Blogging and Writing

How Well Do You Know Other Bloggers?

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Blogging is an interesting experience, in many ways. Many people are very open about themselves online, but even when that’s the case, how well can you know other bloggers based on their blog?

Blogging and other forms of online interaction are very conducive to compartmentalizing one’s life. You can select certain compartments to blog about and leave others out. It’s easy to do that without others online having any idea those other compartments even exist.

It doesn’t have even have to be a conscious decision to hide something; it just may not even cross your mind to say anything about the collection of 300 shoes sitting in your closet on your blog about video games. Even people who are radically open on their blogs may well have areas like this that they don’t talk about because they just never thought about mentioning them.

It may also be a conscious decision that certain compartments don’t fit with your focus on the blog. Maybe you choose to keep the blog about video games, and have an Instagram account that’s devoted to shoes. While I show some travel pictures and tell some travel stories, I don’t spend much time talking about my life pre-illness or in between episodes of illness, because my blog is focused on mental health rather than my past life.

There may also be topics we deliberately avoid talking about for various reasons. I try to keep talk of in real life people to a minimum, whether they were in my life in the past or in the present. Part of that is that my blog is very easy to find, but mostly it’s that I just prefer not to go there. I remember at one point someone commented that my travel photos seemed lonely because they never showed me travelling with anyone. That’s very deliberate, though; the only time I’ll post photos that include other people on my blog is if they were total strangers. I almost never mention specific people from the past that I’m no longer friends with, and that’s also very deliberate.

Another thing that can muddy the waters is timeline. If you’ve been blogging for a few years, there may be older posts hanging around about things that are no longer relevant, but people reading in the present could come across that content and interpret it as being valid in the present.

Another factor is that the message that others receive from our writing isn’t always what we thought we were putting into it. I suspect that most of us have had the experience of getting comments on posts that clearly indicated that the received message and the message intended to be sent were not the same thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a flaw in the writing or on the reader’s side, but we all bring our own particular lens to what we write and read, and that lens may be very different from another person’s.

I think that, because it’s easier to compartmentalize online than IRL, it makes it harder for others we interact with online to recognize that those other compartments even exist. IRL, it’s easier for various aspects of a person’s identity to inadvertently bleed over into interactions, but that’s much easier to avoid online.

All in all, I think it’s quite possible to get to know parts of a person well online, and to get a sense of who they are and what their personality is like, but what we know about them is limited to what they’ve chosen to put out there, which in itself will always be limited, whether that choice is unintentional, conscious, or strategic. As a result, I think it can be easy to overestimate how well you know the big picture of someone because of the side(s) you’ve seen in online interactions.

What are your thoughts on how well you can know other bloggers?

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63 thoughts on “How Well Do You Know Other Bloggers?”

  1. I thought this was a good blog to read!. For me personally I avoid certain subjects being it could be maybe triggering to others. Sometimes it’s just to personal since I am in various subjects with my blog personally it all connects in some way or another. I never want to offend people neither or maybe hurt anyone. So your definitely right with actually everything lol on this blog very nicely done.

  2. Although I recognise that a blogger will almost always reflect their true selves, I treat it much like I would if I were to say that I don’t like x about someone, but I love them for y instead. I don’t know what the x is, but they’ve shown y, which I thought was pretty cool. I’m grateful for that and try to leave it there, before I end up creating a false image of them.

  3. A very interesting take on blogs for sure! I follow a few sites with very different topics… When a blog is “devoted” to a topic I always like to know a bit more about the person behind the topics so I always enjoy it when the writer chooses to share a bit about his/her/them selves. 😊
    I can say for my own site that I try to be very open about myself and I try to be as honest as I can. I’d love to be able to talk about mental and physical disabilities, I’d like to make the stigmas that rest on these topics smaller (as I know I will never be able to change it all). I may mention others but never by name. And I try to be positive about people but when they have hurt me and it’s impacted me, I’ll notice that. I only hope that the readers will know its not that I want to shine a bad light on those people for making me feel like I did, but it should reflect on me and how I may not be able to cope with things that happend, if that makes sense…
    So I try to be honest about it all, and open, but yeah, there may be bits I’ve never mentioned because they don’t seem that important to me. I never thought that other people may find it interesting…. 😉 Thanks for a new perspective!

