Do our blogs represent us?

How much of what I write here represents me? How much of it does it really say something about who I am?

Watching the sunset from the dunes (Dunkirk, July 2021)

I imagine that you, the one reading these words right now, are also posting more or less regularly on your blog. I assume that your posts are meant to convey something meaningful to you. Something that you think is worth sharing. If that is so, then you are probably confronted with the same questions.

In fact, as we all know from our own experience, we end up reading, following, or liking other posts for reasons that may have little to do with the author’s original intent. It may be a subject we’re temporarily or accidentally interested in. We may stumble upon a formulation or a photo that touches us for reasons largely independent of the blog post’s intended message. We may feel particularly generous with our likes and comments because we have a good day. Or maybe because it’s our self-assigned networking time with other bloggers.

In the wild grass of the sand dunes (Dunkirk, July 2021)

We like to think that the external validation of our writing or photography is a validation of what’s inside us, of the things that make sense to us. However, if we are to judge based on how we read other blogs, we need to recognize that often it has more to do with the reader than the author. It has to do with the reader’s bubble of immediate interests, perceptions, and emotions.

We can only do so much to express what we think is worth expressing. We can work on our style. We can make sure what we share is clear, coherent, and to the point. But we cannot control how others perceive what we share precisely because we all react from within our own self-narrative.

The point is not that we’re all subjective, and there is no possible point of connection between our worlds. There is communication, but it is always partial and mediated by our context and by our mental scripts and defaults. With our posts, we are not engaging a dispassionate and detached audience, but persons with interests, doubts, triggers, biases, and emotions, just like ourselves.

For me, this has two important consequences:

(1) There’s no point in not being authentic. This is the part that we can control, this is what we can work on. For me, any form of strategic positioning based on others’ preferences or likes is not only a failure of authenticity but, in the long run, is counter-productive (because you cannot sustain something that you are not personally invested in).

(2) There’s no point in taking ourselves too seriously. At the end of the day, our cherished words, photos, or any other forms of expression are just a brief pop-up on the screen of the world. This is not a competition and we don’t need to prove anything.

  1. Great post.
    I feel many write for a wide variety of reasons. Some may have cathartic reasons, some for acceptance, or recognition, some maybe only for likes.
    I can only speak for myself when I say I write for myself most of the time, this varies of course depending on when words come or something sparks an idea.
    Does it represent me? To some extent readers may think so, but my words are mine alone and others are free to find their own meaning in them. – Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephen! Indeed, what we share is never reducible to our own intention and understanding. This is how others find meaning in it, by making it part of their own interpretation. To share is to expose ourselves (and often question ourselves). It’s the opposite of being dogmatic.

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  2. I follow your blog and others’ because I find you interesting. General advice on how to have a successful blog often results in blogs that are professional looking, solve a problem and add value to the reader by the way of solving a problem they have. The blogs I tend to follow are not like that . They solve no problems of mine, but as you yourself pointed out, the authenticity of the blogger drives me in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alessandra. I did not start this as a way of solving anyone’s problems. I know there’s a market out there for “experts” in this or that, and I would probably have a few things to say / ways of helping others. But I didn’t start the blog as a way of showcasing my knowledge. If anything, I started it as a way of putting myself (well, parts of myself) into question.

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  3. Loved reading this. I think your words are so relatable and true. Many write and read with their own purposes. May serve themselves as well as others. But whatever the reason, the intent must be pure, or else one cannot sustain a chore for too long. Interests vary and that’s okay. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks, it’s kind of you! And yes I think we tend to underestimate the importance of being genuine in order to sustain an activity. There are many situations in our lives in which there are limits to how authentic we can be. Blogging is not one of them, not unless we decide to set those limits ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had some struggles with my blog. It is mostly a book review blog but at one point I started reading books for the blog. I had to turn it around and see the blog as an extension of my hobbies. A blog can easily grow into a monster, but in the end it is just an extension of something we do, or are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One problem is that at some point we feel the pressure of writing regularly, and this can end up taking us beyond our zone of comfort (and out of the topics that are meaningful to us).

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I got that, but when you said you started reading books in order to review them on the blog I thought about the same type of pressure. For me, this is not a real problem now, but I understand how that pressure can build up.

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