Public or private. Decide which it is and stick with it. I don’t get this bare-your-guts style of blogging in which the public and the private are conflated. You can’t be private in public unless it’s through an art form. Most blogs are about as far from art as bubble gum is from gourmet.
I’m thinking especially of the tell-all blogs I’ve been browsing. Apparently they have no notion that there’s a difference between the public and the private. All those princes of chat, the dukes and duchesses of heart whose life’s doings are dripping across the page, are a curious group to me. I’m not so much curious about reading them—they tend to start sounding the same—but I’m curious as to why the authors think what they have written amounts to full disclosure.
Privacy is an Art
I’ve written various forms of journals my whole life from little booklets that had a gold-painted lock and key, to blank bound hardcover books, to dated loose papers in file folders. Sometimes I was writing for posterity—telling how I learned a principle or a skill—each entry having an embedded and intrinsically didactic element. Sometimes I actually hoped the people I was writing about would find the entry, take an instructive look at themselves, and go off to a better, kinder life of doing what I wanted them to do. Those were like the Internet bare-the-soul journals I’ve been reading. Make no mistake, they are a public position.
Other times I’ve written journals that were so private that I sealed the books with ribbon and sealing wax and hid them away in dark obscure places. That wouldn’t have prevented someone from peeling the wax off or cutting the ribbon–but then I’d know my privacy was violated, right? These were the writings to prove to myself that I was still a sentient being, almost desperate in nature. And absolutely private. Posting those ideas and disclosures on an Internet blog would be as intolerable as rape.
Abandon by design. Artless by preference. Candid with care.
But I am absolutely sure that what I wrote in all my journals, regardless of format or intent, was not exactly what I really saw occur or what I really did. I tried. I did my best to capture reality. But there is some percentage of a disclosure that either inflates or diminishes reality despite all attempts at accuracy. At best, words are always an approximation. We’re always hunting for the right one, losing our nouns, or speechlessly gaping open-mouthed.
So what are all these ramblings on the Internet by people who claim to be writing public journals? No matter that the stream-of-consciousness format claims to be so careless, so free, so authentic, they are all positioned responses. They are all rehearsed.