  4. I think with mental health blogging, because it’s often so candid, it’s easy to think you know more about someone than you really do. I realise I don’t know much about the real-life situation of lots of blog friends, like their employment situation or where they live. I feel I share a lot about my emotional life (which sometimes I regret a bit), but there are lots of things I don’t post, whether because I don’t think people are interested, or it’s too private and personal (or shameful), because it deals with real people or details of my job, or because it just doesn’t occur to me to post it.

  5. I think personal bloggers like myself sometimes reveal more than they think they do! I have stopped reading/following bloggers who inadvertently revealed aspects of themselves that I found, how shall I say it, attractive? You can know facts about someone because they posted them which doesn’t mean that you know them. There are 3 or 4 people who read and comment on my blog who know me very well as I know them very well but that knowledge and understanding came more through private conversations than anything I posted (and also 20 years of internet friendship!)

    This also makes me think about comments – so often what you write about is not what people comment about – something you write triggers a reaction and that’s what people comment about – not the subject of the post. I’ve often sat scratching my head over a comment wondering “Where the hell did that come from?” And it’s been an effort to just blow past comments where the commenter assumes they “know” me. Or comments where the person just didn’t ‘get’ what I was writing about. Once you publish something you have no control over people’s reactions and interpretations and you just have to get over caring! (Such a hard lesson for me to learn).

  6. I’m going to flip this around to “What do other bloggers know/not know about me” because I am rather self-centered. On the one hand, blogging friends know a lot more about things that aren’t going well (eg. my marriage) than others in my in person life. On the other hand, those who find me through my blog don’t know:

    -My true political views – because I don’t post much about politics and because my views don’t fit neatly into the expected labels, such that I might like/engage with posts across the political spectrum. (In fairness, my in-person friends don’t know this either)

    -My makeup junkie side – I’m actually a beauty product junkie of sorts. You’d never know from my blog since I won’t post photos and I would never do a beauty product review blog.

    -The marriage moments that are good – It’s not as awful as my posts might lead one to believe, but I post more bad than good. There’s nowhere else to talk about the bad, but when things are good, I don’t even feel a need to post about it.

    -How bad my depressive feelings really get – I’ve shared a lot more via blogging (my in-person friends know nothing), but I find myself holding back on really spilling how bad things get.

    I try to keep in mind that I’m not seeing the whole of another blogger either, but it can be difficult sometimes.

    1. Blogging makes an interesting contrast to social media, where people seem to selectively show the good. This seems like a good place to talk about the bad that there isn’t a place for elsewhere.

      It would never have crossed my mind that you were a beauty product junkie. I used to be a big eyeshadow fan, and recently trashed my collection because I haven’t worn makeup for several years now.

    2. I did the same when I blog about family situations. People make assumptions that my family can be truly horrible toward me at times but the truth is, although they “can be” it’s not all doom and gloom all the time. I might have been in the heat of the moment when I bitched about teenagers and adults men barging into my bedroom when I purposely went there for privacy to and solitude but the truth of the matter is they do respect me or my boundaries more often than not.

      So blogging is about an outlet we have. At that moment I was pissed at the teenager and the husband but I wasn’t pissed at them for the rest of the day or week.

  7. I suppose the simple answer is that bloggers let you know what they want you to know and not what they don’t. That’s the glory of having personal blog. Getting to know people through their blogs can be enjoyable but it takes a lot of time also.

  8. Loved this post. Interesting comments too. I never assume I know anyone from their online presence, and indeed some people I know in “real life” surprise me as well. But your points are well taken. Some people SEEM to reveal a lot on their blogs (like um me), but there may be significant aspects they don’t reveal at all. Forex, I barely say a word about my day job, which is deliberate, though I talk a lot about my personal life and feelings about whatever thing grabs my attention (outside of work). I’ve also not said too much about my ex-husband (though sometimes I’ll say stuff in other people’s comments). I just don’t need the hassle if he ever decides to read it. You’re right that people think the past = the present, which is a weird thing about being online. You read something from 12 years ago and think you know how someone feels now…

    1. Yeah, that sense of timing is really lost, even if you can see the date on the post is old. I’ve gone back and deleted some posts because they don’t apply any more and I don’t want people to think they do.

      The hassle of someone like an ex reading at some point is definitely a good incentive to keep some things quiet. No one from IRL that I’m aware of has come across my blog, but I’m very easy to find, so I’d rather not go there.

