The secret lives of bloggers

Our lives are shadow and light

So you think you know about your blogger friends, do you?  You think you know about what makes them tick.  What they like.  What they don’t like.  How they act.  How they don’t act. 

We read our blogging buddies day in and day out.  We get a glimpse into a Life.  And we imagine we know the person.  We imagine we know the blogger inside out.  We like ‘em; we don’t like ‘em.  But we think we know.

Just when you think you know a blogger...

Ladies and gentlemen:  I am here to make a pronouncement.  I don’t think we know as much as we think we know about the blogger. 

I think we know a slice of them.  A particular slice that the blogger decides to show the world.  But we don’t know everything…we often don’t even know a LOT.  We know the blogger only within a limited scope of what she or he shares. 

Some of us have had this conversation before, haven’t we?  How the on-line world accentuates and limits relationships.  It’s much easier, sometimes, to be intimate on a blog than face-to-face. 

Heck, we’re often freed of some of the limitations and hesitations that keep us quieter in everyday encounters.  Sometimes an on-line relationship becomes deep very quickly as people reveal themselves without so much timidity and fear.  Hearts open.  Relationships blossom.  There is an intimacy which presents itself often in the written word which rarely finds its way into physical encounters–until much later.  Until the body has decided everything is Safe. 

We have to remember that the blogger is so often writing a narrow view of the totality of his/her existence.  I am often amazed when people say, “I know all about your life after reading your blog!”  I always silently shake my head and think, “No, you know a small story about what happened during my day.  You have no idea about the other 90% which isn’t being broadcast to the world.”

OK, you might know some things about a blogger. But not everything.

If you read a blogger for a long time–you start to pick up more accurate information, perhaps.  The blogger fleshes into a real live person.  Perhaps in a year.  Perhaps two years.  Perhaps ten years (heaven forbid!  Will we still be blogging in ten years?)  If you talk to the blogger in person, or meet them in the street or in an unlikely place—HI JANE!  Nice to meet you yesterday!–you’ll start to get a deeper knowledge. 

So often when we blog, we choose a format.  We say, “I’m going to talk about the place where I live.”  (What is often not being shared is our angst, our insecurity, our challenges.)  We decide, “I am going to write about nature and the Great Outdoors.”  (What is not being shared might be our spiritual search, our deep inner life.)  We think, “I’m going to write about positive ways of interacting and thinking.”  (What isn’t being shared is our suffering, our not-knowing, our confusion.) We specialize in blogs in certain areas and do not even address other areas.

My prior blogging experience (before my 365 day outdoor commitment last year) was a spiritual blog.  I wrote it in a particular style, attempting to explore a specific way of looking at the world.  It was another slice, another snapshot, of this life.  Was it who I am?  In some ways yes; in other ways no.

Do you know anything about me?  Yes.  And no.  As with all your other blogging friends, you know a slice.  A particular slice. 

It’s a good start.  I love meeting bloggers in real life.  Or chatting with them on the phone.  Or corresponding through email.  Because then a depth develops.  You can become more intimate.  Share more about your concerns, gratitude, puzzlement, suffering, joy. 

So, what about you?  Do you think you know your blogging friends?  Do you reveal everything about yourself in your blog?  Or do you reveal only a snapshot?  Are you completely present in multi-shades or do you pick and choose your revelations? 

Isn’t this a fascinating topic?

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41 responses to “The secret lives of bloggers

  1. I think you have an important issue in your post here. I am a real beginner in this blogging-business, but have thought a lot about this: For me the important thing is to be conscious of what I communicate in my blog. What is MY purpose? What do I want to tell other people? And just as important: What do I NOT intend to tell?!! I mean, we must all decide, what OUR OWN POLICY here must be – and honestly we all have different purposes – and THAT is what makes our blogs exciting for all the others! And one more important thing: To be honest! (and that does NOT mean to tell everything – it means : Do not lie!)
    These things said – my conclusion is, that it is not different to make friends through blogging than meeting friends everywhere else! But of course the communication is better the closer you are: A meeting makes it much easier to communicate! :-)

