Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blogging: Be Real


Carol lived a parallel life through the backyard gate. We played jacks together, boondoggled lanyard necklaces for our roller-skate keys, and told secrets as we hid between the damp, white bedsheets blowing on her clothesline.

I knew the nooks of her house, and she knew the crannies of mine. Her dad wore tidy-whiteys and sleeveless undershirts—hey, I saw them laying on the bathroom floor. Her mom wore a steel plated all-in-one bra/girdle contraption—I was there when she dashed out of the bedroom one day to answer the phone in the hall. About as noticeable as a kid snatching a cookie, I noticed everything.

Their living room was always immaculate—in fact the lamp shades had crackly clear-plastic protectors over them. I knew the throw rugs covering the beige carpet were taken up only seconds before guests arrived. (I'd helped Carol with that chore.) Even the piano was dressed up temporarily with a hymnbook, adding a touch of piety. Little wooden gates blocked sticky children from entering, so there were never any fingerprints on the windows, or stains on the couch. The living room was NOT a place for living.

It was funny to hear my mom marvel at how pristine Carol's house was. Mom visited when she was invited, sat where she was told, and saw what she was supposed to see. I, on the other hand, saw it all. I wasn't shocked or anything—in fact, it looked like our house. It was comforting, in a way, to see that my friend lived a similar life.

Blogs are places we visit friends these days. Is yours all spiffed up, perfect for company, with throw rugs hiding the scuff marks, and plastic protecting you from judgment? Or are all your unmentionables laying around for the neighbors to see? Are you oblivious to the sightseers who observe you when you're not covered up? Would your faith be evident even if the hymnbook wasn't front and center?

During my School Days Seminar I visited a lot of blogs. Some were too sanitary to be true. Others scared me with their dirt. The ones I've gone back to over and over are honest: genuine, authentic—real. Oh sure, there are smudges and crumbs, but hands are washed and a broom is handy. It feels comfortable.

Not everybody wants company to drop in, but I think most bloggers do. It's like we've moved into a new town, and we want folks to know good stuff about us, our talents, accomplishments and motivation. When someone comes calling we want them to be interested, to want us for a friend. But overwhelming our acquaintances with all the polished sterling silver might cause an "Are you for real?" response. Likewise, dumping all the trash at their feet could leave a bad smell.

Writing a blog implies inviting people into our story. While it's therapeutic to vent occasionally, I think most of us blog to record our experiences, gain understanding for ourselves, and hopefully share something worthwhile with the neighbors.

"The question is not can you make a difference?
You already do make a difference.
It's just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make."
—Julia Butterfly Hill


*Homework:

~Visit five different blogs and analyze how they make you feel and why. (Suggest your favorite in a comment.)

~Read some of your recent posts from a stranger's point of view. Does your blog do what you want it to? List five things you like and five things you'd like to change.

~In your next post write something less ideal, less conceal, and more real. Leave a link so we can check it out.


That's the write idea!

39 comments:

Tiffany said...

This is so perfectly put. I love the analogy with your friend's house. I agree with you, the blogs that bring me back are genuine. And it's funny how easily it becomes to sense that.

Great post!

the wrath of khandrea said...

TRU DAT! what else can i say???

Christie said...

So, so true. You've inspired my next post. I think people are tired of the shiny silver I display. It's time for the internet to see a teensy bit of my trash. Here we go...

cannwin said...

wow, you really hit the nail on the head with this post. I was just going to leave a comment but then my comment started getting long so I blogged it instead! Like always, thanks.

Kay Dennison said...

I've said on my blog more than once that it's my cyberspace home and playground and the rules are according to moi. I kvetch now and again and I consider that my prerogative but mostly I write about wherever my alleged mind wanders on a given day is what you get: politics, memories, my world, video, the arts, ad infinitum.



Last summer I hosted a tour of my home called, "Come on a My House" (after the old Rosemary Clooney tune). It was fun.

Anyone who visited that week realized that my taste and interests are eclectic. In fact it even sorta of surprised me!