  9. Interesting post and nope, can’t say I know many bloggers at all 😅 In some ways though, this reminds me a bit of how people behave in a regular workplace as well. We get to see glimpses of some people, while others share very little if anything at all about their personal life.

  10. Blogging is super weird like that, for me anyway. There are things that I write on here that I would Never say out loud to people in my “real life”. For me, the things that I right are so raw and authentic that I’d argue whoever chooses to read it knows parts of me a lot deeper than those who I could never say those things to out loud. So in that regard, it’s definitely possible to really “know” a person through their writing.
    I also think that’s where comments and conversation shine as well. The back and fourth between the reader and the author is a great way to feel more connected to someone else’s blog and get to know them in a more personal and direct manner.

  11. I don’t think we can know anyone through any type of social media which I include blogs in. It’s a one side perception regardless and there is not enough time in the day to share all aspects good or bad about your life much like even living with people. My children who live with me only know the glimpses they interact with me. It has gotten more isolating as time goes on for me but with all that negative commentary I do find this blog space very intimate and feel I know the spirit of people I follow or read.

  12. It does seem likely that most bloggers post primarily about the identified topic or purpose of their blog. And, that this adds to compartmentalizations as a natural by product. All of that said, I enjoy seeing parts of a persons personality as they share their views.

  13. It depends on what one means by “knowing” a blogger. Certainly, by following someone else’s blog, you get to know, at minimum, their passions. In some other cases, you might get to know their struggles, their families, their pets, etc., but there it varies from blogger to blogger.

  14. Great theme!

    First of all, I purposely omit details of my life experience that I deem to be too personal. If it’s something I don’t want to talk about around town here, except for with a few good friends or counselor types, I certainly don’t want the world to be able to see it. (Not to mention, people in my town are part of the world, so it makes no sense to exclude things from townspeople and yet post them on my blog.)

    The timeline is an important factor. I recently reconciled with a good friend, and before I did so, I removed posts from about four years ago that associated this person with a writer’s block I was having. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the posts came across as though I were blaming this person for my writer’s block! There were about six or seven such posts in a row. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem appropriate for my blog.

    I also try never to mention real names of real people I know in life unless it’s clearly positive or professional, with no negative aspect. For example, in my gratitude list I once expressed delight that I saw the whole “Sullivan family” walk through the door of the cafe at once — but this is an entirely positive statement about the Sullivans — whoever they are — and in that case I don’t feel as though I am “bearing false witness against my neighbor.”

    On the other hand, to blame another individual, who happened to be an estranged friend, for a writer’s block would DEFINITELY constitute “false witness against my neighbor.”

    As for how well I know other bloggers, I have to confess that I am a person who, even in “real life,” has a tendency to assume a greater closeness with people than is actually often the case. On the Internet, this phenomenon is magnified. For example, I didn’t feel uncomfortable asking someone for a ride to an event we were both invited to — someone I know only from online but who lives nearby and could have driven me the hour to the event in another town. I assumed that they knew me well enough to have no problem being in the car with me.

    But since they only knew from the Internet, they were leery of taking an hour’s drive with a stranger. The difference in our perceptions was that I would never perceive someone to be a “stranger” in such a context. I was surprised by their response, because I had already felt that we knew each other fairly well. Evidently, they did not share that feeling.

    I have however made some good friends through blogging. But usually this is because it has ascended to the level of a video chat first. Until I actually see the person on a screen, or at least talk to them on the phone, I don’t really have enough information about them to call them a friend. But because of the syndrome I confessed, I may tend to think they are a friend, when they are not thinking anything of the kind.

    I should mention in passing that I actually have a password-protected blog that only three people read, that is more like an open diary, in which I discuss any and all of my personal issues — financial, sexual, you-name-it. But I only let three people in whom I’ve known for many years.

    That’s about where I’m at. Thanks for the stimulating post.

    1. It’s never come up as a possibility to meet someone from the online world offline. Interesting that that person would have responded that way. I’m sufficiently people-averse that I wouldn’t want to spend an hour in a car with anyone no matter how well I knew them, but I wouldn’t think of someone I knew online as a stranger.