  2. Kathy,

    It is fascinating topic! I found this rich in wonderment, honesty, truth, maybe even caution…
    I don’t think I would say I really know a person from a blog but I would say I know, as you have written parts of them that they have become safe to share.
    I think blogging could be a very powerful tool for people to get to know them selves and how people perceive them, if that is important to them as a person…

    I have always been drawn to your blogs, your thoughts, words, journey has captured my interest for a while now! There have been moments/blog that touch my heart, made me think, inform me that I am not alone in my journey.
    Do I know you, no not really, but if you lived near by I think we would be friends!
    I just began my blogging career so we will see, where and when I expose myself and how. I will connect with others as well, that I fill comfortable with or about the thoughts and ideas in their blogs.

    So I am grateful for your comments and I sit here in wonderment of your presence in these blogs/stories.

    Thank you Kathy,

    I am Love, Jeff

  3. Truels and Jeff, I am so glad you both responded! I was sitting over on the couch thinking–oh no!–what have I done? What have I blogged about now? Will this blog challenge people too much, or perhaps scare them, or make them nervous? Hopefully not!

    And came over here to find your positive thoughtful comments…and now feel much better.

    I love being authentic in a blog. Telling the truth of the moment. Do not lie, as you have said, Truels. That feels really important. To somehow be transparent. But there are other things I choose not to tell. I’m sure we’re all that way.

    And I suspect we would both be friends–that so many of us would be friends–were we to meet face-to-face. It feels that way, doesn’t it? Jeff, we’ve known each other more than a year now. We’re starting to learn more and deepen, I think. I love your honesty, too!

    Blessings, both of you, and thanks for calming a nervous second thought about this blog!

  4. You’re right, of course. I think we’ve all experienced when things get shaken up and chunks of facade fall off, either ours or someone else’s. But for the most part, we only see what we are shown.

    You might enjoy this article by my friend Sonia Lyris. She addresses the subject in a fun and entertaining way.

    http://news.gilbert.org/features/featureReader$7022

    • Janet, that is a great article by your friend, Sonia! Funny, too, and right on. We only see what we’re shown…or, like she suggests, what we’ve created. Of course, that’s true in face-to-face encounters, too.

  5. Right on Kathy, this is a fascinating topic! I still don’t know quite what to make of blogging yet. Since I started in January, it has taught me a lot more about myself. I do think that the written word can have some limitations over physical presence but, sometimes more is revealed through the written word than what one might let go of in person. And sometimes, I wonder do we ever really really know someone even when they are in our presence often. Great post to ponder!

    • Marianne, I think blogging is great. Like you say, it can teach us so much about ourselves. And other people can be good mirrors… But it’s interesting to look at the shadow sides. Where blogging might limit us. But then again…I think we can be limited being in physical contact to…such as when we’re too cautious to let down our boundaries and share from our hearts. Thank you!

  6. Very fascinating and something I have never read about before. I have to agree with you. What is shared on my blog is just a slice. But I would rather know a slice of someone, rather than not having met them at all.

    • Annie, you are right. A slice is better than nothing! And a slice can be so fascinating. I suppose especially if we don’t allow our Mind to convince us that the Slice is the Whole Enchilada. I’m fascinated about this topic, too. Can you tell?

  7. I love your first picture … it is so you … or not you … since the photo also represents only a “slice” of who you are … it’s great to be able to resonate with each other’s “slices.” So glad that you continue to write, to share, to nourish, and to challenge thought.

    Love,
    SD

    • Well, Susan D, I am delighted to see you here! And you know probably a bigger slice than most folks here, as we know each other in the face-to-face world and have laughed and cried and shared huge slices of our lives with one another. I wonder what we haven’t shared?

  8. Kathy –

    What I know is this …

    … prior to the photographs being taken, you:

    a) removed the fake mustache, derby and dark glasses;

    b) took off the taupe trench coat; and

    c) slipped the secret decoder ring into your pocket.

    The uniform of all bloggers. Right? The rest of you bloggers wear that stuff too, don’t you?

