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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Overlapping Lives: What Happens When Blogging Meets the Real World?


Like any blogger out there, I wear many hats and this writing is just one sliver of my life. That often means that postings are sporadic when other parts of my life are busy (sorry!), but also that this life occasionally overlaps with my others.

Now, I get this. I know that when you post to the big wide web, people are going to read it. That's the whole point, I hear you exclaim from your laptop viewing vantage point. And yes, it is the whole point. I have a thought, frantically type it out, edit until it is reasonably coherent, pull together an image, and then click publish. Voila! Only then I kind of forget that people are reading this. Vague beings are reading this, but actual physical people? Nah, they don't come near here.

Except they do. My family, for one, are big supporters. I've kind of got my head around that one, not least because many of them give me adorable feedback based upon what I say. When I type I vaguely remember that they'll see it, and I'm happy with that. But then yesterday I was sat in what feels an alternate universe: manning a booth for the peer support group I run here at my university in Abu Dhabi. Some of the people coming up to me were familiar faces, but there were a bunch of freshmen interested in us who were total strangers, and it was my job to engage them in what we are doing and how we can support them. So imagine my surprise when perfect strangers greeted me by name and told me they loved my blog and instagram! Here I was as an NYUAD student, discovering that prospective students had long before reading my writing when researching the university.

I'm going to be honest, it was bizarre. I was, of course, really flattered; they said lovely things and every writer wants to think people are reading what you have to say. But I think that the anonymity of a screen fools us into thinking that our thoughts aren't spreading, when in reality they may be being consumed by anyone. The responsibility of this has taken me aback, and forced me to think about what I'm attaching my name to. When I casually drop into my posts where I attend school, I inadvertently appoint myself as a representative because sometimes my name comes up when people search it. When I write about my feelings I have to consider that future employers may well find this. When I share stories about my life I have to consider the fact that I am representing the people that feature on here. (Fun fact about that: I have a friend who scours my posts for references to my ex-boyfriend, a good friend of his, so he'll appreciate this shout out).

Overall everything I have thus far published has been beneficial, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't consider the effect. I have many different identities, blogging is only one of them, but my words may well shape how people perceive me in other aspects of my life. This bleeding of blogging into the real world offers us a chance to construct that, and can be built upon. But whenever you type something, whether it be in a manner like this or over on social media, ask yourself: am I happy with everyone seeing this? 

Have you had experience with this, or do you have any advice? Please share: it's all coming as something of a surprise! 

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