What am I doing here, exactly?

If you go right back to my first blog post last year, you’ll see where I note that writing a web-log is a new thing for me.  Frankly, when I started I didn’t really expect anyone to read this, and for a few days the sub-title of this column was a sexually-inappropriate (and rather explicit) reference that I changed in a hurry when I saw that I was actually getting traffic.  I’ll always wonder if my first few readers found this blog by accident while Googling the particular act that was mentioned.  But, perhaps the less said about that, the better.

At any rate, while the intent of this blog has always been just for me to wax philosophical (or simply rant) about whatever’s going through my head on a given day, I noticed quite early that there is an odd balance to maintain in allowing my personal life to inspire a topic without making my personal life the topic itself.  I’m not keen to reveal too much about myself (although careful reading actually implies an awful lot of the details) because I’m not trying to write a diary or autobiography, and I’m not trying (at least consciously or intentionally) to share myself with strangers.  On the other hand, some of you clearly know who I am, and that gives me a completely different thing to be careful about — several of these entries reference things that actually happened to me, and therefore anyone I mention (even vaguely or cryptically) in a post could potentially end up reading that post, or (even worse) someone else could recognize a person I write about.

“Hey Jim, you don’t happen to read Matthew’s blog, by any chance?”

“Matt has a blog?  I had no idea.  No, I don’t read it.  Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no real reason.  It’s just that he talks about this stupid moron he knows, this guy who’s really stupid, and a moron, and who smells, and who is totally unpopular, and Matt hates him and paid a guy $100 to rip off his ears and make it look like baguette-cutting accident.”

“Oh, that’s interesting.”

“Yeah, it’s a good read; you should have a look.  Hey, how are those ear-stumps healing?”

So, I’m very aware that if I write about things that I know or see, I’m also writing about my life.  It’s not as easy as it seems to keep these posts about my ideas and not about me.

The question, I suppose, is what this blog is actually supposed to be, and who it’s actually written for.  Some blogs amount to commercial online newspaper columns, written on a specific topic, and the writer is putting his knowledge out there (and not so much himself) for a specific audience that is interested in a specific topic.  On the opposite end, some people use blogs as diaries (private, or not), an opportunity to document their experiences for personal fulfillment or to let friends and family follow their lives.  I’m not personally a big fan of this kind of blog, because it often gives me the feeling that I don’t rate enough time and attention to actually be told how someone is doing.

But, then, diary blogs are really little different from posting details of your life on Facebook or other social-networking sites, and I’m apparently willing to do that.

This raises the question of why I’m putting myself “out there” in the first place if I don’t want anyone to see me when I do it.  To me it seems that mostly I just like writing and feel a vague urge to do a little of it every now and then, to see my words on the page; it’s a little like talking just to hear the sound of your own voice, something that I also do, probably more often than I realise.  On the other hand, I could also be a giant fleshy sack full of repressed desires fighting for release and recognition.  I don’t think I’m like that, but then I probably wouldn’t.  If I have a post in a few weeks titled “Hey everyone, I’m really gay!” then you’ll know that everything up to that point was just beating around the bush (ahem).  Of course, I’m not gay.  But, then, all this denial certainly suggests otherwise.  Although, I’m not.  Not gay.  That is.

Why am I even thinking about all this?  Well, frankly, you people are actually reading this blog, for some reason.  I can’t imagine why.  I like to think that the quality of writing has something to do with it, but for all I know, it’s just a bunch of people who don’t like me personally checking every couple of days to see what damn fool thing I said this time.  Although, I’m personally aware of exactly two people who know me and read this blog, so I’ve got to think that a clear majority of my regular readers have never met me.  Knowing I actually have an audience who return with some regularity to see what I’ve written forces me to think about what I want to say, show, or acknowledge.  I’ve actually got several posts saved as drafts that I’ll probably never put online, simply because they feel too personal, or too clearly refer to people in my life.

So, I want to put enough of myself out there that I’m interesting and worth paying attention to, but not enough that I feel vulnerable or exposed.  That… sounds like pretty much how everyone goes through life, doesn’t it?  That’s not a blogging mentality; that’s a living mentality.  When I look at it like that, I suppose it makes a little more sense that it’s tricky to find a happy balance between interesting and vulnerable.

(And, before anyone thinks, “But, vulnerable can be interesting,” consider how you would feel if I started my next post with “So, I have a rash on my junk.”)

(I don’t, by the way.  Have a rash.)

One person has already told me that holding back personal details is actually part of the allure of my blog, as if I’m some sort of interesting mystery or puzzle to be figured out with careful reading.  I kind of like the idea that I’m a sexy enigma; it’s almost certainly a more interesting image than I’d foster with accurate details.  In the meantime, I’m fairly happy to just treat this blog as a metaphor for life, balancing information and privacy while I babble about whatever strikes me as interesting or annoying at the moment.  And, if a little bit of sexy rompecabezas sneaks in there as well, then I suppose I won’t complain.

Maybe I do have a rash.  Isn’t the mystery exciting?

(Definitely not gay, though.  Really.)

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One Comment on “What am I doing here, exactly?”

  1. pepito Says:

    He’s totally gay, actually.

    – one of your two known regular readers

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