    • OK, Laurie, here’s my impression of you the last couple of days: You are HYSTERICAL! You are one of the funniest people on the planet. (Is this true? Or is it only when you’re wearing that…ahem…secret trench coat??) I actually thought of finding a pair of dark glasses for the above photos. Unfortunately, none seem to exist around the house at the moment. If any of you want to see how funny Laurie is lately, go read this: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/university-of-life/
      And be sure to read the comments! They are a hoot…

  9. Kathy, you mean you were looking for dark glasses like THESE? http://www.holessence.com/featurephoto.html

    - Laurie

  10. http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2010/04/reflections_on_a_decade_of_not.php will give another perspective on what blog readers know about the bloggers behind the blogs.

    Kathy, after our e-mail exchange this morning, David and I got in the car for the day’s miles (Kentucky to Michigan–yea!!!!!), and we got onto the topic of e-mail and blogs and chatting online and how spontaneous people are, how much they “spill” of what they feel at the moment, what can be “taken back” and what can’t. From my perspective, one of the most important features in both blog posts and sensitive e-mail messages (not all require this, by a long shot) is the concept of the DRAFT. Write it, store it, go back and read it again, reconsider it. Is this really something I want to say? Is this really the way I want to say it? I don’t know about you, but I have drafts that have never even made it online as drafts–they’re just on my hard drive files.

    Yes, I prefer to be myself, to be authentic in all my writing. That doesn’t mean I want to publish every detail of my life and thoughts. (And who on earth would have the time or interest to read all that, anyway?)

    I am really enjoying getting to know you and am content to let things unfold at a leisurely pace.

    • Pamela, thank you for that link. Another interesting perspective on the subject! I was intrigued to think of you and David discussing these kinds of topics as you sped north on expressways (and perhaps back roads) of the Midwest.

      I admire folks who have the patience to write a draft and to think about it before posting. Last year–having to write a post every evening after spending time outdoors–there was no time to write a draft. It was either post immediately or lose the opportunity. The challenge, then, became to be willing to claim whatever came out of the typing fingers. To be able to get the ego out of the way and admit that I wrote it. To be open and flexible enough to be able to make mistakes, look like an idiot at times, to be spontaneous, to move through fear of ridicule.

      So I guess I was trained to blog on the cuff and then use it as a spiritual tool. It might be a good lesson to actually write a draft sometime and deepen into it. It would definitely produce a more thoughtful presence-filled energy.

      And I am enjoying our unfolding friendship as well!

  11. You’re so right! We get just a little slice of a blogger through what he or she chooses to post. Some of us could be lying, telling the things we can not say out loud, exploring ourselves writing whatever comes into our minds or simply having fun. The truth and also the interesting part of this exercise is we get the chance to know those little pieces of someone far away (or maybe closer than we think) and simply enjoy what they share.

    • You know, LagarLika, you have made a good point. We do get the chance to know a precious slice of a person. And isn’t that enough? Do we ever know more about a person than that (even ourselves!) than a precious slice in a precious moment of time. Thank you…

  12. So true (: the silence speaks as loudly as the words, very interesting post to reflect on. Why do we blog, to be known, to speak, to explore, …..

    • June…that is a good way to put it. The silence speaks as loudly as the words. I find that I blog for different reasons at different times. Some of those reasons feel creative, valuable and connecting. Other reasons…not so much… Should we blog when we’re not blogging with the highest ideals? Or do we just keep blogging with our imperfect selves, letting different sides of ourselves express themselves? Just exploring here… :)

  13. Better late than not at all!
    I have been mulling over your post!
    Trying to read a bit more into it than I should have.

    I have really seen the sides of both worlds, and I am very new to this medium. I try to be mostly genuine and forthright, however there are things that I choose not to divulge or share to protect mostly others, not as much myself.

    I found some interesting additional ideas on this at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

    It also contains some legal cases and situations bloggers might get them selves into with out realizing.

