Don’t Let The Genie Out Of The Bottle

25 05 2008

Technology posts on Textual Relations are like buses these days. You wait ages for one and then two come along at once. Although Mr President actually wonders if any of you lot actually wait for them given the distinct lack of interest in yesterday’s piece about the rather cool Telectroscope. Still, today’s effort may be more interesting; it’s about the man behind the curtain.

Mr President often gets asked why he blogs under a pseudonym, and certainly has heard from some readers (including the lovely SomeGo) that they prefer the occasional posts he makes about his personal life. Today he’ll give you a little insight into both why he chooses a pseudonym and why you very rarely hear him reveal intimately personal aspects of his life. When he does do it it tends to be things from a long time ago.

What got him thinking about this was a fantastic piece in The Observer (which is a very fine newspaper) about blogging and in particular talking about those who bare their souls online and then aren’t prepared for the cruel consequences. Mr President has talked previously about online vendettas and blogging about your personal life can often just provide more fuel to stoke those fires. SomeGo’s comment there is worth noting.

You see, Textual Relations is not Mr President’s first blog. He’s written quite a few, but when he first started he wrote entirely about personal matters. There was a lot to offload, he can assure you. He had “issues”. Some of you that have known him for some time may even have read the earlier offerings and know what he’s talking about.

Why SomeGo’s comment is worth noting is because when he first started, Mr President was one of those bloggers she describes. He’d use his blog as a sounding board to write about his friends without actually ever discussing things directly with them. There’s a quote in that piece by Tracie Egan about people changing once they knew they might be potential fodder for the blog, and Mr President would relate to that. His friends changed. In fact some of his friendships were almost destroyed by his blogging.

There would be some ferocious arguments in public on the blog in question (and no, he won’t tell you what it was called) and, like Emily Gould, he actually began having panic attacks about it. This, you’ll note, was without the fame that either of those bloggers achieved, but just simply in his tiny little circle of friends. Even his longest running blog (this one) has hardly reached heights of popularity, yet anonymous he will remain.

Experience has taught him that just as you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, you shouldn’t mix blogging with your personal life. Like Gould alludes to, once you let that genie out of the bottle, it’s out there, and nothing short of permanently destroying the Internet is going to get it back for you. Not only that but in the past he’s been called “self-absorbed” by readers of his old blogs, and if you think about it, isn’t blogging about your personal life inherently narcissistic? Is it really of interest to the public?

He realises he’s possibly offended a couple of his regular readers and would like to make it clear that he doesn’t have an issue with personal blogs. People should blog about whatever they want, the medium is there for them to use how they wish. He’s just asking the question, the answer is for each of you to come up with for yourselves.

Perhaps Jarvis is right, perhaps “our mutually assured humiliation may make us more forgiving” but Mr President thinks this day may be a long way in the future. In the meanwhile he suspects that people secretly revel in watching others rise and fall, their humiliation, it’s human nature, schadenfreude in all its glory. For our part bloggers will be driven by the desire to be read, we crave and feed off the attention, and therein lies the trap where we reveal too much of ourselves and don’t realise until it’s too late.


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4 responses

25 05 2008
Jodi

Pretty deep, man…lol. I have two blogs, one of which is personal, one of which is informational. I’ll be the first to tell you I crave readership! I have an inherent need to be acknowledged – not just blogging, but in “real life”, too. Is it a fault? Probably, but hey, it’s MY fault :). I am aware of it and do, at times (like in a work setting) strive to subdue this need. But is it really a “fault”? Doesn’t it make me work harder, to achieve more, to get that recognition..? I guess it’s all perspective.
As far as what people say – in order for your words or opinion to affect me personally, you have to be someone who’s opinion I value, and who I respect. I have very high standards (my hunny says too high *grin*) and therefore, the number of people who fill that bill is limited. And if they ARE part of the “chosen few” they would possess the “balls” to confront me directly, face to face, because that one of my requirements 🙂
Hmmm….ok, I’m done…LOL
bb
dawtch

25 05 2008
Mr President

I wouldn’t call the need to be acknowledged a fault. Surely we all want acknowledgment? It’s a form of validation, and much as we may talk up the value of internal validation (and true, it is better than external), we can’t help, I think, but want our lives to be significant to others.

Like you said, it is this need to get recognition that is the fuel behind our ambitions. Without it would we really be striving to do our best in whatever setting? Athletes, musicians, even us regular Joe Bloggs sorts, we push ourselves to our limits in order to be recognised.

Interestingly enough, despite my previous incarnation as a passive aggressive blogger, that’s not actually my usual style. I’m very much an “in your face” sort of person in reality, and would definitely say I’m the sort of person who confronts people face to face. I value frankness.

Yet I wonder whether either of us is being entirely honest when we say we only get affected by the words of those whose opinions we value and respect. I definitely try and live by the motto “consider the source” but I would be lying if I said I’ve never been offended by words from someone that, with hindsight, I couldn’t care less about.

Granted, once I’ve realised that, their words no longer bother me, but in the heat of the moment? Whilst I’ve never been “upset” emotionally, I can get very angry over remarks made about me, and sometimes the most idiotic ones are made by people who don’t know me. They get my ire up, my blood boils and I even used to get headaches from it.

And what about people who are part of the “chosen few”? At some point in time that category will include someone who may later go on to become an ex-partner. If your ex is a blogger too, some very hurtful things could be said, especially if you yourself “started” it by blogging about your personal life against the wishes of your partner.

That’s what stood out in that piece from the Observer, the last few paragraphs detailing the fall from grace of Emily Gould. as I imagined her laying on her kitchen floor in the foetal position I couldn’t help but wonder if other bloggers were opening themselves up to the same potential fate? Certainly I can remember feeling similarly.

That’s why I stopped blogging about intimate aspects of my life.

28 05 2008
somegosoftly

I feel like this whole post is just flirting with me.

28 05 2008
Mr President

Surprisingly for me, it isn’t. I do love flirting with you though…

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