It’s Time To Get Personal: Conversations With The Internet

I was having a run-of-the-mill conversation with my laptop. This happens more often than you think.

The Internet: Hello, friend. How’s it hanging?

Tara: Ah, not too bad, thanks. I’d like to go online, please.

The Internet: Lovely. What about?

Tara: Well, I thought I might just mess about for a while. Maybe make a terribly sweeping statement. Alert people to a piece of information. Crack a joke. That sort of thing.

The Internet: Oh, no. That won’t do at all. What was your first sad memory?

Tara: Why do you want to know that?

The Internet: Never mind. What are you wearing?

Tara: A yellow tea cosy and a pair of…. Hang on a second. What’s this all about?

The Internet: So would you rather talk about an ugly sexual experience in your 20s;  depression, or a time you hurt someone close to you?

Tara: No way. You’re not going to catch me out. You tricked me into posting a mindful conversation with my arse once. That was enough.

The Internet: Why? What’s wrong with putting your life online?

Tara: Absolutely nothing, if you really want to do it. Everything, if you don’t.

The Internet: Hmmm. Interesting. So tell me, what happened to make you think this way?

Tara:  I’m not falling for that either.

The Internet: It’s all about confessional writing now, you know. Everyone’s doing it. If it’s not a true life story, it’s not worth doing.

Tara: Really? Mystery seemed to work just fine for Prince (may he rest in joyful purpleness). Or look at Adele, or Leonardo DiCaprio. They flat refuse to get personal. And Elena Ferrante, for God’s sake. Top of the bestseller lists and we still don’t know who she (or he) even is.

The Internet: But musicians and actors put themselves into their work. Their songs and performances are raw versions of themselves.

Tara: No, they’re not. They’re raw versions of a persona more exciting than themselves.

The Internet: It’s not the same for writers. You don’t perform in the same way. There’s no immediacy. Writers have to let people in, or else nobody will bother reading your stuff, let alone talk about it.

Tara: Why? It’s just setting everyone up for a disappointment. Nobody is as fascinating as they think they are. Look at the Kardashians.

The Internet: There you go, now. Blaming it all on the Kardashians. That’s , like, so 5 years ago.

Tara: I’m an old-fashioned girl. I like private lives, and public merriment.

The Internet: You’ll never get anywhere with that attitude.

Tara: In that case I’m grand where I am, thanks.

The Internet: That’s a lie, and you know it.

Tara: Maybe. But right now, nobody else does.

The Internet: You think you’re so smart.

Tara: Smart enough to keep one hand on your plug. *click*

It's Time To Get Personal: Conversations With The Internet

Confession Time

Magazines have been doing it for years. True confessions were popular long before the Internet was invented. But with the internet came a sea of voices, people shouting ever louder in the pitching and tossing, until someone cleverly spotted that the best way to be heard, was to shock: and is anything more shocking, than a confession?

Got a book out? Write a story for a magazine or journal about how envy of a friend ruined your life. Want more hits on your blog? Pen an account of an arse-clenchingly embarrassing sexual encounter. Need more followers? Tell us about the time you said that unforgiveable thing to a person who’s dead now. It’s all up for grabs, as long as you’re willing to chip bits off yourself and flog them online.

Of course, some people are better at it than others. Some can strike a balance between the personal and the general, speaking to each reader individually in different ways, a bit like a truly great song, or a poem. But some can make you feel like a trenchcoated voyeur, staring at a sad and wounded deer through red-lit windows.

It's Time To Get Personal: Conversations With The Internet

The Master

My most very favourite essayist in the world is David Sedaris. One of his standout pieces, in Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim, is called “Repeat After Me”, about his sister, a parrot, and a dog. But it’s really about how he betrays his sister in the actual telling of the story about his sister and the parrot and the dog.

I had a strong emotional reaction when I read it, and I wondered if this was because it was so personal. Did the mere fact that it was supposed to be true make me care more about the people involved? It seemed I was as susceptible as anyone else to the draw of confessional journalism.

Now I’m wondering: does everything have to be true for us to care, nowadays? It’s quite possible that Sedaris’ writing is just so bloody brilliant that if he’d made the whole thing up I would have reacted much the same. I’ll never know. But personal blogs that adopt a confessional tone do get more hits. We seem to be wired that way.

