Monday, 22 August 2016

Thinking about blogging

When in doubt, on Microblog Mondays, I blog about blogging, so I'm going to report that I have been doing lots of thinking about blogging lately, about how much we should keep in mind the sensitivities or views of others who read our blogs, whether or not they are our target readers.

Beyond normal tact and good manners, should we write mainly for our target readers, or should we consider a wider readership when we write? And if we consider a wider readership, how wide should we go? Should we have to qualify our statements all the time, as some parenting after infertility bloggers feel they need to do, by warning of triggers or emphasising that they are grateful for their children, in an effort not to offend any readers who are not (yet or ever) doing so? Or should we own our blogs and our opinions and experiences, as other bloggers do, with talk about pregnancies and children and resulting photos of both, or with strong opinions about aspects of infertility? Where is the line between blogging about our lives or opinions, and becoming competitive or divisive, or is there a line at all?

These are questions I am considering at the moment, and some thoughts are developing, but I’m not quite there yet - so no posts yet, but now the Olympics are over, and my sleep patterns will return to normal, I promise you one or two that might spur some discussion. Though I can't promise any answers.


13 comments:

  1. Hmm, this is interesting to think about. Coming from someone who is mindful of her audience and doesn't want to main point to be overshadowed by misunderstandings, I understand the trigger warnings and emphasis on gratefulness. But I also think you're in a different category. It shouldn't make a difference, but I believe it does.

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  2. That's very thought-provoking. I ponder these things myself. In 'advocating' for people without kids I tend to err on the side of trying not to offend/provoke people (parents), but why? I put disclaimers all the time - if I'm grateful for some aspect of NOT having kids, I feel I have to qualify it or apologise so that parents don't scoff at it or say 'The joy is worth all the hassles!' or some such. We all of us want to defend our life choices, I suppose, so I always fear that someone will read something and feel attacked by it. I'm not sure about widening the readership or not: for example, are people interested in issues of childlessness (I'm talking about my blog now) if they have kids, even after infertility; do I have to specifically widen my topics then, to include other audiences and widen the readership? I find it a bit hard to identify with those who are parenting after infertility, so I don't feel I am part of their demographic; they probably feel the same about me. I'm rambling as I'm finishing off at work but I love the subject that you have raised here and I hope you do some future posts on it! Thanks

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  3. I guess it all depends on your motivation. If you are writing primarily for yourself, as a means of self-expression and/or recording & sorting out & putting forward & reflecting upon your own thoughts & experiences, then what other people think isn't going to matter as much. If you want to attract an audience and followers & comments and make a name for yourself as a blogger, then you will probably think more carefully about what you say &/or how you say it, and worry about whether people are offended by your subject matter.

    Personally, I've always looked at my blog as something I do for me, first and foremost. I love having readers & getting comments, obviously :) and yes, perhaps there are times when I haven't covered a topic or tempered my words because I was worried about stirring up controversy. But for the most part, I don't worry about pleasing my audience when I write. If you like my blog & what I write, great! If you don't, well, I'm sorry, but don't read me, then! ;)

    I sometimes want to tell some of the PAIL bloggers I read not to worry when they apologize about writing about their kids or tag posts "children mentioned," etc. For the most part, I know they have kids; it's often evident in their blog name, or post title, or their blogging profile. If I didn't want to read about their kids (or expect to read about them, at least occasionally), I wouldn't be reading the blog.

    I'll be interested to read your own thoughts on this subject.

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  4. When I started blogging, I did it for myself. Gaining readership wasn't even on my radar, and while I enjoy the fact that people read my blog and interact with me through comments, it remains for me. The only thing I vowed to do from the beginning is to not put a lot of cursing on my blog. While I can throw around words that start with F and rhyme with truck like a pro in real life, I know that not everyone appreciates this sort of language. In the beginning I sort of put it all out there without worrying about offending anyone, but I admit now I temper what I write somewhat. And I'm guilty of using qualifying statements such as "I know it sounds horrible, but...."

    Right now I feel like I'm walking a fine line between wanting to become a more vocal advocate while simultaneously wanting to protect my anonymity. I feel like I can't have both, and I definitely don't want some people (e.g., my sisters) to read my blog.

    But like you've said before, our blogs aren't democracies and we can choose to publish or not publish whatever we want. People get to choose how they respond, whether it offends them, etc.

