As a blogger though, there is an entirely new set of rules it seems.
Rules which, until recently, where completely unbeknownst to me.
I guess there are the obvious examples, ie you probably wouldn't blog about how gross your bogies were today or how great it is to steal things and commit bloody murder, but when it comes down to the finer details, where do you have to draw the line between what you want to write, and what you shouldn't write about?
Because it seems there is one fundamental difference between a writer and a blogger; responsibility.
Recently I found myself in a very negative place due to one of my blog posts, which has since been removed.
It was very unexpected and I was quite taken aback, as the post had not been written with malice, negative intentions or in any exploitative manner. The post did deal with a sensitive issue, but in my eyes, the post was part of the ongoing dual narrative tale which this blog weaves, one half re-telling real life events which have happened to me, and the other half illustrating what it made me realise, and the profound meaning can be derived from it.
But this was not the way it was received by some.
It didn't take long before I had an onslaught of hate about the post, which, to me, seemed completely out of the blue. At first I ignored it, 'Haters gonna hate' and all that baloney. But then I started to really doubt myself. Had I really done the right thing here? Was that a mistake to write about?
I asked my friends and they agreed with me that despite the delicate content, I had handled it with professionalism and tact. My family, however, disagreed, and advised me to remove it as soon as possible. I was shocked. I checked and double checked what I'd written. There was nothing horrible, nothing offensive, derogatory or exploitative.
This blog, as my friend encapsulated for me the other day, is a "Path of self-discovery from vanity to enlightenment, documenting the transition that everyone must go through as they grow up." This means I am young, I make mistakes, and I learn from them. This also means that if something monumental happens to me along this path, then I feel compelled to document it.
The post was about an unbelievably powerful and pivotal moment from my past; a time I had a very profound and eye-opening conversation with a stranger that I'd volunteered to look after, after a failed suicide attempt.
I was fully aware of the delicacy of the subject matter, but I provided utmost protection for the individual involved, told no details about them, what they looked like, or the secrets they told me.
What I relayed were the truthful events of something which happened that was an earth-shattering insight into reality, and the way it changed my way of thinking. It was not an excuse to blab someone else's deepest darkest secrets. For someone as caught up in a day-dream world of delusions as I, this was like a sledge-hammer of truth and sincerity that showed the reality of the human condition. The likes of which I haven't seen in a long time.
As is everyone so caught up in their own dramas, troubles and thoughts, sometimes it's borderline impossible to believe that thoughts of such depth and complexity can run through other people's minds too. So when something like this happens, it shatters every illusion that you have previously come to conclude upon, and completely destroys the selfish notion that you, as one, are solely conscious and vital, and you are forced , quite suddenly, to realise that other people are important too.
I'm an insufferable optimist, and what I experienced that night made me realise things which have taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of other people, a lesson that I wanted to share with more 'other people.'
Life, love and death and the sole importance of the single individual are forever the greatest ponderances of my mind, and that is why I wrote the post.
Life, and certainly not mine, is not all peaches and cream, and I believe the only irresponsibility of mine as a writer with an eager audience, is to present it as if it was.
But suddenly came an onslaught of insults like arrows raining down on my from the sky, saying I was'disgusting', 'disrespectful', 'exploitative' and 'cruel'. It made me feel physically sick to my stomach, because I could never even imagine bringing myself to be like that. I'd saved a strangers life and now I was 'immoral' and 'disgusting'?
On the other hand I can see how, without reading the post, it may seem the case. I could see the argument that was being put against me, but anyone who'd read any of my other posts or knew me at all would surely know that I would never exploit someone else's misery for my own gain?
But that's when I realised.
The people who read my blog, the majority don't know me.
They've never met me or hung out with me, so how could they ever try and work out my intentions?
All they know of me is what I chose to post on this blog. (Which is, albeit, quite a damn lot about me.) And the thought of coming off like the person people were claiming me to be, upset me to the core.
So I removed the post.
Another facet of this, is I hate it when someone knows I'm going to blog about them.
I find that it makes me alter what I truly want to say, and hold back on some parts, not revealing the full truth.
The anonymity thing started with the 'Tales of Mr X'. I changed his name to Mr X because I couldn't think of anything worse than him googling himself and finding out what I had written. Since then, I have changed everyone's names.
Because it was untruthful? Not at all. Because it was quite cringey? Partly. Because I didn't really want him to know exactly what was running through my head at the time? Bingo.
The absolute honesty with which I construct my thought process in the re-telling of events makes it embarrassing for me to know that the people who the stories are about, are reading them.
For example, I wanted to write a post just now, but I don't feel like I can write it for fear of the person who it's about coming across it and reading it, and I don't really want them to know exactly how I feel about them.
....Because honesty is vulnerability.
And recognising that, made me not only reassess myself as a writer, but also as a person.
*One of the comments I get, not always in a bad way, is that I exaggerate a lot. I'll hold my hand to my heart and say yes, perhaps I am prone to the occasional exaggeration. But I have never ever fabricated stories, made-up people, conversations or situations or lied about anything. So what if sometimes I write 'The golden sunlight dappled through the oak-leaves casting a green-tinted glow across the snowy underside of her palm' instead of 'it was sunny and the sun shone on her hand.'? I'm a writer dammit! I am a creator, a curator of imagination, and I'll be damned if anyone would bother to read anything if all stories were like the latter.
I am a writer and I write the mind alive.
But I am a blogger too, and from here onward, as my blog grows, I have to recognise the responsibility I now have, otherwise I could end up making a catastrophic mistake.
The fundamental difference between a writer and a blogger is the active audience, and hand in hand, the responsibility that comes with it. Your reputation is based entirely on the words you construct, and with an increased audience comes an increase in the propensity for backlash.
I said I'd written about this stuff before and there had been no reaction, and this is probably because no-one saw it enough to care about it. But now, don't get me wrong, I am very grateful I have an audience, but if I wish to continue to write with the same freedom and sincerity then I am fool to think I can go about it unpersecuted.
As your blog and audience grows, so will your responsibility, and so must grow the thickness of your skin.