It's Time To Get Personal: Conversations With The Internet

Yeah, Well I’m Still Not Doing It

Personally, (see what I did there? Haha, etc), I’ve indicated before that I’ve no plans to find out if it’s better to blog about the personal than the absurd (even though for some people, granted, it’s one and the same). I even went so far as to invent blogging personae in order to avoid all that. And I know you all think I live in Tark and Mara Towers, picking off passers-by with pun guns and rolling my eyes at celebrity friend requests on Facebook. But – well. Just don’t believe everything you read, is all I’m saying.

Non-fiction shows how a writer sees society. Confessional journalism shows how a writer sees themselves. The best confessional journalism shows how a writer sees society through the prism of their own very small corner of it. But I’m not sure how this is achieved through click-bait like “I went to the doctor with a sore toenail and was given three weeks to live” or “He took off his trousers and I threw up”.

The Always End A Post With A Question Question

Do you prefer personal writing? What does confessional journalism mean to you? Do you do it yourself? Or have you read other people’s personal writing… and wished you hadn’t?

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  92 comments for “It’s Time To Get Personal: Conversations With The Internet

  1. April 29, 2016 at 7:55 am

    I’ve no time for them, personally. I have no idea who any of these ‘celebrities’ actually are. So they split up with their husband of 5 minutes, put on 5 stone through comfort eating, were papped at the beach in all their elephantine glory and adopted a baby from a third world country so they could feel better about themselves… I’M JUST NOT INTERESTED! Guess I’m freakishly unusual in that.

    But… I do blog occasionally about my life with Carys. That is a cathartic process, I can’t deny. But I do it mainly to reach out to others who may be going through similar experiences and feeling as isolated as I did, and still sometimes do. I know how much it helped me in my darkest times, reading other families stories of hope, and I want people to be accepting of the disabled, which will only happen if we speak out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:28 am

      I see your pieces about Carys as issues-based journalism with a strong personal colour, Ali. There’s a difference between things that people benefit from knowing about e.g. health issues, and things that people simply never need to know e.g. personal stories with no real theme or focus other than the self of the person who wrote it. Plus, you write beautifully about everything, but most particularly about Carys. There’s another facet of shock confessional pieces: they can often be without merit in execution as well as theme.

      Liked by 2 people

      • April 29, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        Well that’s true enough! Plenty of that kind of writing around. But, it takes all sorts. Its very popular. That must be where we’re going wrong!

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 30, 2016 at 12:15 am

          Yeah. That, and the fact that we need to invent a new word for wrong 😉

          Like

    • April 29, 2016 at 10:36 am

      I commented how I’m only interested about confessional pieces from people I care about. I was thinking of you at the time! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. April 29, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Have to admit that while I find David Sedaris compulsive listening, I don’t read him. And even listening to him I think both wow, I wish I could write like that AND thank God I’m not his family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

      He’s a particularly brilliant reader, isn’t he, Jenny? I was first introduced to him through audio books, which might be why I was so impressed to start with. But yep. If I wrote like that about my family, I’d be a pariah.

      Like

  3. April 29, 2016 at 8:17 am

    I’ve been trying to write a piece on this topic but give up. This post is bang on. It’s tempting to pose more questions than straight up value judgements. Do we share too much? What’s the status of privacy these days? Because everyone else is oversharing is it OK to? Have you noticed over-sharing has been adopted by the self-deprecating? Etc. Questions are less uncomfortable and a safer sanctuary…often from ourselves.

    I would say I’m straining to straddle the public and private. My blog’s anonymous but I still battle with deep privacy of mine own and others but I’m motivated by a mix of liking (trying) to be entertaining, and generating that from the incredibly mundane life that doesn’t stop me from trying to make sense of it. It’s not an easy one to balance.

    None of the self doubts stop me from hypocritically turning the wagging finger in others and depriving them of the safety if questions. The notion if ‘honesty’ and ‘truth’ has been stripped and re-packaged into a singular notion if raw confession spectacularly lauded and synonymous with ‘brilliant’ writing. Obliqueness and giving the reader credit for intuiting and reading between lines has elbowed aside. And since I’m feeling all uppity and hypocritical, I’ll call out a strain of parenting blogging as recipients of my antipathy. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean that trampling over children’s privacy can be disregarded in the cosy consensus making.

    There ends my self-satisfied rant.

