Whitewashing your life, or why I blog

Blogging: An exercise in vanity. Source: Flickr user Ana Santos.

It seems that, to be a Cool Lady Blogger, one must be very skilled at presenting a thoroughly beautiful and flawless portrait of one’s life. Essentially, you must be a good storyteller. My biggest beef with the scads of Cool Lady Bloggers is the continuous presentation of this perfect, shiny life, as I’ve written about before. I get so weary with the immaculately dressed moms, the beribboned babies, the glowing white kitchens, and the Anthropologie-inspired explosion of twee crafts.

I self-righteously thought I was above this life-whitewashing trend of bloggers–until I had a recent conversation with Jonathan. It was a long and good conversation and I’m glad we had it. He carefully pointed out that my keeping a blog is keeping me from honesty and vulnerability. In many respects, this is true. I need to keep the blogger’s mentality of life whitewashing out of my real friendships and I deeply appreciated his reminder.

I understand that, for the most part, one does not keep a blog to be vulnerable and intimate. After all, the whole of the Interwebs can read anything you write. I am probably not going to tell you about what made me cry today, Internet. But there is a certain virtue to carefully cultivated honesty. If you’re a popular blogger, honesty about the grittiness of your real life unfortunately opens you up to the hoardes of Totally Insane and Mean Anonymous Commenters. But that’s the risk you run when you say anything about anything on the democratic forum that is the Internet. Honesty and willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of the crazies is why I think people keep coming back to Dooce. Heather Armstrong told the World Wide Web about suffering through postpartum depression. She didn’t have to do that, but she created a lot of credibility, trust, and sympathy with that decision. Today, she supports her family with her blog. Millions of people have watched her daughters grow up through her website. It is perhaps a false intimacy that is created–the feeling that I know this family–but isn’t that what the Internet is for? False intimacy?

Either way, my conversation with Jonathan made me think a lot about why I blog in the first place. I never have a good answer when someone asks me this question. I feel kind of defensive when I try to explain it, and I should, since a blog is nothing more than a concentrated exercise in pure vanity and narcissism.

Here’s my best shot at an answer: I like to write. I have been writing since I was a child. From the age of seven onward, I have been keeping scads of personal diaries, notebooks, and prayer journals. No one reads these life records except me. But I’ve realized that I write best when I think someone else might read it. Since I’m not a journalist anymore or anything remotely close to a novelist, a blog is my main creative outlet, as sad as that may be. Even if no one is actually reading it (like my dog blog, for instance. As I confessed to Jonathan, I’m writing to myself there and I am OK with that), the illusion of an audience makes me a better writer. So, that’s why I blog. It’s not noble. But at least it’s kind of honest.

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7 thoughts on “Whitewashing your life, or why I blog

  1. Oh blogging, how we love to ridicule you!

    Your thoughts and snax are always challenging my brain, and I’ve probably started reading more difficult books due to your reviews.

  2. Hiya Abby! Just found your blog through fb. I appreciate your candor on this topic. Now I am off to check out your dog blog! Did you know I have one of those furry little angels? I love her!!

  3. Yep. Love it. Love your way with words, and deeply appreciate your willingness to delve into your thoughts on topics honestly. Mmmm, false intimacy on the internet, yes. How it is a staple of what drives technologically-fueled relationships! You keep writing, Mrs. Pratt; I’ve always sensed your enjoyment for writing as the root of your blogging. Right on, sister. 🙂

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