An Educational Moment, brought to you by Jerk Ethic
(in case my mother reads this post):
Overshare (v): [oh-ver-cher, òver-shér] To give inappropriate personal information to a stranger or group of strangers, often in written form, namely through the forum known as the Internet.
I’ve heard the expression why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? about two things: women and blogging. I feel like I’m in a fair enough position to comment on both.
Some guy called Rex something-or-other said some stuff on another blog hosting site. I have no idea what he wrote and I hadn’t heard of this man until today, courtesy of my favorite website that informs me of things that I wish I had been aware of when they were actually happening, Gawker. Apparently his blog is about trying to get with girls and the Internet and New York City, all of which I list as components on my list of top ten things that give me reason to live. (Five food groups, two parents, you do the math.)
As a woman, society seems to have this notion that my goal is to settle down and breed. In order to get to step A in that manual, however, I need to find a man, lure him into my clutches, and then somehow or another entice him into setting up a little nest where the wonders of reproduction and domesticity will take place.
This, to me, is not only a terrifying misrepresentation of what every girl I’ve slept with has wanted, it’s also flat-out wrong for me personally. I mean, I want kids. But I don’t even need a dude to do that.
Back in the day, when this convention was established, women would stay virgins until their wedding night as a sort of consolation prize to the men who had slipped out of the comfortable sweatpants of bachelorhood in order to strap on the steel wool unitard of marriage. The assumption, I guess, was that the hymen would be the last bit of fun a gent would encounter until tossing a football in the yard with junior years later. So girls who gave up the big v in the back bucket seats of a Thunderbird were sullying themselves, lowering the price of their personal stock, and possibly compromising their opportunity to obtain an idyllic and white wedding. Mothers would say to their little ladies, “Now, dear, he’s not going to buy the cow if he can get the milk for free.”
With blogging, it’s much the same. What originally served as either a tool for self-promotion or as the Internet equivalent of stealing your sister’s diary has now become a way to write yourself into a corner.
Case in point: I want a book deal. Would you buy my book? Maybe. Would you pay me to write one? Uh, I’m already writing a semi-regular blog. I’m basically writing that book and simply controlling how many chapters you get to read at a time, no? Why pay me for that?
For those of you in publishing, if you’re reading, I can make really great coffee if you need an administrative assistant. Or, you know, write a book, article, corporate blog…
The issue of Rex Sorgatz’s blog is tied to my revelation regarding the milk with the outcry from those who rally against oversharing.
Rex, who wrote in response to a comment that had been posted on his blog, decried the very notion of oversharing, stating that if “ fucking Tumblr is oversharing, then so is writing a goddamn novel.”
All right, Rex, and for those of you who agree with him, let me strap on my apron and play the role of mommy: There is at least one fundamental difference between a blog and a novel.
Novelists are paid.
Most bloggers are not.
This is why oversharing is technically okay. One could argue that by presenting everything, for free, in written form, from your toddler eating Cheerios to your lover leaving cumstains, and placing it on something as quasi-transparent and ever-available as the Internet, that there is no such thing as truly sharing too much. Unlike being stuck on a crowded subway car with some asshole singing along with Fergie on her iPod, you don’t have to bear witness to it. If you don’t like what you read, then don’t visit that site ever again, don’t subscribe to its feed, forget about it. Post a nasty comment if you really are offended.
Much in the same way that a novelist will go back to being an admin temp if nobody buys his or her novel.
Which is when I ask why do we do this at all? I started this blog to document what I was sure was a rapid decent into starvation and eventual retreat back to Long Island, New York, where I would waste away on my mother’s couch, my dreams tethered by a pantyhose to a cubicle.
Instead it has become a weird lifeline in a way, my scrapbook of attempting to do the one thing I‘ve fantasized about doing but never had the balls to try: writing for money. If somebody is reading something I write — and if they fucking donate money — I’m a writer. It’s that simple. I might be so poor that I use change to buy food, but I’m still doing what I love. This blog, therefore, morphed into a method of possibly getting clients and garnering attention that could lead to work, and self-aggrandizing in the process.
If that fell apart it could always spiral out into a whiny documentation of my boring life. Instead of the validation of my professional aspirations by generating any sort of paltry income, I would send my posts out into the ether feeling like my actual existence “meant something” because somebody out there could read it.
Let me tell you, my day-to-day life is a simple and boring formula of grocery shopping, sitting at a computer, going to AA meetings, bumping uglies with my boyfriend, checking out girls and making crass jokes. It’s not exciting. The only reason why you’d care to read about that half of what’s behind the curtain is ‘cause you’re my mom or you’re stalking me.
The final point to the pasteurization argument was illuminated to me today when I wanted to write a post about the writers’ block I’ve been experiencing. The block is why I only posted once this week, it’s why I haven’t worked on more than assignments with upcoming deadlines, it’s why I am one cranky little bitch. The causes are numerous: it’s been hot, I had some sort of stomach flu, I had worked over ten days in a row, but mainly I was simply having personal issues that, now, are somewhat entertaining to reflect on.
At the time they were wrenching and miserable. But now? Hilarious.
Yet the decision to write a blog posting about how my emotional state informs my writing, or if it does at all, would possibly imply
a) that I let my feelings interfere with my work.
b) that my life is fraught with drama.
c) that I am human. When you’re hoping to get hired by people associated with ISPs, software companies, and data networks, the last thing you want to seem is human.
Oversharing, or, in layman’s terms, talking too damn much, can be career suicide if you use your blog as more than a shiny soapbox with an Apple logo. Even if the posting I was (finally) inspired to write was witty, it could have backfired. Potential clients could have found me unprofessional, those in the tech sector might have been disinterested, and, really, who is going to be more willing to pay me to write because of the fact that I spill my guts? Those of you who would be titillated by hearing about whatever had been going on in my world would be staring at your screen with little white mustaches below your nose. Got discression?
Within the realm of an actual, tangible office, the coworker who gossips, the intern who breaks the confidentiality clause, the staff member who talks too loudly on his cellphone, they all overshare, and they pay for it. (At least from my experience.) Blogging is no different. There’s a reason why certain companies block access to personal networking sites during work hours, why some employers search for you on MySpace and Facebook the moment you hand in your application, and why many people don’t have the crack-like carrier pigeon of instant messaging while on the clock. Work is work. Blogs sort of fall into a gray area, I guess, unless they’re connected to work.
As for the further implications of oversharing, mine were more important than any job or blog. I recognized that I would have potentially hurt or embarrassed the other parties involved. And what the hell good is a gig anyway if you don’t have people you love to take out to dinner with the money you’ve made?
Now, I’m not getting all righteous or anything, again, this is a blog, and one could argue that I’m just sharing my opinion. You don’t like it, close the window. After all, I’m more than willing to vomit up smut, snark, and scat on Twitter every day, and I‘ve already talked about sex at least once in this post alone. Who the hell am I to judge?
That question right there is the set of lost house keys to the Internet.
Of course the draw to blogging is the ability for you to possibly showcase your personality or uniqueness, but for me it’s less to broadcast that I’m a special little snowflake, and more to try to entice clients to pony up some money for my words. (Though, as with bad puppies, any attention, for me, is good attention.)
I’m hoping that if the cow is still upright, and has her udders full, that this blog acts as that wooden fence separating you from her. You want the milk, pay for your pail.
As for the idea of oversharing, it ain’t always bull.
AinsleyDrew at gmail
Sharing. Just sharing. The good kind.