Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On being an extrovert, sharing online & the isolation of writing

I'm an extrovert. This probably isn't that big of a surprise to most of you. I love people. I love talking to them, listening to their stories, spending time with them. And yes, I do get horribly awkward when I meet new people, but it doesn't mean I don't like doing it. I'm just awkward about it.

I did this reading on Friday night with my friend Holly. It was actually a lot of fun and because the space wasn't huge, I was less nervous and didn't feel as shaky as the time I did it for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And I met new people and was awkward but it was still really fun.

Surprisingly, a high school friend I hadn't seen in almost twenty years (eep) showed up. I got the update on his life and he said to me, "I guess I don't really need your update because I feel like I know everything about you because of your blog and Facebook."

Which was sort of weird to hear. Can the past twenty years of my life really be encapsulated by what I've blogged or status updated in the past 18 months? Or does all that growth not matter and what he was really trying to say is that he knows the person that I am now because of these things? Is how I got to this space even relevant? And more importantly, am I one of THOSE people who overshare and plaster the minutiae of my life online?

I've had a really positive experience with blogging and meeting other writers online. And I think that whether it is said directly to us or not, as writers, we are now RESPONSIBLE for building an online platform. Which gets me to the juggling act of what exactly to put online. Sometimes I read posts that are so thoughtful and heartfelt and important that I think it is good to be true and vulnerable online. It is helpful to other writers and honestly, sometimes it is what gets me through hard spots in the process. This is demonstrated beautifully time and again by Nova Ren Suma and Sara Zarr.

But is being truthful and having an online identity sometimes pushing us into the world of oversharing? Are we allowed to talk about embarrassing moments, foibles, vulnerabilities, etc? And are those the things we're being judged on in real life?

I'm an extrovert. And somehow, I ended up working in an industry that is very isolating. I write. I edit. These things don't involve a lot of human interaction. So much of my interaction these days is online.

Add to that the fact that I mostly don't write from a "happy place." It's why all my teenage journals were so depressing. Yes, I was a depressed teen, but also, it's not like I spent a lot of time journaling when I was having the best time ever hanging out with my friends at Six Flags. This still holds true. I write at 5am every day when it's quiet and I have time to think and when all the hard things are crawling around in my head after failing to work themselves out in my dreams.

So can the last twenty years of my life be summed up by 18 months of blogging and status updates? Not anymore than my teen years can be summed up in the books that I write. These are pieces of me. True and real pieces of me, but still pieces all the same.


Heather Murphy said...

This is such great post, and a great point. I think for many people, they only post their best, but life doesn't always hand us the best. There are many other experiences and feelings that fill in the blanks.

Brinda said...

Nah. You are not oversharing. I do know of some individuals on my Facebook friend list who may overshare.

MK said...

He didn't state it very gracefully, but what I think he meant was that Facebook let you skip the normal small talk that is usually required when reconnecting with someone from high school:

• Location
• Family status
• Career
• Pets
• Travel
• Are they bald and/or fat now

I like all this sharing nonsense because when I bump into my best friends from high school, we can immediately move our conversation into what we are doing now, not just rehash the past.

Jennie Bennett said...

I've had high school friends say the same thing about me becasue of my blog. They know who I am today becasue I share my thoughts online more than most. I don't think that sums up your life it just shows a side to you that most people don't share. It's not a terrible thing, it's just something that we do as writers.

Suzi said...

Hmmm. I wonder if I'll get any of that at my 20 year reunion this month. Probably not, cause I don't share as much online, mostly writing stuff. Well and on FB, the funny things my kids say.

Deana said...

First off I think it is so so so great that you are an extrovert and I writer! I don't think you hear that too often. Maybe you do, but in my introverted world, I guess I don't hear it that much:)

I do not at all think that your blogging/updates on social media make encompass who you are. I went to a writer's conference a few months ago and got to meet quite a few bloggers in person. And I learned something new about each one of them. There is nothing that compares to a good old fashioned chat face to face.

LisaAnn said...

What an eloquent and well-spoken blog post. I sometimes feel the same way about my blogging... The line between me and the words I write sometimes feels a little blurry.

Your last paragraph has definitely summed it up. All of these things are pieces of us. Right on.

(P.S.- Love another extrovert writer! Sometimes, I feel like my extroverted self and writer self are actually battling for space in my head!)

LisaAnn said...

P.P.S.- Thank you soooooo much for your sweet comments on my blog. You are AWESOME!!

Jessica Love said...

I share a lot online, but it's only a small slice of who I am. There's no way someone could claim to know about me after following me online because I am very careful about what I share, you know? I purposely don't talk about my husband, for example, but that doesn't mean he doesn't exist, or that we are having problems, or whatever. I actually WANT to share more than I do, but that has gotten me in trouble before. So I try to be as honest as I can, but I'm almost in a character 90% of the time. It's a weird balance.

I love that you're an extrovert! I think the writing community needs more. :-)

roxanne s. sukhan said...

Great post ... I've been blogging for 6 years and those blogging friends that I'm still in contact with know me differently than my high school friends do ... I think that's because we share different parts of ourselves as bloggers. Writing seems to lend itself to a unique type of intimacy. That's been my experience, anyway.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I'm an introvert, but I can project like an extrovert when I'm in social situations. Weird, I know. Being social, however, exhausts me, and when I'm really honest with myself, I love to be at home. :D

I've had the same experience where people I don't know that well know all this stuff about me because of my blog. It is a little disconcerting, for sure. It is in the back of my mind when I write those blog posts!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

By the way, I hope we get a chance to awkwardly meet in person sometime soon! :D

Jolene Perry said...

I love that we just talked about this the other day.

I find myself not stretching to make friends HERE because they don't understand my book/writing obsession.
It's a hard thing.

BUT - at the same time, I find myself SO loving the people I meet online who DO get that part of me.

Morgan said...

Christa... new face/follower here. ;)

And what a lovely post to come across. Jo has told me that I *have* to meet you and that you're all kinds of awesome. That's already verrrry apparent. ;)

I'm not one that *needs* friends... I'm very content in my own little world. But the friends that I do have are real and their support is everything. (And these are online writer friends... because they *get* it... I have a hard time with real people sometimes--hanging out, etc. I'd much rather be trapped in a dark room typing away, ripping away bits and pieces of my soul and putting it on paper. ;)

You are lovely, Christa! And what a fabulous blog. :)