There is something that has been bothering me for a while. Like anything you read on social media, unless you truly know someone – know them personally – you can’t believe everything you read.
As bloggers we present ourselves the way we want to be seen – all our faults hanging out on the washline, or all our triumphs, adventures, and happy lives waving like a flag on a blustery day. The relative anonymity of the Internet allows us the freedom to be who we want to be. Our words influence your perception of who we are.
When I started a blog nearly 8 years ago, it was intended to be a creative expression of my life as it really was – and shared on my Facebook page with friends and family. I was honest. No names were changed at the time, though there were some that were left out for privacy. My readers were all people I knew personally.
Until there was one. I don’t know how she found me, I have to assume through a mutual friend, and our mutual friend reached out to me to tell me that her friend enjoyed my blog and that it inspired her. That bowled me over. I had no idea that anyone really cared that much about what I wrote, since I really was writing for me – albeit on a platform that could be readily viewed by others.
And then my life turned upside down and sideways. I wrote about it and suddenly, before long, there were friends pm-ing me to commiserate, and/or admit to feeling the same way about a marriage gone terribly wrong. It was an enlightening time, and also a time of personal growth for me – that I chose to share – and bare – for all the world to see, were they reading.
I started it for accountability. Because I needed desperately not to fall back into that trap of least resistance, where my stagnant and abusive life would continue indefinitely out of fear of the unknown. But then it became larger than me, and I realized that my words were reaching others who needed their own motivation to make their lives better too.
And I continued forward. I write what inspires me, I write my mind – so that I can free my brain weasels and not go comfortably numb, or just batshit crazy. I don’t think about what you want to hear, yet it is still a whisper in the back of my mind that it has to be somewhat interesting or I become just another self-serving jerk writing garage nobody cares about.
To that end, I started reading a blogger several years ago because he was funny and his content was relatable and incited some level of compassion for him because of his circumstances. He had published a book. I was envious – that 1) he had done it and 2) I had no idea WHAT I could write at such length that anyone would actually want to read it. But beyond that, his posts began to read more and more self-centered – more me, me, me and less how can I help/affect others? That’s how I saw it, and I stopped following.
I am careful who I follow – mostly because, Time. I don’t have the time to read every blog out there that interests me, and I think many of us feel the same way. And so – before I get too far ahead of myself – I just want to thank those of you who do follow and read me. I appreciate you more than you know. You keep me inspired to keep writing. Whatever it is.
I follow, literally, a handful of bloggers out there, all very different in tone than my own. That’s IT. I found Jenny Lawson by happy accident some years ago, and if you know her, there’s no need to explain why she’s still on my list. I NEED her humor. She is like a relative you look forward to seeing every holiday – a sentiment I’m sure is shared with the thousands of others who follow her. On her site I found another intriguing blog – and haven’t looked back.
It’s rated M for mature audiences for every reason why and I never miss a post. While she writes under an alias to protect her identity and those around her, due to the content, there’s an undercurrent of honesty and real-ness to her posts that is poignant and riveting. Like the book you can’t put down. She’s also very open to comments about her experiences and intelligent, successful in her own right. I’ve recently realized I’ve been following for 4 years! I talk to her like a friend, though I am keenly aware that she is only the person writing the blog and I don’t truly know her.
Through her blog I found two others – one that is truly unique and worthy of its own television series and I wish to God I could help him get this off the ground myself. And I like him. He’s like an old friend in a faraway place, we share occasional comments to each other’s posts and appreciation for one another – though we’ve never met.
The other, equally as entertaining but a bit more journalistic, is another blogger who also goes by his real name and has published books that I have on my ever-growing list of reads. He is a community servant nowadays so we see less blog posting and more – because we are Facebook friends – daily life stuff. I especially love his story about connecting with his wife – another epic second chance love story that rivals my own and it’s heartening to know there are others like us in the world who are that blessed. His face makes me smile. Especially when hers is next to his.
I also started following a “girl” via Ann’s blog (mentioned above) and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. She self-described as a woman in an abusive relationship from which she was trying to extricate herself. Her feelings and experiences were palpable to me, and I commented often with my thoughts of what she should do. Some of her content disturbed me. I won’t say I’m clairvoyant by any means, but rather that experience has taught me well and I can read a situation. She seemed to know what to do about it, but it seemed also to be taking longer than I would’ve allowed. And then – just as suddenly – she disappeared. She blogged all this shit about her abusive ex who threatened her very life, and then she ….disappeared. I allowed myself to get sucked into this stranger’s “life” and now have no way to know if she’s okay, or dead. Had to let that one go.
And, so it goes – I learned a valuable lesson in getting caught up in strangers’ lives. Who’s to say she was who she said she was? Or that any of her story was real? Could this be true of Ann, too? Or the other women I loosely follow? Or those two men I mentioned above? What if they aren’t who they say they are, but just truly creative and fictional writers? **
So, in a way, this might be considered a public service announcement about the world wide web and the social media contained within: nothing is as it seems. Don’t believe everything you read. Double check your facts, especially in cases of news reports. And take those bloggers with a grain of salt.
Even me – though I hereby solemnly do declare that my real name IS Tara and everything I write herein is as true as I can accurately write it based on my failing 48-year-old brain. I like to write with a younger voice, because I feel like a kid sometimes, but I am 48. Some names are still changed for privacy.
I write what moves me, what motivates me, what makes me laugh, love, and cry… and I do write to those I think are reading me.
What do you want to see more of, here?
Addendum: I do want to clarify that I’m not suggesting that the bloggers I follow aren’t authentic. They ARE. I am simply pointing out that “anyone” can start a blog and write what appear to be real stories about their lives which may, or may not, be true. I even called myself out – just to make the point that – if you don’t know me, how can you be sure I am who I say I am? Or that Todd exists? Just food for thought, that’s all. Don’t avoid the blog world – there’s so much good stuff out there. You’ll know when you’ve found a bard, or when you’ve hit gold.