Virtues of a Private Blog, and Why I’ve Gone Public
Before I start on the actual subject of this blog, I’m going to do a shout-out to a band some friends of mine from high school invented that I think of every time I hear or see the word “public”: Public Hair.
Best. Band. Name. Ever.
And now, my blog.
As some of you already know, I maintained a private blog for two and a half years (2006-2008). Some of you even read it, as you (hopefully) do this one.
I’ve been thinking about it lately — why I stopped, why I started again, why I started a new (yeah, “a new” — get it? Not a typo.). While I do like WordPress — you know, now that I’ve figured out what all these new, fandangled tools are and how they work — somewhere deep inside me, I’m yearning for what I know is an impossibility: Myspace will once again be the social networking site everyone’s wasting their lives away on. (Yes, no matter how much any of us hate Facebook, it seems the only “cool” choice at the moment. And who doesn’t want to be cool? ::gags::)
Why do I feel this way? It’s simple.
1) Privacy. As implied — well, actually, specifically meant — by the phrase “private blog,” I was able to control who could read my blogs. There were even different levels of privacy, so some blogs were accessible to everyone on my page, some were accessible to a smaller list, and some were accessible only to me. (Yes, I realize WordPress offers similar functionality. But not in the same way as a social networking site does, because the two are not the same.)
Why is this control over accessibility important?
2) I’m a hater. I don’t deny this in the least. I won’t say I’m proud of it, though obviously cavalier. In order to spare the lives of those I despise and stop myself from going on a one-woman moron-extermination spree, it is necessary for me to vent. Vent I must, and vent I shall. This can be done on a private blog, where trusted friends — those who can keep their mouths shut about not only the existence of a blog, but also what is written in it — are the only ones who can read it.
I know what you’re thinking: One of these people could easily bust me out even from a private blog. True, but that’s why I said “trusted friends.” Have I misplaced trust before? Sure. But my friends today are actually amazing, not to mention the fact that they have better things to do with their lives. Uploading my blogs to public spaces in order to expose my innermost sentiments, gentle readers, is more along the lines of some stupid shiz a few of my choice ex-lovers might’ve done — if they hadn’t been deleted eons ago, that is.
In a public venue, I have to be all cryptic and shiz. Sometimes that makes for better writing. Other times it just makes for a headache.
3) My friends were more vocal in private. Turns out my friends are haters, too — which is probably the thing I love most about them. But everyone nowadays fears the repercussions of personal political, religious/spiritual, sexual, and all sorts of other beliefs being found inadvertently by family, friends, employers, potential employers, etc., and later held against them. And what’s worse is that these fears are completely justified. I completely respect them.
I guess I’m either just totally bold or irretrievably stupid to even write what I’ve written thus far, all things considered. I wouldn’t go as far as to say public blogging makes any of us writers brave; we either don’t care about the repercussions or we care more about what we have to say than suffering said repercussions. I’m sure it’s clear to my regulars which category I fall into.
Still, at this point, you may feel I’ve built a convincing enough argument in favor of private blogging. You may also be thinking, “Why did you change the formula here, lady?” You are right to ask a question like that. I am still asking myself questions like that.
“A journal might be a good place for your thoughts,” you might say, to which I’d reply, “A community is as well.”
See, I chose a public blog this time around. No one held a gun to my head. Yes, writers do just write for the write of it, but they also write to communicate with others, to give voice to the unspoken, to hear a response from outside the encapsulated mind. Call me shallow, call me narcissistic, call me downright egomaniacal, but I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I genuinely believe my thoughts have value. I know I don’t think like most people, and while it took me a while to figure this out and accept it, I’m not ashamed of it. I see that my thoughts may be different for a reason, could have some meaning and purpose in the world — but they’re useless if I don’t share them.
And I feel the same way about the thoughts of friends who’ve approached me recently because of this blog to talk to me about starting or restarting their own sites. You know I’ve encouraged you, and I’ve done so not only because you think outside the box, too, but because you’re actually skillful writers as well (unlike so many out there, which is why I have the job I do). So get to work! I, for one, will read you.
I know there are people who won’t ever read my blogs. I know there are people who will read them and not give a crap. Neither of these facts discourages me, and they shouldn’t discourage you. Because there are souls out there in the world searching for someone else to understand them. We are those people they seek. We have something to offer at least one of them.
I don’t only want to talk smack in my blogs (I said “only”), so it occurs to me that writing publicly might actually be a practice in maturity for a person like me. Again, I will never claim to be mature, and those of you who know me in the realie know how absurd it would be if I tried. I will never be mature. I’m not even sure I aspire to it, but I can attempt to practice it, at least.
But I don’t believe you shouldn’t say anything or keep it private if you have nothing nice to say, because if we all did that, all of the injustices in the world would continue on without ever being questioned, let alone stopped. I may never have anything nice to say to or about particular people or things in life, and to them, I may remain silent, but this — this is my domain. I own this.
So here I will be my crotchety 30-something self in all its offensive glory, because I’ve spent too many years of my life not quite “fitting in” (::gags again::) to not have figured out how to carve out a special space for myself. I will continue to tell anyone who reads this what I find wrong in this world — agree or disagree, which is your right. And I will give voice to these things because it is my right, my way of expressing the personal responsibility we all have to at least try to change this world for the better, though some of us refuse to claim it.
I love my family and friends, and I want to hear from them. I want to hear from people like me as well, strangers looking for a kindred spirit. I want to hear from people unlike me, too, because hey, I have plenty of enemies; what’s one more?
So here I am, and here I plan to stay for a while, in all my public glory.
Just don’t tell my boss. 😉