Saturday, April 05, 2008

You Can't Hide

One of the rages in blogging about blogging includes discussing whether or not to write anonymously, with a pseudonym, or as thyself.

Now, I wrote about this topic before when I first began to blog. The dichotomy between the blogging self and the real self has interested me from the start for several reasons, some of them probably being more theoretical than anyone cares to read. However....I feel the need to be a bit theoretical this morning.

Writers often take on "voices." Writers who use pseudonyms or avatars or fictitious first person identities often try to renounce these identities as part of themselves. But as a writer, I can tell you that it's virtually impossible to completely divorce yourself from your writing to create a character absolutely separate from yourself as the writer. Why? Think about it.

If I'm a person, then everything I learn and experience, I do as me. While I can share experiences with others, pick up on a variety of language use, imitate characters, and play make believe on the paper (or screen), what you essentially end up with is some part of my psyche. It can't be avoided.

In a contextual essay about a piece of fiction I had written, I asked, "Is this story autobiographical?" to which I answered, "Stories are biographies of humanity, and if I consider myself part of human culture, then yes, it is." So again, while we may pick up bits and pieces from various sources, in the end, we are stuck with "us" individually and through our perceptions of the world.

Now let's take the theory live.

I started writing this blog intending to reveal only a percentage of my real self (because really, how else could I do it?) stomping my feet and declaring, "You can't know me by my blog!" And this is still true. However, having done this for more than two years now, I have discovered that daily, I reveal more and more of myself by systematically writing about my beliefs, my passions, my thoughts, and my memories. So while one or two posts may not indicate my "coming out," certainly this live writing habit demonstrates I have.

I don't use a fake name, pen name, pseudonym, avatar, or other anonymous status. Why? Because at this point in my life, I want to be authentic. I don't want to have to edit myself or relegate my writing to one perspective or a single side of my personality. If I wanted to do that, I would be writing fiction where the writer must consistently remain in character to make the novel or short story believable. And I have written like this before. But not here. Why should I?

So I've taken on a kind of defiance lately, no longer trying to argue, "Hey! You don't know me just by reading my blog!" but, "Hey! I have done this for two years. You have an idea of who I am and what I stand for. If you don't like it, then don't read it."

Since starting this blog, I've had a major change that has impacted my relationship with it: I've met people. When I first began this open writing journey, I was a cloistered mom of two children in school full-time. I was stuck in the basement, a lonely online instructor with no more personal interaction than what the computer could offer. Living in the D.C. Metro area but in the suburbs made it difficult for people like me to meet people who like what I like. But now that I know people, now that I am more physically out in the public, I find people who know me on several levels and can vouch for the fact that this blog, in its entirety with all the pieces put together over two years, does indeed represent the real me. There's a kind of security in this. People finally know who the heck I am and what I stand for. And I've made friends in spite of that (hee hee hee).

There are certain disadvantages to "blogging in the nude" however. Some people might not like me because of what I have to say. Some employers might not like me because of what I have to say. I could politically offend. My job and social stability could be risked because I choose to take advantage of my first amendment rights and my need to write live. And of course, there are the wackos who feel intimidated by any female who dares to have a big mouth about the local social and political scene. Se la vie. Don't read my blog, but don't you dare threaten me because I will be all over you like......words on the screen.

This is a good seg to other blog writers. First, I would argue that most blog writers are not expert fiction writers attempting to pull off the development of a character online. While many bloggers use a pen name or do not refer to themselves at all on their blogs, after awhile, they do indeed reveal themselves through the very topics they choose, the way they express their topics, and their personal bias. They can't avoid it, nor do I believe they should have to avoid it. Bloggers are who they are. They tend to believe they have something to share with the world for better or for worse. If they choose to reveal themselves through their writing like this, they certainly can do so. However, bloggers should realize that the discerning public can easily discover patterns in thought, communications, writing style, and theme. Over time, blog entries do represent bloggers by publicly displaying their thoughts and ideas. It's unavoidable. And a screen name doesn't hide as much as bloggers would like to think it does. Parts of the personality, even if only a few parts, come out.

That being said, we should be highly suspicious of anyone who claims that a long-term blog is not part of him/herself. What does it mean when the author does this? I don't claim to have the full spectrum of psychological answers to this question, but I can tell you, it's probably not healthy and it's probably not true.

So bloggers, beware. That screen name cannot hide you if hiding is what you had in mind.
Post a Comment