Monday, February 10, 2014

Full Disclosure (Almost Full, Anyway)

A few weeks ago, a line from an article in The Atlantic caught my attention:
The Internet offers both a vast potential audience, and the possibility for anonymity, and if not anonymity, then a carefully curated veneer of self that you can attach your name to.
As someone who maintains two blogs, I've been considering this idea for awhile. Through the power of the Internet -- Facebook, my blog, online forums, etc. -- I've cultivated relationships with people who know me only through these venues. While I appreciate these connections, I sometimes feel that they are based on false pretenses.

Naturally, when I create a post, I'm not going to write about my miseries. I usually pick positive topics, subjects that make me smile or feel good. However, as a result, I think an idealized version of my life emerges. In that way, I'm kind of like a bag of potato chips -- highly processed (and maybe even half-baked). Likewise, the eternally sunny, heavily edited version of me that people encounter online has transformed her annoyances, dismay, shock, horror, irritation, anger into something laughable or profitable -- or even into something that can be ignored altogether. Blog Julie is as unlike the person typing this post as a chip is unlike a humble spud. They might both come from the same place, but one has a hard time believing it.

Blog Julie is sweet, unflappable, maybe even funny or smart at times, and usually has it all together. Real Julie wakes up with messy hair and bad breath.

Blog Julie gets to dance, sing, and play all day. Blog Julie's children are immaculate and perfect in every way. Blog Julie has moments of quiet reflection and peaceful activity. Real Julie scrubs toilets and folds laundry. Lots of toilets. Lots of laundry. Actually, Real Julie dances and plays, too, but all the spinning makes her motion-sick. Real Julie's untidy, unkempt "crumb bums" love each other, but they also can't seem to go one afternoon without bickering over something. As for quiet reflection and peaceful activity, HA! Real Julie wakes at an obscenely early hour just to get a few moments alone each day. Of course, her DH (who may be reading this post), is perfect.

Blog Julie is a saintly devoted mother. Real Julie would never even be a consideration for Mom of the Minute. To illustrate that point, here is a true story. Real Julie has one gregarious boy whose amp goes up to 11. Her days are full of reminders to him to "use an inside voice" or just tuning out. However, remember that Real Julie rises between 4:30-5:30 am, and as the day wears on, her patience sometimes wears out. Toward the end of one busy day full of nonstop shuttling, Real Julie was stressing over being late to skating lessons (oh yeah, she's obsessive/compulsive regarding time). Meanwhile, Boy 2 was barraging her with questions at the top of his voice. Why is ice cold? Who invented ice? What if the world didn't have any ice? What if I fall? What if I'm the worst skater? What if I'm the best skater? Why is it winter? Why do these laces have to be so tight? etc. etc. Ever blithe Blog Julie is too patient, too indulgent to be phased by this kind of thing, which in the grand scheme of things, is nothing. Real Julie cracked under her self-created mental strain. To her eternal shame, she exasperatedly burst out, "Please, just stop talking until your skates are on. I've had a noisy day, and I need a couple minutes of quiet right now." The other people in the room were probably thinking, "Whoa! Should we call Child Services?" Yeah, Real Julie is not a shining example of motherhood, but this post is about full disclosure.

What else can we say about Real Julie?

  • She possesses a phenomenal talent for saying precisely the wrong the thing at the wrong time. 
  • She's rubbish at keeping house. 
  • There is one day every month when she doesn't want to see, hear or speak to anyone. If you happen to spot her on this day, run away.
  • She frequently doesn't shower until noon. 
  • She measures time in half-hour blocks. 1:01 is almost 1:30. 1:31 is 2:00. (I told you she was neurotic about time.)
  • She has an annoying habit of saying "I told you..."
  • She procrastinates.
  • She doesn't like sweating, but she'd rather be slightly sweaty than cold. Unfortunately, 75% of the time, she's freezing.
  • She refuses to run. At all. Ever. For any reason.

I could go on. The point is, dressed-down, unedited Julie is an entirely different creature than her online counterpart. And I suppose this is where I circle back to my original musings. Is the everyday woman whose day is spent on mundane activities and details the real person? Or is the woman who writes about her inner life the real one? Which version is the real one? 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...