Well when I said I was going to blog about openness I thought I would have something important to say. Something profound and meaningful. On the cusp of a crisis of conscience I was faced with a dilemma – do I impose on myself the kind of diplomatic censorship I accept as my due on the Northlands? There I am providing a service to a community and were I to be open there it would be a community of one, so I hold my tongue (mostly) and give others the floor. On the rare occasions that I have opened my mouth I have lost members but then I closed it again and they came back.

Recently I have been confronted with my blog’s power to offend and possibly hurt others. As this struck me I felt I had a choice:
1) I stick with the ethos of openness and honesty
2) I consider poor passersby who might read and (rightly or wrongly) see themselves in my words and moderate my tone
3) I stop blogging

I actually went offline while I considered this.

Oddly enough at the same time others in my blogging circle were faced (whether or not they saw it in the same light) with a similar dilemma. How much responsibility do you have over what you write (and read) in the Great Online? Should we guard against the temptation to be ruder and more obnoxious in our opinions here than we would face to face? Are we entitled to disregard the feelings of others just because we are a channel they have willingly tuned into? Is it so much easier to be cruel when you don’t have to watch your victim’s reaction; see their face fall or watch a shadow of annoyance and anger flicker across their eyes? Of course it is. But, if the courage of online anonymity or distance is false courage then what of e-openness – is that false too?

Yeah, and I thought I had something profound to say. Ha! How ridiculous I was a week ago.

Or maybe I have. Kind of. Just not in the way I expected.

As often happens I find it easier to make a point with the help of an image. You see that honest and open photo of me at the top of this post? That is me at work today… early Sunday morning, no make up, looking at the camera saying “This who I am, as I am, no frills and no fakery”.

Do you know how many attempts it took to get an image I liked?


How open is that?

Really, if we wanted to be open and honest, the internet is the last place we would choose to express ourselves. We are here because we are attention-whores doing our best to make ourselves look good, or at least interesting.

In conclusion? Believe nothing. Openness is a myth. Honestly.

12 Replies to “Openness?”

  1. Is it completely so far of the marked point of this entry for me to comment on how striking I find that image? I saw it as I (quite excitedly) clicked on your NetworkedBlogs link (Facebook rules my life; sad reality) and was floored by how lovely you are. It made me smile to read the “no frills, no gimmicks” disclaimer.

    On point. I find myself wanting to say “blog it, Baby!” but I also find myself resisting. I have to stop and think about that for a minute. I don’t often post anything terribly poignant in my blog and so usually don’t have to worry about offending someone. If I did, though, I would be appalled. I am honest to a point. After that point? Socially censored. (Mostly.)

    So. It is an extension of us, here. Perhaps more honest (and open)? But not by much.

    I like the opportunity to try to be a bit more interesting. A bit more popular. I lead a pretty normal life (full of amazing people and amazing things – they’re just not terribly exciting in a noteworthy kind of way). It’s lovely to have somewhere to go to be a bit . . . bigger.

  2. YES!!

    I think my point is that even when we are trying our very best to be honest and open (as in the picture) we aren’t really (as in the 6 discarded pictures) so we should just stop beating ourselves up about it.

    Buddhism would have it that it is all an illusion anyway, so why not bathe in the Maya?

    Why do I always end up making my point in the comments? I think I know, but I won’t bother answering my own question – life is more fun with some things left unsaid. ^^

  3. I have to say, if I voiced opinions about things on my blog, I would probably shock a lot of people (not that I’m a closet nazi or anything, just that I think I come across as being gentler than I am…). But I reckon people go to my blog to see nice pictures of the Cotswolds, and who am I to upset them? At the end of the day, a blog is simply an aspect of oneself, not necessarily a warts and all self portrait. As for photos – what a great picture of you…I once took about a hundred shots of myself, and was only vaguely satisfied with four of them; the vanity!

    And, BTW, thank you so much for your two last lovely comments on my blog, the circus tale was enchanting.

  4. Haha I adore your blog Gretel and go rushing over as soon as I see there is a new post, but yes I would be a bit shocked if I caught you sounding off with angry opinion – though a little grumble is occasionally appropriate. Maybe you channel your negativity into positive productivity – I can imagine stabbing small things with a needle could be quite therapeutic.

    Also you aren’t a little blogger like me, but a proper Blog Mistress, lol. 307,157 visitors – you don’t get that kind of crowd by pissing people off. 😀

  5. First off, I love the picture of you. I admire – and envy – natural beauty. I must resort to the frills and gimmicks in order to appear the least bit attractive, and so I am in awe of your trueness. 🙂

    Yeah. The internet is a funny place. I’ve said it before, how it can make some people other than they are, while some of us become MORE of who we are.

