The Lines

I had a very brief discussion about this with Heather after we had dinner together in Chicago, and now that Crisitunity posted about it just yesterday, I wanted to talk a little bit about our boundaries when it comes to our blogs.  I would love to hear what others have to say on the subject.

At first, Dys and I kept our blogs quite separate, and distinctly so, so we could feel free (or more free) to discuss our “damn that wo/man pisses me off” sorts of issues.  In the end, the temptation to link to or comment on each other, particularly when we each felt the other had posted something funny or powerful, was too great.

But we freely acknowledge to each other that we sometimes regret that decision and/or contemplate starting another anonymous blog to give voice to those feelings.  It’s partially out of respect for each other since we’ve not exactly gone public but nevertheless have presented not only ourselves but our spouse as “real” people who can easily be found and learned-about via reading the comments or a click in the sidebar rather than a nebulous and semi-abstract “other.”  I think between the two of us we could acknowledge the right to (and often the necessity of) voicing those feelings.  But beyond that, we’ve made a series of shared friends who now know us to a greater or lesser extent beyond the confines of our blogs, and out of respect for them, we hold back rather than put them in the middle of any little marital spats we may be having.

Sometimes it’s still damned tempting, and as I told Heather, I think sometimes those who know us well can sense that there’s something going on that we’re not saying but are too polite to pry.  Well-mannered, our friends are.

It’s a difficult line to walk, and I wish I had a good answer – not just for Crisitunity, but for myself.  I tend to err on the side that I believe is least likely to hurt anyone’s feelings, but as someone who’s significantly struggled with being open with his own feelings, I sometimes wonder if I’m making the correct decision.

Thoughts, opinions, valuable lessons learned from harsh experience?

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11 Responses

  1. I’ve been thinking about this myself, not for my spouse because he doesn’t read blogs or blog himself, but my mom, whom I love dearly. She’s a harsh, opinionated woman who occasionally gets on my nerves … and she reads my blog, my thought vomit.

    I made a rule when I told her about my blog, and shared the link. My blog is my thought vomit, my mind spewing what it needs to and occasionally it may not be what she’d want to read. I told her she was not allowed to use it as ammunition at any time. Nothing I vent is up for discussion outside of my blog. So far, she’s been following it.

    That being said, I never say something on my blog I’m not wanting the people I blog about to read. I don’t just put anything up on my blog, I do tend to tone down the really personal stuff and never use names. I’d love to be able to blog about familial issues, but my public blog isn’t the way to do it. If I really must vent, I’ll blog and then make it private (passwording it just coaxes people you don’t want seeing your blog to ask you for the password ;)).

    It’s a very fine line this blogging world we live in. On one side it gives us such freedoms, but the other, we can easily fall the way of the Dooce.

    My thirty-nine cents worth.

    You basically see the whole thing pretty much as I do.

    I have yet to make a “private” post, just because if I have something that private, I’ll write it in an email to myself or jot it in a handwritten journal or (more likely) just keep it to myself entirely. To me, part of the value of blogging that I, to be fair, use less frequently now than I once did is the ability to take ideas or feelings that you have running around in your head, to put them into words, and share them with an audience. The audience may be zero but is potentially tens of millions. I’ve found that the act of first putting thoughts to words, and second saying them “aloud” like this, is a powerful way for me to own feelings that I might otherwise have not even admitted to myself.

    Censoring oneself severely restricts this sort of self-expression. But if the cost is making your friends uncomfortable, or hurting those you’re closest to? Which is more unfair? As I said, I tend to side with sparing my loved ones’ feelings, but I think it’s a lesser-of-evils choice.

    Thanks for the comment…and good luck with your mom. 😉

  2. Bill loves to read my blog, and even pesters me when I don’t update often enough. Only very occasionally has he taken exception to something I’ve written – and only once have I had to take down a post for his sake (… and, it’s funny, it was a post about “ZOMG Best Sex EVAR”). Now if I think I might be writing about a subject that is sensitive to him, I ask him to read it before I post it. I’m starting to lighten up on the whole privacy things – things took a marked turn after the kids grew up and moved out. Like I said over on Crisitunity’s blog, I just mostly fly by the seat of my pants regarding what I share and what I don’t. I really just keep the dirty laundry out of the blog, but even then I tend to blog about how I FEEL about an argument, rather than what the argument itself was about. In the end, just do what feels right.

    I really miss when Dys goes a long time without blogging, because honestly a lot of the time what she blogs is not at all the same sort of subjects, or the same sort of treatment, that I would hear if we were just having a discussion between the two of us, and I feel like I learn something different about her than I otherwise would.

    I’m sure things would be different if we weren’t parents, but really it’s the whole “dirty laundry” thing that I would be most tempted to post about, just to throw a Daffy Duck-esque hissy fit and get it out there and over with. But who wants to see their married friends each post a vitriolic screed, “Toilet Seats: Up or Down? This is Life or Death!!!” and try to avoid taking sides? Not me. And I try not to put folks in positions in which I’d prefer not to find myself.