    Thanks, Tara. I enjoyed that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:38 am

      I think we’re two sides of the same coin, Tenderlation. I write under my own name and avoid the personal. You write about the personal and avoid your name. If I was writing personal stuff I reckon I’d be doing it your way. Your sort of blogging is the one case where I think anonymity is essential, because without it you couldn’t say half of what you do, no matter how many jokes you’re cracking in the process. Plus, your pieces always have a wider focus, which is why they’re so good – you’re using your life to reflect a larger world. It’s not like you’re writing negative things about people anyway. Most of the time.

      FYI, I don’t think Bono’s sending anyone after you, but I can check, if you’re worried.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

        His wife’s lovely though.

        Yep, that makes sense what yer saying. Just out of interest, do you ever find being strictly public restrictive in terms of what you want to say? Which is probably a daft question you can ignore. I didn’t realise how much I would like to write about my work etc. but can’t. I guess having a clear focus/theme eliminates the potential for straying. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading the views of your readers, as always.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 29, 2016 at 10:09 am

          Not daft at all. Yes, I am restricted sometimes, but I think it makes things better, not worse. For instance, I might get really ticked off by somebody being obnoxious on Twitter or LinkedIn, or I might read a book I don’t like. But instead of ranting about whatever annoyed me, I’m forced to find an angle to generalise my thoughts so as not to insult anyone in particular. I know what I’d rather read if I were on the other side of it, because the general is more relatable. What if you could write about your work that way?

          Liked by 1 person

          • April 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

            Thanks. Yeah, something to think about. I was an avid message board user before blogging, and generalising was definitely more useful all round. If I were to start again, I would probably go the public route. I’m never happy – least I’m consistent ☺

            Liked by 1 person

            • April 29, 2016 at 10:28 am

              You are that! Although I’m not sure the public route is all it’s cracked up to be either. You can do whatever you like and say whatever you like – there’s scope for world domination in that, you know.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. April 29, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Apologies for typos

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:39 am

      That’s all right, Specuness. I could edit your comment, but I’m afraid I can’t be arsed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. April 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I’m sorely tempted to repost the first section of this on Facebook and dedicate it to all my friends who conduct mindful conversations with their arses. Sorely tempted…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. April 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Thanks you for that, it seem that people want more thing about their personal life, instead to give a story that will benefit the society at large

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 9:56 am

      I do think we’re hard-wired with a deep curiosity for other people’s lives. It’s nobody’s fault, but it is our choice whether we feed that monster, or not!

      Like

  7. Sue Bridgwater
    April 29, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Reblogged this on Skorn and commented:
    Great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. April 29, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Unless humorous in tone, or by someone I care about, I don’t much care for confessional (read: voyeuristic) writing.

    But let’s deal with the real issue here: you *don’t* live in Tark and Mara Towers?! Why did I even bother befriending you, then??

    Liked by 1 person

  9. April 29, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Have I understood this right: personal confessional blog posts are more popular, attract more readers, generate more likes and followers?

    Did I ever tell you I was an orphan brought up by a labrador that died when I was nine? If this is what you mean I could continue with the story and how I developed a phobia of Winalot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Uh-oh. It appears you understand me perfectly, Chris. Have we created a monster?

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

        You haven’t, but (and I hate to say this), the labrador did. Is it cruel of me to blame Bonnie in this way?

        Liked by 2 people

        • April 29, 2016 at 11:41 am

          Yes. And as your newly-engaged therapist, I now feel honour bound to tell you that you owe me 20 quid.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. April 29, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Confessionals of any kind make me uncomfortable tbh…like when your FB friend overshares and you cringe behind your screen…
    Most of my blog is positive, natural and fun, but I do delve into emotional and mental illnesses every so often. These can be personal posts, but like another commenter here, they’re issues rather than personal baggage. I keep my baggage well hidden in the depths of a big cupboard! Very well hidden, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Absolutely, Lisa. Issues-based writing can be repackaged and developed, but once the personal cats are out of the bag, the claws are out and the bag is in shreds…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. April 29, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Do you know who I am??????? No? Oh good…carry on :p

