I spy with my public eye


Back home, I’m very protective about this blog – there is only a handful of people that know about it, generally because they stumbled upon it by accident, and I have literally asked them not to read (I can only hope they actually complied…). Here, however, I tend to be more sloppy, although most times I can deflect questions “oh, but that’s my Dutch blog, you wouldn’t understand it anyway”.

Right before summer, however, we were having a bbq with some friends. It was just a cosy, comfy afternoon, and as we were talking, something slipped – I’m not even sure what it was anymore, but it was clear to everyone that I’d written and published a non-fictional text in English.

You have to give us the link!

Ehm… how about no?

Needless to say, a lively discussion ensued. Why would I refuse to give the link? Why couldn’t they read something that was already out there anyways, open for everyone to read? How could I expect something that I posted on the Internet to remain private anyway?

They have a point, of course. It’s not like I break taboos here – I don’t talk about my sex life, I rarely discuss very personal things, I don’t bash my friends/coworkers, … in fact, I think there is little to no content to be found on this blog that I haven’t told anyone before, that I would get into trouble for or that I would be ashamed to admit that I wrote. There is nothing to hide here – so why do I insist on doing just that?

Because they might not like what they see – and it scares me shitless.

I can go to a public sauna, and I won’t even bother to wrap a towel around me when I leave the cabin to go shower. I will be surrounded by hundreds of strangers, men and women, and I won’t care in the least. Like what you see? Nice, thank you. Don’t like it? There’s a skinnier/rounder/bigger-breasted/better-whatever-you-want girl right over there, kindly re-direct your attention.
But now if I would go to the sauna with, let’s say, my dad, now that would be… awkward (and yes, that happened.).

And that’s how it goes in the blogosphere. There’s a whole lot of strangers passing by your writing, most of whom just glance and move on, while others actually like what they see and strike up a conversation, i.e. they comment or subscribe. You get the occasional side eye or disrespectful look, but there is always the excuse: they don’t even know me, what do they care, and what right do they have to judge me anyways?

That changes when people you actually know are added to the equation.

Because at the end of the day, I’m proud of my writing, I’m proud of what I’ve put out there – if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have published it in the first place. And while obviously I don’t want to obligate my friends/family to read my blog, if I give them the link I will expect them to read it. And I will expect feedback. So imagine -just imagine- that they don’t like it. That they find my writing boring, or pompous, or just completely pointless. Imagine they just don’t care. Either of two options will then happen: 1. they will lie to me or 2. they will tell me straight up my writing sucks. And that I won’t be able to brush that off the way I could with the (fairly) anonymous comments before.

I’m not sure I’m willing to take that risk (yet).

4 responses »

  1. I’m right there with you. I have never advertised to anyone that i personally know, other than Mr T, that I have a blog. If someone accidently comes across it and decided to read it, i think it would bother me in the sense that i would feel violated. My blog is something personal that I do for me. If I wanted someone I know to read it, I would have given them the link myself. It’s kind of like someone searching through my underwear drawer. Would I be embarrassed or care if someone sees my collection of thongs? No. Its the fact that they weren’t invited to see them and didn’t ask that would piss me off.

    Make any sense?

    • Makes perfect sense to me!

      What bothers me now is that I really felt guilty for telling them no, you can’t have the link – although I do feel I had have every right to. Maybe, some day… I’ll see.

  2. Hello- I have just come by via the Idiot’s site, and have been getting to know you a bit by reading several of your posts. I love the video on language and word snobs. But this post hits home. I have not shared my blog with anyone in my family, nor with friends. My husband probably figures that I have a blog, and my daughter and daughter-in-law (who both have or have had blogs) may know, but no one speaks of it to me. I have never shared the link. I often tell people that I read others’ blogs, and have had many people suggest to me that I should write a blog. It just feels to personal, to feel as though someone who knows me well would be judging me or what I write. I don’t want to feel that I have to limit what I write, or be called to account for it. Is that weird? I know that I am writing for many to read, and enjoy watching stats to see how many visit the blog, but I want it to be anonymous.

    I’ll be back to read more!

    • First of all, hello and welcome to the blog!
      Second – I don’t think it’s weird at all, what you say about the fear of limitations. I think that is exactly what I meant – I don’t want to be thinking, with every word that I write: oh no, what will this person feel about this? How will that guy interpret that? People who know you, in real life, have a certain image of you, certain expectations. And while that can be comforting, it is also limiting, because they might not accept when you do or say something that goes against their image of you. That’s what’s so liberating about blogging, for me, I think… and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one feeling like that!

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again!

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