Then there’s family. Apart from Beloved very few knew; neither did local friends. Those few who knew didn’t care and rarely read, so I was quite safe.
All this may be about to change; it’s amazing how these things spread; one person knows – all know. I don’t care how many people in cyberspace read my blogs, the more the merrier; but once your cover is blown amongst your nearest and not so dearest, you need to watch your step.
I very rarely write about family – they might not like it; besides, we aren’t close enough for them to be in the forefront of my daily thoughts. (Let me reassure all of you who have just gasped in horror at my callous words: it would be different if anything catastrophic happened to any of them).
The past is different, you can’t hurt the feelings of the dead.
I have written about Valley’s End, of course, and will continue to do so; although I never mention real names, I sincerely hope nobody recognizes themselves. I am also hoping that it is true what they say, that a character in a book, a biography, or even a blog, never sees themselves as others see them. And if they do, they usually see themselves as the person who is described favourably, sympathetically, never as the unpleasant character, or worse, the butt of everybody’s jokes.
I believe that an ordinary blog post, depending on reading time, has a shelf life of about, say, five minutes? Maybe less. One reads, one digests, one comments, one moves on. In time, one gets to know more about one’s favourite fellow bloggers, you might even correspond outside blogland; you get to like people with whom you have something in common. A steady drip feed about personal stuff begins to make an impression.
There’s problem number one: your blogging pals know stuff about the people you mention in your blog.
Problem number two is when those whom you mention in your blog, however obliquely, feel that you are discussing private matters which are nobody’s business.
Problem number three is when it’s family you talk about and you are not one hundred percent complimentary. Family might just resent you talking about them, full stop.
So what to do?
I know several bloggers who blogged under their own names, who had to close blogs and start new, anonymous, ones because family members objected to what they had written; family members felt their privacy had been invaded. I can understand that, I too would like to choose what is known about me and my life.
There are many of you who revel in reporting on family matters, usually because family life is so idyllic that you simply have to share it. I love some of these blogs, they give me an idea of what I’m missing. You are allowing me to stand at a window looking in on a fairy tale. “Mrs. Cynic Saboteur” that I am – a phrase coined for me by a dear friend and confidante – doesn’t quite believe in the fairy tale, of course; nobody’s life is perfect all the time. No children are permanently sweetness and light, no husbands, wives, siblings never overstep boundaries.
Those bits mercifully remain hidden from view, which is only right and proper.
I don’t know how many of you who write about work, the office, colleagues, school, etc., or friends and social contacts, are known as bloggers; most of the ones I read, with pleasure, appear to be anonymous. If you are unfailingly kind and deeply understanding as well as unobservant about your fellow man and woman, I probably give up reading your blog. Not that that need worry you, of course, we all do what we like doing best.
There is one group for whom it seems not to matter if anyone knows who they are: the dreamers, poets, artists, writers of prose rather than personal blog posts, who never put a foot wrong. If you have nobody who resents you, nobody who actively wants you to stop blogging because they fear an indiscretion, well, you have only yourselves to blame.
Finally, it gives me great pleasure to be a member of this wonderful community for as long as you’ll have me; I love you all. (well, most of you).