    Personal blogs
    The personal blog, an ongoing diary or commentary by an individual, is the traditional, most common blog. Personal bloggers usually take pride in their blog posts, even if their blog is never read. Blogs often become more than a way to just communicate; they become a way to reflect on life, or works of art. Blogging can have a sentimental quality. Few personal blogs rise to fame and the mainstream, but some personal blogs quickly garner an extensive following. One type of personal blog, referred to as a microblog, is extremely detailed and seeks to capture a moment in time. Some sites, such as Twitter, allow bloggers to share thoughts and feelings instantaneously with friends and family, and are much faster than emailing or writing.

    • Kim, thank you for all that you’ve added to the discussion! I love that you sat back and mulled it over and thought about it deeply. Don’t you love it when blogging expands our world and we learn new things about ourselves, others and the big wide world? When I started blogging I didn’t share a lot about my kids and husband and extended family, but, with their permission, have begun to do so much more. thanks again! P.S. didn’t know about a “microblog” before this. Fascinating… my other tiny little bitty blog kind of tries to capture a moment in time. Maybe that’s what it is.

  14. What an interesting topic! I share only a slice of myself on the blog, keeping the focus positive. I try not to complain – no use saddling others with my angst! Lately, in fact, I’ve been experimenting with paring down – saying the least I must to convey my ideas and feelings. We all have a style, and I think we gravitate to people we think we would like to know better.

    • Barb, your blog is indeed a positive one, and your style of paring down seems to work so well for you! (I’m not sure I could do it…although I admire it on other blogs.) And it is fun to meet the “slice” of a person we want to know better.

  15. Pingback: Why write? Why blog? Why breathe? « World Citizen Dreaming

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  17. Pingback: Randomness – a blogger’s truth « Creativepotager's Blog

  18. Kathy I have been thinking about your post on “the secret lives of bloggers” since you put it up. I have been musing and contemplating. This morning I decided to reply with “Randomness – a blogger’s truth” http://creativepotager.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/randomness-–-a-blogger’s-truth Thank you so much for your powerful thought provoking post.

    • Terrill, I was feeling a little low yesterday and you can’t imagine how much your response to this post meant to me. It meant a LOT! Thank YOU for your response and the way you thought it over so carefully and intently. Blessings…

  19. great blog kathy (from someone contemplating a blog)!

    • Diamond Lil, by the time you’ve decided–and heard all our stories about the larger blogging world–you’ll be an Expert. Go for the blog, Lil! You’ve got lots to share… :)

  20. Hello Kathy it’s Bridget,I came I smiled I nodded my head.
    Whew this is my first comment on someone else’s blog,and it didn’t hurt one bit.

    • Bridget…as in the Gaia Bridget I know?? Or another Bridget?? I am glad your commenting didn’t hurt. It almost gets fun after awhile, LOL!

  21. It’s me ,the gaia Bridget

  22. I live in multi-shades in real life,blog about part of it,then panic when I see it in print,go back & make the post private or delete it ! That’s why my blog never has more than oh-so many posts !
    Yes I am a kind of jerk blogger ! But that is what I learnt of myself when I started blogging,that despite revealing no identifying details about myself,I am NOT comfortable sharing every piece of my self or life in public !
    What a revelation to me !
    And I thought like most bloggers,I am an exhibitionist.
    Seems I enjoy voyeurism more ! : )

    • We are all so different. I have heard others say the same things. I think we should listen to our deepest selves…then we will know what we want to share or whether we simply want to read/listen. Thanks for stopping by…

  23. Interesting post, this, in the light of how areas of blogging are moving more towards information posting (as Twitter is evolving into a news feed more than other social networks) – and away from relational life blogging. Many readers, few commenters seems to be emerging norm.

  24. The Yarn Project of Michael Leach

    I must admit, I did like reading this. It is so true. I, for example, am writing a blog called The Yarn Project(s). In it, I will document my two year run with not just learning-but mastering-three different methods of working with yarn.
    Now, will this be ALL the reader of my blog gets. Absolutely not. They will see other bits of me. But, all of me…who really knows that? Do I even really know ALL of who I am?
    I found this entry fascinating.

    • I am glad you found this fascinating. It IS a fascinating subject. People will know a limited amount about you–but not your deepest self. Yet they might think they know a LOT about you… Thank you for stopping by.

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