Friday, April 2, 2010

Mama Bean has run into the self-censorship wall. Hard

Every blogger gets to this question eventually. How much life is too much life to share? What does the Whole Wide World get to read, and what stays in the immediate, offline world? This blog, my blog, was created expressly to extend my social media Life in the first place. I have a weekly post dedicated to over-sharing! But I have to ask myself about self-censorship, too.

I think the older bloggers (which at this point means those who started before, like, 2007) feel the changes in the blogosphere more than us n00bs. They wrestled with trolls and flame warriors, and the issues of self-defense and self-censorship a long time ago, before monetization and sponsorships and giveaway rules and blogging conferences.

One of my favourite bloggers, Catherine at Her Bad Mother, wrote an un-rant early in her blog's life about how she couldn't use her blog to process a tough situation. Even though she knew the act of blogging about it would make her feel so much better, she also knew the public nature of her blog could allow discovery that would make a tough offline situation worse. More recently, Lindsay Ferrier at Suburban Turmoil asked if other bloggers had noticed momblog content being "toned down" in the interests of commercialization, and later her sense of feeling adrift in a mysterious new blog world. MckMama, one of the most attacked mommybloggers of all, has spent copious virtual ink on the merits of blogging honestly but responsibly, and not responding to one's critics.

Of course, it's not good to cater to the haters. But I do understand the desire to avoid conflict, and being considerate about sharing one's truth. Particularly when it's possible online content is going to have offline consequences. Well, all online content has potential offline consequences. Some that you might not even have considered. That might come completely out of left field, and knock the wind out a relationship you didn't even know to be worried about.
The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is the imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds." ~St. John Climacus
My heart is agitated, but I am being silent. There are things I want to write about today, pain I want to express and process away. These are functions of blogging for me - digestion and expression of my Life. But I can't write about these things, because there will be (more) offline consequences that I cannot, in good conscience, ignore. The answer to the blogger's self-censorship question is not the wisdom of Thumper's dad ("If you can't say somethin' nice...") But maybe the answer involves weighing expression and freedom in the balance. If expressing my truth frees me from one pain, but binds me to a larger Pain, I cannot write that truth. When telling my story frees me pain, and invites other people (online and offline) to their own freedom, when the Words of our Community start to magnify freedom, that truth must be told. And spread around. As much as possible.

I don't have that kind of story to share today. Sorry to get all vague-book-y on you, but I'm just going to have to keep this to myself. But I will write a metablogging post around the issue, naturally lol. I do have some memories to make and friends to make them with, and I leave you to your friends and families and memory-making this Easter weekend. I pray God will be big for you this weekend. It is his Big Day, after all.


  1. I think anyone with a blog comes up against this, wanting to free their minds on the virtual page, but also knowing that some things are better left unsaid, in this particular forum. Where then, is the place where we can feel uncensored and free to unleash our pain, our frustrations without outside scrutiny? Nowhere really. It's a chance we take, putting the words, the feelings out there for all to examine and judge. But hey, someone out there has a similar story, feeling, plight, self-censored life, and your cathartic blogging is his inspiration. Yeah, there will always be some kind of consequence anytime we share anything here in the blogosphere, but why censor yourself when there is so much to be gained by those who relate. Happy Easter!

  2. Sometimes I feel that I am too honest on my blog, too open. But at the same time I feel extremely private. I don't want to post pictures of my kids even though it would drive traffic. I don't want to promote it to friends or family because I don't want people reading those thoughts. It's a really hard balance to strike and I don't know how to get there. Maybe another more less focused blog?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. You have a very eoloquent clean writing style.

  3. I started the Basement ( for the very purpose of addressing issues like this, to give bloggers a place to say the things that they can't say on their own blogs. You're more than welcome to hang out there ;)

  4. @Kate, thank-you for your kind words
    @HBM, I have considered turning to the Basement. I imagine I will have many opportunities to avail myself of its anonymity. Thanks for providing that place!