There comes a point in the life of blog where the initial excitement wears a bit thin and you start to think about what it means to actually send your thoughts out into the world all on their own, where the ‘Yay! People are reading my blog!’ turns into a ‘Bugger, people are actually reading my blog.’
When you’re sat at home by yourself with nothing but a laptop, a selection of bad nineties music and a packet of bourbons for company, you forget sometimes that a world exists outside the front door. You forget that the words you write are potentially going to be read by thousands of people. Ok, maybe hundreds. Or tens at least.
For some people, it’s the thought of strangers reading that is uncomfortable, the idea that someone you’ve never met, on the other side of the world, gets to peek into your mind and learn all sorts of things about the way you think.
For me it’s more the people I know. The collection of family, friends, colleagues, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, boyfriend’s ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends’ girlfriends… I know I have at least one of each among my readers…
Normally, we can maintain very different personas with the different groups of people in our lives – we share intimacies with our close friends, maintain awkward friendships with ex’s, strive for that ever elusive air of professionalism at work – yet here we are on a completely level playing field, with me sharing exactly the same thoughts with everyone. Some people have known me for years, seen me naked, seen me cry, would do anything for me. Others wouldn’t even speak to me, don’t even like me that much. That’s far stranger to me than the strangers.
I do of course keep a lot of myself back, but is the stuff I do share too much? In my last job, whenever I was about to interview a potential new employee, the first thing I would do would be to google them. (Is this legal?? I’m not sure, but I reckon everyone does it…) Nobody ever had anything terribly saucy or scandalous come up, but I wonder what a prospective employee would think if they googled me and found my blog? I don’t say anything awful, but there is probably a reason you don’t mention getting fingered by a nurse on your CV. ‘Jo Middleton is a highly effective fundraiser, with many years experience of working in the voluntary sector. And she is a lazy slut.’ Eye catching maybe, but possibly not what someone looks for in a personal statement.
“I feel at a disadvantage sometimes by having you read my blog,” I said to New Boyfriend this morning, “like I should have access to some sort of archive of personal information about you too.”
“Yeah?” he replied, “But I haven’t really learnt anything about you though from reading it.”
Hmmm… is that comforting or is he just not paying attention? It’s true of course that my blog persona is a more extreme version of myself. Bee finds it quite annoying sometimes. “But you never really drink gin in the actual daytime,” she complains. No, I don’t really. Not before at least 4pm. It’s not that I lie, just that I pick and choose what I say to fit the character, just as we do in different situations every day. So maybe New Boyfriend is right, maybe my blog doesn’t tell you much about me at all.
But then I think it does to people who know me well. Sometimes friends will phone or email me to ask if I’m alright. “You’ve seemed sad lately in your blog,” they say. Often I haven’t realised it myself until someone reads my posts and tells me. I like that bit of it. It’s like sending a message in code that only the special people will understand. Sometimes I find it difficult to talk out loud about the things that matter to me. When I write though, it is easy, the words pour out. No surprise then that in a lot of my relationships with men, words have played a huge role – letters, emails, msn, texts – I always feel more confident in my thoughts when I see them written down.
“So do I sound like me on my blog?” I asked New Boyfriend.
“No,” he answers decisively, “although maybe a little bit more as I get to know you.”
Which is real though? If the words I write are straight from my head, are they a more accurate representation of who I am, or is me, in the flesh, thinking more but talking less, the real me?
Perhaps I have already said too much.