Monday, July 25, 2011

meta-blog: a blog post about blogging

My husband's family discovered my blog recently, so when we saw them while on vacation, I got several comments and questions about it.  (And by the way, if any of you are still checking in, welcome, and thanks for stopping by!)  Answering their questions made me think about why I do this (because they wondered, and sometimes I do, too), and what the implications are.

So first of all, why I started.  I started the first version of Aunt BeaN's Blog back in October of 2003.  As soon as I heard about blogs, I knew I wanted to have one.  Partly just to have a place to type out all the strange things I think about all the time.  But also because I had a vision of a community of people who were recovering from fundamentalist childhoods.  There had been a number of times when I searched for such a community myself, but I only found people who were recovering from having joined cults-- usually as adults.  There were some similarities, but it wasn't what I wanted.  They didn't share that nostalgia for the good parts of their fundamentalist experience, the way the sound of one of my old favorite hymns can bring tears to my eyes, or the profound love and respect I still feel for my relatives who are faithful Christians. 

At the time, I felt like I had Really Significant Things To Say about spirituality and recovering from fundamentalism.  I thought it was Important to Get My Thoughts Out There.  Which makes me roll my eyes now.  Mostly because there has been such a huge non-response.  Even though I carefully seeded my profile with terms people might google when they were struggling with their background, in eight years I don't think I've ever had someone find my blog for that reason.  There was one guy who commented on one of my posts when I was about two years into it, but I never heard from him again and I don't think he stuck around.  There was no stats page back then, so I'm not sure how he got here.  As far as I can tell, the only people who have ever found this blog are people I've told about it--either directly, or indirectly by participating on someone else's blog.    

But the other reason it makes me amused is because that intensity that I felt about sharing my experience was in itself a kind of evangelical fervor.  I think I am a much better writer about issues of faith (and anything else) now, partly because I had so little success in interesting people in what I had to say when I was using that tone.  Now that I have a more balanced perspective of what exactly you can do with a blog, it's both more interesting to read (I hope) and more useful to me.  I truly do write for myself now.  I write about the things I'm trying to figure out.  I love it when people are interested by it and have opinions and we can discuss things a little (even though it doesn't happen very often), but I would still keep doing this even if no one else ever read it.

Which brings me to dh's family's concerns about privacy.  Those of you who have been around for awhile know that I've only just started to overcome my own concerns about privacy.  Up until last summer when I started writing posts about my dad, I don't think I had ever posted anything specific about my personal life.  I posted what I was thinking about, and reviews of books I read, but I rarely if ever wrote about specific situations or people.  I never got more specific about my location than "Northern Rockies," and up until about two or three months ago, didn't use my name.

I read an article in Time magazine this past weekend that summarized what I've been realizing about internet privacy over the last few months.  It was the Man of the Year article, which probably came out back in January or so (so I am way behind as usual), and it was about the Facebook guy.  The profile of him is interesting and worth reading, but the thing that interested me more was the writer's analysis of how the internet has changed over the years.

The early adopters, including me (I was using e-mail and posting on bulletin boards back in the mid-80s), saw the Internet as a place where you could (and should) be completely anonymous-- you could leave behind the social persona you had (or were stuck with) in the real world, and set yourself free as an anonymous person in the virtual world.  You could be anyone.  The anonymity both let you create a new identity and supposedly protected you from internet stalkers.  But--as the article points out-- all that did was create open season for pornographers and perverts.  It didn't really do much for the rest of us.

Mark Zuckerberg, the guy who created Facebook, has a different vision, where the Internet is a web of people you know and who know you.  You are yourself, and the connections created in the absence of being pinned to a specific geographic location allow you to find other people you would never find on your own in the "real" world.  So you can get movie recommendations from people you know, so you know whether or not their taste is similar to yours (one tiny example).  It's a very interesting article, and I'm probably not explaining it very well.

And it reflects how I've come to feel about this blog.  I still am careful about what I say, particularly about my loved ones who appear here even though they may not be all that excited about it.  But I'm no longer afraid to be "outed" as the writer of this blog.  I know from experience that it would be a tempest in a teapot.  It would make a big difference to a very few people, some of whom would love it and some who would be shocked or angered by it, but for the most part, it would be a tiny, tiny, miniscule blip in the internet world, where there are hundreds of thousands of blogs.

I have a few more thoughts about this, but it's plenty long enough already and I am out of time.  It may dribble over into another post sometime.


  1. When I first found you, I went back and read everything you had written (in order of course), and was fascinated with your take on life, your background, and your "recovery" -much of it very different from my own, and yet... there was (and still is) many more similarities between us. I love that you make me/help me think!

    I've just been me all over the interwebz, and even with the job my husband has, we still use all of our real names. Just how we roll. ;)

  2. Crap, I almost forgot.... Happy Happy Birthday!!!

  3. Oh, thank you! the big unexpected benefit of turning 50 has been all the nice birthday greetings I've received--all day long people have called and texted and facebooked and dropped by the house. It has been a truly lovely day.