Friday, May 16, 2008

Blogging: identity and self-projection

Once upon a time I was a prolific blogger, but I found myself to have drastically cut down in the last twelve months or so. I am not sure what it is exactly. A mild disillusion, a little weariness perhaps or has the novelty passed. It is not as if I do not have things to talk about and events to try and analyse or simply happy or sad topics to share. Oh boy I have plenty of those! current events, somebody's half sentence or a book I read, constantly trigger ideas. I start a post, collect the links, write down the plan of the arguments and then I stop.. ..simple. I just do not feel like going to the trouble of concluding and publishing it.

I find myself sitting on what I think are hot posts, which have become old news mind you. But I do not care that they are old because the aspect I dissect is not related to their being in the headlines, it is sometimes a rather obscure point that has had an impact on me.
So now I am in the middle of this hibernation yet not really a hiatus phase and no this is not the post where I am preparing whatever is left of my readers (how pompous) for me 'pulling the plug' on Highlander. I just have a lot of things on my mind- more than before - which means even though I read my favourite blogroll regularly yet scarcely comment. Actually I am not sure where this post is heading :) but let us go on.

A few weeks ago while reading Diary of Asoom, I came accross this post, which led me to think about Asoom's question 'does blogging take you away from the real word?'.

She says:"for those of us who are anonymous (or think we’re anonymous), we start our blogs with the intention of having this personal space to “release” and be uninhibited, free from judgment, yet with the comfort of knowing someone out there is listening. But before you know it you become part of a community that’s more real than you thought. You have an identity, it’s a bit different from your real world identity, yet it’s still an identity of yours so I’ll call it your alternate identity. Subconsciously you feel the need to protect your alternate identity’s reputation and create an image of dignity and being well-mannered, similar to the real world."

Another of her remarks that struck me is: "Sometimes I have something on my mind that I can't wait to talk to a friend about but because I ended up blogging about it I no longer feel like mentioning it to that real world friend".

Her fan blogger Quest said he/she started having issues with the commenters allowing their words to get to him. I think this is something which should never happen but does because as Asoom said we wish to maintain the dignity and image of our online identity and so if we are taking blogging seriously and trying to benefit from it we end up reflecting our real life personality and are not really anonymous anymore..hmm this reminds of one of Leilouta's old post ' the stories I could tell'. This is my favourite part:

"Recently, I have been very inconsistent with my posting. I have run into a new dilemma. I have stories to tell but I can’t because the people I told about my blog may read it."

Despite the current malaise, I think blogging has been a great experience as another commenter KJ said "it boosts your creativity tenfold to be exposed to so many different people when in real life we tend to limit ourselves to people of "our own kind"."

I do think that the fact that knowing someone knows you does affect your style and makes you self censor yourself on the blogosphere and because you are thinking of the perfect post you don't share an opinion off the blogosphere until you post it and sometimes you don't even after you post it because if you are passionate about it someone might recognize you one day.

I tried to keep the different tiers of my life separate but I'm not sure it worked very well because sometimes I burn to talk with my other friends about bloggers and blogging and I stop short of blurting it out.

It does help that I know several bloggers now on a personal level and so can decompress with them yet it seems you can't have the best of both worlds :) an interactive diary + a social life online and your offline life.

How do the anonymous bloggers feel about this ?


Ghazi Gheblawi said...

Hello Highlander, miss your posts, but I still visit your blog more than twice a day, anyway, hope to read you more.
As for your question in this post I am afraid I can't fully answer it as didn't experience the anonymity situation even when commenting, I think that anonymity or using a pseudonym to comment or write depends on the circumstances of the individual but as you said it is a tiring affair, so I prefer being all the time me, and when I am tired of that I just take a time out while I regain faith in me again.
Love the post keep, blogging don't stop.

globetrottingrien said...

I too am facing the same problem. Although I am online daily, for hours and hours, but somehow I no longer have the urge to post entries on my blog. What's the excuse? Work, it's killing me. But I am constantly online to keep myself abreast with the current news. Still lacking in some areas, though! Maybe I've been spending too much of my time on social networks, Facebook in particular!

Why shouldn't I blame on the weather as well? The heat is causing me to feel extremely exhausted. All I wanted to do is sleep!

Part of the reasons why I have been on a hiatus lately.

Gheriani said...

I join Ghazi about wishing that you write more often, I find always interesting posts in your blog. And yes you're right about anonymity part of your argument, it becomes tiring and conflicting with real life. Have a good day.

Adam said...

Yes oh yes, me too!
I seem to have hit the same brick wall. I too have been wondering (a little bit) why this is so.

