I am a ghost

So I want to take an imaginary poll about my post yesterday.  How many of you think:

1) My husband really is an Internet troll

2) I made that story up to add a bit of humor to soften criticism of a class of behavior you see all over the Internet

3)  Some parts of the story about my husband are true, particularly that bit about the pizza restaurant poll, but other parts are fiction

4) Who cares?


In my internet travels, I have come to enjoy reading a few of the "mommy bloggers" who have made it big.  And by "big" I mean what started out as little blogs have turned into million dollar enterprises.  Two I am talking about today are Heather Armstrong and Ree Drummond.   Both are interesting people who write simply and eloquently about their lives.  I have followed them for years admiring their photography and writing skills.  Mind you, these blogs are carefully cultivated brands with staff, not moms sitting at their kitchen tables while baby naps.

Yesterday I learned an interesting thing.  Both of these women have large groups of "haters" who spend energy mocking them and writing about them and generally finding fault with every word they say and every action they take.   I was sort of stunned.  Why would someone hate a blogger so much that they spend time and energy creating other blogs simply to mock them? If you don't like what they say, don't read it?  Simple right?  Apparently not.

I think some of the hate is grounded in the separation between the Heather and Ree described on their blogs and the real people.  Readers assume that the "persona" is the same thing as the person, which allows them a false sense of intimacy.  Then, when there are hints that "Heather" and "Ree" as presented on the blog are less complex than women behind the brand, readers get upset and stomp around throwing down words like "hypocrite" and "fake."

What I wonder is what makes anyone think they know "You" just because you share a snapshot of a part of your life on a blog?

The image above is one of claudia222 jewel's ghosts and if you look carefully you can see a small blurry person in the background.  The ghost is the blogger, the blur is the real person.   Make sense?


Chestnut Rau said...

I accidentally hit "delete" in stead of "publish" when I saw this comment. That will teach me to try to do anything important while using my phone. Apologies Whiskey!

Whiskey Day noreply-comment@blogger.com to me
show details 8:59 AM (45 minutes ago)
Whiskey Day has left a new comment on your post "I am a ghost":

Authenticity is still important, and hard to get from "staff" bloggers.

I liken a blog to a window. I decide how wide to open it, and how much clothing to take off when I do.

But I can't decide who looks in that window, or what they say about what they see.

Sometimes a comment or a snipe can make me lower the blinds and wrap up in my ugliest robe.

I can see the persona in most blogs, but that's not what keeps me reading. It's the glimpse of the authentic person, the raw edges that they sometimes reveal, that make me feel like I somewhat know them, and want to read more.

Chestnut Rau said...

Whiskey I agree with what you say 100%.

I am authentic here and I hope that is obvious. I am not 100% transparent though. Therein lies the rub - I blog because I want to be understood and when I am quite misunderstood it makes me itchy.

You are right, I can't control who looks in the window, or what they see. There have been times when I put on my ugliest robe and slammed the window shut but that does not feel right either.

I am a writer and I feel compelled to say things about myself and my world. I think I just need a tougher skin because when you are brave enough to open the window and share your thoughts, it is inevitable - someone is going to think you are an idiot.

Botgirl Questi said...

Thanks for the though-provoking post. This is a really deep topic with many dimensions.

It's really hard to break out of projecting our inner subjective experience as objective aspects of the external world. For instance, if we taste a food we don't like, we think, "That tastes bad!" instead of "That tastes bad to me." Although we would probably know better if we gave it some thought, it feels like the "badness" is an inherent aspect of the food, even though there may be millions or billions of other people who enjoy the taste.

So one aspect of our reaction to other people is that we project our own negative reactions as if they were an independent quality of the person in question. I may loathe Sue and think she's a bitch, but you may find her clever and appealing.

Another dimension of our ignorance is that we mistake our assumptions about people's motivations for truth. There have been many times when I posted something that someone took personally (in a negative way) when I wasn't thinking about them in the slightest way when I made the post. Like I've written before, "Just because I use the word "you" doesn't mean I'm talking about YOU."

Emerald Wynn said...

I really like this post, Chestnut. I'm not a big talker these days, so I think I'll just cop-out and say, "What Botgirl said." Well put.

Your blog is beautiful - eloquent writing, great pics. It's one of those blogs that makes me say "why have I been away for so long?" when I come over here after falling behind on blog reading.