Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paranoid?

I've been waffling over whether or not I wanted to talk about this. You guys might think I'm nuts. But haven't I given you reason to think that a time or two before?

Anyway, ever since all the political crap (and religion bashing) started flying around on blogs, something weird has happened to me. All of a sudden, I find myself feeling a little afraid of you guys. I mean, I'm not scared of those of you I "know"- my blog buddies. And I don't mean "afraid" as in watching to see if you're lurking around outside in my yard, or anything- although I wouldn't put it past a few of you smarta**es to sneak into my yard and cover my windows with Obama stickers. But, I guess this political season brought out such a "different" side in several bloggers, and it's really driven home the point to me that we, as bloggers, really don't know jack crap about the people we read about every day. We only know what they want to tell us. We begin to feel like we know them, then... BAM! We find out there's a side to them that's... well, how do I put it? I don't know. I'm just finding that I think and feel very differently about a few people now. Not many. But a few. Most of you, my regular readers are not included in this group. But then again, I don't really know who all of my regular readers are. And I guess that's the whole point. That's what's scaring me. I'm suddenly very aware of the fact that I'm putting personal information out there about myself, including pictures of my children, to strangers. To people who may not be very nice. I know. That makes me sound like the dumbest woman on earth. Wasn't I aware of that before? Yes. Of course, I was. But it never felt scary before. Now, I'm freaked. There's an open hostility out there, an accepted spewing of hate, toward people like me (and by that, I mean Conservative, Evangelical, Christian, Republican, Homeschooler, Creationist... pick a label, any label). I've already blogged about the fact that my faith and political views (and the accompanying lack of intelligence that apparently goes along with my faith and political views) has been openly mocked these past few months. That bugs me, but it's more than that. It creeps me out to think people who "hate" me (and I don't mean "me" personally, but "me" collectively), and are openly disgusted by all I hold dear can stumble upon my blog and see all my personal thoughts, feelings, and pictures of my children. Again, I sound stupid. I know. I'm a little late to worry about my personal information floating around out there.

If you're a regular reader and commenter, please don't think, "Oh, I bet she means me." Chances are I don't. And a few of you are so wide open on your own blogs, that even when you say something that surprises me, I don't feel shocked by it- as if you're a completely different person than I had believed. You've remained true to yourselves whether talking politics, religion, or weather.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Have you ever felt paranoid out of the blue like this about who is reading your blog? Have you ever suddenly felt very "naked" as a blogger and been a little freaked by it? Have you ever had an experience when you suddenly realized a blogger was not at all the person you thought them to be? (Haha. If so, it wasn't me, was it?) Anyway, how have you handled this stuff? Am I just being paranoid?

I'm sure this icky feeling will pass as the political talk begins to die down and our lives return to "normal," but for right now, I feel totally creeped out about talking about anything anymore. And yet, I've just spent the last ten minutes laying my feelings out there to strangers... Once again contradicting myself.

19 comments:

Rachel said...

Hey Michelle, I am a regular reader (your blog popped up on Google reader, I thought you were hilarious, and I have been reading every since) and occasional commenter. I've commented on some of your political posts, I think, and for what it's worth (close to nothing), I am also a Christian who has different political beliefs than you do...but I try hard to be graceful on my blog and in my responses to things. (I fail a lot, I'm pretty sure.)

Anyway, sometimes it creeps me out to have people read what I write - it mostly scares me when I see a lot of hits from locations that I know have no business reading the blog. So by necessity, what I write cannot have things like our pictures, our location, etc...so those things are passworded. That gives me (and my DH) a little bit more comfort with the whole thing. That being said, I still overshare. Regularly. All the time.

And I hate being the first person to respond! I think it's like sitting in the front row in a lecture hall.

Anonymous said...

Ok I'm only doing this as "anonymous" because I'm paranoid too! haha. But just so you know, you do read my blog and you do have my password. Anyway...

I completely understand what you are saying, that is why I recently changed the password on my blog. I suddenly realized that one of the people I had given my password to was really not the type of person I wanted having my password! Not because their point of view of things was different from mine, but because the way they expressed their point of view was so hostile and mean. So I understand what you are saying.

Michelle said...

Anon~ Oh, yes, I know who YOU are. Haha. You hit it on the head exactly- it's not that people think differently than I do- it's the people who express it in such a hostile way.

