Sunday, October 12, 2008

Somtimes it hurts to blog

You put yourself out there.  You are honest, for all the world to see.  Talk about exposure!  Most of the time, there is enough affirming response, or enough inner motivation, to keep you going.  But how it hurts to have someone come by and, based on reading a paragraph or two, insult you, disregard your experience, or tell you disgusting things like you are going to hell.  

Then, if you blog long enough, you will face that moment when you realize that you have gone far beyond your intended audience.  Most of us blog to the anonymous masses.  We put our innermost thoughts out there for strangers to read.  But the moment we find that someone we actually know is reading our blog, it is unsettling.     I have had to ask myself if I stand behind everything I say, and the answer is yes.  I have had to ask myself if I have said things about others that I would not say to their faces, and the answer is either no - or I need to remove what ever I said.  

About two years ago, I realized that I had to change what I write about.  I had written about a man I was dating and I ended up regretting it terribly.  So I don't do that anymore.  

About a year ago, I changed another aspect of what I was writing when a couple of friends from my home group started reading my blog.  Since I was no longer an anonymous blogger attending just any group, but people knew who I was and what group I was attending, I needed to be responsible about talking about people - even in a general way.  It is different when there are people who know who and what you are talking about.   You have to be responsible.

I have a couple of family members who read my blog on occasion.  One of them told me he found my blog and read some of it and realized that he was not my intended audience, so he stopped reading.  I told him he was welcome to read it.  It is, after all, public.  I just need to be responsible and have integrity.  I can't say irresponsible things and then expect no consequences.

However, it does change what you write.  Blogging goes from being a free-for-all, express-a-rama, to being something that you edit, second guess, and edit again.  

I started this post to talk about the drive-by commenters.  When you are a person who blogs identified as "a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous," you attract all kinds of people.  My very favorite comments are those from people who are seeking information about AA because they think they have a problem with alcohol.  And then, the bloggers, ah, how I love them.  My blogging peeps.  We are a great community.  And on the negative side,  it doesn't bother me most of the time when I get comments from people who hate AA or think it is stupid.  (I have a post entitled "why do people hate AA" and that gets a lot of hits from people searching for "i hate aa," etc.)   When someone crosses the line and tells me I am going to hell and saying horrible things about my father, that really annoys me.  But I just reject those comments.  

The ones I really dislike are the people who have set themselves up as the experts on AA.    All AA members are on a level playing field.  People sometimes listen to me based on my 24 years of sober experience, and I think that is valid, but I don't think it makes me an expert.  It doesn't give me the right to disregard others' experiences.  It just doesn't.  

Let's be kind to each other today, OK?


J-Online said...

I was telling Pam the other day that I found your blog from a search long before I got sober. Then from yours I found hers and all of the other wonderful people in our little blog land. You all have brought so much to this experience I can't even begin to describe it. Thank you

Shadow said...

i get what you're saying about people reading your blog whom you know. i guess it makes me a bit uncomfortable in the sense that certain information is meant (or not meant) for certain people. for example, i wouldn't talk to a colleague about hubby and love, or to a casual acquaintence about my addiction. but, as you say and as i know, blogs are public end of story. and yes, that's where responsibility about what you post comes in. that said, i wouldn't trade all the friends i've made via my blog for anything in the world. the support, love and advise is invaluable. thoughtful post, thank you.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I'm with you. Just remember that if you speak your truth long enough, someone will inevitably come along to throw tomatoes at you. But this is actually a good thing because they show us where we are still attached to ego.

Zanejabbers said...

Well said my dear.

Lou said...

I'm reflecting this week end, and making sure I can stand behind all I've written.

Brad said...

I agree whole-heartedly with what you said. I sobered up because people who had blogs encouraged me to go to a face-to-face meeting, and I got the help I needed. So I always want to be visible enough to make sure "the hand of AA" is there for someone who needs it. But through my sobriety and blogging, I've made mistakes and learned to blog in a different way. Now it feels like I'm too general, but I know I too will find my public voice while remaining anonymous at the public level.

That reminds me. I think the October Grapevine is supposed to be about anonymity in the "new media." Time to start googling...

Sending you lots of hugs from Ohio!
Brad :-)

Anonymous said...

If you get to hell first I will bring you ice water, and pepper spray. Will you bring me a pack of Winstons if I get there first?

AlkySeltzer said...

Mary, what a 'thoughtful' post! I mean, it makes a guy like me 'think'. And I'm sure there are times I've blogged thoughtlessly (even though it's been fewer than four months).

I DO make it a practice before I 'name' anyone in my acquaintance (first name only, of course!) to ask permission, and I've not yet been turned down!

Actually I thought it rather silly of me until I read your post tonight. I cannot recall any amends I should make right now--I've made a few (after some embarrassing thoughtless mistakes)
...but I don't wish to be so scrupulous that I cannot express myself, either. There's got to be a middle ground. For me, that *should* be "not knowingly hurt anybody". Even 'Pride' might help me in preventing this...

(Wow! A blog in the making here!) Also I would wish that anyone who might find themselves offended by something I've written, might let me know about it, and we can get it settled ASAP.

Thank you for another opportunity to grow, MC.

Pam said...

My brother read my blog once then sent me an email pointing out that my memory of an experience was incorrect. I like to embellish for effect sometimes...but I'm OK with that. I would not be able to continue to write if someone from my "group" read it...I don't know why exactly but I just couldn't. Yeah...I miss the time when it was just an open place to vent to strangers. None of you are really stangers anymore though.

Mary LA said...

Twenty-four years of sober experience is a huge resource in AA. It inspires me just to think that 24 years sober is possible.

At 20 months of contimuous sobriety I get all kinds of advice and 'I told you so' comments. If I detect patronising sexist stuff or homophobia or bullying, I spam the comment.

A kind way of having that second thought on the poster's behalf, I tell myself. We only really learn from those who show respect and have no controlling agendas.

Great post, Mary-Christine.

Michael Searles said...

What good timing Mary!
I have launched a new blog only this week and reading your views and experiences is like getting the good advice I need about blogging on our shared topic when I need it most.
Many thanks.
I will be back (apologies Arnie!)
Michael Searles

dAAve said...

I have pretty much the same experience. From day one, people that I know have read my posts. It really does affect the things I feel that I can write about. And the integrity thing too. Ah yes.

Syd said...

You're the best MC. I listen to you because you tell it straight. What you say helps me, even though I'm not an alcoholic. These are the "principles" of life, of all my affairs. Thanks for all that you write.

My writings are for me. If others get something out of it, then good. I do my best to keep the names out of things. I know what the names are, and that's what matters.

Not God said...

Oh, I know your pain all too well my dear. My situation did not turn out nearly as well.

poomaster said...

I am rather new to the blogging thing and especially complete sobriety. I did AA and it kept my drinking under control or I should say me under control but recently come to grips with the stupidity and uselessness of drinking. As far as changing what I post I am trying like hell not to I want to keep it as real as possible people just need to open their eyes to reality. Just because something is what it is one day does not mean it is later in life. Opinions are opinions and thought are thoughts we all have them only some talk about them especially with the masses.