Tuesday, August 21, 2007

misdirections

Unless (entirely understandably) you shun radio stations that play country music, you’ve probably heard the song I’m So Much Cooler Online (I’m not linking to the video because it is quite possibly the acme of lameness). But, actually, I’m not. Cooler, that is. If anything, online I’m warmer, more open, less inclined to fix you with an basilisk-like glare for asking me a question that I don’t want to answer. “We are who we pretend to be,” said Kurt Vonnegut. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a blog.

In real life, I’m quieter, more withdrawn, curled in upon myself like a snail inside its shell. As a child, I exhibited something very like selective mutism. There were certain people to whom and certain situations in which I found myself unable to speak. It was voluntary, in that I certainly was physically capable of speaking. But then, and, to some extent, now, the only way I could cope with the anxiety that threatened to engulf me was not to speak. I’ve occasionally thought – for a variety of reasons -- that, like the deer in Thomas Wyatt’s famous sonnet, I should be wearing at least a figurative pendant with noli me tangere graven with diamonds in letters plain.

And, on a related, but tangential, topic, though I’m not sure how clearly it comes across in my writing (well, aside from me telling you about it over and over again), I often wonder if I lack emotional range. I just don’t seem to feel things as deeply or as fully as other people do. I like to think about things, to arrange ideas into pretty patterns, to argue both sides of an issue while believing in neither one. Feeling, though, is harder and isn’t nearly as much fun. Even thinking about feelings is easier than actually feeling them. But I’m making an effort and, though you may not realize it, you, all of you, are helping. And for that I thank you from the bottom of my black little heart.

But what about you? Where are biggest gaps between your online persona and the person that you really are? Are you cooler (or sadder or sweeter or wittier) online?

27 comments:

Eva said...

You seem to have some dearly-held ideas about how Other People feel and think and mourn, but I'm not sure how a) accurate you are in your perceptions or b) helpful this is. There's really quite a range. For what it's worth, you seem introspective and considered in your responses to your life experience. Sure, you intellectualize your feelings to a great deal, but a lot of smart, educated people do that and it doesn't mean you aren't also processing the feelings--I think it's just your style. I'm totally delighted you feel like your blog is helping you to do something you feel like you should do, at any rate.

The person I really am...and the blog...um...well of course there is a tendency to put on your best face, but I show my wear and tear in my writing, too. My concerns and experiences are similar enough in real life as in the blogosphere so much so that sometimes I have a 50/50 chance of blogging something or calling my friends and talking about it in the exact same way.

Beruriah said...

This might not sound believable but I think I'm consistent in my online and offline personas, at least as far as my blog goes. It's easier for me to relate to people in real conversation than in comment sections, though.

But the biggest difference might be that while you all have the choice about whether to read my feelings online, real life people don't - I'm not so good at hiding my thoughts.

Also, I'm much much much more political and snarky in daily conversation. It comes out at times on the blog, but not at all in real-time volume and frequency.

Beruriah said...

Oh, and I'm very glad your blog is helping you. But I don't believe that you don't feel things "as deeply or as fully" as other people do. Or more accurately, I'm not sure I can grasp what it means to say that about yourself, how it translates into your lived life. Or mine, if I'm someone who might be seen as feeling more deeply and fully than do you.

AJW5403 said...

There really is no differance between who I really am and my blog. I am a pretty simple person.

Catherine said...

My blog is a part of my true person...but it surely does not represent my entire person. I do write honestly about my thoughts and feelings, but it is only the part of me that I CHOOSE to share. So I suppose, in that regard, it isn't a true representation of me. I tend to think of your blog in the same way (perhaps why I continue to read it and identify with you).

bubandpie said...

I think in real life I'm quieter, tireder, flatter than on my blog.

And you're just an NT, that's all. It's okay. My husband is the same way - if he wants to feel some emotions he has to go out looking for them. And he's the best person I know (as Lizzy said of another INTJ).

Caro said...

My blog tends to have more of the raw stuff. The stuff I don't say out loud for fear of being dragged away by the white-coated people.

