For today's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog assignment, we've been tasked with writing an opinion post. I've been known to have a couple of opinions every once in a great while. Like last week's post about feminism, for example. Or about a Republican agenda leading the war on women. Or that periods are not gross. Or why mandated infertility coverage is a good thing. Or why I think high school reunions are lame.
Ok... so yeah, I'm an opinionated woman and I'm not shy about putting my opinions out there on the internet.
|Via Wikimedia Commons.|
My inner voice coos: Don't offend anyone, Keiko! Oh no, don't write about that today. You're going to hurt someone's feelings. You want everyone to like you, don't you?
Sometimes, I don't really give a flying fuck what people think.
(Case in point: the previous sentence and my use of profanity.) But this is one of those times that I do give a fuck.
In fact, most times I consider at great length how a post will be received and about who's reading it. Sometimes I'm worried about the people I know, like family and close friends: what will my sister think? Would this embarrass my mom if she read this? Will my friends judge me?
Other times I'm thinking about the readers of this blog I interact with online: is she going to stop following me on Twitter if I mention this?
And sometimes I think about the complete strangers who come here from random internet searches, knowing that my opinion is now linked with my name and face and wondering what that legacy could look like in the lasting eternity of the internet.
I struggle with that fine line of how do I talk about X on my blog if I haven't talked with So-and-So about it in person?
The question that I'm actually avoiding in the process is this:
Do I need to run my topics by people in the first place?
Or to boil it down further: why do I care so much?
This is my blog: my space, my rules. I should write about whatever the hell I want, right? People that I care about read these words, people I respect and admire, even potential employers an networking contacts read this blog.
In the age of blogging and internet permanence, our words carry a much heavier weight and lingering presence. Our blogs shape our online reputations.
You don't want to offend the people you know, dear. You don't want your virtual resume to be dirtied with such unpleasantries. That's a good girl.
While it's easy to me to hide behind the guise of self-censorship, I'm self-aware enough to know what this is really all about:
I have a pretty huge fear of failure.
It's taken me 29 years to realize this, but I've always been the kind of person who found it easier to walk away from an opportunity without having tried than trying and failing. I can pinpoint for you so many different examples of times in my life I've stifled myself because I was so scared of the risk of failing in the process.
I have deliberately held myself back at more times in my life than I would like to admit. And here I am, doing it again.
I'm holding my opinions back because I'm afraid that if I offend people and lose a handful of followers (which has happened after some of my more opinionated posts) it means that I've failed my readers in some way and thus, I'm a failure.
(So in addition to being opinionated, I'm neurotic too. Awesomesauce.)
I could just post all those thoughts in my head and shut off commenting. Or I could delete the comments that make me uncomfortable or disagree with me. But that would be cowardly. That's the wonderful thing about blogging: it's a dialogue between author and reader.
That's why, as JJiraffe points out in a recent post, why a blogger who doesn't respond to comments can upset the balance - and beauty - of the blogging experience. It feels like we're just shouting on a busy street corner, failing to acknowledge the people that stop and reply to what we're saying.
I could keep my opinions bottled up in an endless queue of drafts. But how would that add to the dynamic experience of the blogosphere? How would that enrich the cultural dialogue of blogging?
So what's a blogger to do? Risk offending some of you, some of you about whom I care deeply? Or do I throw caution to the wind and post away, consequences and judgments be damned? Is it simply a matter of how I word my opinions and not what my opinions actually are? And isn't that it's own form of self-censorship, a way of making my posts politically/reader-correct?
It seems I have more questions than answers.
Whether you blog anonymously or not, whether your blog is shared with people you know or not - what do you do? What would you do? Do you write it as or do you self-censor, shelf it for another day or never to be published? Is there some nice grey-area middle ground I'm missing? Sound off in the comments.
I realize this post has morphed into a huge tease of "Ooooh... I wonder what she was going to write about in the first place?" Well, I'll tell you. I shelved about 6 ideas for today's opinion post. Briefly, here are the ideas that got canned, without any kind of supporting context:
- I really don't want to be a mom to twins.
- Sometimes it's pretty rad not to have kids.
- People who post obessively about their children on Facebook annoy the shit out of me.
- Ditto this about previously infertile bloggers who show no sensitivity to their infertile readers when posting about their pregnancy and newborns.
- Teenaged girls should know what cervical mucus is.
- While I think the birth control pill is a major advancement in women's rights, I think it's fundamentally against our biological nature. (And yes, I rely on BCP for quality of life.)
If any of these intrigue you and you'd like to hear more, let me know in the comments. If you're super-offended and want to bail, that's okay too. But I'd love to hear how folks handle sensitive topics and how they're received by readers as a way to guide how I'll further elaborate on these topics, if you happen to be interested in hearing about them in the first place.
Am I off base here? Am I overreacting? Let me know - I'm genuinely interested in what other folks are doing or have done when it comes to potentially offending readers with their opinions.
EDIT TO ADD: The conversation continues at my follow-up post here: When I Think, I Must Speak.