Can we just be honest?

NYC

I’m having a moment of impatience with the blog world. I’ve been clicking around, reading a few posts, checking out what’s been going on in my virtual ‘hood, and i’m left with a racing heart and a horrible feeling of being less-than. I’ve blogged about the PR version before, how bloggers tend to share their bestest most shiniest selves on line and hide the stuff that will sully that projection — and I understand why they do it. It’s very tempting to turn our blogs into an on-going affirmation of what we want our lives to be like, hoping that if we share only the good stuff we can make it real. But it can leave the onlooker/reader feeling deflated.

I try and put a positive spin on the lessons life chucks at me, but even I get tired of reading the happy skippy posts that are rife in the blogosphere. It’s not even that I’m envying the bloggers who have the sun shining on them every day — i just find it exhausting to read and yearn for a bit of self-deprecation once in a while. I find it hard to swallow the my-life-is-so-awesome-i-am-so-grateful posts (and don’t even get me started on the all-you-need-is-love posts*) — they just don’t connect to my understanding of the world: that there is rough as well as smooth, that sometimes rain is just depressing and grey rather than an opportunity to don pretty wellies and splash in puddles before returning home for hot chocolate and laughter with cherished loved ones — i go home shivering with limp wet hair only to discover I left the bedroom window open and now my rug is soaked through.

I guess I like my blog reading to have a bit of grit in it. It makes life more interesting and real. More relatable. It makes me feel less alone.

I’m as guilty as anyone of avoiding this space when I’m feeling down — that’s when I have no energy to string words together and would rather be watching Buffy Season Six with a blanket over my knees. And I’m certainly not suggesting we only blog about our ingrowing toe nails and credit card debt; I just think it’s important to keep it real here, to share a realistic slice of what my experience of the world is like. Considering I spend most of my time alone at home working, I hope i manage to be somewhat entertaining (maybe I should throw in a few knock knock jokes?)

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot recently, as you can probably tell. I’m chipping away at my Blogging from the Heart guidebook and it’s making me dig deep into my own motivations for blogging; the blogosphere has evolved a great deal in the five years I’ve been writing online and it amazes me that when I started there was no Twitter or Facebook and Etsy was only a few months old. The internet felt smaller, somehow, and more cosy — yet now there is so much opportunity for connection and growth. I feel quite proud to call myself a blogger — it’s a really important part of my life.

Who’d have thunk it, eh?

So how does the blogosphere make you feel, generally? I’d love to know what you think…

* might be time to detox my Google Reader again…

Posted on 19-05-2011
153 responses
  1. kelly

    I love this post and all of the comments. When I started blogging, one of the most important things to me was to be authentic. I agree, life isn’t always sunshine and roses, and those bloggers that make it seem like that are doing the rest of us a disservice. I am an eternal optimist, but life is hitting me hard right now. I know that I’m going to spin out of it okay, and I want to remember the progression of things on my blog. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing, it seems, that turns people away. My aunt even stopped reading my blog, because she said it was too sad! Really?! I think readers ARE looking for the sunshine and roses…

  2. Amy in CA

    My first time to your blog! This was a great read. I am not a blogger, but read many blogs and of course have had to edit some out of my reading for different reasons. If there is an unrealistic amount of “sunshine”, I am not attracted to the blog. However, I feel that bloggers walk a fine balance. Different blogs serve different purposes, and if everyone was trying to do the same thing with their blog, it would be a boring experience! My only gripe: blogs that contain very little personal content, but are instead used to showcase possessions. I do not care for blogs that seem to exist merely to show off one’s Louis Vuitton collection, etc…. Makes me gag. Other than that, I am a sucker for the good, the bad, and beautiful pictures! :)
    Amy

  3. Kat @Low Tide High Style

    Such a wonderful post! I have, and will always be attracted to bloggers and posts that aren’t afraid to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with me. If I want to just look at pretty pictures I can do that many other ways besides reading blogs. I try to put the “pretty” out there in most of my posts too, but sometimes you just have to get real and let the chips fall where they may. I’ve lost followers with some of my posts, but those who have been touched and send me an email or leave a heartfelt comment are the kind of people I want in my life. Those are the friends you know will be there no matter what! Thanks for this great post!

    Kat :)

  4. Tracy

    the lows are the momentum for the highs. life without them wouldn’t be a great ride, a thrilling roller coaster or slide, it would be a “sit”. where’s the fun in that really? Tell the truth. It’s always the beginning of free flight…always.

  5. susan dowgiala

    Susannah, you are hysterically funny-no knock-knock jokes required. Thank you for hitting the nail on the head and making me laugh out loud so that my dogs just stared at me, seeming to wonder, ‘what’s her problem now?’

  6. Susan

    Yes and but…I like all different kinds of blogs but I prefer the homespun ones over the ones featured in blogging art mags and what have you, those others are beautifully laid out but they seem like advertising to me. It would be lovely once in awhile to see blogs where everyone has these amazing children and doing amazing art and having amazing lives just admit that sometimes everything isn’t perfect – because that view does make the reader feel less than. On the other hand, I am one of those bloggers who blogs for self-satisfaction – I had wanted to blog for a long time and just getting it out there was an act of bravery – and now, continuing it when I have a very small (VERY) small audience – well, that feels like an act of bravery too. I think there is ample room for all sorts of blogs, but the ones that make me feel connected to others in the world when I cannot sleep at two am – those are my favorite blog voices.