And Rachel, I'm sure we all fail at being graceful and respectful, but as far as I can recall, you've always been very respectful in expressing your opinion on my blog (all 3 times you've said something! lol!). And I hate being the first to comment, too! I think it looks as if I sit around all day just waiting for the blogger to post. Feels a little pathetic.

Tami said...

I feel that way quite a bit. I share your political and religious beliefs and purposely left the political stuff off my blog for a long time...until I couldn't take it anymore. I try to keep the discussions respectful and civil...but real. Thankfully, so far I haven't been slammed, but like you sometimes I feel like it may just be lurking on the other side of the publish button.
I'm seriously thinking about curtailing some of our personal information on our blog. I don't use the kids real names and haven't given a specific location for where we live, but I have posted pictures and other information that makes me a bit nervous.
Hmmmm...now you've done it! You've made me paranoid too! :)

Elaine said...

Ha ha! (Laughing at myself here) I started out paranoid. I blogged for, what? A year or more before I'd even use my entire first name. But I've been a magnet for crazy weirdos throughout my life, plus the husband has a master's degree in IT security, so that's why I've been so cautious. Despite that, I do know what you mean.

Michelle said...

Haha. Sorry, Tami.

char said...

Ok, so now you're going to feel twice as paranoid when you go to Kelly's blog and see that I put you as the person I'd like to meet! I outed myself as your stalker!! Haha!! I think that's what the question was on her blog..
Anyway, I was going to be paranoid at first, but so many of my family are kinda' computer-challenged that I knew they wouldn't be able to handle the password thing. And, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that really, someone could find out who you are etc. no matter what you posted if they really want to do that. I also think that part of blogging's up side for a lot of people is being able to put stuff out there to people that don't know them. You can be real and honest without judgement much of the time, not like you would if you said the same things to family or IRL friends. You find new friends that share some of the same things that other people think you're crazy for (adoption, home schooling, etc.) I know where I live the resources just aren't here and it makes me feel good to hear from others in my similar situation.

Michelle said...

Which Kelly? I must go read this. I always had you pegged as the stalker type, Char. You biologists can't be trusted. It's just not normal to like science so much. Hee hee.

Nicki said...

I had this identical experience. It wasn't during the election but earlier in the year. It was totally eye-opening and really sad and shocking and needless to say I know exactly the feeling you mean. I'm still sort of holding onto it and it has changed the way I blog (probably not in ways anyone would notice though) and it has definitely changed the way I think of people who I once felt very positive toward.

I wonder if it's a sort of inevitability? When you put yourself out there, you take a risk and expose yourself and there are people who see that vulnerability and immediately start to cast judgments and create a picture in their own head of who you are that fits with their own agenda and hang-ups and not so much the reality, kwim? Still, doesn't make it any less uncomfortable.

I'm really sorry you are feeling creeped out and I am REALLY sorry (again - you know I won't stop saying it) for any part I had in that.

Michelle said...

No, Nicki- you don't have to be sorry- REALLY. So, stop saying it. I'm not bothered by any of the crap you say, sweetpea. I can let it go pretty easily, I guess, because I don't feel it's coming from a place of hate. You say what you think (and I rarely agree with it :D... some of your political/religious opinions make me foam at the mouth!), but I don't come away from your blog feeling like you were TRYING to be insensitive or cruel, like some of the other blogs lately. You are my all-time favorite atheist. Really. And I don't say that often.

SueCQ said...

I'm just a PAP in the final stages of adopting an older child from Vietnam. I started reading your blog WAY back . . . I think it was during the dress hunt. It was your post on the spanx and then your later post about your conversation with your husband ABOUT the spanx that hooked me. I'm here every day, but I don't comment much . . . just laugh or think or learn . . . depending on the subject of the day.

I keep our blog private, simply because my husband wanted it that way and I didn't want to fight with him! Lame, I know. {{SHRUG}}

Kelly said...

I have this feeling a lot. I never know exactly how to handle it. I love having readers comment and say that something I said helped them in some way or another, but is it really worth it? I put a lot of info about our family out there. Too much, I am certain.

The freakiest thing for me has been on 4 different occasions now a complete stranger has come up to me and said, "Oh, I read your blog. I love Lucy." And 2 of those times I was far away from our home town. Yikes. It just happened this past weekend. My mom has been with me 2 of the times so of course she gets quite paranoid.

Most days I think it is probably time to go completely private.

Christina Hubbard said...

