Ken Mueller threw out a second topic that I thought was pretty interesting. He asked if I could write something about blogging as catharsis.
As has happened throughout this month, I’ve recently had an experience that makes this blog post timely for me.
See, here’s the thing. There was a person who I really respected. I supported them when a lot of other people were jumping ship. I risked my neck on occasion to help them out or to stand up for them. I looked up to this person, as a matter of fact. I believed the persona I was seeing and assumed that the warnings I was getting were just misunderstandings or people being weird.
Unfortunately, I have recently found out that this person actually did something that I find rather inexcusable and, for lack of a better word, yucky. People make mistakes, of course, but it always comes back to walking your talk. If you can’t walk your talk, you should just hesh up.
I find myself with a decision to make.
If I listened to a lot of the most successful bloggers out there, I would be 100% transparent. I would call this person out, assuming they would read my post. I would explain right here, out in the open, how this person let me down because I now feel like a fool for thinking the best of them. I would use names and facts and dates. I would warn people not to fall for this person’s tricks like I did.
If I was like a lot of bloggers out there, that’s exactly what I would do. I would write it all out, hit publish, and BOOM! It would be out there, and until the comments would start rolling in, I would feel downright cleansed.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m not 100% convinced that’s the best way to go.
Cowardice or Smarts?
I’ve talked here before about how personal posts can be prickly. I still recall, a year later, one of the first posts I saw that was getting a lot of attention. It was an EXTREMELY personal post by a woman who was detailing her horrible domestic abuse situation. She used her real name on the post and went into a lot of the minutia of the situation. The comments and tweets she got were expressing admiration for her bravery.
On the one hand, I can see how a cathartic blog post can be a demonstration of bravery. If I wrote the post I kind of want to write now, you’d better believe it would be brave. Calling someone out can mean a pretty big risk to your own reputation, your own site, and the integrity of your community – no matter who you’re calling out. This woman was unquestionably brave for putting out into the online world the fact that she had been abused by her husband.
On the other hand, I think, “Well, do I really want to send that information out into the world?” Do I want a future client to read something ultra-personal or ultra-mean or ultra…whatever? Would I want friends to find out about an extremely personal issue via a blog post? Because let’s face it, no matter how sure you are that you’ve told everyone, you always miss at least *one* person.
Catharsis in some cases can be downright dangerous in the online world.
The tribe of misinterpreters
The other problem with those super cathartic posts is that people who are terribly cynical about the online world will look at your content and say, “Oh, ok, this person’s traffic must be lower than they want.” They might think you’re making it up. They might think you’re just trying to get attention. As soon as someone feels that way about you, whether it’s true or not, your credibility is going to be extremely hard to recapture. Is it brave to be cathartic in the face of that risk?
Or is it on the foolish side of the spectrum?
What’s your take?
As for me, as you can tell, I lean towards the cowardice. Or smarts, as I like to call it. Catharsis through writing can be a powerful and healing thing, but putting it out there on the interwebs? I don’t know. Seems to have more potential for harm than good.
Then again, that’s just how I see it.
Your part starts here!
Image by Josep Altarriba. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/L_Avi