    Liked by 1 person

  12. April 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Whenever I read personal blog posts I wonder how the other people involved feel about it. I’m not much into sharing stuff that’s too personal. I only use Facebook for groups because I just cringe at the people who post every single thing that is going on in their lives! Occasionally I refer to ‘himself’ on the blog and even then I worry that he won’t like it. I don’t use his name and I can’t stand the word husband. I know, I have issues 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Fewer issues than most, Donna! I can’t stand the word husband either. It makes me feel like I’m 55 and stressing out over competitive flower-arranging. Now who has the issues?!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. April 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I suspect that most/many human beings have an innate urge to share and, prior to the Internet, had only people, actual people, as vessels for their divulgements. This meant lots of potentially awkward friend/family moments in the den, big business for coffee shops, the insane popularly of party lines, and very, very feisty PTA meetings. Now? With comment threads, blogs, and social media?? The lid is off, the box is open, and Pandora is out dancing in the streets. I suspect her soles are bleeding.

    To answer your question: YES. I have read many a personal thing I wish I hadn’t; most recently, a Facebook post announcing the arrival of some guy’s, apparently, much delayed sh*t. I shook my head, mumbled “TMI,” and quickly deleted the post. I didn’t even know him… I have a public page. I’m queasy.

    I’ve read blogs, seen Instagram posts, slogged through quasi-fictional memoirs and quasi-non-fictional novels, and of course endured much of the aforementioned “trou-dropping” kind of social media, all of which has left me wondering what, it seems, you’re wondering:

    Why? Who are these people? Why is privacy and selective sharing considered LESS interesting than the rest? I like a good personal anecdote that connects to something meaningful, often share those myself; I like a good story, fictional or non-fictional, that brings elements of the writer’s life and experience into the narrative, and have written some of those. But there’s a reality, particularly with social media, where personal information makes no pretense of fiction, that does, for me, regularly cross into “too much information.”

    I can only write it off to the great, grand cultural trend that has applauded and aggrandized many who’ve been willing to expose everything from their latest meal to their labia, and presume the masses running to the trough of personal, daily, minutia-laden, privacy-shattering disclosure believe there’s merit in it. For them? I guess. For others? Not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      Absolutely, Lorraine. Is it the desire to share, or the desire for attention/approbation/validation, though? I suspect it’s more one than the other. Which one that is, now – that’s a post all by itself!

      Like

  14. April 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I’m about to perpetrate confessional writing with a collection of poetry and short stories (mainly fanfic) as ‘a sort of real cyberspace memoir’. I’m actually tracking the body of work (what delusions of grandeur to give your scrapbook…) mostly from the perspective of my online persona on a pen and paper roleplay to show ‘how I saved my own life’… Basically I’m an Elf in the Tolkien universe after Elrond slopes off into the West and she’s like this mega-babe Bard 😛 Except she’s been damaged by dint of being brought up by humans – poor dear.
    I’ve even got a nom de plume that uses the Welsh and Sindarin (bog standard Elvish) of my real maiden name. There’s a lot of nasty cathartic stuff in there but it’s dressed up in fantasy for the most part, so there’s a kind of veil over the ‘real life’ origins on the worst of the angsty bits – it was fun to write anyway and there’s some cracking poetry in it though I do say so myself! 😛

    I guess it’s the ‘car crash’ fare that lures us in, even with the Kardashians (maybe all of it with them) – doing it for myself I’d say that I’m not regretting it, not least because it’s highly unlikely anyone’ll ever do a bio of me so I will be master of my memoirs ‘warts and all’. That’s where ‘sharing’ stuff on social media gets you anyway – sooner or later you crave the exposure for yourself – oo-er! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      I think you’re being innovative to get away with whatever the hell you like, Jan! A cyberspace memoir? Online persona cathartic fantasy? Yeah, you’ve got a corral of free reins there methinks!

      Like

  15. April 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Tara I really enjoyed this. I agree on Sedaris too, he has a gift for reading that is rare. My favorite is his story on being an elf at Macy’s. Looking forward to more posts from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks so much, Mike! I listened to all the SantaLand Diaries on audiobook too. He is a truly rare talent. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out for so many imitators. Looking forward to your next visit 😀

      Like

  16. April 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Yours is one of the few blogs, Tara, where reading the comments is almost as good as reading the posts. I have no problem with confessional posts if they are well written – particularly if they make me laugh. I’m less interested in the “love found, sex is great, why did you leave me” pining of young love (I think it’s because I am so beyond that in my life – it just makes me groan.) Celebrities? I couldn’t care less. I share occasionally, but even then, I don’t get too personal and squishy (I hope).

