Home and the Blog

What does my blog mean to me?

Many a time, as I’ve sat by myself at night when the sounds of the day have quietened down and noises of the night have become louder, such as that of the whooshing of the AC, or thud of the softly falling snow or rain, the zzzzzing of the ups and downs of voltage brightening or dimming the tubelight or the buzzzzz of a single mosquito trapped in the mosquito net, or the dulled sounds of boats in the fog or the frogs croaking outside with the glow worms, depending on which part of the world I am in, I’ve wondered what the blog means when the writing has or hasn’t come. 

Whereas my writings on other social media such as status updates or pictures uploaded to Facebook have often been a result of the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings when the impulse has come, the blog has been more about emotion recollected in tranquility. It has been something in between offhand writing that has quickly happened while making other plans and the other kind of more ponderous compositions I do where  emotion, in many ways, has had to be kept in abeyance because logic is king. By consensus, emotion has almost been something to be ashamed of in that kind of writing.

In that sense, the blog has been spontaneous, something like facing myself, a mirror that has changed with time. It has been a way of recording moments when the emotion hasn’t passed completely and yet a way to see myself later when the moment has passed. It has been a way to record unfiltered thoughts and a way to see what those thoughts look like when I’m already embarrassed about my enthusiasm.

It has been about aggregating my many selves, seeing them in a cluster in one place, watching a collection of discrete people I know as myself that I’m more used to thinking of as a single person–a  continuous whole that I have assumed to be me.

It has also been about spotting recurring thoughts as patterns over months and even years (or at least the year and a half I’ve been blogging) and so a means of recognizing myself.

I’ve wondered what it would have been like had I been blogging for ever instead of just the year and half. What would it be like to read my adolescent aspirations now, those sweeping powerful feelings and those newly formed ideas untainted as yet by the cynicism of experience? What would it have been like to have blogged in my twenties talking about dilemmas and ambitions that are like the pages of a well worn book now revisited too many times with if’s and but’s?

Would the act of having written down my various young selves have changed the self that I am today?

Does blogging change us as we blog about ourselves through the months and years?

Recently, I sat down to read my diaries from my late teen years. I am hesitant to tell my adolescent self from where I am now that  I felt a little embarrassed at all the emotions mixed with ideas that overflowed the bounds of sentences then into too many exclamations of wonder.  But I am also a little bit nostalgic about what I could feel then and can’t feel now without reservations.

The diaries were a simple mirror to what I was then written only to myself, unmitigated by a consciousness of a public audience. But if I had blogged publicly, how would I have tempered my thoughts? Would that consciousness of and engagement with a public readership have shaped my ideas differently? Would I have been a slightly different person today because of that?

Increasingly, as I’ve wandered from place to place and met more and more different kinds of people, as I’ve re-met people I knew in childhood who have grown in directions different from mine, it has become more and more difficult to find an anchor, a central point of origin for who I am today. It has been difficult to tether myself, to find a home to which I can trace myself back to something that I was then and hence something that I am now and someone I can be.

Perhaps if I had steadily recorded myself in a blog for as long as I can remember, I would have had a home now. Perhaps if I can keep blogging long enough into the future, I can build a home.

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11 thoughts on “Home and the Blog”

  1. Great post. My blog helps me clarify as well. And yes, Those embarassing blogs!! One hopes new readers don’t search the archives. I didn’t do the camoflage as well as you.

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  2. I think that your blog is already a home for you, and that you are building and remodeling it as you go.

    When you raised the question of whether you would be different if you had been blogging forever, and also the point about tempering your feelings because you have an audience, it reminded me of something a FB friend posted recently that I found chilling. It warned that when you write down a memory of a past experience as a story–in a blog post, say–that fixes this version in your memory as THE account of that event, and blurs the original memory. If that were true, writing one’s memories for a blog actually contributes to their inauthenticity and eventually, to their loss. A scary thought for me, since I’m sure that in the interests of privacy I soften the edges of some of the stories for public consumption.

    I actually get blog withdrawal symptoms when I haven’t written a new story for a few days. Eventually, no matter how busy I am, I just have to sit down and write one, or, far from recollecting in tranquility, I start to get a little crazy.

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    1. You are absolutely right. You’ve raised a *very* interesting point. Public records of personal memory on social media such as Facebook, even more than blogs, have a showcasing quality where memories are edited and presented with a conscious or subconscious purpose. Collected over a period of time, they are bound to influence self-perception and also influence other people’s perceptions and hence interpersonal effects in subjectivity construction. Yet, it can be argued that all memory is constructed, to an extent (such as we see in autobiographies). Social media will bring a new dimension to this specific kind of constructed memory. I am excited to see what will happen and also apprehensive.

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  3. I was never one to keep a diary or journal–though I think I’m fine with not having any of the angsty teenaged poems I wrote. :D
    It will certainly be interesting to look back on blog posts ten years from now. In general, no matter how spontaneous posts seem, when I write them I’m aware others will be reading. I’m hoping that makes me, and my words, more thoughtful.

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  4. I find interesting that you write about diaries and blogging. Until I cared about having a readership, I considered my blog as a diary. But in fact when I found my real diaries in my parents’ basement a few summers ago and then my more recent as I was cleaning some closets, I realized that my diaries were much more personal than my blog posts. With my blog, although versatile, I have a focus. My diaries, on the other hand, were a place where I could unload my soul.
    But the fact that we change as we write is identical. My first posts are reflecting where I was in terms of my writing journey and my immigration experience. The more recent posts are who I am now.
    As always, great reflection through your writing.

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  5. You raise an interesting point. I often write about things I experienced when I was much younger and it’s interesting to compare how I think about those events today and how I remember feeling at the time. I know for me, if I had been writing a blog back then, I wouldn’t have bothered to write about some of these things. I didn’t sense their importance at the time.

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  6. It is fascinating to see how we change through the years. I have very few writings from my teen years, but I know from the few things I do have that I have grown a lot. I imagine I’ll have the same reaction when I look back at where I’m at now in another twenty years :)

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