Whenever someone in offline life tells me they read my blog, I find myself scrabbling around in my mind frantically trying to remember if I’d said something that could hurt them. If I think I might have, I review the blog and sigh in relief if whatever I’d said that seemed so vile turned out in retrospect to be rather mild. Only once did I hurriedly edit the piece to tone down a comment, though whatever I’d said had been the truth, just not necessarily kind.
I suppose I should think about such things before I write, or at least before I hit “publish,” and I generally do, but my posts reflect whatever happened to me or whatever I’d been thinking, and I get caught up in telling my story. Often my posts are emotionally driven. Even more often, the posts are moral-driven — not moral as in virtuous, but moral as in finding lessons in the little things, such as removing a potential hazard when I notice it rather than after it does its damage as I wrote in The Trip of a Lifetime.
An acronym for “think” is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind. Supposedly, before we say something, we need to T.H.I.N.K. To ask: is it true, is it helpful, is it inspiring, is it necessary, is it kind? If we stopped to remember all that, we probably would forget what we were saying in the first place, and for sure it would add an uncomfortable lull to the conversation (assuming that people would wait patiently for us to speak).
And the same goes for blogging. If I paused to reflect on every sentence I write, I would forget the next thing I planned to say since for me, blogging is strictly stream of consciousness: what I think ends up in the article. If I dam the stream, obviously nothing would come out.
But that whole THINK thing is only part of the issue of being connected online to people I know offline. Since most people who read my blog are people I don’t know, people I have never met in real life, or people I seldom see, I feel comfortable (or at least more comfortable) turning myself inside out than I do for people I see almost every day. No one wants to wear their heart on their sleeve (I had to stop here and look up that saying. It’s from Shakespeare. Othello.)
No one wants to feel exposed.
And yet . . .
Those who would be most likely to peck at my poor exposed heart are those who wouldn’t be reading what I wrote anyway. Besides, if everyone wrote a blog from the heart every day, life would be so much easier since we would know what the people around us are really thinking.
The great benefit of my writing without always second guessing myself or doing too much thinking is that every once in a great while I end up writing something inspiring. And being able to inspire someone is worth any discomfort that might come from being so exposed.
I hope it’s also worth any hurt feelings I might inadvertently engender.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.