Thursday, July 8, 2010

Honesty, Authenticity, and the Pursuit of Truth

“I love your honesty.”

I like that comment, and I have gotten it a couple times after I left some blood and guts on a post or two. When I read that type of comment, I think maybe, just maybe, I successfully reached a place in myself that is the most authentic part of me. The writer in me would like to go there more often.

One time a person commented on my “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto” post and told me that maybe I wasn’t being honest. That person had read around this blog and felt what I like to refer to as the undertow of a blog. The undertow, the part I didn’t know that I wrote, or perhaps left out, and the supporting pieces that often have their own unintended message. That person was very perceptive, and challenged a belief I have that isn’t set in stone.

Starrlife just wrote a post titled, Blogging is Not Journalism 2
about another blog author’s post titled Truth in Blogging...

Does it matter if truth creeps into fiction or fiction creeps into truth?”

I like blogs that have that authentic feel, that grain of truth that is universal and transcend this issue. I like to think I can perceive those blogs. Do I? Can you?”

I am guessing that many of us have different motives for blogging, but most of those motives likely have something to do with authenticity, honesty, or truth... all different birds indeed. We have something to say, something we believe to be true, and we want to share this truth in order to have some effect in our sphere of influence.

But what if something in your blog’s undertow tells a story that is different from the one you are intentionally writing? What if you hear “I love your honesty” and “I don’t quite believe you” after the same post? What if someone questions the truth of some of your personal claims? Can one be honest and authentic but perhaps blind to certain truths? And does it even matter what is personally true and what isn’t, so long as the writer is being genuine and having a positive impact?

Most of the time I don’t think it matters that a writer is rarely able to completely pull off Shakespeare's “To thine own self be true” advice on a personal blog. As long as you mystify me, rock me, make me think, or drown me in beauty... I am happy to have visited you.

But what if your undertow is beginning to separate a group of people that I am very plugged into and proud of? I guess I then become one of those commenters who asks you to dive into it and see where it takes you.

(I would love for this to be a conversation but no unsigned anons for this one please.)


The Hapa Girl said...

I really don't know how to answer this. I'm not a writer. However, I blog because it was a way for me to reach out and find others like me. And I really mean like me...military wife with a child who has Down syndrome. In doing so, I found that there are so many other wonderful bloggers that tell a good story not like my own.

Your stories keep me coming back. You write in a way that I can only dream of. You know, YOU, were a topic of conversation at a mom's night out for our Down syndrome group. Your blog came up, and there were two of us who knew exactly who you were! How awesome is that? This person and I come back to your blog because we know we will learn something...not about...but more about us. And I thank you for that.

L.L. Barkat said...

Have you ever read 'The Things They Carried'? I do think you would really like it. He talks about story truth and happening truth and, well, the lines do get mixed. It's a fantastic book.

the Jeffr said...

I think i get you here. And I've run into this on my own blog. It's a little rattling when someone will say "you put just enough out there for people to think you're great, but you leave out the rest of the story." or something like that. I think despite common beliefs or values, when it comes right down to it, we all have subjective perceptions of truth. They are filtered through our experiences and observations. I think that's unavoidable. But does that necessitate an underlying agenda? And for how many is the agenda (in the end) one that simply glorifies ourselves in some way or another...even subtly coaxing readers into a celebration of our own honesty and humility?

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