Michelle said...

love this. I make a conscious effort to show both sides on my blog but it's hard, I don't want to look whiny, I want to put my best face forward.

But the 'real' bloggers are the ones I feel connected with. I don't go back to visit the perfect worlds.

Misty said...

I wanna! And I will. But for now, I'll just share one of my favorite blogs. I just stumbled upon her (or her blog, rather) and love her for that real factor you're talking about. This is just a tiny example. I'll link up later!

Misty said...

I just used 'just' three times in three sentences. Obviously, today is not the day to tackle such an assignment.

Meg said...

I think about this a lot. I want to be honest and true to myself in my posts. I don't want to try to be someone I'm not. I don't want to try to be like "so-and-so's" blog that everyone loves. But, I worry how I make people feel when I am so open and honest. I don't want people to feel uncomfortable. I don't want to be a downer, but sometimes things aren't perfect. I want to show that on my blog.

tawnya said...

http://drawntotheflame.blogspot.com/

I always try to be real. And if I can't connect with a blog, I don't keep it on the roll. Sometimes I still wish I could drum up more comments, though! I know people are reading...

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. That is exactly what I want my blog to be: real. When I started blogging, and specifically talking about the struggles we were having in our marriage, it scared a few family members but more than that it brought me closer to a lot of people who had that kind of "real life" somewhere in their life too--it's like your quote about writing being the revelation of our scared secrets (isn't it something like that?) That's how I look at blogging. It helps me share what I know so many other people feel (hopefully without too much whining/venting/ugliness. There's a way to share pain without being hurtful.) I started off writing on my blog because I read the blog of someone who was honest about going through a separation with her husband and it helped me... I hoped that by sharing our real story, it would help someone else feel less alone in the world. Now that my husband and I found a way to come back together and work things through, I hope it offers some hope for others who feel like it's hopeless.

I'm going to visit blogs and then post another comment.... be right bck.

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

oops. *shared secrets, not scared.

Misty said...

Thanks, Oma. This was hard, but good for me. And I feel terribly vulnerable.
Finish It!

Ashley said...

Love this post. It's so scary to me when I come across a blog with all the dirt hanging out there that I tend to throw out the throw rugs. It's a hard task to be real without being naked!

Lora said...

Hello traving Oma! I've been following your blog for awhile now but haven't ever commmented. I love this post though. I often wonder about the radio of dirty laundry versus actualy honesty in a blog. I've never been one for plastic sheet protectors though. Thanks for giving me things to think about and beautiful things to read.

my blog: thoughtsandthensome.blogspot.com

Dancin Queen said...

Hello! Linked over from Stie.

I think you are a beautiful writer! So nicely expressed.

Well to answer your question, I definitely am a selective blogger. I have my share of garbage I deal with every day, but blogging just the happy stuff is my way of filtering out the yuck and choosing to keep just what I want.

On hard-mommy days when I feel overwhelmed or depressed with how my life is going (honestly, we all have days like that right?) I feel comforted scrolling through my blog and remembering all the happy stuff.

I have a journal where I can vent and record my frustrations. I just feel like--for me--the world wide web is not the place to do it. ;)

Thanks for the interesting conversation topic!

polly said...

love this blog, good thoughts. I like to know real people. Perfect people with perfect lives make me feel bad, cause I am so far from perfect. It's nice to know that others have imperfections, and feelings.

brooke said...

Excellent and thought provoking post.

Jessica said...

Every time I come here I realize where Gabi gets her amazing talent.

I'm doing Christie's challenge...I try so hard not to appear perfect, cause I hate that, but there is stuff I hide. It's always hard to know how to be uplifting and real at the same time.

Clair said...

Thanks for a lovely post. Your words are always so nicely put.

Lauren's blog said...

Wow, this is such a good post! You have inspired me to be a little more "real" in my blogging.

crissy said...

