Note: this post has nothing to do with my blog or you, my readers … but is rather a reaction to an observation I made in the blogosphere.
This week, one of the most well-known female bloggers, Heather Armstrong of dooce.com fame, announced she and her husband Jon were in the midst of a trial separation.
I’d heard of her, but never really read her blog — until today. Her announcement post is absolutely gut-wrenching, to say the least — especially the part where she expresses a moment that suicide crossed her mind … and though doesn’t go into any details about why the couple is splitting, it’s obvious she is pained about the decision but knows it must be done.
I read the comments and they seemed supportive — people were shocked, surprised, sad … as readers, they feel they KNOW the blogger, they CONNECT to the blogger … this I totally expected; I have gotten similar support (on a different level and regarding a different challenge) here on my own blog.
What I was surprised by was the reaction from the peanut gallery in posts analyzing the couples’ demise, where some people seemed to feel offended and blind-sided, as though Heather “owed” them something (i.e., hints along the way that something was amiss, etc.) simply because she is a blogger who writes about her personal life and has, in the past, written about her relationship with her husband.
Here’s my take: while we hope bloggers chronicling their lives will be transparent and speak honestly, bloggers don’t “owe” their readers anything. If you read, it’s your choice–you don’t pay to read blogs. Bloggers write what they feel like sharing, and some parts of bloggers’ lives are (believe it or not) off-limits. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily being dishonest by omitting certain aspects of their lives … it just means that not everything is bloggable.
As a friend noted about Facebook recently, “people only share their highlights … not their lowlights. It’s selective sharing.” I don’t disagree; the same could certainly be said for the blogosphere. Ultimately, both spaces are only as authentic as we want them to be. And as bloggers, we choose what and how much we wish to divulge, recognizing (for better or for worse) that we are literally one search away from Google fame (i.e.,being ranked #1 , 2, 3 and 4, under Wikipedia’s link if you Google “disordered eater.”)
For example, I blogged about my disordered eating history as it was unfolding … but you won’t find me blogging about my relationship with my husband or my parents. I don’t blog about work and I don’t blog about my friends. I blog about many things … and might talk about other topics related to them, but certain realms of my life are off-limits. Not because those areas of my life are perfect — nothing truly is — but because that’s not my blog’s focus.
And to be honest, even if something WAS amiss in one of those areas, I don’t know I’d take to the blogosphere to share them, even if I did typically talk about them, out of respect to my husband/mom/etc. Does that make me inauthentic? No, I don’t think it does. I think it makes me human … and humans, by nature, selectively share. Sometimes with their significant others, sometimes with their best friends …
Maybe Heather used to feel comfortable sharing things and then realized it wasn’t in her (or her husband’s) best interest to continue doing so once things weren’t going well, and she couldn’t cope with it on her blog — completely understandable, in my opinion. Maybe she trusted in a friend, a confidante, a family member … but it’d be too much to share all her uncertainties with the blogosphere. Can you really blame her?
Because really, it’s none of our business, as readers, how much a writer shares — it’s his/her prerogative. I guess my message to the people who feel “blind-sided” by Heather’s announcement (or any blogger’s sudden life change) … you are entitled to feel however you do … but please do remember bloggers are people, too. You might feel they “owed” it to you to be honest all along … but the only person they need to be truly honest with is themselves. And maybe she was struggling with that very notion until now.
With respect to the couple at hand, I wish them the best and hope their marriage can be repaired — it sounds like there’s a glimmer of hope — but if it can’t, I don’t think anyone should fault Heather or make her feel worse for not sharing the nitty-gritty details along the way. It seems she had changed her focus away from family to more generic topics anyway the past few months, and hopefully she’ll continue to write for those who support her through thick and thin, without judgment.
OK, stepping off my soapbox now. 🙂
I leave you with this quote by Plato … “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
And on a totally upbeat note … speaking of announcement posts … a super-happy one made its way to the blogosphere this weekend 🙂 I’d like to say DOUBLE congrats to one of my favorite bloggers, Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, who is pregnant with TWINS! Summer is going to be the best big sister; congrats to you and CD 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful pregnancy — we are all looking forward to hearing all about it!