Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Modesty

In real life, I tend to be a fairly quiet guy. Ask my extended family, my in-laws, or the people I work with. I tend to be more talkative around close friends, immediate family, and those I know I have common interests. So why does much of my modesty and quietness almost disappear online? Where does this dichotomy come from?

On the real life side, I have always hated those who boast about things they do, how much they make, what status symbols they own. Or those who take things in their life and exaggerate them to impress. For me, even when I have things that I could boast about, I am very careful and reluctant in real life to reveal them. I feel some of this is out of respect. Not everyone has been as fortunate and trying to show or give the impression you have more is just not right. Maybe it's also because I would prefer others to like me for my character rather than what I've done, what I have, or who I know. I would hate for people to think I'm trying to impress them.

But I am finding my actions in the blogosphere out of character and a bit disturbing. I blather on about places I have been or things I have been fortunate to do. OK, it is true that for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to share with the world who I am. Nowadays I want to share what things I've experienced since that time. But why reveal online where ANYONE can read it? There is an oddness in that globality. Why do I have this urge? What does it say about my character? Am I a closet extrovert?

My best guess is this. Blogging is really about sharing. Sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your opinions, your life, and basically yourself. It is really quite liberating. But it allows you to share in a way that normal means of communication do not. You can share items that you would like to share, but may not normally come up in the flow of conversation. You can put stuff out there and if people are interested they'll keep reading. If not they move on to another blog , the news, or the Kilauea volcano. Also, by revealing yourself you allow anyone else on the web to connect with those aspects of you they otherwise would not. It's not something locked up in your head for someone to discover long after you're gone, if ever. From a personal standpoint, it is also sharing parts of me with new people I have met (either electronically or in real life) here in my new home. And even sharing aspects with old friends and family that had not had the opportunity to be shared. The sharing is quite similar to when you're first making friends with a person then sharing who you are to see what other common things there are between you. If a stranger connects with it and I make a new aquaintence or a friend all the better.

4 comments:

Mrne said...

Well, Blogging, is really a bit like just talking to yourself. No one is looking, yet there is the possibility that the whole world is looking. And even if the whole world was looking, most of them aren't going to tell you what they're thinking about what you're thinking--so it is rather safe. Pretty much you eliminate that whole rejection thing. I recognize of course that there are those of us, let's call a spade a spade, there are those of us voyeurs who are not content with just looking/listening to you talk to yourself, we feel compelled to repsond. Tell you, that you've moved us, touched us, struck a resonant experience, taught us something about you, about us, about the world, those are the good messages, "ET we hear you and you are not alone."

Then there are the cranks, and the folks who are going to tell you pissy things about what you right. This is where your bravery shows itself the most. One could say, Ignore the cranks, but one really can't do that, not totally, afterall, you are talking to yourself in public, and you hear the crank because afterall that was your fear to begin with, so the crank in confirming your worst fear, makes you say, "Oh that's why I was/am such a private person in real life!"

But what hooks one into continuing to share one's inner life, despite the cranks, is that another message comes across, "Yes, Sally, THEY REALLY DO LIKE YOU!" You, tête rouge, are a very interesting fellow and I like listening to you talk.

Tanja > DoubleCrossed.ca said...

Share on.

Frank said...

Thank you Tanja. I really like your work.

Rachel said...

You should see how the relationship/inner conversation develops after ten + years of what they now call 'blogging'. And people think marriage is rough! :)

The sad part of it is that, in the way back olden days; no one began keeping online biography without first evolving through a series of online trials by fire. There was a semi-predictable path everyone followed (subconsciously, like migrating animals). You grew out of one sphere and into another (bbs, to Usenet, to email lists, to online forums, to MUD, MUSH, MOO etc... to MMORPGs, to online 'communities' etc... just to name a few.). There were "phases" to an online life, ups and downs. It took years to trudge through it all and emerge at the other end of it. And once you emerged, your tendency was to start blogging (It's a very human response to gained experience. Y'know, after you've hunted, reproduced, almost died and conquered everything that moves... you wanna sort of relax, have a beer and tell stories about it, reminisce a little with fellow veterans.).

Exposing oneself to the world and making yourself vulnerable in all sorts of ways was a rite of passage. People spent years suffering and defending themselves from the fiery flaming masses, the harsh criticisms (or the indignity of 'virtual' rape). And some never emerged from a single phase, crashing and burning or marooning themselves in one place (some people are still stuck in the bbs era, too fearful to move on). It annealed them into who they were. The experience changed them. In fact, that's how you knew you were onto something. If people hated you for it, then it must be worth doing. Today, it's not like that.

Today commercialism and an almost religious worship of online "civility" have bleached the playing field. And now anyone (and I mean anyone) can "safely" start 'blogging' immediately. People are then thrust into a jaded and bloated online biographizing atmosphere, sometimes unable to fully process the experience on the fly. And if you're anything but completely superficial, 'blogging' is a deeply moving and unsettling experience filled with personal discovery. There are growing pains, high points and low points. It leaves stretch marks on one's psyche. But, oddly enough, you'll find few people discussing that particular aspect of blogging because today everyone is expected to hit the ground running with regards to their online life. They're told that blogging is nothing more than a banal "hobby" and BOY do people deliver when banality is all that is expected of them.

I agree with mrne though, to me it's always been very much about standing out there and harvesting those "we hear you and you're not alone" kind of moments. And I've gotten the most pleasure in helping others connect in order to uncover those moments for themselves. I've never blogged for everyone and have never even tried. Hell, most of these years what I've done hasn't even been called 'blogging' (g). I do it for myself and in order to retain that small hope that there is someone "out there" that might perfectly understand the cryptic fingerprint of self I've so long been broadcasting between the lines. Blogs can indeed be like a message in a bottle. You don't expect an answer but the anticipation and hope alone can sometimes makes the act worth doing.