9.12.2005

The problem with blogging is that you never know who could be reading and misinterpreting it

Way back in July when I started this blog, I had the thought that it would be semi-anonymous.  That I would use my name and not have a problem with readers knowing that I live in Salt Lake City (since, after all, you need to know I live in Utah in order to get a lot of what I’m talking about) but that I would not let anyone who knows me in real life know that I have this blog or give them the address.  I figured that the chances of someone who actually knows me finding this blog on their own were slim to none.  So, my second post was a very personal and political one.  In fact, so far it’s the only overtly political post on this blog, an amazing fact when you consider that I am a very outspoken and active the-personal-is-political person.  In this post, I link a conversation I had with my brothers to a heinous crime that I had read about.  I was NOT saying that I thought my brothers were the same as that murderer.  I was pointing out that there were theoretical and rhetorical path between the sentiments expressed by them and the actions of that monster.  The point of my post was that homophobia is subtle and insidious and can be found even in the coolest and most understanding families (and people), not that I think that my brothers would want to kill my baby.  Let me repeat that: I do not think that my brothers are like the murderer that killed his 3 year old to keep him from being gay, I was only saying that the underlying thought beneath the conversation they had with me contains an ideological first step on a slippery slope that expresses its nadir in the form of monstrosities and NOT that I think my brothers are monsters. 

 

After I wrote that post, I felt better about both the article and the conversation.   I forgot about it and moved on to blog the funny, frustrating, and ultimately-of-little-social-importance (except, of course, for the birth of my daughter) moments of my life.  Meanwhile, it became apparent to me that letting some friends know about the blog would be a good way to keep them caught up on the movements of my life without having to write the same email over and over again.  They could read my posts and I could spend my email time asking about them and getting filled in on their lives.  Plus, I can’t keep a secret to save my life.  An effective spy I would not make.  That’s where the trouble began.  One of the friends to whom I gave the blog address read the post mentioned above and decided to tell my brothers about it.  My brothers got very worked up over what this person told them.  The story spread throughout my family and the small community of my brothers’ and my mutual friends.  Anger, miscommunication, and hurt feelings ensued… all without my knowing about it.  This has simmered for weeks, and now will take longer to work out.  I will, of course, apologize for their hurt feelings.  But I don’t think I’ll be removing the post.  Why, you ask?  Because I meant what I said, even if I didn’t mean for it to be taken the way it was.  And I don’t think I was being petty or small when I wrote it, because if I felt I had been petty or small then I would remove it even if I did feel it was true.  Finally, I don’t want to start second guessing what I write for fear it will upset my family, but more on that a little further down.  First:

 

If you come to my blog, and you read something that offends or hurts you or that you feel would offend or hurt someone you know, please comment, email, or call me and let me know.  Most likely I hadn’t meant to offend and will apologize and clarify.  Please don’t release bombs without making certain you have the story and the intention correct.   If you can’t bother to talk to me first, then at least don’t spread the negativity.

 

This issue has me thinking about more than a rogue blog post.  Though the blog post is important because I’m using this blog to start to organize my thoughts and memories into something I could use to write a book of something… non-fiction, short stories, poetry, I’m not certain yet.  But that post represents more than a fleeting bad day or a transient fear.  It represents an obsession of mine – the rampant, and acceptable, homophobia that is attached to almost anything associated with children.  The fragile straightness of children is used to justify every piece of anti-gay legislation, every moment of state-sanctioned hate towards LGBTQ people.  Think about it.  If you can find an instance of political anti-gay rhetoric that does not involve protecting children, let me know so I can revise my theory.  So, though that post itself will not be in a book I write, the feelings and thoughts contained within it will.  The fact that I can find traces of that rhetoric in my family is hurtful to me and the family I’m creating.  The fact that I pointed it out (particularly in such a public forum) is hurtful to them, especially since they’ve come so far in such a short time (I do not want to discount that, they have been wonderful, I don’t have the family horror stories that so many of my friends have).   How do I balance this and keep my voice?  What sort of responsibility do I have for their feelings? 

