Tuesday 15 January 2008

A Conversation with Friends

Last week I went out for a meal with some girlfriends. I met one in an antenatal class and I have known two of them for twenty years. We know all about the big things in each other's lives - the ups and downs of bringing up children and returning to work. They are good people to spend an evening with.

But, and this is an interesting new phenomenon for me, they do not know about my blog. It is an important part of my everyday life now and it felt as though I was concealing from them something equivalent to a part-time job or the membership of a club. I think that I could have lived with that but what I had not anticipated was that writing a blog can actually alter the person that you are.

I have become accustomed to having an ongoing dialogue with you, my blog friends. I write out my ideas and that helps to clarify them. This has made me more confident expressing myself. You contribute your ideas and that changes my perspective. I read other blogs - people who have different issues in their lives, people challenging the status quo and looking for ways to make changes, an appreciation and gratitude for the opportunities of life.

And yet....I felt unable to discuss this blog with them. It was not just a fear of the blank look and the "What!! Why??". I know what to say when asked 'How do you find the time?' - answer 'I make the time because it is important to me'. It was more fundamental than that - it was a privacy issue.

And then, on the other side of the coin, there is the conversation that I have here. You know about my day to day life and the small successes and disappointments. But you only know as much as I choose to write about. It is a collection of snapshots, in pictures and writing, of my life. But it is not all of my life.

I write about the things that I want to record - knowing that it may be read by immediate and extended family; my children and their friends, parents of their friends and teachers at school; work colleagues ... and the rest of the internet world. It is less privacy than I am used to and it is taking a while to adjust to it.

There is a conflict between the need for privacy and the need to write. I have to find a place where I am comfortable and I have discovered I am not ready to tell my friends about my blog.


tess said...

Alice, I know exactly what you mean, although you express it more eloquently than I ever could.

none of my friends or even family know about my blog either. it's almost like we have a private little world almost where we can learn about ourselves and others, that we're not ready to share with the "outside" world yet.

Anonymous said...

It is a record of your thoughts and moments that make an impact on you. It is also a well considered and created picture of your life - I think about each and every word and edit myself severely before I press the publish button. I'm certain that you do the same. On other levels it is an on-going open conversation that you have with yourself, allowing others to join.
It doesn't need to be anything that defines you though.

Mary said...

Well now you and Tracey have both written so well about this phenomenon as it affects me as well. And like driftwood none of my family know about my blog and neither do many friends.

I am not sure why I am so protective about it - and my privacy as regards it - but I am. I think it is because - and I am articulating this for the first time - that only other bloggers really get it.

dragonfly said...

It's strange, I feel exactly the same too. I have recently confided in a couple of close friends about my blog, but I am certainly not ready to give them the means to reading it and because none of them really know what it's all about it is unlikely that they will find me in blogland. And as for family...no way!
I'm really enjoying a little privacy, so to speak, after feeling as though I have lived in a fishbowl for too long.

Anonymous said...

Snap, I haven't told friends or family about Willow House and doubt I ever will. Of course my husband and children know about it but that is it. I don't really know why I haven't told anyone else but I guess it might have something to do with not having to explain the why's and wherefores of it all.

Florence Knapp (Flossie Teacakes) said...

I know exactly what you mean, Alice. Like you, I feel like my blog is a big part of my life...but it's also an 'other life' if that makes sense and the result can be that sometimes by deciding to not mention it to friends, it almost feels tantamount to having an affair as it has become such a very big part of myself that I'm choosing not to reveal.

Most people don't know...but some older friends and family do and the thing I've found odd there is that some of these friends in my everyday life that read my blog regularly and say lovely things about it or ring me to chat about something they've read on it...never comment on it, almost as if they feel there is a divide between them and fellow blogging friends and that the comment box is somehow not for their use.

At times I use my blog almost as a diary...or say more of the things that are in my head than I might normally...mmm, it's a strange one...I don't know how I really feel about the whole thing, just that your post made sense to me and I recognise the desire to keep it private.