It helps me work through all this and go about my day-to-day life where it's pretty much all hidden.

Amelie said...

I think I'm less explicit or direct on many things, because there are people reading my blog which know me offline, and I don't necessarily want all of them to know about halfway-formed plans or thoughts I have. Some ask odd questions without such prompts already... (those when I don't want to answer and pretend to overhear while thinking of a way out). You can still read most of it between the lines, though.

furrow said...

Both my blog and my real-life persona are inconsistent. Dorothy Parker one day (though not quite that cool and witty) and Doris Day the next. IRL, I tend to be different personalities to different people. It's interesting to hear two people try to describe me to one another.

Re: emotional range. Does sound NT-ish, though I don't know many NTs who worry about their emotional range. My husband doesn't seem to.

I've never cried at a funeral, though I've cried plenty for myself. I've worried about that.

meg said...

Niobe, I am in the same camp you are. I am trying to figure out how to feel a lot of stuff too. I'm the original ice queen--you know nothing bothered me, until all the losses happened, that is. I think I feel a lot more now, and my blog is helping soooo much too, but I'm still trying to figure it all out. And I often wonder what's wrong with me, that I don't seem to feel the same way others do? I wonder about my own little black heart.

As for my blog and real life. I am honest on my blog, but in real life, no one would know that anything bothers me, or that anything is wrong. It seems to be the only way I can survive right now. But I am hoping for less iciness in the future!

niobe said...

Eva: I guess many of my beliefs about other people's feelings, at least their feelings about pregnancy losses (I'm trying to use the broadest possible term to encompass miscarriages, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths) come from, you guessed it, reading other people's blogs.

Lori once (probably accurately) suggested that my muted feelings about the twins come from never having seen them. But you're right too, in that there really isn't all that much to be gained from comparisons.

Though it is kind of nice to find someone (Hi, Meg!) who I can identify with.

The Oneliner (Christina) said...

I think I am much more serious IRL versus who I am on my blog. I am also not as nice as I seem on my blog. Of course, I am not as nice as I seem in real life, either.

I wonder if you think you don't feel bc you feel so much and thus denying any feeling is the only it can go for you? I say that, b/c that's how I cope in most situations.

You certainly feel/felt betrayed by the person you called "Sarah" and you can't feel betrayed unless you cared in the first place, right?

niobe said...

Beruriah: I guess what I mean is that I feel, whether accurately or not, like someone whose hands are too small to span an octave on the piano, so that there are some pieces of music I just can't play. Or someone who isn't able see in color. Or someone whose feet are so small and wide that when she goes to the shoe store she has only a very limited selection of shoes.

Actually, my feet really are so small and wide that I have lots of trouble buying shoes, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that I seem to have a lot of trouble accessing strong emotions, whether positive or negative. Which, in my mind, anyway, means that I'm missing out on valuable parts of life. And, now that I think about it, that may be one reason I don't want to let go of the whole Sarah thing. Because there's no question that when I lost Steve and Sarah I felt as much pain as anyone possibly could.

Rereading that last sentence, it occurs to me that if someone were reading my blog without paying careful attention, she would think that Steve and Sarah were my twins...

Elizabeth said...

You also remind me of me - the introspection, the introspecting about introspection, etc. :-) It's awesome.

I think my blog is relatively unedited, within the structures of the theme. But it's just one volume of many being written concurrently in my life - my life as activist, as scholar, as knitter, as refugee from evangelicalism. Some of all that finds its way into the blog, just as infertility insinuates into all other aspects of my life (even planning my grad program), so in the end I suppose I feel like the blog is pretty close to who I am IRL.

S. said...

I think I am a little more caustic in person, and possibly more cheerful, but otherwise I think the blog is fairly representative.

ms. G said...

I love this question, Niobe, because it reaches at one of the reasons it took me so long to start a blog. I like myself better in person. In writing, I never I feel I capture my true self. In real life, I am funnier, prone to sarcasm, jokes, I think my kindness is more obvious in real life as well.