 

Complicating the dilemma of balance, responsibility, and voice is the fact that I consider myself to be primarily a confessional poet.  Sort of.  As much as I am any kind of poet.  I take intimate, often painful, sometimes piercingly beautiful and private material from my life, shape it and broadcast it to the world.  Or it will be broadcast to the world when I get around to getting more than just a couple poems published.  But I don’t live in a vacuum.  These moments involve others as well.  And then the age-old question rises up: when you use your life to fuel your art, what responsibility do you have to the feelings and privacy of the ones who share that life?  Should I run everything I write by them all to get clearance?  Should I say fuck them all and write whatever the hell I want?  Should I write only what I feel is true and large and respectful and then stick to my guns regardless of possible hurt feelings?  That’s what I’ve done in the past, but I’ve never had this problem with my family before.  Usually it’s a friend who complains that I’ve made them out to look like  a terrible cook or a horribly insensitive lover.  Of course, the reason my family hasn’t complained yet about  my writing is that I generally take care that they don’t read what I write.  But as I get things published, I won’t be able to control who sees what.  So, that last option is the one I’m going to continue to use to try to guide myself with, but what do others think?  Are there options I have not considered?  Has anyone else run into this problem, either in the blogosphere or in their own non-blog writings?  Does everyone hate me?  Cause, you know, I, like most poets, write in order to get people to love, admire and worship me.  If that’s not happening, then I need to rethink my motives or my method.

 

PS – Despite this situation, I still think that in general it was a good idea to let some friends know this address, just in case you’re one of my friends and wondering if I’m still happy to have you reading, I am, just keep paragraph #3 in mind…

 

 

 

Posted by Trista @ 11:22 AM

Read or Post a Comment

i hardly know where to begin with this one. Personally, i've made sure that none of my family members know about my blog, but most of my friends do. While my family is very supportive of me, my relationship, and my family-in-planning, i sometimes feel we are cut from an exceptionally different cloth. It's doubtful that any of them have ever read the 4 Agreements (be impeccable with your word, always do your best, and most importantly...make no assumptions, and take nothing personally). It would be a wonderful world if we could ALL follow these agreements and be as upfront and honest with everyone as we could be. i'm sorry that this has cause turmoil in your family, but i think you're doing the right thing by sticking to your guns. You have quite a way of dealing with things, i must say.

Posted by Blogger Amanda @ 11:42 AM #
 

miscommuication....over-analyzing....commuincation errors: the bane innane never ending insane plight of life. blogs are funny like that in that you only want the esoteric to read your inner thoughts and feelins, yet somehow you end up offending someone and all the sudden you are defending what was only meant as your quintessential thoughts and feelings. ----sigh. we'll for what is worth, the closer you are to being what you want and feel in yourself makes externalities easier to deal with. best of luck Trista. ps. no drama from me. :)

Posted by Anonymous cousin erik @ 3:43 PM #
 

Even if I am a horrible cook and insensitive lover, I still love you and your blog, Tristadear. Oh, wait, that wasn't me you were talking about?! Why the hell aren't you talking about me in your blog?!?!! I am so pissed off right now I can hardly see . . .

You must know I have a huge grin on my face, am joking, and am giggling internally (since I am in the law library and giggling aloud raises the hackles of my overstressed classmates).

I love your blog. I check it every single solitary day. (Seriously.)

Sorry for the drama - I never read that post and may or may not go back to read it now. In any case, write away, grasshopper. Good things come from your pen . . er, typing fingers.

big hugs, Mossie

Posted by Anonymous Mossie @ 8:56 PM #
 

There is only one difference between blogging your feelings and keeping them bottled up inside. Your family gets to read how you feel and you all can discuss it and move on. You on the other hand have no idea the sinister or nice things they think/tell others and they get to live with that forever. Good luck Blogging. I have been doing it for years and more then once yearly have decided to quit. all in all I haven't, but I now have a private blog and am very particular who gets in.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 4:15 AM #
 

As a fellow blogger and writer, I've struggled with some of those same questions.

