I haven’t posted in several years. It’s not because I haven’t been writing; I have a Notebook in which I write frequently. It’s because I struggle with the value of being public.
I’m on Facebook. My good friend J rants that Facebook posts are so shallow. He wants to see substance; he wants his friends to share their feelings, not their cat pictures. I hear him, and yet it horrifies me to imagine putting the things I write in my Notebook OUT THERE. Facebook is the online equivalent of small talk at a cocktail party. I like to stay in touch with a friend from high school, but don’t want her to know my innermost secrets. Social media has its purpose, but I get tired of cocktail parties after about thirty minutes.
Besides, everyone knows the potential dangers of being too free with your online self. Identity theft, jobs lost when employers read your Facebook page, and those annoying ads that pop up for about a week everywhere you go, after you’ve searched for a product. Now, those creep me out, and make me believe that if I mention the word “anarchy” in a post, the FBI or some shady group will start watching me.
So why post anything online? Well, what am I seeking when I go online? Information. Education. Inspiration. Connection. Entertainment. Sometimes purchasing. I think those are about the same reasons most people turn on their computers.
If I’m to keep a blog going, why? Am I doing this to satisfy a need in myself? If nobody ever reads what I’ve written here on WordPress, will that satisfy my need to be public (assuming I do have a need to be public) or do I want people to read it? If I don’t care if anybody reads it, why put it out there, why not just keep it in my Notebook? The act of writing what’s really inside me has kept me sane and free all these years already.
What do I think I might provide to the world?
I used to believe I could change the world. Now I think I just want to bring encouragement and sense of “me too” to a few people, the way they’ve been given to me over the years. Where would I be if Anne Lamott and Joni Mitchell hadn’t gone public with their words?
How much “into-me-see” is safe in public? And is there any value to writing in public if you don’t let yourself be seen into?