Michelle~

I share your views. My personality is "please everyone and don't stir the pot"! During this election year it has been very hard! I have a lot I would like to say but for fear of people bashing me or my family I have not done so until after the election was final and then I felt like I had to! I did ask my husband to read and make sure it was ok before I posted so as not to put my family in the "line of fire!" That is why I love reading your blog. I share so many of your views and feel better knowing there are others out there that feel the way I do!! I think I am rambling some. I just want you to know I feel the same way and get nervous about who is reading my blog. As my husband told me recently if we get mean comments then we will get a password and go private.

Tina, KCMO

Michelle said...

Wow, Kelly, that would scare the crap out of me to have a stranger come up and recognize me or my children from my blog. I think my blogging days would come to an abrupt end if that ever happened. I guess that's one more reason to be thankful that my blog is a "small" one.

Rebecca said...

Michelle I really do understand! I had someone say to me in the last month (via email) that she thought I was giving too much information on my blog and she was worried that the birth family could find me through my blog. Well first of all the birth father knows our names and could find us if he really wanted to. Second we keep in touch with the birth fathers family and they have been to our house. And finally the last thing--I don't ever think that the birth mother could ever find me (even with my blog). That comment did freak me out a little and made me think who she really was and why was she worried about the birth family finding us?

Please promise me if you ever go private you would let me know! I can't live without my daily dose of Michelle!!!!

mrsbroccoliguy said...

Well you know how paranoid I am - no names, no faces in pictures. But I did give up on the "no political opinions" idea - with a vengeance! LOL.
Also, I know what you mean about seeing people differently. We really don't know that much about our "friends" on the 'net and it's bound to happen that we realize some of them aren't who we had built them up to be. And for me sometimes that means unsubscribing from a blog because I just don't need to read something that gets my blood boiling every other day, y'know? It's weird though, I feel guilty doing it. Blogs are this strange combination of "entertaining reading" (like a magazine) and "email from a friend" and sometimes it's hard to know where that line is.

Anonymous said...

Where to start.
Hmmm...while I have strongly disagreed with some political stuff on some of my favorite bloggers, in general, I think it was good to see where they are coming from, to read stuff they linked to or watch videos they posted, and then decide. I really really like that "addendum" that josh bottomly posted on his blog, so I am hanging onto that.

I actually feel wierder about the whole election thing with some of my very closest RL friends. Not a lot has been said, I certainly didn't try to change their minds and I just sent a few e-mails explaining why I made the choice I did, (in response to the avalanche of e-mails I received every day) I think in a really respectful way. I just have this lingering feeling that they think I am not Christian enough or a "bad" Christian.

I don't know. I think in a lot of ways it is just like in real life. The blogs I read and love evolve as I learn more about the bloggers, just like IRL friends. Most of the time though my initial gut is right!

I was pretty freaked out the day we announced we traveled to VN and got almost 700 hits--esp. when IRL friends kept commenting like "Good luck (last name) family, who lives at (insert address) etc. etc. Esp. when people were so freakin' judgemental who didn't know the details.

Honestly I don't look at my stats very much b/c 1. I am lazy and 2. I can't quite figure it all out.

The picture thing--I won't put pics of L. b/c I have seen what some sick people do with pics of kids with Ds. Sick. I should just move to wordpress. But I am lazy. So there ya go.

Overall my issue isn't being the privacy thing, it is not being disciplined in the time I spend reading blogs (but not commenting b/c I tell myself I will only quickly read my favorites) and then too much time passes.

So. what was the question? haha! lol. Sorry to write such a boring book for a comment.
p.s. I didn't do anything this year b/c my parents were not in a laughing mood about it--but in 2004 I covered their backyard that faces the golf course with Kerry signs. They loved me for it...heehee.

oh, and the majority of my best friends IRL are conservative, evangelical Republicans.

Shannon

Anonymous said...

Michelle~

I am a regular lurker. You probably see me listed from Seminole, FL. Just wanted to say that I love reading your blog. I am at the opposite end of the political spectrum but am always respectful of others' opinions (as long as they reciprocate and do not try to change my opinion.) Don't worry, I am no threat! Just a PAP waiting to travel.

Kathy

Ash said...

I too have noticed that true colors come out in blog world. I think the way you treat people you don't know and may never meet says a lot about who you really are. It's ironic that some who stand on a platform of tolerance are the first to act intolerant.