  3. Since I actually didn’t share my opinion in my own post, I’ll happily do so here.

    Right. MUCH better to share your opinions on someone else’s blog! 😀

    In the past, I’ve found that when I post about stupid shit that I argue with BF about, or (more frequently) stupid shit that happened at work, when I go back and read it later I’ve completely forgotten about whatever the hell it was. This has been an extremely valuable lesson for me – how rapidly perspective is gained from negative experiences. For that reason, I think posting about piddly shit is actually kind of good – it helps you look back and go, “Wow, I got really bent out of shape over that. How stupid am I?” and not do it so much the next time. Of course, if your partner objects, you don’t do it, in any case.

    That’s actually something I hadn’t thought about. Good point, there.

    I told myself when I started my blog that I would not fail to be open about any topic that seriously affected my life. I’m not sure how successful that’s been, for various reasons. I also pledged, due to issues with prior blogs and really dumb issues they caused with friends, that I would strike a balance between not apologizing for my honesty and not being petty on purpose. I think I’ve succeeded there. (I also think I’ve grown out of a lot of those original issues.) But that’s why I made it anonymous, so no one from my life could stumble upon it and read the thorough openness that I promised myself. Not everyone would understand it.

    Exactly why, although many blog friends have become real friends, I haven’t told my real friends/coworkers about my blog.

    Is there an actual thesis to this comment? I think I’ve just been blabbing.

    But blabbing thoughtfully, which is the ideal definition of blogging, isn’t it?

  4. You and I had mentioned the “it ain’t my story to tell” and that’s one of the lines in which I try to stay within. Some of the other things I don’t choose to share, I get out of my system in other ways (good old fashioned hand-written journal). I’m in a different position that most of the folks I read and who are masochistic enough to read me in that I’m single. And, for the most part, my friends only care about my blog when I tell them I’ve written something about them. Otherwise, they know everything that’s up there already. My blog is old news to them. 😀

    Yep, I forgot to mention that part of it. But yeah, being single ain’t always fun, but surely it’s less stress when thinking up blog topics, hmm?

  5. This is a bit of a touchy subject in our household. Anyone who reads both our blogs and has for a while can pretty much connect the dots on their own and then read the end results themselves.

    With that in mind, we have decided to not post anything that might hurt the other and our blogs are open to each other to read at any time.

    That’s basically what we’ve done as well, despite our occasional misgivings. And that’s also the reason that we didn’t import some stuff from older blogs – that stuff is all past.

    I have not shared my blog with anybody else IRL. I wanted a space where I didn’t feel judged or have to hear about it on the phone. And my blog friends who are becoming IRL friends are respectful enough to not use my real name in comments (or if they do, it gets edited). Part of this was to protect myself during the custody battle, part because I sometimes just need to be real and not diplomatic and vent about the ex’s in our lives, the other parent in our joint children’s’ lives.

    Yep. I don’t want to censor myself for my coworkers or my parents. Yes, my wife knows and that has kept me from bitching about her. But she knows me in ways that others don’t (for better and for worse, eh babe?). Those other folks get to see the parts of me that I choose to show them, and you folks get to see the parts of me that I show you. Maybe at my funeral you can all argue that the other got the better end of the deal. (And agree that Dys got the worst of all of it!)

    • There is always more to the story than anyone’s ever old. While friends will judge and be supportive of their friends, it’s not necessarily what’s best for that person or that couple. Nor fair. And that kind of feedback can assist people in making stupid decisions.

      Once upon a time, I was engaged to a guy who struggled with depression. For months after we got together, he was happy, over the moon. Manic even. But then he sunk back into his depression. His friends and coworkers blamed me for his depression, forgetting that it existed before I came along. They convinced him to leave, not just move away to some place sunnier, but to leave me and the life he knew behind. So he came home one day, packed his things and left. Just like that. Did it make his life better? No. Did it lift his depression? No, actually he sunk farther into it.. Last I heard, he regretting leaving, he regretted throwing our life together away at the advice of some “friends”. He was miserable, alone and struggling personally, professionally and financially.

      Friends may mean well, but can sometimes do real damage with their “opinions” and judgments when they don’t know the whole story.

      Sad story, with a true moral.

  6. Todd actually started our blog, and then I went and girled it up. He still posts on occasion, but not nearly as often as I do.

    He reads my posts. He comments sometimes. But I tend to leave the intricacies of our marriage out of it. I’ll post about the funny things we talk about, and I’ve posted about the never ending child dilemma.

    He has a blog on his work web site, and I do not link to those posts b/c I don’t want people to connect Todd from our blog to Todd at work. But other than that, I don’t really worry too much about it.

    That’s more or less what we’ve done. (Except for the joint blog, which we actually did discuss at one point.) Keep the dirty laundry out, keep work (and family) out of it.

  7. The blog got me out of a bad place that I was hanging in for a couple of years, but I think it is tough to air things out without trouble coming later…it is so easy to stir the pot.

    I think that lines HAVE to be drawn…or not. It is all or nothing.

    I’m right there with you in using the blog as a way out of a bad place. I hadn’t really thought about the all-or-nothing idea. I’m not sure I 100% agree, but I definitely think you’re onto something there.

    BTW, just because I happened to notice, this is my 3900th comment. Woo!

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