    Liked by 3 people

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Here’s a confession, Diana. I am sick of all these pesky commenters running around my blog with their own insights and intelligence. I didn’t start this blog so that people could be smart and witty on it. I spend so much time giving out about online stupidity I thought at least some of them would take offence, but no. They have to be reasonable too. It’s sickening, I tell you.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. April 29, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    God damn, this was a brilliant post.

    I’ve thought constantly about this, about the over-sharing of one’s personal life, where to draw to line, and if the line even exists. As someone who writes creative non-fic, I’m constantly asking myself whether or not I’m accurately representing the worldview I’m trying to convey, and what that worldview even IS.

    This, for me, was illuminating: “Non-fiction shows how a writer sees society. Confessional journalism shows how a writer sees themselves.” Just a small snippet, I know, but thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this essay.

    As for your questions:

    “Do you prefer personal writing?”
    Yes, I do. Very much so. I’m of the opinion that writing HAS to be personal, or it’s not worth reading. My favorite genres are all heavily personal – poetry and creative non-fiction – so I suppose I am a little bit biased.

    “What does confessional journalism mean to you? Do you do it yourself?”
    To me, confessional journalism means a writer being brutally honest and objective with themselves. Writing their experience, their thoughts, their actions, everything, in the most objective, journalistic way possible. The good, the bad, and the ugly. There is no other way.

    “Have you read other people’s personal writing… and wished you hadn’t?”
    Yes, in college. A classmate wrote an essay about their obsession with suicide. I wasn’t prepared for it yet, and I was still a bit immature. But since then, I have grown much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks so much, taiwanmemoirist! I’m glad to hear from someone who’s a fan of the personal, and to hear why. As for your friend in college… is anyone ever ready to read about suicide obsession? In a way I hope not. I’m all for mining your own experience, but as opposed to creative non-fiction, is some writing really just a cry for help, at the end of the day?

      Like

      • April 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        I think that sometimes writing can be a cry for help, but even in that way it’s still immensely valuable. If someone is only able to call for help through their writing, then that’s just another way that personal writing is so beneficial. Imagine a person who is unable to talk to their friends or family, but is only able to express their issues through writing (whether it be consciously or subconsciously). In this way, writing is actually crucial in helping a person reach out and get help. Chalk another one up for personal writing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm

          That’s true. There is the therapeutic aspect to it. Just as long as people don’t violate themselves in the process – or open themselves up to trolling and other negative side-effects when they’re fragile.

          Like

  18. April 29, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Hmm… I’m a bit puzzled as to how to respond to this post. It really gave me a lot to think over. You see, I write about my own experiences virtually all the time. That’s basically all my blog contains. I guess my posts are confessional in the sense of being largely true. (I sometimes have to streamline the events a little if a story gets too complicated to follow.)

    On the other hand, I doubt my life comes across as more sensational or interesting than that of other people given that virtually all my posts focus on the utterly mundane facts of my daily existence, such as my commute to work or the spider I saw in my shower.

    I also generally avoid the painful or difficult incidents of my life. Of course, like most people, I’ve had a number of these. On the other hand, I want to write humor. I find this difficult to achieve if I’m bawling my eyes out and my fingers are slipping and sliding over a tear-stained keyboard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 29, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      You’ve just delivered a handy segue into my next post, Bun, I won’t say any more than that for now! But overall I reckon if a writer can get the balance right – as in, making their personal experience either relevant or entertaining for others on a more general level – anything is fair game as a topic. And your blog balance comes across as just fine to me. If your slippy slidey fingers were emoting all over the shop I wouldn’t have gone into your blog for a quick look and ended up staying an hour. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 30, 2016 at 8:31 am

        The next post sounds like it will be very interesting too. I’ll definitely look out for it.

        By the way, thanks for spending so long over at my blog, Tara. I knew it was a great idea to remove all the “Exit” signs. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  19. April 29, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    This post is spot on as always Tara. I’ve noticed a real trend for celebs and ‘social influencers’ (don’t get me started) to talk randomly about their ‘battle with anxiety’ which has never been apparent before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there but I’d never talk about that on my site. I do wonder if it’s now seen as a clever marketing technique? If so, that would be a real shame.

