Monday, November 9, 2009

To Post Or Not To Post

My fingers are itching to write a post about a recent encounter of mine. Chalk it up to my monastic existence, but the encounteree is the most socially inept person I've met in a good twenty years. So much so that my long-dormant hackles rose up in arms, and I stifled a dozen witty ripostes which I am dying to share with you.

This post that I am preventing myself from writing would have you in stitches. I would begin by setting the scene—and it was a lively and picturesque scene. Next I would (as charitably as possible) sketch the participants. There would be lots of dialogue. The tension would build from the initial pleasantries to faint rumblings to the inevitable climax.

Then, diminuendo, would come my ironic musings on the vanity of the issue at hand, the folly of people who obsess about their___ , and some rueful reflections on my own inability to remain aloof when certain buttons are pushed.

It would not be a mean post, but it would be funny, and it would make me feel great to write it. But I'm not going to.

Why not? After all, this is just a blog, and that means a certain freedom, no? Needless to say, I would not use names, and I feel pretty certain that the encounteree does not read my posts. Still, the “six degrees of separation” theory guarantees that one of you would recognize the encounteree. So in the interests of harmony and good will, I will not write the post I'm dying to write.

You know what Tolstoy said about all happy families being alike, but each unhappy family being unhappy in its own way (and therefore way more fun to write about). As a writer of personal stories, I find it more interesting to write (and I suspect readers would rather read) about my foibles, misadventures and befuddlements than about the rosier aspects of my existence—how much I love my husband, say, or how adorable my grandchildren are.

But sometimes, the accounts of my misadventures touch people I care about, and I have been surprised by their vulnerability to what I intended as the gentlest irony. So I'm trying to be caring here, and careful.

Many of you have a far longer history of blogging than I do. I'm sure you've dealt with this issue before, and I'd like to hear about it.

7 comments :

  1. Been there, made that huge giant mistake before. At least three times:

    1. the first time, the friendship was over but she was stalking my blog and blew up all over the place and made blackmail-level threats

    2. the second time, it put Mike in a bad light and I took it down as fast as I possibly could the moment I realized how untrue it appeared

    3. the third time, more like yours, one of my readers knew the person I was complaining about. Not complaining, really, just recounting my experience with. My amazingly negative experience (in this case with an uber-conservative catholic). She knew by description exactly who it was I was talking about, and she stopped reading my blog afterward. Or at least stopped her cheerful comments.

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  2. While I'd love to hear your story, Lali, I agree you've done the right thing. When I was doing the 365 exercise I wrote things about people that would have hurt them had they read it. I figured no one would find it, so it was ok. Then a friend of my daughter found the story I wrote about her (what I wrote about her was really nice) and commented. She then saw what I wrote about her father (what I wrote about her father was not bad, but I did say he looked like a hobbit). I took all the stories down then that day.

    That said, I still name names in my blog, but I don't think I say negative things about people any more.

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  3. Bridgett and Dona, from what you say, prudence is the better part of blogging. It sure does cut down on topics, though.

    Elizabeth, I may whisper it in your ear some day.

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  4. i used to regale my friends with stories just as you describe. i wrote them in long emails and sent them off and thought myself smart and witty and observant.

    by the time i started this blog, though, i had changed. my philosophy of blogging is this:

    make fun of no one but myself; tell no secrets but my own.

    i think i have kept to that pretty well. and i certainly have enough stories of mistakes, strife, trouble and ineptitude starring ME that i don't think anyone misses the other stories.

    i do tell them, i have to admit, but only face-to-face with close friends. i'm human. i can't help it.

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  5. Laurie, I guess we bloggers can look in ourselves for weirdnesses and idiosyncracies to cultivate so we can write about them.

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  6. in my case, i don't have to look very far.

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