Saturday, November 3, 2007

Virtually Exposed

Being new to the blogging world, I haven't really known what to expect. I'm an avid reader of many blogs, and the bloggers I read make it look so easy! They write about such personal things in a way that reads so comfortably.

It is an odd thing for me. Those of you who've read my blog posts, or my messages on other forums and such, don't even know my real name. Yet you know so much about such intimate parts of my life. You know things about me that even the people who are the closest to me do not know. I've already divulged things about myself and my past that I never even told my therapists.

I thought that perhaps blogging would be easier because of the anonymity. In a way, it is. I can talk about things that I cannot with people in my everyday life, like spanking, because the social constraints are not the same, and I'm less embarrassed since none of you could pick me out of a crowd. Sure, there is always a risk on the internet that you could be discovered. An ambitious computer-saavy person could trace me somehow and figure out who I really am if they were so inclined. But I'm simply not an interesting enough person to give someone a reason to do that, so I'm comfortable that the risk is sufficiently low.

The unexpected issue that I've run into is that I still feel incredibly vulnerable. My face is hidden, but my metaphorical heart is exposed to the world. Being a blog reader, I feel like I've gotten to know some people in an odd way. What I realize, of course, is that they still do not know me. It is an odd and fragmented form of "friendship." I say friendship because I hold some people in the same regard that I do friends. I worry when I learn that they're going through times of stress, have family problems, health problems, etc. I say my unpracticed prayers for them (I'm in an odd spiritual place right now), and wait anxiously to learn that they are doing okay... "Dear God, please watch over... um... [screen name]." It is an odd thing for me.

My insecurities are quickly rising to the surface. My stat counter and Google Analytics have only made it easier for me to become anxious. I know people are finding my blog... but are they reading it? Do they find things that they relate to, or do they think I'm a freak? I know from reading others' blogs that it is only a very small portion of visitors will leave feedback of some variety. I was excited and happy to receive my first comments. What I didn't expect was to worry so much about what the lurkers are thinking, or worse, are they even interested enough to think about it at all?

Further - how do you know as a blogger what is okay to post, and what is TMI? Theoretically, since this is my blog, I can write whatever I choose, so long as I follow the terms of service that I agreed to when I signed up for the blog. But understanding the social rules helps me to feel safe. How do I know where the boundaries are?

Yesterday I posted about something intensely personal. There are no social guidelines, even in real life, about talking about rape. As a survivor, I've learned just not to do it. People know that rape happens, even that it happens to children, but the important thing is that it always happens to other people and other children. On the one hand, as a survivor, I know that I should not be embarrassed about what happened to me. What I apparently should be embarrassed about is talking about it. Unless I'm speaking to a therapist, mentioning that I've been raped only puts the listener in an uncomfortable position. They don't know how to respond to it. They feel sorry for me. I suspect they feel afraid that rape has come so close to them. Now they know someone who has been raped.

So, I know that I shouldn't talk about it. But is it okay to talk about online? Are people visiting my blog, reading it, and being repelled the way that they are in real life? What are the rules here?

So, bloggers, how do you do it? How do you handle the anxiety about spilling your heart out to strangers? How do you stop worrying about the people who do not respond? How do you know what is acceptable blog material, and what isn't?


Anonymous said...

Rose, I understand how vulnerable you feel. I do too. I started blogging for me, but let's face it, we all do care what others think. It is human nature after all.

For me I also am conscious of contributing to a community of writers who talk about TTWD. I learned so much from blogs, and yet have also found many lacking. There is a need for some of us to step up and talk about real things...the fears, the issues, the problems, and the joys too. There is a lot of the fun stuff out there, and the sexual stuff, and nothing wrong with that, but it is harder to find good serious well written Dd blogs. I think yours is going to be one of those, which was why I keep coming back!

As to what is too much, I have no clue. Each of us has to decide for ourselves. In all honesty, I haven't read your last post yet. I have not had the time, and reading your posts takes tome and concentration. I cannot just breeze through here, so I wait until I can focus properly. I know how vulnerable you feel though, to put something intensely personal out there and not get any comments. It is hard.

I am amazed at how many people read my blog now, and also amazed at how few comment. I try to remind myself that until a couple of months ago, I read blogs daily but never commented on one, not ever! There are many reasons why people do not comment, but if they are coming back, there must be a reason.

I am excited to find an online community of thoughtful people to begin to 'discuss' these issues with. It can be a lonely journey, and having each other helps a lot.

Hang in there! Sara

Jigsaw Analogy said...

If it helps, sometimes I just haven't had a chance to read blogs for a little, or haven't remembered to read this particular blog.

And I do think there's not really TMI in blogs, presuming there's a little warning or something. I'm always amazed when people say, "Oh, that really spoke to me" when I think I'm writing about something no one will find interesting.

Keep writing. I'll try to remember to keep commenting.

Rose said...

Sara & J.A.,

Again, thank you for your comments. I know, from being a blog reader myself, that not commenting does not mean that I am not paying attention, or relating, or that I think the person is nuts. I guess I thought that blogging would allow me to share things while escaping the insecurity that comes with it. I was wrong!

I have noticed that so many of the people who comment on other people's blogs are blog writers themselves. Now I understand why. Sometimes it is just reassuring to hear that you're not alone. :)

Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...

As one of those people who sometimes reads blogs but have not much time for commenting, please be assured that so far I have enjoyed reading the things you have shared and will return.