Thursday, April 10, 2014

You Are What You Say

I follow a few blogs, and obviously there are some people who follow me. I only have time to read a few because, work, writing, gardening, cleaning up cat barfs (kittens, please can we stop now), and did I say working? So my blog consumption is limited to a few spots that I can squeeze into my day. And when you follow someone for a period of time, you get a feel for who they are as a person. It's a process that can't be stopped. Most blogs have a theme or the point, but even in blogs where the point is front and center, the most successful blogs, the ones I return to again and again, are the ones where I like the "point" and the person writing the blog.

Cooking blogs are great for this (the Smitten Kitchen blog is amazing and if you aren't following Deb, you should go there right now). Also, I find Joe Scalzi's blog a wealth of information about the publishing industry, even though I'm not a big sci-fi fan and I don't own a single one of his books. Part of the success of both blogs is that we like them as people. At least I do. It's what keeps me clicking again and again. There are a zillion cooking blogs out there so why follow Deb? Because I like her. It doesn't hurt that her recipes are also dynamite.

A blog becomes personal, even if we don't want it to. If you write on a consistent basis, you can't help but "reveal" yourself. I find myself culling out blogs over time because I'm just not sure about the person writing it anymore. I dropped a blog from my feed at one point because the blogger (who is extremely successful at pretty much everything she touches) defended her husband smacking her around. If you're at all into blog culture, you will know who I'm talking about. I found that attitude unacceptable, and I dropped the feed from my list. I doubt it mattered one iota to her because I'm one of a zillion followers, but I couldn't support her blog anymore because the message she was sending out (in addition to a whole bunch of otherwise very worthwhile messages) was that sometimes you deserve to be beaten up. Does not work for me. Delete.

You read someone every day or twice a week or every now and then, and they begin to inhabit a piece of you. You don't know them, but if you met them for coffee, you would have a wealth of things to discuss because they have shared with you a bunch of their personal stuff. I've used the metaphor of "baggage" a lot in writing about writing. How when the writer shares her/his baggage and the reader discovers that he/she has the same baggage or is interested in helping the writing carry that baggage through the "end," and voila, you have a successful novel. Well, it's the same with blogs. A blogger shares a certain amount of stuff and it's often personal, and then you can't help but make a personal judgment on who they are. Because it's become a two-way personal street.

This morning I read the blog of someone I've been following for a number of years. And I have issues with her post. Naturally, being the bossy pants that I am, I was tempted to write a personal email and say, hey, you're veering into the land of the vapid and this is why. But I didn't. No, I came over here to write a piece about how this has all become so personal. As bloggers our luggage is open for the viewing whether we like it or not. Over time certain compartments are unzipped, whether we like it or not. Oh my, look at all those socks with holes in them. Wow, that leopard print bra is sexy. Not much of a compliment to the white Hanes briefs next to them. Perhaps TMI?

I don't know if this inevitable personalization is good or bad. I just know that if you read a piece here in this blog that you find offensive or irritating and you just don't want to follow me anymore, I understand.

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