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  5. Such an interesting point. I have had comments recently where people do not agree with my frustrations, or feel I am comparing too much, or deal with things in a different (more religiously-based) way. I am not going to stop processing my experience because of these comments, and I always publish them because it is a different perspective. However, I maintain that my blog is my blog, and I am not going to censor my thoughts on MY EXPERIENCE because someone else doesn't approve of how I go about that. I was genuinely mortified when an offhand comment I made in a post about wishing menopause would come early offended someone who was in early menopause or POI in her thirties, and I could tell she thought I had been cavalier about something that was a serious, devastating issue for her. In fact, I meant I wanted menopause to come in my 40s because I am so done with that farce, and I apologized to her and explained that wasn't what I meant. I don't apologize for feeling a contrast between my life and others, or being upset by social media things.

    As for parenting or pregnant blogs, I appreciate trigger warnings but don't think they are necessary. If I know you are pregnant or parenting, I have a pretty good idea that you are going to discuss those things and I visited you, so that's kind of on me. I hate the double standard that you try so hard to become pregnant or a parent, and are judged for complaining about that, but then when/if you do become pregnant or a parent, you are expected to feel nothing but sunshine and roses, lest you be deemed ungrateful. That's BS. I think you could be able to write about your own experience without constantly censoring or worrying about offense.

    That said, I am a bit more careful about phrasing since finding that some things could be considered offensive to someone in a slightly different situation, but that's just being reflective and my own choice.

    That's what it comes down to -- if you're writing about your life, and this aspect of your life, then the truth is the truth is the truth. I love BNB's reminder that you've said our blogs aren't democracies. I just aim to be honest but not hurtful... but it's inevitable that people will disagree or take issue with something that you've written. Great post, got me thinking!

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    1. I think it's possible to be divisive and also have a right to blog one's opinion. I mean - political talk radio here in the U.S. functions routinely within that construct. But building on political commentary as an analogy, I think it's one thing to speak honestly about one's own personal experience and another to stand on a soapbox to dictate and moralize the choices of others. (Sometimes I choose not to put aspects of my life out there because I don't want to invite that kind of feedback.) The Daily Show posted a meme on their Facebook feed the other day saying that men making decisions about women's reproductive health (abortion, IVF, Planned Parenthood) is like black people deciding when and how white people can use sunscreen. It's an apt enough comparison for other arenas as well. (Sorry for double-post...technical problems)

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  7. Oooo this is interesting. Once my daughter was born, I did blog mostly about her. After all, my blog was about my journey, a record so to speak about how crazy/awful/wonderful the last 6 years have been. I touch on infertility as it is still a big part of my life. While I appreciate blogger's trigger warnings, I decided not to go that route. Mainly because almost all the bloggers in my circle were all successful themselves.

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  8. They're all really good questions. And I think it begins with the idea: Is the blog for the writer or the reader?

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  9. I would agree that it depends on the purpose of the blog. If you are writing just for you, then I think it's perfectly fine to be as candid as you please. If you are writing to reach an audience, then I do believe you need to take their preferences into consideration. I feel like a fence sitter here because as much as I despise political correctness, I also don't think there is a need to mean and nasty just for the sake of being mean and nasty. I think, if you take a moment to consider the impact of your words, no matter the audience, then should misunderstandings arise, they will not be out of malice. Still, if you choose to read a blog, I feel you've made that decision because you either know what sort of information the author produces or you're curious enough to read no knowing. And anything that might offend you should really be evaluated based on intent. I think I've rambled on too much now and don't think I make sense, so I shall close by saying, I think evaluating why you write and who you write for is important, not for self-censorship, but so you have clear understanding of your objective. Thanks for the food for thought Mali! :)

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  10. Joining the chorus: good questions. I think it pays to be mindful of the audience--whatever the size--but you may feed your own soul as well.

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  11. I'm in the write-your-own-truth camp. Having said that, I also read all of my regular readers (those that blog), so it would be impossible to NOT think of them when I write. So yes to some degree they influence my writing. I won't censor myself for a hypothetical reader. But if I was going to post something that I was pretty sure could be upsetting to a regular reader, i would think about how I worded it so ad to be considerate (I may not be successful but I'd try.)

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  12. I'll also add (on the speak your truth side) if everybody is nervously trying to please everybody else, the point of having individual voices is lost.

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