    Would I say the things I say in my blog face to face with someone? Well, maybe (I have done on ocassion, but it’s rare), but most likely, no. I’m too much of a coward, and I really don’t like face to face confrontation – it intimidates me. Therefore, I like the internet platform, because I can yell my opinions from behind a protective screen. I can get out what I feel I really need to say. I no longer HAVE to hold it in due to fear of immediate and physical reprisal on the part of whomever I may be blasting with my words/beliefs.

    Yeah….openness; it’s a myth. But, as I’ve quoted from Tolkien before, something being a myth doesn’t necessarily make it unreal. A good thing, or my life would be worth f*** all, LOL.

  6. Thanks Autumn. Of course I don’t see it as natural beauty, just as naturalness. Make up and I don’t get on, especially in this heat – so I have had to learn to love what I have unadorned. And I think that is the key. Loving what you have, or at least not hating it.

    But yeah, I think we are all – Kim, Gretel, Autumn and I are in agreement. Be yourself, for some of us that self is a little mythic, for others maybe it’s a tad illusory, maybe be sometimes partial glimpses rather than the whole, or perhaps a self-censored for society’s sake. But those choices come from who we are, and that is genuine, even if… sometimes it takes 7 shots to get it right.

    And. Lookie. Stat counter – rush out and get one ladies… I hooked mine from Gretel’s site, though sadly I don’t have her numbers.

  7. I believe that some of us go online because we do not feel comfortable being honest, or do not feel we can be ourselves, offline. But, as is the beauty of something like this, we can have dissenting opinions.

    I think it’s just human nature, trying to make oneself look better, or seem more interesting. Therefor, that is in itself another way you are being real. Trying not to do that would be denying part of who you are, as well.

  8. In the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’, Douglas Adams tells the sad but comic tale of an alien race that became telepathic and quickly found to their horror that they were now completely open, like it or not. Of course, they did not, and resorted to the only effective blocking mechanism-shouting continually about nothing; all day, every day.
    I think in general we like people to be open with us, provided they say things about us that confirm with our own image of ourselves, and provided they do not say anything about themselves that contradicts our image of them. When they do, if I may quote a Satre play I’ve never read, then ‘hell is other people.’ No, that’s too cynical, even for me. Openness, like goodness, is something to aim for, but hideously difficult to achieve.
    On a different note, I love the photo-it’s exactly the same look I get from my Lycee teenagers every Friday evening! You must have some French blood in you!

  9. But wouldn’t it be cool to have just 24 hours of telepathic openness with the whole of humanity? It would be a pretty life changing 24 hours admittedly, but cool.

  10. To be honest, I’m pretty much the same bitch I am in person as I am online. lol Though online, I tend to bite my tongue more, simply to avoid causing problems and making people choose sides. Because online, you CAN choose sides. IRL, not so much, because we’re all in each others’ lives, either through work, being neighbors, or whatever. You have to be more sensitive to what you’re saying then, cause people IRL can DO things to you, make life more difficult for you, and proximity makes that a scary thing, whereas online they can simply leave, and if you care about your friends you have to put in some effort to play nice. Because unlike IRL where you can use body language and time to make a friendship stronger, all you have online is words and pictures. And one ill-placed word can bring it all crashing down. Which is pretty much what you said already, isn’t it? lol So yea, I tend to bite my tongue, or try to figure out a way to be more diplomatic than I normally would be otherwise. However, I refuse to lie to ANYONE just to save face. I’ll just shut up before I’ll lie. And I’ve lost quite a few “friends” because of that. *shrug*

    My first thought when I saw your picture is this, I LOVE that picture. It’s you. It’s honest. No photoshop, no makeup, no pretend sparkle in the eyes trying to make it look like you’re happy to be where you are, it’s you. Bored, tired, trying to make a point…but YOU. And YOU is beautiful. You and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything, and yes, I’ve left NL in the past. Much less because of anything you did, didn’t do, said, or didn’t say, than because I felt the need to stand up for my own beliefs. And that’s my, your, and everyone else’s choice. My worry is this, however, when you train yourself to hold your tongue in your own house, how long before it stops being your house and becomes everyone else’s? And once you’ve completely lost control, completely lost a sense of self in it, what’s the point? I worry about that. Not just for you, but for myself, on my own board, because I find myself doing the exact same thing. And then what are we to do?

  11. “My worry is this, however, when you train yourself to hold your tongue in your own house, how long before it stops being your house and becomes everyone else’s?”

    Yes indeed Brandy. I don’t see the Northlands as my house. I see it as a guest house that I own and run, but my presence there is as a servant to my guests, so I am more restrained. THIS blog is my home, like a little cottage where I can do what I want… run round naked and swear at the neighbours. 😀

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