  7. Lisa Schwartz

    I am new to blogs, both reading them and writing one, but am ALWAYS drawn to truth, in any form. I find I won’t read writing that is colored in a Pollyannish, inauthentic style but I prefer reading someone who writes what is real. The true moments of ones life, showing me the essence of who they are, is what attracts me and I applaud anyone courageous enough to share themselves in this way.

  8. Mia

    I don’t always put my shiniest face on my blog. And I think that’s why I don’t have a lot of readers…people want to hear the big bright circus of someone’s life, not that they’re struggling with things they really can’t talk about on the internet for fear that someone involved will read it and take it the wrong way.

    I like to hear that people have the same problems that I do though….and just cleaned out my Google Reader of boring people….and added your blog :)

  9. debi

    It’s in the broken places we grow, and really learn to live with intention. Thank you for your site, I just found you. A breath of fresh air…thank you.
    Bless your day,
    Deb

  10. a.m. trumble

    I feel like this problem, and yes it is a problem, it manifest itself in different ways. Writing about how wonderful your life is, if it isn’t, isn’t as much of a crime as putting random pictures up to possibly appear as something else. Ie. putting up a picture of a young woman’s face when in reality you are 68 years old. Something that was always very much frowned upon in the ye olde days of the internet is now a common practice among bloggers. It bothers me when I meet someone and they project themselves as being close to my age and then almost drop a bomb that they are a retiree with all of this time on their hands to blog, and I came to them for advice on how to fit blogging into my busy schedule.

  11. melanie

    Love this! I actually had to take a time out from reading (most of) them because I was urping on the sunshine coming out of everyones…you know…I have several friends who I love who have fantastic creative lives , but really the blogs I enjoy are where people can expose thier depravity and flaws… I have a well kept shop and home a couple days a month… te rest of the time I am doing the same ol. I actually find myself pulling back from the sacharrin types, just can’t swallow it all. I love your perspective! There is a particular blogger who is flat out a scorched earth leaver in real life …but I love her blog because she can poke fun at the holes in herself and her hubby and life with such skill I always chuckle and feel like some people are still real…even if they are meanies. thanks for your keen insight and well crafted words. I enjoyed immensely!

  12. Mandy

    This subject is interesting to me. I used to be far more transparent in my blogging and write about the gray areas much more than I do now. I have to wonder how you deal with trolls? I had one troll comment a year or so ago that was so vicious, that attacked me for every tender part of myself that I had revealed, that I have been scared to open myself up like that again. Now I mainly stick to writing humor blogs. It feels much safer.

  13. Ellen

    I think that it’s just so hard to really be honest online. I mean – I know about all my faults and I usually even exaggerate them. It sometimes is as if my self-image was a fun house mirror, showing me only mistakes. Maybe my blog might be another mirror, showing me a teeny-weeny bit more positive than I really am. Then both mirrors can meet somewhere in the middle? Whaddya think?

    And I also think that it might be enough if I spend so much time looking at all my mistakes. I’m so sick of them – why show other people?

    *sigh*

    I think you’re doing exactly the right thing.

  14. retailbitch

    hello susannah,
    a friend passed this specific post to me because i had confided that i have been feeling low or “less than” because all it ever seems like is that FB is about everyone else’s lives being ah-maaazing and, whilst i realize this isn’t reflective of reality, it all just kind-of left me feeling blah about what i’m doing in my life. so THANK YOU for your honesty and for writing about this. it’s a good reminder that people tend to massage the message in their public spaces and it’s not a barometer to hold against one’s own measures of success (i might have mixed my metaphors there but, hey, i’m not perfect).
    best, the retail bitch

  15. Valerie Brown

    I was required to offer a documentary style blog for a art class. From week to week I would post my work and follow my classmates to see what new research or things they were doing. I got hooked more into reading others entries and have a blog -list called the daily read. You have been on mine for a few years. I deleted my blog the moment I saw someone use & copy not only my hardwork for my school program, but it stung that someone was using my voice and life saying it was theirs. How I see blogs as someone boring unless I like the intention of the person. I do use recipes, get inspired but can’t the streams of ads and marketing. I wonder are some people fulltime bloggers do they make an income from the ads.. It is just do much for me.. I find I don’t read on-line anymore or shop or look at things. I work, check my mail and check out.. It all bores me thank you for your evaluation and your not alone this space hasn’t been cozy for me for about 6 years.

  16. Beth

    Yes!! Thank you!! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking! A reader left a link on my latest post to this post of yours, as in my latest post I wondered if anyone could get any encouragement out of reading about my mess and my failures. But I feel that YES the mess should be included in our blogs, if we are comfortable with sharing it, because that is what real life is — the beautiful and the boring and the plain old bad mixed in together.

    Okay, now I’m off to read the rest of your blog. :)

  17. Lyn

    The wonderful thing about the internet and the blogging world now is that there is just so much to read! Should we need a little inspiration, we have hundreds nay thousands of positive speaking blogs out there. But, over time, it can feel a little same same and to be honest, just regurgitated information.

    Believe me, I hear you. I’m a yoga teacher and a blogger. My peers all want to talk about the miracle of me/you and – often – without any acknowledgement that life is shit sometimes too. It just is! I wrote a little post about it here http://loveyourselfnaturally.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/a-bundle-of-miracles/#more-772

    This is a great site. I love your writing. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Unknown

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on life online.

    Regards

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