Naked in Everyone's Eyes

“What if your blog is read by people you don’t like?”
A good pal emailed me this question today and I guess, like all questions, it needs an answer.
While blogging is a great sanity exercise, blogging can take away your time, energy, focus and then some. It can get you addicted to reading (and sometimes, wasting time) because everything seems so juicy and you just have to read other people’s blogs… or in other words, we’re all human – we’re all ‘kay poh chees’ of the highest order.
But we’re nice ‘kay poh chees’. We leave a trail of comments on people’s blogs and hope they come by and leave some lovely, flattering comment on our blogs too. It becomes another form of socialising online.
As if we don’t YahooChat or MSNmessage or Skype other people enough, as if we don’t call their mobile phones enough, as if we don’t send enough SMSes in a day.
I tell you, technology can paralyse one in time. I get stuck doing things which supposedly makes me more efficient (ergggh…one thing I despise is retrieving voice messages when the other party never left any…all you hear is some laboured breathing and an abrupt click and I’ve bloody wasted some spare change) but I don’t feel more efficient than say, 10 years ago when I first got my Hotmail account.
But back to the topic at hand. Good Pal says she signed up for a blog but hasn’t dared to write anything (although this woman is a darn good writer and an editor at a local magazine). Her fear is that someone whom she doesn’t want to know about her blog (and its entries) will stumble upon it and then what?
Good question.
A blog, in my opinion, is like a diary for everyone to read.
Yes, it’s a contradiction.
It’s an oxymoron.
It’s awful.
At one end, I blog because I have all these thoughts and stuff in my brain which I need to say, write, express. If I don’t, I may pop or go into Hospital Bahagia. I mean, there’s so much of information flowing around us these days. All these input goes into the brain and I have to spit some out.
At another end, I self-censor when I write. I don’t want to start wars or contribute to political factions or find that one day, someone’s sent me a Molotov cocktail. And yet, I don’t want to be nice all the time. Who’s nice ALL the time? Just because I am a woman does not mean I don’t have a temper, or can’t feel like a grouch.
But what happens when people you write about (and you can’t help but say nasty things) end up reading these nasty bits on your blog with your name on it and you’re raving on and on like a lunatic? Will they scream at you the next time you meet them? Will they swear never to talk to you again?
I’ve come to a compromise with myself… I don’t use real names and I always refer to people I write about as The Husband (unless you know whom my husband is) or My Best Friend (unless you know my best pal). When I write about places and the people I meet, I use initials and never divulge more than necessary. I don’t wish to embarrass anyone or make them big, fat jokes. I treat each entry as if someone I don’t know will be reading them.
Sometimes I cross the line by being miss melodrama queen and spill all my guts out and then I’m an open book. When once I wrote about my true emotions (no dissembling here), Good Pal emailed me and said, “Eh, you’re not worried that your Husband might read it ah and get jealous?”
Not really. I think if you can’t sometimes spill your guts out in your blog, it’s as good as not having one. Better stick to your regular handwritten diary with a lock and key (I used to have one of those when I was about 9 or 10!). So be sure your friends and family are as open and sporting or else you’ll be in lots of trouble when you blog.
Blogging is cathartic. It opens me up for a conversation with myself. Sometimes my friends join in and offer comments. Otherwise, I think I am alone out here in cyberspace. Maybe it’s because I have always been the writing sort (but if you know me in real life, I can often be the talking sort too!) and writing helps me see things in perspective because one cannot write illogical rubbish, not when you can re-read for the 10th time and go “Wow, did I just make a fool of myself?”
Some friends are adamant they won’t cheapen their thoughts by blogging for the world to see. They find it disturbing that the whole cyberspace can read what they wrote.
As a blogger, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. It’s not the best solution everyone (some like to be a little unknown, a little anonymous). Just because your neighbour/colleague/ex-BF/ex-GF/cousin has a blog does not mean you ought to launch one either. Being comfortable blogging is always important or else, you’d be stuck for things to write (and worrying about the wrong things!).
P/S: Another thing which bugs a friend of mine is that why do bloggers want to meet up when all they want to do is blog inconspicuously and air their two-sen? I’ve pondered on this as well since the Project Petaling Street (PPS) had its first blogger bash a couple of days ago. Oh well. Different folks, strokes…whatever. Me? I never go publicising my blog in public. I’m a little embarrassed even. It’s like going naked in a Japanese public bath. That’s why I think it’s such an oxymoron, this blog thing. Sigh…

5 thoughts on “Naked in Everyone's Eyes”

  1. Hi, I quite agree with most points in your post except this one — that a blog is like “a diary for everyone to read”. Well it’s true when you blog, the whole world can read what you post. But it’s up to the blogger to decide how much, and what, to say.

  2. hi ivan
    yep you are right. it does really depend on what one wants to say, and how much. that’s where the self censoring bits come into play.

  3. i do agree with u if not more.
    it really depends on how an individual position his/her blog. some may want to use it as a promotional tool, some for their interest in fiction writing, showcase something, for communication etc.
    i (most too, i believe) have positioned my blog as my secondary diary, albeit a digital one, but one which shares with the world. i do not intend to publicise it, and have been conciously reminding myself not to create a forum out of every post. in the contents, i will refrain from posting direct questions “expecting” replies/comments altho comments are always welcome. things like “MEMEs” and forwards on “how many books hv u read to 5 frens” is not in my blogging philosophy. The contents, to my humble opinion should not reflect the anticipation of certain readers, worst, impress certain quarters. it (mine) should be free from any influences.
    blog will also indirectly arouse one’s ego should readership increases thus deviating the writers original intention. i m aware enuf of such influences thus constantly reminding myself of such negative situations.
    my diary is still my babe.

  4. Agree with most of your views; the few comments were enlighening too. I have blogged just 4 months — I think it focuses my observations and thoughts at a particular period; it would enlighten me if I need to use such info either for my fiction or essays later, even as background. We live in an age of info overload (the wonder of the Internet which enables Blogging…); if we do not process the info and sort out the gems we want to keep or use, the moment would be lost. I want to capture some golden moments and nuggest, that’s mainly my motivation for this hobby.
    Greetings to thee, Maya K.; has been some time since I visited with a coment on the Curious Incident of that doggie…NOT in the Window tho!

  5. keat: yes, the purpose must be clear from the start, like you said. there’s no point mixing biz and pleasure and personal stuff.
    ylchong: that’s a great idea, using blog entries as fodder for future writing and maybe even fiction. another purpose of my blog (which I found out recently) was to keep my extended family members overseas in touch with what’s happening back here in Penang. My aunt who is in Korea enjoyed the piece on Qing Ming Festival for two reasons – she could forward it to her children (who are more Caucasian than Malaysian) and to her Filipino relatives for cross-cultural comparisons!.

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