I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity this week, and wondering if other bloggers do the same.
There are several reasons for this (because serendipity seems to be a very large part of my life). One is that I recently struggled through J.K. Rowling’s new book. Authenticity comes into play for one of the main characters of the book. Do you have to be gritty to be real? Do you have to be crass, rude, or base to not be a hypocrite? Do you have to put on a good face? Is that the only way to get along with polite society?
Of course, there’s another bit with OCD in there, and for whatever reason right now, whenever I see this disease discussed in any form of popular culture, my hackles raise and my ears lay back and I’m put on guard.
In case you missed it, struggle is the key word in that sentence five sentences back. I did not like the book much, but I can say this: She tried something new; something radically different than Harry Potter. And why can’t she? Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean she (and others) can’t like it.
Which leads me to my second reason for musing on authenticity—that whole goings-on in the Dad-blogging community about Single Dad Laughing. I’m not giving my opinion, and I’m not going into detail. Everyone else is/was writing about it. Beta Dad wrote about it, Babble wrote more about it, then SDL wrote about it (and you can see the links to all of these on the first linked page), and best of all… Catherine of Her Bad Mother wrote about it, and that’s the post which really got me. It was her update, in italics at the bottom of the post, which really got to me. More on that in a moment.
Granted, this all took place a while back, and I am always late to the party… but it’s bringing brought back up in the circles I ‘roll’ in because SDL released a coming out, and then I linked to that post in my last post…
And now I feel like I’m on the seventh grade camping trip all over again, watching this drama which I worked so damn hard to leave behind in my life. I’ve literally cut people—including family—out of my life to avoid the psychodrama, and here it is, again.
Like I don’t have enough going on in my life already. Like we all don’t have enough going on already.
You see, like Catherine discusses, the third thing that brought me to thinking about this is someone admonished me to stop using my older son and his “diagnosis” to try and draw more page views to my blog. Because we all know I’m really here to make a big name for myself by dicking around, on occasion, on this blog. Now, I did ask people to share it, and I admitted that this was, in part, selfish of me, but wasn’t to get page views. I think that was to be truthful about the things going in my life; to feel less alone. Because I do want to be truthful. More on THAT one in a moment.
Don’t ask me about the comment. Don’t ask me to post it, don’t ask me to describe it, don’t ask me who said it, or anything else. Well, except for one thing: It called me to question my authenticity—the authenticity in our lives, and the authenticity in my online life. Especially if one’s authenticity is directly related to how much one is liked or disliked. Or what we like. Or dislike.
Did they not like reading about it? Or did I cut so much out (in respect to someone else’s story, i.e., my son’s) that it became inauthentic?
And is there any way to put yourself, naked and fully authentic, online? I don’t think so. I am the same person, but I have one way of acting with my husband, and one way for my kids and one for my employer and one way of talking here. I will talk about things with my family that I won’t talk about with you, and I’ll talk about things with you that I won’t talk about at work. I don’t think that means I’m fake, gaming the system, or a hypocrite. I think I am cautious, and a decently-rounded person. I think I have many voices, maybe, and a bit of decorum (only a bit) but I am the same person.
A person who oftentimes doesn’t want to share her full life on the interwebs. A person who does self-edit what she says. A person who made the conscious decision to post under her real name, and thereby, must also consciously decide what she will and won’t say online for all posterity’s sake. Does that make me smart? Or inauthentic? A poser? Not my whole self?
And what about the people who are in my life? I think they have a right to decide if they are featured here or not. So, if I know one of my friends doesn’t want to be on my blog, but is okay with me sharing a story as long as they are not involved, and I take them out of the story—and this requires a bit of smoothing over—does this mean that I’m fake? Should I not be worried about others who do not want to be all over my blog?
And what about retrospection? Are the only authentic blog posts the ones we write free-association style? Does just the act of reflection and introspection change what we say or how we position something? I think it does. So is everything I write untrue?
I want to be true to my readers, to myself, and to the world. The Bloggess (my hero, of course) was on Twitter asking if we were to all just share our secrets, and find out that they are the same secrets, would the world be a better place? I want to write about a lot of different things, but hold back—for one reason or another. I often think they are very good reasons. And some things I don’t want to write about, ever. Don’t we have the right to keep some things private—even if the stories don’t make quite as much sense to an outsider than they do to the people who know it all?
These are difficult questions to answer—for me, for anyone. How real is real? How scripted is scripted? I present what I want to present here, in the way I want to present it. We all do, every day, in every aspect of life. It’s not made up, but it’s my perspective and my perspective alone. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to like how I present myself and I don’t have to like how you present yourself and you don’t have to like that I have a secret and I don’t have to like that you have one as well, but seriously? Does it freaking matter?
And what is it that we want to know about one another that we don’t already share? Are you going to ask me about my sex life? Do you want to know what I’m eating? Do you want me to describe the color and consistency of my snot the last time I was sick? NO. You don’t. Does that make me less real?
Where does it all stop? Am I a real person? Are you? How authentic are you? How authentic should we all be? Is authenticity an unachievable ideal that can just be tossed in someone’s face when you just don’t like them?