Tracy said...

As long as you find your comfort level, thats all that matters. No everyone you know need know about your blog. Everyone need a place of their own, a thing of their own creation, and it is up to each individual how it is share with other, or not shared as the case may be. Blogging creates a unique circle of friendship and community. Many in our "real" day-to-day lives might not understand it. Personally, I'm not shy about my blog, and everyone I know in my day-to-day life and in blogland, of course, knows about my blog--and anyone is welcome to join me at my place. I am comfortable with it. As long as we are true to ourselves, things fall into place. :o)

Ali said...

It's a very odd phenomenon and you have captured and expressed it perfectly.

'Writing a blog can actually alter the person that you are' - still thinking about that statement. Perhaps for me it is more a case that having written it down, you gain some perspective on what has been under your nose all this while.

Anonymous said...

A handful of people in my life know about my blog. And I have to tell you, I sometimes feel like I have to censor what I say because of it. At the same time, it was very odd for me to feel as though I was "hiding" it too. I'm not ashamed of anything, so why the secrecy? I think for me, personally, I'm a much shyer person in a conversation than I am on paper or online. People in my life may be suprised by me after they read my blog. Share only with those you feel absolutely comfortable with. You're entitled to your own space.

blackbird said...

It's early.
You are still finding your voice in blog-world.
Sometimes it's easier to tell friends about later - "I've been keeping an online journal..."
Most of my friends didn't know what a blog WAS.

Unknown said...

Interesting.... i told my family and friends right away. My Aunts immediately became my first audience, then my sisters. This has replaced letters and emails to my family (and the Christmas letter). I have given alot of people my url. The only people i don't tell are the ones i work with...although I have shared with some of my friends at work. I wonder what this means? this difference in approach. I understand completely how y'all feel but i guess my agenda has been completely different..and my family and friends all knew most of my quirks.

Lina said...

That's so strange as I just told one of my best friends about mine last week. I found it very tough to do and it felt like admitting some kind of betrayal. My family read my blog and it does me that I have to be careful what I say so that I don't cause unnecessary worry for them being so far away.

dottycookie said...

I feel very much the same way. My family know about my blog, but very few others - oddly, some old friends who no longer live nearby but no-one I see on a regular basis. I am happy with that for now.

do you mind if i knit said...

But I bet they would love to read your blog........... and leave you lots of wonderful comments!

Unknown said...

Oh, this is so, so interesting! Hearing your perspective, Alice (beautifully stated), and then the wonderful insights of so many others. I also have been reluctant to tell people I know about my blog (started in late November). Other than my husband, my family doesn't know yet either. And it was only the other day that I told anyone that I actually know - and that was in the context of wanting their permission to post pictures (which they kindly gave).

I feel a little like a different person in the blogging world - in some ways, more like myself, and in other ways, not. And I guess I'm not sure how comfortable I am yet with having people who know me (or think they know me) view this effort. It is a very interesting conundrum.

I agree with you, Alice, that writing a blog can alter you. And I think that is true of other things in life that we take on - if we do it with our whole heart, it can change us in profound ways.

Do you wonder if some of the people that you aren't telling about your blog are also not telling you about theirs?!

BreadBox said...

So, I was about to write
"Alice, I know exactly what you mean, although you express it more eloquently than I ever could" except that driftwood got there first. And said it more elegantly than I would have:-)

On occasion I am almost tempted to say to someone I know here --- "oh, you can find that on my blog".... and then I bite my tongue....


carrie said...

I think that if and when you are ready, you will share it.

I was pretty open from the beginning, and don't really divulge anything I wouldn't tell people in real life. Still, sometimes someone who knows me well will say, "I didn't know that about you!" So, it opens up windows to myself that I didn't even know I was keeping shut.

Anonymous said...

oh yes. It's the same for me too. I've mentioned to a couple of my friend about the blog... but if they looked at it they didn't say. it's like I'm this different person, but I'm not. I can't explain it... but it's exactly they way you described it.