offline friends to see my blog but a few of them have. Well actually I sent on the link to one of my friends because she blogs herself so I thought she might like it or whatever and another friend found it randomly (I've never actually asked now that I think of it).

I don't think I present anything too differently though. I definitely talk/vent more on my blog sometimes but it's nothing that I wouldn't say to anyone or that they haven't really heard.

The people closest to me (like my boyfriend, my best friend, and my mom) know that I've been writing one but because I started it as sort of a self help/inspiration type blog I'm not sure how much I want to share it yet.

I don't think I'm really confident enough with my blogging skills yet either which is another reason why I haven't really advertised it either.

I think I'm actually kind of secretly afraid of being seen as dorky for some reason and I'm not sure why because I'm very open about all the other dorky things I do (like Harry Potter fanart or whatever else I get interested in making). I think it's more because I'm such a visual artistic person and blogging and writing is so different from what I would normally do in my spare time.

jacobithegreat said...

Great post.

I have maybe 5 good friends that read my blog, and it's pretty much the same as real-life but every once in a while I get kinda "deep" or go into things I normally wouldn't. I generally don't advertise the fact that I have a blog.

For the most part, it's read by strangers. I opted to put it on private because of a recent job search, so now it's only read by people that I know. When I get a job, though, it's back to public.

I think I like it better when strangers can read it. It's just cooler, like when I found out that one of my posts is linked by some German website. Random and so cool!

Kat said...

Great post!
I totally agree with your perspective!

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