The Internet and Me.

What a fantastic week it has been, mulling over life and the Internet and this here blog. How often do we pull the plug on something with lots of forward momentum just to make sure it's right? Barely ever. This brief time away did me so much good because it was done with intention. Rather than simply avoiding posting for a week, this intended break has made me much more thoughtful about it all.

Here's the deal: nothing in this world is black and white. When I really thought about it, I realized that blogs are not evil and they're not perfect. Here's the extreme breakdown:

Blogs are evil because:
  • they are convenient vehicles for self-centeredness
  • their very nature forces a one-way relationship with others (and friends are forced to be mere commenters, if they participate at all)
  • they can force very awkward conversation in person ("Oh... yeah, I read about that on your blog" can leave you with social anxiety about telling the same story 5 times)

Blogs are perfect because:
  • they keep lots of people up to date on your life
  • they can drive motivation to finish projects, complete goals (nothing like a little public humiliation!)
  • like a diary, they are extremely useful at working through what you're going through
  • they keep track of your days and years so your memory doesn't have to
When reviewed alone, both sides are incorrect. You gotta find some middle ground here.

I don't mean to over-simplify the matter. Your public presence, both on and offline, is something worth caring about. But when you're hyper-socially-aware (like I am), sometimes you're too sensitive for your own good. I feel proud of what I write on this blog, I really do. And as a friend pointed out the other day, looking back over years of writing is just this precious resource of where I've been and what I've done. It means a lot to me.

Over drinks with colleagues the other night, Rich asked me why I liked the Internet. Suddenly, it all came pouring out, the fact that I've been reassured countless times that others have feelings like my own, the good ideas that others share, the perspectives from people far different than me. I love that about the Internet. My world is wider because of it.

There's got to be a way to harness the best of that connective power, a balance between bragging about yourself and openly sharing what someone else might take comfort from. Writing on this blog is so much about saying "yes, we're all a little nutty," or "no, you aren't the only one." How many times do I dream up some scheme and think "I have got to get this on the blog"?

This evening Chris and I got in the subway at Grand Central and because there are 4 billion people in NYC, we were separated in the crowd. He stood, reading on his Kindle, across the subway car, and I stood daydreaming on the other side. Suddenly an idea hit me with such force that it nearly knocked me over. I needed to tell someone, but couldn't yell across the car to Chris and was positively bursting by the time we got to our stop. 

"I HAVE SUCH AN IDEA!" I said to him as we pushed through the crowd and I could finally tell him about it. And guys, it is SUCH an idea. It is something that combines the Internet's goodness with my penchant for learning and the advice of everyone who reads this blog. It is making me insanely excited about the fall and the winter and the spring that follows. I can't wait to write about it here!

But tonight, this post deserves to stand on its own. Eight days of reflecting merit their due. I'm leaving comments open on this one because you should chime in if you've ever felt embarrassed about something you wrote online or felt anxious about starting a blog or how you've worked out the boundaries of what you'll share and what you won't. Your voices, not just mine, are part of this world to me, and I would really love to hear what you all have to say.

"The Internet and Me." Go.


Erica said...

I just wanted to add my $.02 ... yes, blogs are inherently "self-centered", but that doesn't mean that every blogger out there is too far into her own navel gazing that there she has nothing important to say.

I find that blogging makes it easier for me to keep up my interpersonal relationships. What I write on the blog is out there for everyone to read, sure, but there's also a lot going on that I only tell a few people, either over the phone or in emails. By putting the blog stuff out there in public, it saves me time and thus allows me to concentrate on the more important stuff when I actually do communicate with someone I care about.

Blogging *IS* like a personal diary in that you can work things out, but what's great (and different!) about it is that by putting your problem out in public, you get FEEDBACK. Whether you need support for a new project or you need emotional support when you're going through a tough time, your blog is a way to ask for that.

I'm glad you're not stepping away from the blog, because you're a great writer and I enjoy reading about how you see the world.

LK said...

I really thought a lot about your last post, mainly because I was very embarrased about starting a blog. In fact, I didn't tell anyone I had started it for awhile, until I was sure I was comfortable with it. When I finally told Bill, I hashed over my feelings of being ego-centric, of feeling bad over thinking people would want to hear about me, my life and what I had to say.

Then I got over it - my basic thought was yes, this is a blog about me because I think my perspective on things is interesting...if someone is offended by that, they don't have to read my blog.

On a related note, though my blog is, in essence, all about me, I feel that it is all about me not being perfect and how to cope with that...I'm not sure if that justifies the self-centeredness, but I like to pretend it does.

I'm glad you are blogging again! Your blog is one of my faves!

Meg said...

I'm glad your blog is sticking around. I have made several half-hearted attempts at starting one, but I keep getting in my own way. I seem to believe that I need to have a purpose/vision/awesome hook to get a blog started. The self-centeredness scares me off a bit. But I'm constantly reminded of how awesome the internet is and I'd like to do more contributing to it. Now it's my turn for some reflection...

Jen said...

@Erica- yep, totally hear you on the efficient communication!

@LK- I know! There is totally an embarrassing aspect of it... and that's something that comes back to haunt me every so often. I sort of think it's related to insecurity (and had a FIELD DAY thinking about that last week), that it's just another access point where someone could criticize you. But when it comes down to it, what are we going to do, stay in our apartments where it's safe and tell our thoughts and opinions to the walls?!

@Meg- it helps me to think about this blog as a place where friends come. They're not judging, and if they are, to hell with them! Sometimes I wish that all of my friends had blogs so that I could keep up with their thoughts in a deeper and more significant way than FB or Twitter offers.