Awkward moments most bloggers face

I’ve been thinking a lot about those awkward moments when someone says to you “I read your blog”. It wasn’t such a big deal before. This blog mostly covers obscure issues in educational technology; however, now that I also have a blog about my lived experience with breast cancer, my reaction to the statement “I read your blog” has totally changed.

I first noticed this when I went to the Technology, Knowledge, and Society conference in Berkeley. The conference itself was not that interesting to me, however, it served a really important step in my reclaiming my academic identity. I was able to present some of my thesis research in a way that many people were interested. It was nice to have people interested in what I had to say – people who had no reason to have ever read my cancer blog. They knew nothing about me except the short bio in the conference proceedings.

Then it happened, someone came up to me and said hello. They knew me from something I did online. I wasn’t sure how I should respond. I was in a bit of a panic. Did they know me from academic circles? Did they know me from my breast cancer blog? How on earth am I supposed to respond to the statement “I read your blog?”

Of course, as I start to put myself out into the real world, this situation is bound to happen more often. I know that when I go to the et4online conference (Emerging Technologies for Online Learning) in Dallas, that many of the women at the conference are readers of my breast cancer blog – I know because they have left comments, sent postcards and care packages, and have been there to encourage me when I needed it the most – it is part why I’m going to that conference – because I know many people. The problem is, they know me in a way in which I do not know them. They may have followed the details I’ve shared on my cancer blog, but there is little or no reciprocity in sharing when you blog. Others know you in ways in which you do not know them. This makes for some rather uncomfortable and awkward moments.

So my question for you is, how do you deal with those awkward moments when someone ‘knows’ you because of your online presences? And especially when you do not ‘know’ them in the same way?

7 Comments on Awkward moments most bloggers face

  1. I do find it a bit odd when someone says that they read my blog. I obviously know people do (otherwise I wouldn’t be seeing the track I see on my blog), but my “suspicion” comes from a previous blog I had which was used against me. It’s hard to not have the initial reaction of “you read my blog? who are you? what do you want?”, but once we start having a conversation about the issues brought up in my blogs that paranoia subsides. I find it less weird now that I’ve had enough people tell me that they read my blog so I’ve been sensitized to it.

  2. Regardless of space or place, I think it is amazing that you have put yourself out there (all of you!). Often we are not alone in our struggles and challenges – so by sharing and being open about your own experiences, I think you have created an amazing place for others to read, learn, connect, and find support.

    In writing about personal stories and challenges at my original blog (which I seem to be neglecting these days)… http://souvenirsofcanada.blogspot.com/ – I intentionally put things on there specific for friends and family to read/follow along — but if you write about a topic that might get searched (cancer issues from Fiachra, social/political rights concerns, or others issue) I have been surprised as to who might finds it and responds. If I didn’t want to put it out there, than I probably would have blogged, snapped a photo for Flickr, or posted a video online.

    Rebecca – be proud about sharing your story and all of you online. I think you might be helping others you don’t even know who read about your narrative and you connect them to a new form of support. Be proud about that. Embrace all that you are, even in uncommon/awkward spaces. You’ll be surprised what that conversation will lead to and how it will make you feel. Sometimes awkward is necessary and needed.

  3. I lived with this for years…the very first time, it was pretty weird. I felt naked and a bit skinless, standing in the middle of the Farmer’s Market in Charlottetown. Once I got used to it, though, I found it actually really helpful…and there are aspects of it that I’ve missed since I stopped blogging more personally.

    What I found helpful about it was that – in choosing to work through and bear witness in public, via my blog, to aspects of my life that made for challenging casual conversation – the number of times I had to come ‘leaping out of the closet’ on those issues was hugely minimized. People who read my blog knew. And knew through my own words. So there were fewer f2f awkward moments – because the death of a child, like cancer, is a profoundly awkward topic when it randomly pops up with an unprepared person – and fewer moments where I had to pretend whole parts of my life and identity didn’t exist in order to avoid those awkward moments. Especially for the first few years, when it was all raw and new, that really really mattered to me. Yes, people knew about me in a way I often did not know about them. But…my experience was not one most people share – which is, frankly, great – so there really was no reciprocity to expect. If people *did* have stories to tell that related to mine, the blog was often the spark that led to that sharing and disclosure.