    Like

    • April 30, 2016 at 12:22 am

      I thought it was just me, Cathy, but I’ve thought the same. It’s tempting to think it’s for the worst reasons. It’s no joke either way, but I do wonder if sometimes it is disingenuous… today’s guaranteed attention-grabber. Because if it is, I would not be a happy camper at all.

      Like

  20. solsdottir
    April 30, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Well, my readers have spoken. Everytime I write something personal, it tanks. If I write about Odin, or Freyja, however, they’re all over it. So unless my life becomes as interesting as theirs, I think I’ll stick to deities and wondering exactly what herbs you use to revive a horse’s penis. Thanks for the post, though. Let’s hope that those people whose writing actually touches some chord will still be around when diminishing returns have driven away the attention-seekers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 30, 2016 at 10:39 am

      I was going to make a pithy comment about regular readers versus one-off visitors attracted by personal click-bait, but then you said horse’s penis. So I’m afraid I’m all out of pith.

      Like

      • solsdottir
        April 30, 2016 at 11:54 am

        Sorry. I asked for that one.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm

          Well it made me laugh, so you got 10,000 extra bonus points. Feel free to spend them on something you’ll regret later.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. April 30, 2016 at 8:24 am

    You won’t catch me out with that one Sparling. Trying to get me to open up and tell you about my relationship with my siblings and my bitterness about the whole wrong Tesco trolley incident last year. How was I supposed to know it was her baby?
    Damn! You ARE the Internet. You had me going there for a minute….

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 30, 2016 at 10:40 am

      SECRET OUT SHOCKER! I. Am. The. Internet. Don’t tell anyone else, Conor. They won’t understand my take on the benevolent dictatorship. You, on the other hand…

      Liked by 1 person

  22. April 30, 2016 at 11:33 am

    If this is aimed at me, I don’t care! I’m still going to share all my secrets with the world – whether the world wants to hear them or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Hmmmm. Let’s tease this one out, Graeme. If it was aimed at you, it means it was personal. Which would be disingenuous, which is meta, or something. Or not. Actually, I think I’m a bit lost now… have you a funny story about your childhood you could share instead?

      Liked by 1 person

  23. April 30, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    No, Tara, I only do pain and misery. I need to bare my soul (I would bare other things, but I’m rubbish with a camera), so I share those awful moments of deprivation – you know, being told I couldn’t stay up late to watch The Sweeney when all my mates were allowed to, that sort of thing.

    These things need sharing, if only to let the youth of today know that they don’t know how lucky they are. When I was a lad, we couldn’t afford the price of a cup of tea (a cup of cold tea, etc.).

    Oh yes, and the stuff about my need to be smeared in…

    Liked by 1 person

  24. April 30, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    The comments are as entertaining as your post, Tara. I was about to publish a nice long piece about the true confessions of a mother-of-five manicurist because I felt I was being too impersonal with my blog. After reading this I’ve ‘filed’ it with the rest of my save-for-a-rainy-day drafts. Speaking of drafts (and rain), I think I’ll stick to posting the usual running commentary on the weather (typical Irish blog fodder). Seems that Irish weather is being experienced worldwide at the moment and the topic attracts a huge amount of likes/dislikes and comments. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      It’s so hard to know, Jean. Some of my most popular posts have been ones previously shelved and almost trashed. But I think a bit of distance from them can often result in a more polished and coherent piece once they’re dusted off. Sometimes I think half the problem with what people are posting online is that they give too much too quickly… the weather is so much safer!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. April 30, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I’ve suddenly gone over all shy and introspective, wondering how far I have been inveigled into this territory. Though, come to think about it, I still write every post as if a journalist, a policeman, a maniac and my great, great aunt Ada were hovering over my shoulders, but I’ll be even more careful in future. Please go on blogging just as you do. I never fail to be entertained… which is surely your entire aim in life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 30, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      It most certainly is, Hilary. I tried being relevant and influential once, but it resulted in a horrible case of boils, and the closure of an entire group of newspapers. I won’t go into it, but I learned my lesson.

      Like

  26. April 30, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    I am not so fond of the confessional outpouring.
    As for me confessing to anything….. hell will freeze over first, so it’s unlikely that you will ever find out about the two hours I spent with a well known celeb locked in a laundry cupboard on the fifth floor of an exclusive hotel.
    Sx

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 30, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Well now. That’s just teasing. You’re incorrigible. I hope it wasn’t before the wash cycle?

