Mel at Stirrup Queens had a great post on what she calls the “Internet Shut-Up,” a comment on a post, status update or Tweet whose sole purpose is to tell you that you have no right to feel the way you are feeling and please stop writing about it and wonders how those comments contribute to how we express ourselves.
I’ve never received an Internet Shut-Up though I have sort of received a gentle Twitter “be quiet” and a Facebook “I see your status update and raise you mine b/c my life is harder.” Mel’s post really resonated with me because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my blogging identity – maybe my social media identity in general. I haven’t gotten to the point of needing to worry about receiving an actual Internet Shut-Up, but I’m afraid of a passive Internet Shut-Up in that no one wants to know what I have to say or think period.
I love blogging even though I haven’t been very consistent with it. I’ve always been a diarist in some way or shape and needed to write to clear my brain and figure out things. My life the last 5 years has been pretty hectic thanks to grad school, working full time, infertility diagnosis and treatment, new parenthood and now I feel like I have a tiny bit of free time since I have graduated (though I’m still waiting on my diploma, UNC!) and now that Daniel is older.
So now I’m coming out of a cave and looking around and wondering where I go and who I am and what I write about. I am infertile. I had a child via surrogacy. I still feel very connected to the IF community and feel like I belong (despite having a child, I am still very much infertile), but that’s not all I am. I am a mommy, but when I try to read other mom bloggers, I don’t feel like I fit in. I feel like a fraud despite being a mother too. I follow a lot of NC bloggers but in comparison to what they are doing, I feel like such a newbie. I used to have a book blog, but I still don’t have much time to read.
I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m afraid of the Internet Shut-Up. I’m afraid. I worry about whether I’m posting too much on surrogacy or boring posts about my son that are of no interest to anyone but our family. I worry about the need to think and write something profound; as a result, I seem to be constantly editing myself.
I think part of my self-censoring is that when I started blogging in 2007, I was blogging under a pseudonym b/c I was blogging about our infertility, and my blog was a place for me to rant and say all the dark, bitter thoughts I had. I had no desire to be public, and I think as a rule, IF bloggers tend to use more pseudonyms or nom de plumes because when your body or your partner’s body is broken, that isn’t something you necessarily want your coworkers to know about from your blog. Things have changed in the blogosphere since 2007, and I’m struggling with putting back together all those pieces of myself that I sliced off before.
On the other hand, I’ve always worried about what others thought. Too much most likely. It’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but that anxiety likely carries over to my social media interactions.
I don’t want to edit myself. This is my blog, my space. I need to stop fearing the Internet Shut-Up and post what I want whether I have 1 reader or thousands. My thoughts and feelings are valid, and I have every right to express them. If you don’t like what I say, then I guess it’s up to you whether you want to continue reading or move on.
And that’s ok. Really.