Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Exhibitionists and Voyeurs

A few things I’ve been pondering today have to do with blogging, and the more modern version, micro-blogging.

I was reading something about blogs and micro-blogs, society’s “obsession” with them, which I view more as a current fixation, and how it reveals us to be the voyeurs and exhibitionists we are.

Being a longtime blogger and a sometimes blog reader, I take issue with being dubbed either an exhibitionist or a voyeur because anyone who writes or reads anything (poetry, fiction, editorials, children’s books, movie reviews, etc.) then qualifies, and that’s not a sweeping statement that can be made with accuracy.

Like all online personas, Happy Villian is just a facet of my personality, a simple glimpse into my thoughts, and I don’t write to show off in a look-at-me, I’m-so-great fashion, or at the very least, that isn’t a motivation for me at all.

I started writing many years ago because I needed an outlet during a troubled time, and I never expected to develop a readership. All throughout my teenage years I kept journals to keep my sanity. My friends were teenagers, and my deepest thoughts and most painful feelings were not safe in their hands. I wrote journals to confess to no one the turmoil I was going through, and once I was older, more experienced, more mature, and surrounded by people who were the same, the need for a journal dissolved.

The first blog I wrote was about my father’s death, at a time when my friends were no longer patient enough to listen to me trying to work through my grief, and my family was falling apart. I wrote about what it’s like to survive the death of a loved one. It was gut wrenching, but it wasn’t for anyone else but me, and I never figured anyone would even read it. The only reason I chose to do a blog versus another journal in a notebook was because I can type a hell of a lot faster than I can write, and Blogger was so good at keeping it all organized, much neater than previous journals I’d done. As time went on, the release it gave me was intense, and I felt like writing about things other than my dad’s death, so a second blog evolved that was just silly me stuff. The third one was Libraries for Dummies, which, if you’ve been a reader since way back then, bless your soul. It moved to Libraryosis and then to its current location, and I’ve written varying amounts of posts on work related issues, friends, family and anything else that popped into my head. I have a dog blog, a travel blog, and I even contributed to a photography blog for a bit. It’s not about the audience. It’s about the release.

What you may not believe is that writing a blog empowered me. It gave me the courage to look closer at myself to make better decisions and the clarity to recognize those situations so that I could exercise these new life skills. Having a voice, seeing my words and emotions, being able to make fun of people (including myself), and somehow organizing my thoughts outside my head, so I knew what to do with things inside my head, have all made me a better person.

I was the girl throughout school who never spoke. I sat at the back of the classroom and tried to look brave and above it all, defying my own loneliness, but rotting from the inside out. The one thing that scared me more than anything in the world was for people to pay attention to me because I preferred to be invisible. Having to speak in class was a form of torture I can’t articulate, and I suffered from anxiety attacks if the teacher was forcing us to read aloud. I was not emotionally equipped to be the center of attention, and I still hate it. To this day, I would prefer to disappear than to have all eyes on me. Even after I was done with school, I worked for employers who used and abused me, beyond the usual bad management techniques, and I could not speak up in defense of myself or anyone else. Men I dated did horrible things to me simply because I allowed it, because I didn’t have the strength to withstand the judgment of others and was content to not be completely alone. I had no voice.

I have a voice now. And it feels good to know myself, to know better what to do, and to flounder less frequently, gasping for ideas on how to handle what life throws at me. It’s not because I open my robe to the world with a blog, but because I type out what’s in my head, re-read it later, and see myself in a different light. Somewhere in the mess, I became a fighter. The girl who used to cower in school now teaches. The woman who dated men who hurt her is now the one who only dates men worthy of her attention. The friend who used to be afraid of how her friends would look at her now shows her loyalty in useful ways and drops people the second they treat her without respect. I don’t apologize for who I am anymore. I write not because I’m an exhibitionist, but because it allows me to better see myself, for all my strengths and flaws, and that makes me better at living my life.

So, if you consider yourself a voyeur, or if you write and consider yourself an exhibitionist, then good for you. More power to you! If you don’t, and you’re only ever seeking to get a better grasp on life, to understand yourself and others more personally, or just to connect with someone, then pull up a computer chair and let’s chat. We’re in this one together.


PaintingChef said...

That was just awesome. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

Amanda (the librarian) said...

You write good, interesting posts. I'm especially tired of the microbloggers (and I include Facebook updates here) that think the world cares that they "need coffee," are "going to lunch," etc. etc.

Happy Villain said...

You're welcome. I'm sure you write your blog for the same reasons I do. Catharsis can be cheap sometimes. :)

Thanks, and I agree about the whole idea of people publishing their lunch contents or that they're scratching their head. No one cares. That is incredibly irritating.

Gardenbuzzy said...

At last! Someone who can understand what school is like for the painfully shy. I had one history teacher that was so fearsome (she threw things at students) that if she called on me, I would momentarily black out from fright.

I never asked a question in class, answered questions only under duress and never, never raised my hand for any reason.

I'm grown up now and can talk to total strangers, but I still get nauseous if I have to speak to an audience. Maybe that's why I'm an exceptional writer. My fingers are more articulate than my lips.

So it's nice to know I'm not alone in my shy background. Thanks for blogging about this.