Back in the days when getting published involved many more layers of people and editing than blogging does, and unless you were part of the .001% of authors who wrote bestsellers, you could almost write freely about family and friends with no fear of being "outed" as having those sometimes-hurtful thoughts.

Those days are mostly over, IMO. Certainly in the days of blogging.

Finding the right balance for you isn't easy, but it sounds like you're off to a great start.

Posted by Anonymous Liza @ 9:46 AM #
 

Those are tough decisions to face. Where do you draw the line?

A blog is such an unusual new medium... very personal, very public, partly anonymous.

Homophobia is a serious subject. There are so many misconceptions spread because people just don't want to open their eyes and look for the truth. In the past, there weren't as many opportunities to discover truth. The fog of ignorance was much thicker.

A few years ago, my mom heard that my gay cousin was going to be home alone with his much younger brother. She left a frantic message on the family's answering machine, worried about what a gay man might do to a little boy. Guess who got to hear that message? As you can imagine, he doesn't go out of his way to be around my mom these days. Perhaps this mistake gave her occasion to think and question her prejudices a little bit. I hope so.

Posted by Blogger StateShift @ 10:50 PM #
 

Trista,

I'm worried about this happening as well. Friends and online buddies know about my blog, which has been updated. My therapist know about my blog, and reads it. Vince knows about it, but doesn't know the link. I've mentioned it to co-workers, but have not given out the link. There is no way I would want family to see my blog, as I have not talked about my mom, but I'm sure I will. It was pretty darn easy for you to figure out who I am,so I guess chalk it up to experience. Maybe warn them when you post something like that in the future? I don't know and kind of feel I'm talking out my ass because I'm hiding this from my family.

Like Stateshift said, blogging is at the same time very personal and very open. I read the post in question, I felt it was very insightful and an important response to a horrible crime. Sometimes people are not the best, and this comes out in writing. I don't think what you wrote was false, vengful or spiteful.

I say write away. I am sure that my mom will one day read what I have/will write and we will have to have a long conversation.

Good Luck and hopefully you gals get sleep there tonight.

Posted by Blogger WendyLou @ 1:05 AM #
 

The bottom line is that we can't really hide from the things we say and do. It all comes out in the end. Maybe it's just a misunderstanding. For now on, tell your friends when they can and when they can't share bits of your life. Hope it all works out in the end. In the mean time I enjoy reading your blog as I've considered doing one myself. I am glad I stumbbled upon this one because now I know what to do if or when I encounter this situation.

Posted by Anonymous Lara C. @ 12:49 AM #
 

Are you the Lara C. that I really know in real life, you know, the one that is distantly related to me?

Posted by Blogger Trista @ 9:03 AM #
 

I've just devoted a post on my blog to what I considered an example disproving your idea that all homophobia stems from the "But what about the children?" factor, and then I had another look and realised you were talking about homophobic _laws_. Oh, well, it was an excellent excuse to write about something I'd been planning to write about anyway.

(And, no, I don't actually have any easy answers for the main point you were making. I haven't told my family about my blog, so I don't know how they'll feel if they find out. Oh, well.)

Posted by Blogger Sarah @ 12:38 PM #
 

Thanks for pointing me here. Yep, I know exactly how you feel. My family (apparently) hasnt found my blog YET, but they probably will. They have this thing about searching for me on the internet like one day they will find out I am a mass murderer or something. Politically I dont give a &*(^ what they think...but I probably talk about family problems that would piss off, embarass, or invoke some horrible emotion in some family members and I dont feel like defending myself or what I write about!
Keep it going....I'm gonna go until the shit hits the fan, I guess.

Posted by Blogger Jil @ 11:33 AM #
 
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