      1. Right. I would never think of you, for example, as a “stranger.” That seems to be too distant a marking for the level of our many interactions. But unlike you, I probably would take the risk of being in a car with someone in a car for a while if I felt there was mutual safety, whether I knew them well or not. I sometimes make such judgments quickly on intuition. (And my intuition is sometimes wrong — but that’s the risk you run if you need a ride somewhere.)

      2. Also, I actually have met several people in real life whom I originally knew from online. Even had a glass of wine with a woman once. I felt compelled to confess: “You know, I’m not who you think I am. I’m a totally homeless person with no job who doesn’t have his shit together.” She looked at me for a minute and then said: “You have your shit together more than anybody I’ve ever met in my entire life.” That was certainly a compliment, but I have since wondered what gave her that perception. (Maybe it was the wine.)

          1. Yeah that was in 2009. Then we got a hotel room and I disappointed her by sleeping on the floor. Not sure if it was shyness or Christianity or some combination of both, but I’ve never been known to just go to bed with people (no matter how well I know them).

  15. You’re right, it will be a limited snapshot. I think the same thing goes for “meeting” people online through social media or dating apps, where that other person is only showing what they want the viewers to see. Even offline, I guess you’ll only get a feel for parts of a person’s life. Sometimes a partner spends 20 years married to someone who then turns out to be a serial killer. Shit happens I guess.

    It’s a really interesting point though. My friends are pretty much all online, like your awesome self, and it’s admittedly not the same as having offline friends or having someone simply to hang out with. That said, I don’t know where I’d be without them or without the blogging world. I wouldn’t mix the two too much, for the reasons you’ve covered. And while I talk about personal things like the bag stuck on my tummy, that took a whole lot of balls that have since retracted. I can’t bring myself to talk about my first surgery out of embarrassment, and I think part of that is probably wondering whether anyone I know “offline” will see it. xx

    1. Mixing of worlds is a strange thing to contemplate. No one that I know of from offline has looked at my blog, but I really have no idea. I’m very grateful for blogging friends, because without people like you, it would be just me and the guinea pigs. They’re fabulous, but some human contact is good too. ❤️

  16. I think I know the bloggers I interact with the most fairly well. With the caveats that you’ve given. I don’t expect someone I know on line to necessarily BE who I know on line, They aren’t lying on line, they’re just choosy about what they want to share with people they do not really know, and most likely will never meet. So I see a synopsis of the better bits. It’s what I try to show on my own blog. Nobody really needs to know my day to day boring life details. What is relevant is what I share with the people I blog with, although I do struggle from time to time with oversharing. Usually if I feel I’ve done that, the post gets pulled down. I have chronic depression and that influences (obviously) the number of pity party posts I might write. Recently there is a blogger I interact with who is apparently undergoing some massive life change or issue IRL. They have said nothing about it, but they are doing a lot of what I might consider oversharing. Who am I to judge? I don’t know what’s going on and it’s none of my business anyway. I like your idea of limiting or eliminating in real persons we actually know too. I’ve shared some things about my family and relatives on here which I don’t want them to read. Not because I didn’t mean what I wrote, but because I don’t want to deal with the possible fall out when the words were negative. It’s a good idea to do housekeeping on one’s blog for that reason and my own efforts in that regard are pretty poor. But we learn from each other here, which is one reason, for me anyway, that’s it is a safe and enjoyable environment.

    1. In real life fall out is nice to avoid if possible.

      I like that the blogging world feels like a very safe environment. I also get a sense of knowing people, even if I don’t know everything about them. And I agree, we learn from each other, whatever it is we decide to share or not share.

  17. Thought provoking post.
    Somewhere I read that the blogger reveals himself or herself over the time as the blogosphere journey continues.
    May be from interactions, likings or comments. Also the niche of their topics.
    But the greatest feeling is to be able to interact with the whole world.
    In WP, I find good souls, with decent behaviour, helpful and many like you share the knowledge

  18. Excellent article Ashley – l have a question of sorts aimed at this subject …ish [always the ish] this coming weekend 🙂

    [Maybe in Guy or a 321 Journal post. It’ll appear somewhere anyhoo]

  19. Dangnations, and l missed answering the question ………. l follow very few bloggers in a dedicated fashion – mostly it’s 28 and l tend to keep a pretty good mental dossier on those that l read from on a regular basis even if l don’t say that much in comments – so l know pretty much what they choose to share]

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