I've struggled with how much I want to share on my blog, and the things I want to say. Usually it's safe material--stuff about the kids and such. But sometimes I get these thoughts in my head and I decide to explore them in post form sometimes they are clean and calm, other times they're a bit loud. But I'd like to think they very much represent me, even if it's a me I'm not always willing to show. Case in point my santa post, in which I was sure I would alienate every person who came across it, and this mornings post, in which I share some of the insecurities I felt before getting married.
If I were to improve on what I put on my blog, it would be to post about the hard things more bravely. I tend to worry that I'll offend someone, but I think the real stuff is more interesting than the tip-toeing and hiding of the mess.

diane said...

This post reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit. My fur has rubbed thin and my ribbon is frayed but I'm still here putting up my little bits of nothing.

gab said...

I like my blog self better than real self some days. She is a lot taller than me and her kids just sit perfectly still and smile.

Plus she has a delete button.

calibosmom said...

I'm on board for this one. Thanks for the challenge!

Lauren in GA said...

I am visiting from Stie this time. I know I have visited before but I think last time it was from Gabi.

This was amazingly written and so true. I want to do it. I apprecite the challenge...even though I think it is very telling how scared it has made me.

From Now Till I Do said...

Great post. It's something I have been thinking about for a while. I want to be more 'real' in my blogging and show that everything is not always so picture perfect. But there are constant voices from family members saying, you can't say that or you can't say that, which makes blogging a whole lot more stressful, because in a way you are trying to censor information, which I personally don't think I should have to.

Michelle said...

I just linked to this post. Thanks Oma.

Sheri said...

This post was fun because I know Karen. And though I never visited either of your houses--they both could have been my own.
Love ya. ;-)

Anonymous said...

What a great post. You've given me a lot to think about. I try to be honest in my posts through humor. Laughing at ourselves is great therapy. Yet, I try not to get too personal. It's a delicate balance. I've found that when I am the most honest, I get the best responses from other women. But my husband gets frustrated with me for sharing too much. So, often I hold back when I blog. Which is why I'm posting as "Anonymous." Curious to hear your thoughts.

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

You know what I loved about this? I loved reading about the childhood memories. I remember having a childhood friend, Sonya Lawson. And her house was immaculate. I remember asking her if we were allowed in the living room (because I had never seen a room so spotless). She said, "of course!" I guess they were just really clean people. :)

Anyway, I wonder what people think of my blog...not sure. I don't intentionally write only the good stuff...but I certainly don't publicize the dirties. There are some things that can be left private... I guess I'm writing what I want to remember.

Abbie said...

You inspired a post.

http://forrestandabbie.blogspot.com/

It's so true. I think it's a balance between being real and not being too hard on ourselves and also telling about all the great things each of us is doing.

Musings of a Housewife said...

I'm here from Stie's site.

This is a beautiful post. I try to keep it real on my blog without compromising my family's right to privacy and without being a whiner. It's a hard line to draw. Thanks for the reminder, and I'm going to apply your suggestions at the end right now! :-)

Beck said...

Sometimes I think I'm one of those who is a little too real sometimes, but here's another offering from my wandering brain.

Kathy C. said...

That was a great post, I got directed here by being directed to somewhere else I've never been before, LOL...so I've done 1/2 my homework already without even tryin'! :)
Hmmm,,,does make food for thought. I sure hope my blog is as real as I am...my best friend reads it, she KNOWS me too well and I guess she's the one to ask...do I dare? :)

Kim said...

This reminded me to post more posts like this one.

I usually write the more "real" posts and then delete them after a couple hours because I worry they're too revealing, or that others will think I am whining.

Thanks for this thought provoking post. It has inspired me to pepper my blog with some more real glimpses into my life and head.



Sorry, I don't know how to do the link thing

~j. said...

I love this post.

Queen Scarlett said...

What ~j said. I feel this way about our in real life lives too. ;-)

Harvard Housewife said...

I'm all about just being REAL and those are the posts I love more than the ones I force myself to write to meet my blog readership needs or expectations. Today, I wrote about girl drama and it felt soo good. thanks!