Friday, May 29, 2015
Online Writing - Deciding What Is Too Personal To Write About And What Is Not
Earlier I ran into a post by Bubbler, Champagne, about finding some things too private to write about. www.bubblews.com/news/2826270-too-private-to-write-about
Obviously, every person is different when it comes to what he'll write about and what he won't. I think, though, that sometimes "too private to write about" is in the eye of the beholder, and much of the time it's not so much that something is (or should be considered) "too private to write about" is a matter of a reader's not understanding "where the writer is coming from", and I think that can happen when the reader either hasn't experienced what the writer has, or else may have experienced something similar but hasn't had enough time to get to the point where the writer is as far as "considering private" goes.
Well... It isn't even just what someone will write about sometimes. It can also be similar with regard to what someone will talk about (or at least what someone will talk about in anything other than a very private conversation, although even then there are things people just prefer to keep private and not share with anyone else).
The post that got me thinking about this today (although I've thought about it often over the course of my lifetime, especially over the forty years of my adult lifetime) pointed out that the author wasn't talking about keeping scandalous things private. She was talking about things like painful memories or even simple, beautiful, moments/memories in life.
In general, I can easily write about the bad memories/experiences that have gone on provided they were things that happened so long ago I've processed them to the point where they have close to no "emotional stuff" for me at this point in my life and/or that any left-over "emotional stuff" has been turned into "bad thing that happened, and that I'll never be OK with but at this point just a part of who/what I am (like the color of my hair and eyes are), but something I learned something from (and something I might like others to learn from if possible, or for one reason or another)".
As for the most meaningful and beautiful moments/memories in life, my "general thing" is that if I'm in one of those moments (and by virtue of the fact that most of the moments can only be experienced within oneself anyway), I see/treat those moments as something that are mine alone; but once they've passed I have no problem sharing them. When it comes to writing, one reason I can share those moments, and want to share them, is that life is so full of "unbeautiful" moments I think it's important that the most meaningful/beautiful moments/experiences get out there. Also, however, when it comes to the kind of meaningful moments that involve "public" things, like sunsets, the ocean, flowers, etc., those are the things that connect us to one another. They're thing the things most of us have in common regardless of any number of other differences we may have as individuals.
The post that inspired me to write this one mentioned beautiful/meaningful moments between a mother and her child; and I have yet another reason for wanting to share some of those moments (again, once they've past and have become a memory). That reason is that it's easy for people to say, "I love you". Sometimes they know what that means. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they only kind of know what it means. Sometimes it means different things anyway. On top of all that, those words are so over-used it can seem, at least to the person who truly knows what they mean, that they're far from worthy of expressing what one might hope to express.
When it comes to what mothers (at least the normal, loving, ones) have in that mother/child relationship, sharing those meaningful moments in one's own words can amount to adding "building blocks" to an overall picture that help children see that no matter what else they may not understand about something we do or say there is something incredibly unique and powerful between a mother and her child(ren); and while some of those "building blocks" may be of the type that most other mothers share with their child, or even of the type that can be copied by someone who hasn't experienced them; the fact is that the overall picture can't be copied or emulated by anyone else. So, over the course of a childhood or even a lifetime, when children (our own, children or adults; or even some grown-up who is someone else's son or daughter) reads or hears those "building blocks" it can help them know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no matter what comes or goes (and no matter how things may look at one time or another, or at different ages), there is something unique, powerful, and permanent about what mothers and their child/children share.
Where I do draw a line on saying too much about a bad/painful experience is when someone else has caused it, either intentionally or unintentionally. With the unintentional harm people cause it's most often a matter of their not knowing any better for one reason or another.
When people cause harm/sorrow out of ignorance if they know they've caused it the guilt and sorrow they, themselves, experience is usually such that it would be cruel to highlight, in clear and painfully accurate detail, exactly how much harm they've caused.
Also, when bad experiences have been caused/contributed to either as a result of ignorance or through no one's fault at all; I see writing about those as a way of trying to eliminate at least some types of ignorance that are out there; or else, if nothing else (as in the case of "nobody's-fault" at all), helping any readers understand what someone who is going through/has gone through such an experience may be dealing with.
On the other hand, there are times when people aim to "destroy someone" or cause as much loss and horror as they can. When bad experiences are caused by hatred, jealousy/envy, or even over-blown ego that amounts to lack of respect for/valuing of others; it generally amounts to some version of a personality disorder and/or other type of mental disorder. So, any calling attention to harm/damage that isn't already obvious (without the "further elaboration and detail") would only bring joy to such people.
(I'd use the Boston Marathon bombing as an example. There's no hiding the obvious damage/pain in a situation like that, but why offer additional detail/numbers/ways, etc. that the crime caused other, less obvious, damage. The court has what it needs in that particular case, and another reason for my not thinking there's much point in writing in public about the less obvious stuff is that, besides everything else, it's never wise to share more with such people than they already know.)
And as for those less "obviously-criminal" things in the nature of some humans, such as over-blown ego/arrogance or the kind of jealousy/envy that can blur the vision of (sometimes, even blind) some who are prone to it (and to the point that someone wants to see another person destroyed, or even just "put in his place", I draw a similar line with regard to not giving someone like that the satisfaction of seeing more damage/harm than is already obvious.
There are a couple of other lines that I draw for one reason or another, but these are the main ones.
Image: ME Whelan
Posted by ME Whelan at 11:16 PM