When I read what I write, well, without sounding conceited, it just doesn't do me justice. Guess it might be time to work on the ol' writing skills.

As for your "black heart", everybody's different. Your right, feelings can be a whole lotta pain in the booty and not much fun at all. I have always thought I was too emotional, which comes with its own set of issues. But on that note, some people need other people to drag that emotional side of them out. People they feel safe with, that is. And that is okay too.

slouching mom said...

Your "black little heart"?

Pshaw.

(I've always wanted to write that word!)

It seems to me that expressiveness isn't the same as feeling. You may not be effusive in expressing what you feel, but that doesn't mean that you don't feel.

An IRL friend who reads my blog just told me that I am much more emotional (positively and negatively) on my blog than IRL.

Maybe.

But I can't say which one is truer. They're both parts of me.

Monica said...

I'm taller in real life.

I'm also the "clown". At work, I have to be the one to lighten the mood, crack a joke, I can't stand sadness. When I went back to work and people were giving me their condolences, I couldn't take it. I felt like I needed to make them laugh.

Emotional range: I've read others blogs and felt the same way. Why aren't I more like this person, or that person. You are what you are Niobe (and I like you that way). Nothing is wrong if you don't feel as deeply as others (and you really don't know how deeply they feel anyway, some people are prone to drama). I always beat myself up because others seem to keep a neater house. Of course I only see their house when they invite me over. Sorta like what you wrote that we determine what we reveal to others. There may be plenty of things wrong with you, but I think you are off about this one.

Julia said...

I am more prone to talking about bodily fluids online, apparently. I also get to edit, and so (at least sometimes) I think I get to sound more articulate or even funnier or cleverer. My political leanings haven't so far made their way into the blog either. I think that is mostly because most of my political activism cycles have become my grief cycles. Maybe as I get farther in time from loosing A the blog will be more of the whole me. Maybe.

Oh, and I also have short wide feet. They are a pain in the ass, if I say so myself.

painted maypole said...

hmmm.... I think my blog life and real life persona are quite similar, but obviously there are variants. I get to finish thoughts online, which I'm not so sure I do in real life as much. ;) But that's not a persona thing so much as a mother of a young child thing. I think online I have surrounded myself with more like minded people, and so I speak my mind a little more, share a little more deeply than in my average real life relationships.

My Reality said...

I swear a whole lot more in real life than I do on my blog. I am also a lot more sarcastic, I often type something and then go back are erase and retype for fear of being misunderstood.

cinnamon gurl said...

Fascinating question... I suspect I'm cooler on my blog than in real life.

I think I need to muse on that one for a bit.

wannabe mom said...

on-blog and off-blog personas have been the hot topics of many bloggers. i would have to say that like my reality, i too swear a lot more IRL and do much editing to tone down the sarcasm. i have found your blog to be extremely emotive and although you and i grieve the loss of our twins differently, losing babies sucks in the most shitty way possible and you feel what you feel and who cares what other ppl think. (that's the unedited, cuss-filled version.)

Patience said...

I think that my blog persona is 'happier' than my irl persona. There's a lot of me that I don't show on my blog, mainly because there's a few people I know that read it.

Sunny said...

I love this!

In real life I am usually always smiling. My closest friends see my sad side at times. My blog is where I can admit I am having tough times.

I am also the goof in real life. I am not sure that comes across on my blog.

But I lead my life as an open book. I believe my friends would agree I am who I am on my blog and in real life.

LAS said...

In real life, I am more hopeful and optimistic - at least I like to think so, even though I often don't come across that way. There seems to be this disconnect between the way I perceive myself and the things that others see. Other people tell me I am independent, strong, sure of myself and courageous for everything I have gone through. Yet in reality I have no self-esteem.

I would like to think that I am not as sad in real life, but I'm not sure. I am definitely less honest and more afraid. I am more ashamed to speak my truth and terrified what you would think of me if you knew me. I am always hiding something - hiding the fact that I am sober, hiding the fact that I had breast cancer, pretending to be what I think you want me to be. On my blog, I don't pretend anything.

Christine said...

i'm pretty boring off and on line.