Transition from Transparency

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring why I blog and my values concerning both writing and my personal life.


I had originally intended to write about how I value transparency, and how my blog helps keep me humble because I put everything out there for all the world to see. How I write (or used to, anyways) about my faults and failures, about my weaknesses, and about my degenerate childhood to serve as both an example and a warning.

This is in contrast to when I was younger, before I became Christian and when I had several different masks I wore depending on where I was. No one truly knew who or what I was, least of all me, and I subsequently developed a tightly wound ball of neuroses that made healing and growing next to impossible.

On top of the lack of self-understanding, my fear of abandonment (stemming from a workaholic mother and a distant father) had led me to assume that if anyone knew the real me, they would turn away. That if I let anything slip about myself, or if someone found out what I had done or what I was, that I would lose what little companionship I had managed to garner. I hid out of fear.

When I first saw that people (Christians, notably) forgave me for my past sins… no, that sentence is not quite true. They didn’t forgive me, they just didn’t think about it. As Christians began to learn more about me and my past, it was a complete non-issue, and that was a huge relief to me. There was no drama: I’d screwed up, it was in the past, and we were different now. It was like being reborn with every truth I let fall from my lips.

Being brutally honest, wearing my heart on my sleeve as it were, was the only way I knew to excise those fears, doubts, and masks, so I committed to always be transparent. To not censor myself, and to not hide behind another mask. And this translated into my writing and blogging (beginning my freshman year of college), where I forced myself to be public with my private-most thoughts and concerns. To be honest, lest I fall back into that trap of fear and self-loathing. Blogging transparently, and living honestly, helped me break free of those fears.

Now, however, my writing is transitioning from that stage. I write less about myself personally and more about technology, the world around me, and interacting with that world. I censor both my blog and my social networking accounts (such as Twitter), not sharing certain thoughts or words, for fear of offending or alienating.

While this leaves me a little unsettled due to my previous commitment, I am comforted by knowing that I now have personal relationships, rather than the impersonal eye of the Internet, to keep me accountable and honest. I have friends who I know I can trust, and while my blog is less transparent than before, my friendships are far more honest than they ever were.

Of course, that means there are more arguments, more heated debates, and a few more apologies, but from these are friendships forged, as far as I’m concerned. If we cannot fight, trusting that the other will not walk out, then there is no real friendship there.

I am glad to have friends I can trust well enough to be transparent with, and equally glad that I need not put every detail on my blog just to keep myself honest. My blog entries from years past are nearly incoherent piles of worthless prattle, and not worth being read by anyone. By transitioning to writing about something other than myself, I am able to communicate something worth reading. I am free to give something to the World Wide Web that might help others, rather than pouring out my heart to only help myself.

RoB: Why Have a Website?

Part of me doesn’t want to begin this discussion with what I consider a series of very obvious statements, but it might also be important to begin at the foundation of it all. Therefore, we’ll start with the very basic question of, “Why have a website?”

My first website, for all intents and purposes, was on Geocities and served two purposes. First, it was a conglomeration of links I enjoyed and wanted to share with other people, because I thought that was important at the time. Later, it also became a collection of my poetry.

I put these things up there not just because I wanted to share them, though. In junior high and high school, I was beginning to recognize the significant power of the web and its advantages over my personal computer. Where my computer could die, lose data, etc., most web site hosting companies had backups and redundant power supplies and a variety of other tools to ensure the retention of data. Therefore, if I kept my poetry only on my local hard drive, I was almost guaranteed to lose it someday. If I put it on a web site, I had a better chance of retaining it forever. It also gave me the added benefit of being able to access it from anywhere, so if I needed to print something at school or the library, I had it all out on my website rather than locked away at home.

I have lost some very important files in the past due to corrupted or fried hard drives. Letters from people who are now dead, photos of loved ones I’ll never see again… but now, everything I feel is important goes here, on SilverPen Publishing. The photo gallery contains every photo I’ve taken with my camera in the last few years, though not all of them are visible to you. And I do all of my writing through WordPress, which means that as I write, my words are saved every 60 seconds or so to a remote server, with power redundancy and regular backups, as well as off-site backups in case the main data center ever got struck by a meteor. My data is about as safe as it can be, so I won’t lose anything again.

So, the site is largely a practical thing. On a more personal note, I find that blogging is very helpful and healthy for me on a variety of levels, and for whatever reason, I cannot keep a personal, private journal; I end up never writing in it. Something about this medium compels me to keep writing, journaling, and sharing, and I think it’s because I’m producing work that others will see. I want to share these thoughts, and I’ll discuss more in the coming weeks why I believe that is the case.