Maybe all of us (bloggers, as well as previously so prolific commenters: NBA, PC, LW) are getting hit by the same bug. For me, that inspirational spark has simply not materialized the way it used to. And also, perhaps real life is catching up, in different ways, for more than one of us...

khadijateri said...

I think that people blog for different reasons. I started as a way to let my family 'back home' know what I was up to and to see that I was safe and well in Libya. I began when blogging was still much of a novelty. It caught on and many people began to read - the audience changed.

Bloggers come, bloggers go. I have thought about quitting in the past but changed my mind. One thing I have done is moderate comments to keep out spam and weirdos (of which unfortunately there are many). But even then I am pretty liberal as to what i let past my moderation.

Although I am an avid blog reader, I rarely feel the need to post a comment.

Keep blogging - consider it a form of therapy!

ibeebarbie said...

Salam Highlander,
As always a well written post. Truly your blog is famous for your well written post. It would be so tragic if you were to vacate from the scene, but then again that would be very selfish of us to want to keep you when you are not feeling the desire to stay. Know you are well respected and whatever your decision is will be respected. Personally, if my two cents means anything, I hope you remain blogging.

UT said...

Welcome back first of all......

Really missed you.

I know exactly how you feel,as I too have faced many problems with what I blog......

Where do we draw the line ???
Live in both worlds, but never let go of reality...

I find great difficulty in blogging what comes to mind, after my anonymity , is no longer.

I think it was better before, now Im under pressure ,with great focus on what I say next , which gives one less creativity in trying to keep up with the built image, which is a truly tiring affair, nevertheless its gratifying rewards of having passed on some info about a topic of interest ....and learnt something from fellow bloggers and commentatators.

Continue to blog my dear, as we are in great need of such a lovely mind. May Allah bless you

Maya M said...

Anonymity is so fragile. I know people who relied on it, and then their identity became known.
After you feel the way you describe, why not write as if writing under your real name?
Who knows, maybe some day you will have the opportunity to reveal it without saddening relations, shocking employers etc.

Khalid said...

When I started my blog I was not willing to reveal that much about myself or my personal beliefs.

Now after one year, I find myself writing under my real name (you know the CNN story, don’t you?), and being classified in certain ideological, religious, and even political categories.

Each time I post something I say "I will keep it for one month then I will come back to delete the blog all together", but this never happens, 'cause by the end of the month I realize that I have been preparing for a new story, I find the text complete with its related pictures in my documents ready to be published, I publish it in intends to delete the whole blog after the new story takes its time, but then the same cycle repeats over again, I truly want to quit blogging, but blogging doesn’t seem to be ready to quit me (now this is pompous), pompous, it’s the first time I use this word, I love it, pompous pompous pompous..

Keep blogging, dear, your blog is different, I mean it's unique, and no other blog can fit its space if it is gone, I am sure you know that, you just don’t want to say it, because you don’t want to sound pompous!, there will definitely be a lot of "pompous" in my next post... :)

Highlander said...

Ghazi, Red, Gheriani, Adam, Khadijateri, Ibee, UT, Maya M and Khalid thanks so much for your comments, I'm going to combine a reply to you all here.

As Ghazi said circumstances are the main point. I've always stated my ideas the way I say them in the real world there is no disrepancy. What Globetrottingrien mentioned is what I feel as in just plain tired even though I do write 80% of the post just don't have the energy after that. Gheriani, I think the conflict stems from the fact that I use my real ideas and opinions and because I think I'm so smart :P lol I want to sometimes show off in some situations and I fear using the same sentences or tone I use on the blog as I'm not looking to be famous. Adam maybe the bug we got hit with is the evil eye? sigh I know what you mean though my friend I feel very drained as well and it does not help that now my hands actually hurt when I type - real life has caught up and maybe I'm getting a bit older too ? Khadijateri, I remember the themes carried in your blog before and noticed the changes of the past six months or more you are right about the reasons for blogging differing from one person to another. I always love commenting and when I think it may be too long I just post about it on my blog again typing is really painful now for me so this commenting thing is taking a back seat - maybe I can invest in some voice controlled devices ? Ibee thank you so much I did not know I had this 'famous' reputation. I'm not vacating just blogging at my own pace :P . UT I'm sorry about you loosing your anonymity. I must have missed that part- yes we all learn by blogging. Maya M as I said above to Ghazi, I do write as if under my real name but sometimes it gets so difficult because of ego problems when many famous people in the media want to talk to you, and you keep saying no thanks. Khalid my dear - sometimes you do sound pompous LOL- thank you for the compliment and I must admit that your blog is going places!