Monday, March 10, 2008

Mama Monday #14.1

Theme: Sense

For today's Mama Monday theme. I was going to link to a specific post over here. But when I went to find it, the post was gone. I suppose the author felt the subject matter was too sensitive to keep up. And honestly - I can't blame her.

You see, Kathleen is a blogger for our large local newspaper. This deleted post talked about her excitedly calling her dad to tell him about side-by-side advertisements in the print edition of the paper - one directing readers to Kathleen's blog, the other advertising a new CD her father just put out (sorry - I believe the last half of that statement is true, but since the post is gone, I can't confirm the info on her dad's alleged CD). How cool that father's and daughter's accomplishments were mentioned right next to each other!

However, Kathleen's enthusiasm was abruptly smashed to bits when her father basically interrupted her announcement, declaring that he doesn't read blogs and he never will, as they're written by "unimportant" people about "unimportant" things. Therefore, people who read such on-line diary drivel are "unimportant" as well.

(I quote only the word "unimportant" because that is the one word from her post that stuck in my mind and shocked me to the core).

Needless to say, her father's words completely shocked Kathleen as well, ending that phone call quickly and badly.

I wish Kathleen had kept that post up, as I think the subject is very important to all bloggers. She also received a ton of very positive, very supportive comments from her readers and friends. But I completely understand why she took it down as well. It was a "venting" post - she vented, got the support she needed and deserves - and then she didn't need it posted anymore, where it could potentially cause more harm than good.

For myself, I sometimes feel I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. That is, if anything, I feel that people I know who read my blog sometimes take me too seriously. Either that, or they think I'm so widely read (ha!) that they feel I must be very careful about what I write, how I write it, and what sorts of information I share with the world.

I write something somewhat introspective - maybe even downright melancholy - and the next thing I know, Hubby and/or I are being questioned directly about how things are for us. 

I tell a not-so-flattering story about Sweetie - perhaps something the teenaged Sweetie won't like my readers to have known - and friends/family wonder aloud if maybe I crossed the line in what I share on my blog.

And safety is always an issue I have to take into consideration. That's why I don't post pictures of Sweetie anymore. Personally, I would love to post her adorable pictures and I see no harm in it at all. But I know some family members and friends who read me are concerned. And so I don't do it.

It's funny, blogging is. The evolution of a blogger is particularly fascinating.

You start a blog and you have fun with it. You write "anonymously" because - seriously - who ever is going to read what you have to say anyway?

Then you notice you're getting readers. Cool! People really are interested! People really do like what you have to say! People want you to keep writing!

Then you get those first on-line comments from people you actually know. Either that, or a friend or family member happens to mention a post or two you wrote right to your face. Not necessarily a good or bad mention - just an acknowledgement that they do, in fact, read you. And regularly, at that!

Kinda makes a little ol' blogger feel a wee bit self-conscious. Did I ever write something I shouldn't have? Well, no... but did I write something that could have been misunderstood by key people? Possible.... Huh...Wow....I know this person/these people! And they read me! I better start bringing my A-game! And be much careful about what I say.

And sometimes - okay, more times than you'd like to admit - you get really defensive about your blog.

What do you mean, he/she thinks that's what I'm saying in that post?! Who is that person to tell me what I should or shouldn't write about? Or - worse - OMG! He/she really was upset that I posted that? But it's my blog! I can post what I want! But still - I certainly don't want to hurt anyone! It's just not worth it - I'll just give blogging up all together! The whole thing is stupid anyway! Will that make everyone happy?! Fine! Whatever!

Ahem... see?... blogging, by nature, is a very sensitive business.

The thing of it is - you just have to have a good sense of who you are. And if you start a blog without having that, then - by golly - a blog will quickly help you get one! My blog, and my book club, have certainly done that for me. At least they're both helping me develop one as I go.

With a good sense of self, you can do anything. It should go without saying, be kind and respectful to others. Do not do anything that you know will deliberately upset someone you love. That, of course, applies in blogging and all aspects of life.

But at the same time, be true to yourself. If you feel good about writing something, then write it! Whether it helps you get something off your chest, if you thought a good number of like-minded people would benefit from hearing your story, or if you simply felt it was innocently funny enough that others would get a kick out of it - then post it! After all, it is your blog and you can say what you like.

Bloggers are not unimportant people. People who read blogs are not unimportant. The opinions of both bloggers and readers are equally valuable. The real life relationships - even great friendships - that can and do evolve from such on-line give-and-take is very important. 

Blogs themselves have a very real place in our tech-savvy culture. They are a great way to share information, connect with others you'd otherwise never meet, and even get the reassurance we all need in life from time to time that there's at least one other person out there going through the same thing you are. Blogging can even be a great way to earn some extra money.

You just have to know yourself well enough, developing a thick enough skin, so that the occasional undesirable comments you get start to affect you less and less.

Blogging - it's not for the faint of heart. It takes both sense and sensibility. Be conscientious of your words and how they may be construed by others, while at the same time true to yourself and your own needs and goals. 

It's a tall order to consider, but in the end, it makes a lot of sense.

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