      Like

  27. May 3, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Another thought provoking post, Tara, with echoes of one of your previous ones about marketing. And it certainly did get a lot of comments. I came late to the conversation because I was was out of the country and seriously offline for 10 days.

    Remember my image of all those thousands of writers jumping up and down and shouting “Me! Me” Look at me!” and how I mentioned I’ve decided to remove myself from that crowd? You are right; it’s not the marketing tools but the people who may be very good writers but bad at marketing. I’ll leave it to others to determine the quality of my writing, but I’m the first to admit I’m not good at marketing. It seems sad to me that marketing skill is the currency these days, much more so than in the past, but I don’t think it’s just sour grapes because I’m admittedly not very good at it. There’s more to it that that.

    There are probably a lot of excellent writers out there whose work deserves to be seen, whose work could in fact add immeasurably to our literary heritage, but who will never be read because they stink at marketing. It’s a sad statement on what western culture has become. You know who never had to worry about marketing, or who never had to tell lurid stories about themselves to generate interest in their books? Hemingway, Joyce, Tolstoy, Dickens, Irving, Salinger, and… well, you get the picture.

    I do not begrudge people who wish to bare their soul online. Ksenia Anski is a good example. She blogs about herself because that’s who she is. I don’t think it’s a marketing ploy. But for those of us whose lives are somewhat less dramatic, I’m not sure it would work. And as you suggested, other writers may bare the most intimate details of their life to the public online as a cynical ploy to garner attention. But that just makes them part of that crowd, waving their arms and shouting “I had a boil lanced today! Doesn’t that make me exciting? Buy my book!”

    Okay, so maybe that was a little hyperbolic. 🙂

    Anyway, I have no interest in spending time blogging about forgettable incidents in my life and even less interest in reading about forgettable incidents in others’ lives. I blog about things that interest me, and I read blogs that are about interesting things. Like yours.

    You’re always thought provoking. It’s no wonder you keep winning blog awards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 3, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Well, you had me at lanced boil, jimmastro. There wasn’t even a need for compliments after that. I suppose if those sorts of things are happening to you, you can’t NOT blog about it, eh?!

      Like

  28. May 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    It’s a great point. I feel a little icky when I read super personal things for several reasons:
    a) I don’t react appropriately. I think it’s because we’re so numb to hearing anything of consequence now what with all the click bait headings and soul baring in the public square on a daily basis. I laugh when I’m supposed to cry, curse when I”m supposed to cajole…
    b) I know, as a fellow blogger, that they’re writing it because they want more hits. So I’m cynical too and question the authenticity. You were raped and I’m supposed to press ‘Like’? Then I don’t react appropriately again.
    Or maybe I’m just inappropriate..? There is that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 4, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      It’s hard to react appropriately when there’s a particular reaction being sought, Jackie. It doesn’t leave much room for being human, does it? I’m with you on this one. Of course it doesn’t make me feel any better. The internal Imps of Inadequacy have a field day with it.

      Like

  29. May 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    And you mentioned Elena Ferrante. I finally caved to pressure and am reading the first of the series. I’m not getting the worldwide hype.You..?

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 4, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Have to hold my hands up and admit I haven’t read it. It’s the worldwide hype which puts me off. I can’t figure out how to approach the book without preconceived notions which are going to ruin it one way or another.

      Like

  30. May 5, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Most bloggers are personal to some extent as they write about life through their own eyes. That’s fine, but spare me the true confessions – that’s a big turn-off. What does annoy about blogging is when people sign up for daily (or even more often) challenges. Then the emails come pouring in about cats with silly hats or someone making a fool of themselves. Then, I’m afraid, much as I love to hear about the lives of people in other countries, blog posts become spam. I don’t have time to read them so delete. I possibly miss some great posts because of this, but sorry, I’ve only a certain amount of time I can spend reading blog post, the rest claimed by other interests such as actually writing short stories or books, or looking after my family.

    Yes, it’s all about the number of followers. Unfortunately. Though there are wonderful exceptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      I’m both a fan and advocate of the Slow Blogging movement, and that’s generally why I only blog once a week myself. I really don’t understand why people are told they have to blog three times a week, or horror of horrors, every day. It’s too much for me to read and it ends up becoming a chore. It also ends up in less quality blogging because there’s too much focus on filling white space and not enough on what’s actually being said. I know there’s lots of people who feel otherwise, though, so each to his or her own!

      Like

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