I’m Getting Worse at This

It’s funny, but I feel like the longer I blog, the worse at it I get.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve covered all the things I feel certain about, if I feel more like keeping more of my private self private, I don’t know.  But I look back on old posts and I see a kind of fearless reckless certainty I just don’t feel any more.

One of the things I’ve thought is true is that an idea is separate from a person, that you can disagree with an idea, argue with it, bend it, twist it, whatever, and it’s not about the person.  I’ve come to see that, though it would be nice if this were true, there are a lot of people who will take something you’ve written and twist it and bend it and try to get at in in a bunch of different ways just for the express purpose of getting at you–of trying to make you feel exposed and vulnerable.

All night, I dreamed of being chased by a serial killer who wore like a cross between a motorcycle helmet and one of those old timey deep sea diving round things. And in the dream, it was easy to distract him with other people to kill, but he was always also still coming after me.  I was not actually saving myself. I was just buying time.

There is a way of blogging about people for the express purpose of getting at them, of trying to make them feel vulnerable and exposed, that I have defended, especially when I thought they behaved in ways that made them “deserve” it.  And there are ways of blogging about people not so that you have to leave them vulnerable and exposed, but so you leave it to others to do so.

I don’t know.

I don’t feel certain about much any more.  If this year has taught me anything, it’s that. That my feelings of certainty were almost always wrong.  I don’t mean that in a negative way.  Being certain has served me well.

And lord knows, I don’t want to be frozen from making decisions by uncertainty.

But I am certainly being humbled by the power of uncertainty lately.

And what a terrible time for it to happen! Ha.


13 thoughts on “I’m Getting Worse at This

  1. As I get older, I am more aware of the costs of speaking freely and a lot less certain in general. Sometimes that results in me questioning what I really have a need to say, and to whom.

    I think it’s a progression, but I can see how it might feel like a loss.

  2. I don’t think it you’re worse, or losing your touch. I think that it may be that while certain doors have opened for you through blogging it makes you a bit aware that some of the windows might need to have curtains on them for your own self-protection.

    The great thing about a great blog is that it is a good sampling of the author behind it, so as that person changes in interesting ways, the blog changes with them.

    I used to feel just fine about saying anything I wanted. I even stood up to the you-know-who people a couple of years ago. But a while back I wrote a blog entry critical of my HOA. The next afternoon someone had opened my gate and my dog got out. The two may have been unrelated, but seeing as a few people in my neighbourhood read and commented on the entry I wasn’t so sure.

    That–the jeopardising of someone I love whose safety is my responsibility–made me realise that some battles are hills not worth dying on. In a way it makes me feel like I’ve lost a sense of independence and I’m sad about it. However, in another larger way I feel like being able to put love in the world, whether it’s by loving my pet or my family or whateer else, is sometimes a noble cause, too.

    I say all of that to say that even if you feel you’ve lost something, the love you put in the world through the words you do say is a great gift and nothing of which you should be ashamed.

  3. I don’t think you use this blog as a weapon against individuals. I think you take on a lot of ideas you don’t like, but you don’t do so with rancor or personal animus — and that comes through to your readers. Feeling less certain about old certainties is something we all go through, but I think you exaggerate the horridness of anything you have done in the service of those certainties.

    Or maybe I’m missing your point.

  4. I’m so glad you wrote this post… I may have never mentioned what a prolific blogger I used to be some years ago (nothing of importance, mind you) — but I look at that now and think, gosh! I was so casually reckless with speaking my mind.

    I wish I still was.

    There are several things you can take away from this post, but that’s what I’ll choose to take. I wish to still have the balls to post whatever the hell I feel like, damn the “real world” consequences, if they even exist. Sometimes I think those “consequences” are an invention of my own making.

    Do I sound drunk this morning or what!?

  5. I guess I’m just thinking, in part, about how Kleinheider went after that lobbyist and she managed to get her pictures taken down from the paper and I was all outraged and defending Kleinheider.

    And then, in a more recent case, over the past couple of days, since his column appeared in the City Paper, I’ve watched the right-wing nut jobs (not all nut jobs being right wing, not all right wing people being nut jobs) take after Genma Holmes–calling her vicious names, repeating her whole name in a way that feels threatening, like “We know who this woman is and…” with the “…” always reading to me like a threat.

    And it’s spread, obviously, off of the SouthComm sites onto the sites of people, some of whom, I, as a lefty, have no way to understand whether they’re dangerous or just putting on a display. And I know the whole experience has been weird and scary for her.

    And I just wonder, how many people have I pointed to, under the assumption that more readers are better, and that commenting leads to discussion so it’s good?

    Because I feel like this is not good. And I recognize that it’s not good because it’s happening to someone I have met face to face.

    But I sure can be smug when it’s happening to someone I don’t know.

    I don’t know.

    I feel complicit. I don’t know if I am actually or not, but I feel it. Like I contributed to this mess and/or others like it. And I feel really bad about that. And I’m not sure what, if anything, there is to be done about it.

  6. To the lobbyist personally, in an e-mail or phone call. In case she isn’t aware of what you wrote, explain it and explain that you have come to understand why it was wrong, and tell her you’re sorry for what you did.

    To your readers, for having potentially encouraged abusive behavior.* I think you have done that effectively in this comment. If you feel that a misguided post requires a post of apology, move your comment up to become a separate post.

    To my deity, who commands us not to sin through evil speech. Which it sounds to me like you get. Or to any deity you feel commands your own right behavior.

    To yourself, for not living up to your usual standards. Though, if I may say so, the fact that you are willing to puzzle this out in public suggests that you haven’t lost your daring as a blogger and have a pretty decent set of standards to live up to.

    The Days of Awe are coming up soon. It’s not a bad time to be undertaking this.

    *I don’t think that most of your regular readers (certainly, not most of your regular commenters) will have become abusive as a result of your post. I think readers come here in a different spirit, since you generally work to attract people who think and laugh and don’t get into rabid attacks on individuals. But there may be some who did; if so, your apology will let them know that they aren’t living up to your standards for your readers.

  7. I know exactly how you feel. Think of it like a marriage. If it works out over the long term, the reason why is that it’s become something different than what it was when it began.

  8. I dunno, B. I guess it depends on how you define ‘certainty,’ but my impressions of you illustrate a blogger who has been unafraid to ask questions and tackle issues and situations. Can that be described as certainty? Maybe. Anyway, uncertainty is not a bad thing. Being afraid to move because of uncertainty is. Don’t let second-guessing yourself be a step to that immobility.

    Also, you can’t hold yourself responsible for the actions of right-wing nut jobs. They will find an excuse to be ignorant, hostile, and abusive. They’ve been especially hot-blooded since the Negro was voted into the White House, so you should cut yourself a little extra slack if any of your recent actions might have given them an opening to act out.

  9. Your uncertainty is why I like to read you. You’re willing to be civilized about dissenting opinions and you’re one of the few people that actually gives the impression of thinking about them.

  10. B, I didn’t read any further after seeing this line: “But I look back on old posts and I see a kind of fearless reckless certainty I just don’t feel any more.”

    Is it possible that, when you started the blog, you were still hashing out your ideas, ideas you were recklessly certain about, in the privacy of your own head? And that, once you developed an audience, you met enough people, both online and in person, who could effectively challenge those assumptions you previously held, thus making you a little less certain in most of what you thought you believed?

    Were there enough stops and starts in those sentences?

    Anyway, I thought that was the point of growing older: You learn enough to know just how little you know. The difference being that you’re growing older in front of an audience.

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