21 July 2008

Authority?

Over at Terry's, we're talking about blogging, our reasons for blogging, and whether BY blogging, we're setting ourselves up as authorities to others. Wow. These are some deep issues, folks, because it's asking us to consider why we blog AND why we blog WHAT we blog. She talked about a blogger who quit blogging because she was concerned that she had inadvertently set herself up as an authority on child-rearing and the like when her children weren't grown, and so she quit.

See, usually, I'm blogging something that happened that I would want to share with friends, if I had them. Then all my blog friends come over and say hi and I read their posts about whatever is on their mind. If I find the "tone" of a blog I'm visiting not to click with me, I'll usually just move on. No biggie. Sometimes it's because I'm simply not interested in the subject or the method the writer uses 2 rch hr audience dsnt lk 2 gd r sumthin. I have trouble reading numbers as words and leaving out all my vowels. I have tried texting once on a friend's phone and gotten frustrated that I was unable to find the semi-colon. I need semi-colons to make myself understood. Whether that's because I lack creativity or training in the new communication method, I leave for my readers to decide.

I don't really have a problem with the "setting myself up as an authority" idea. Not so much. I'm a Christian, and I believe in the Bible. But I'm just a person and I think you know it. I'm not even a "good" person, so far as people go. Now, mind you, I'm not going to delve into the full extent of my badness on my blog. That would be silly! Nor am I going to paint an extremely rosy picture of myself sitting at the right hand of God and what-not. Maybe something in-between.

To me, blogging is like having a friend over for coffee, but somehow being restricted to typing what you want to say to the friend and maybe including a picture or two each day. Sometimes you want to tell your friend that you are MAD MAD MAD about something. Other times you want to exhort your friend to holiness. Other times, perhaps you're especially proud of one of your children and you'd like to brag. I wouldn't think that those are necessarily contradictory sorts of posts, though I suppose an exhortation to holiness followed by a rant about the stupid neighbour up the road would point out an inconsistency in character I think we *all* have.

I've seen anonymous blogs about eating disorders complete with food intake numbers and how the writer induces herself to get sick. The clothes. The deception of family members. Wow.

I've seen other anonymous blogs about people getting some counseling for sexual abuse, or recovering from an abusive relationship. Naturally, these people are not going to put this stuff on the SAME blog they put Junior on that all Junior's classmates might see. Have you seen people with different blogs for different aspects of their lives? I don't find anything wrong with that so long as the main objective is not deception. It isn't appropriate for someone to discuss their recovery from alcoholism on the "family" blog, and anonymity is (I think) a perfectly ok thing so long as it is not a cloak for inappropriate behaviour.

So, to relate that to my blog, if "anonymous" wants to come to my blog and comment about abuse in public school and his experience, that's fine. If "anonymous" wants to come over, cuss a lot, make nasty comments about the blog author or commenters, it's not. Those get deleted. "Anonymous" is always welcome to disagree cordially. "Anonymous" might not realize it, but I can sometimes actually figure out who the person is by IP address, where they're visiting from, and the nature of the comment. Sometimes.

But back to the topic at hand: writing as an "authority." I've seen several Christian blogs with this sort of tone, and frankly they make me angry. I look at blogs like this and know I *should* have some sympathy for the author. It isn't that I think they have some great secret to hide. It's that they probably don't. It's that they don't know what it's like to be a hypocrite. They just don't have those struggles most people in this world have, so their blogs can come off as a bit syrupy or holier-than-thou.

Can I be transparent here for just a moment? I used to be VERY judgmental of other people in the parenting department when I had just one child. Patrick has been very easy to raise all his life. If I had *only* had Patrick, I could easily believe that most other parents are overly permissive and/or purposefully raising the next generation of brats. I know better now because I've had bitter, awful experience in this particular department. Then I had to deal with the judmental attitude of others on top of THAT! That hurts! And here I thought I had it all together and was used to hearing compliments when I went out!

So I can't blog here and come off as the perfect parent, but maybe if I just had Patrick and no other children I might. I wouldn't have the same friends, but that doesn't mean that I'd be a liar in the things I'm blogging about. It doesn't mean I'm hiding a big secret. I'd genuinely think I have it together in that department because I wouldn't have my autistic children and/or several different personalities to deal with at once.

And while I'm not going to reveal ALL my struggles in EVERY department on my blog, I can at least relate that having a struggle in the parenting department makes me more sympathetic to people struggling in other departments. It makes me want to offer any advice I can "for what it's worth," and be perfectly ok with someone ignoring my advice because their children or situations are different from mine.

Have you thought about why you blog and whether you're setting yourself up as an "authority?" I had never really considered it before. God bless you! :]

5 comments:

  1. Finally, you put a pop up window!

    I can see how some women may have a tendency to try to be Mrs. Expert, which can be relatively annoying. Like you said, I'm pretty sure that's not something you struggle with.

    I like your blog because you take pictures of your kids while they are crying. I'm sorry, maybe that makes me mean but I find that very amusing.

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  2. You already know my thoughts. Just wanted to read yours and say thanks for the link.

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  3. You're welcome, Terry! It was a good post.

    And Catherine, you know YOU'RE going to have to post some screamie pics yourself in a few months! Taken at 3 a.m., no less. :]

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  4. I have a disclaimer on my policies page, "While I try to be honest with my readers, this blog will not be used to outline every stressor in my life." I never write anything negative about my husband on my blog...

    I have stopped reading a few blogs because the authors came across as being perfect Christian-homemakers-mothers. I figured if I knew them in real life, I wouldn't invite them to my less than perfectly clean house to observe my less than perfectly clean house so that I could tell them I was struggling with a spiritual issue. Those kind of people just can't relate to me.

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  5. Edited to read:

    [I wouldn't invite them to my less than perfectly clean house to observe my less than perfectly behaved children so that I could tell them I was struggling with a spiritual issue

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