    It takes time to get used to being “the person who has had x,” x being any given traumatic/challenging life experience. There is the period when you’re living through it, and then a period of a few years after, often, where you are through it but your identity is still deeply shaped by its complexities. Having a more fully-faceted picture of your identity go walking around in the world without you, like a blog does, can be kind of a helpful way to navigate that weirdness and that complexity. It can help people who encounter you be a little kinder in the right places, y’know?

    Since you have more than one blog, though, it might be helpful to have a handy short response ready so you can tell by others’ response TO it which blog they’ve actually read. :)

    • I was actually Wondering Bon why u kept ur theory blog on the cribchronicles domain? It’s interesting coz it alludes to the old, personal blog on ur academic one just by the title. It might have been a practical decision but i think it has layers to it!

      • Ah, because when I opened the theoryblog it was just intended to be a little extra space…a lean-to on the side of the home I’d made for myself on the internet. I had no intention/vision of closing cribchronicles at that point – and still thought of it as my dominant online identity and the way almost everybody found me. I got a lot of traffic in those days…blogging was always way bigger than edtech for that…so it just never really occurred to me to separate them completely. I initially build the theoryblog as a small mirror site of cribchronicles, that had a similar but slightly different header and a shared “about” page, and the two linked each other visibly. Oh, visions of late 2010, you were so cute. :)

        • Bon, I find it interesting that your ‘academic’ blog was a adjunct to your ‘real space’. In my case, it was the other way around. I had a travel blog that had a very particular audience, but also it was co-authored, so goingeast.ca was always a “Scott and Becky” thing, rather than a Rebecca thing … my academic blog gave me a sense of freedom, in that I no longer felt the need to have everything go through an edit by my husband, who is meticulous to a fault such that things take forever to get published … my cancer blog was yet again a different audience … I just didn’t see that the same people would be interested in each. But, what I am seeing also is that non-academic blogs, and in particular, illness blogs, tend to have higher traffic rates. It didn’t take me long to build up an audience on BCBecky.com (boy to I regret the .com on that one) … so I find that interesting …

          Negotiating the “which blog” is interesting. In the case I mentioned in the blog, I started of hesitantly – do you know about me from my patient engagement blogging? Oh maybe it is Rhizo … yup Rhizo (deep breath) … but then again, the rhizo community is also a community that knows both my ed tech and my cancer identities …

  4. It’s really interesting that u raise this issue and also that u feel differently about this vs the cancer blog. I am wondering if u want to unpack why u panicked about that (probably not logical) given that I don’t think you necessarily expected reciprocity for that particular blog.

    I have nothing as dramatic to share but something funny. Well several funny things. There are ppl i know online and talk to and discover later they read & like my blog even tho they never comment or retweet it or stuff.i realize when they mention sthg i have written or reference me somewhere or invite me to write for them. So that’s good but a bit weird. And also weird they know my thought process and i don’t know theirs, but i am also v open f2f so chances are they would have found out anyway

    Then there are the ppl who know me f2f. I start to tell them sthg and they say, “yeah i already know, u wrote it on ur blog” and i’m like, “dude, u read my blog? ” (those are same ppl who were overwhelmed with my emails so i stopped emailing them and started blogging; but i also stopped writing FOR them so it’s often awkward that they read it, if that makes sense?).

    But um since i haven’t traveled much since i started blogging i don’t get complete stranger reactions like that v often. In Beirut i met ppl who read my hybridped stuff but that’s different in the sense it’s meant to reach a wide audience.

    Ha, actually i once blogged about weaning and got comments from a guy i know f2f then mwt him f2f a few days later. Would have been really awkward but he’s Canadian so not as awkward as Egyptian men in that. Hmmm that’s another thing to think about actually…

    But sorry – nothing as dramatic as your feelings about it

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