Here are the problems with having a blog:
1. If it's public, you could, at the very best, alienate people who read it (but have never told you, so you don't know they're actually reading until they tell you in person, and then you quickly go over your entire blog in your head --almost 4 year's worth --to see if you somehow offended them and are very suddenly relieved when they say they actually enjoy what you write), and at the very worst, welcome psychotic people to exploit your photos and words, as well as give fodder for the untamed conversation, which tends to end in contentious discourse.
2. If it's private, nobody can read it, unless they have been invited, although being private prohibits the blog-obsessed from reading your blog on Google reader, which, in most cases, becomes the life-line for the blog-obsessed; in order to read blogs, some people must do so through an electrical/wireless(?) interaction, because time is so limited. Also, the chances of becoming friends with new people via a blog introduction cannot happen if your blog is private because how can one find your blog if nobody but the people you already know have access to said blog? Therefore, there are no readers. Or very few; which is fine if that is the reason for the blog.
3. Using a blog as a journal of sorts is fabulous when one blog is private. But why have a private blog to journal when you can just type it out in a word document? Having a public blog proves that the journal is for others to read. The problems arrive, however, when you type on a private blog, and wish people were reading it, or when you type on a public blog and wish people weren't. The conundrum is found in the writer's psyche, of course --there is no reason why anyone MUST write privately or publicly --you just want to. You want to share with the world; you don't want to share with the world. You do want to write private thoughts; you don't want to write private thoughts. And this brings me to...
4. Self-censorship. Self-censorship is a must when communicating with any person; you cannot begin to write without knowing who your readers are. A novelist, I understand, does not necessarily have to worry about this self-censorship (of course, and unless, this is a sequel or a novel with expected proportions from the intended audience, as well as writing for a very specific and intended audience...) in the way a blogger does. This is because a blogger is publishing a document of --usually-- very little edited content --this content does, also, and most usually, contain personal feelings of some kind and the personal relationship of the writer (blogger) to the written word (post) is usually quite pointed. When you write (you, the blogger), you are putting your heart on your proverbial PC (or Mac), and are putting it out there for others to read it --and to read it immediately. The writer knows their document will be published without effort; the reader knows they can read immediately without waiting for sequels or release dates. The purpose is this immediate gratification on that of the writer ("look, I'm writing!" or "Look! I'm keeping a record of my people!") and that of the reader ("Loved this post!" and "Hated this post!"). This instant relationship is attained only because two people (or four, or twenty) decided that communicating instantly was better, easier, and nicer than writing that book. [Or perhaps --in most cases than not --the writer and reader both wish they could write a book, or haven't finished one, or...maybe not. After all, anyone can write a blog --as well they should! Blogging isn't just about perfecting writing or reading or fostering relationships --blogging can also induce pride, envy, compassion, tears, laughter, or disgust. Everyone experiences this; blogging or not.]
However! Writing books aside, putting every thought out there for everyone to read is simply an impossibility. As stated in the first point, at best, you will alienate friends and family who you believed would understand. At worst, it will induce contention that is either not wanted, nor solicited. Another awful, awful result of blogging about true feelings is the immediate assumption on the part of the reader that what they are reading is a veil covering some distant truth the writer is simply trying to avoid --by hiding under clever words.
Ha! Like this post I am writing; no doubt a reader will assume I'm offended by a particular person, and yet I am not. I'm merely being observant of my own situation in which I cannot truly, truly, truly write the feelings in my heart and head without self-censorship. I cannot begin to dictate my deepest feelings upon this page because I am very aware of the diverse audience I have reading it. I do not know who will be reading at any one time, or who has stopped reading altogether. As stated before, this is the curse of the public blog --the one which you advertise in public forums (Facebook) and talk about with friends and leave on Christmas letters. Is the old boyfriend reading? Is my aunt? Perhaps the friend from high school who I never talk to anymore --does she read? What of college friends? Ward members? Neighbors? The paranoia, if you let it, can run amok; this is why I try to gently ignore it.
Some will say the paranoia is insanity, something brought about because of a desire to please everyone. This is partly true. But I do believe that my paranoia is also alive because I have a solid sense of propriety. I do not care to make people uncomfortable when I can prevent it, and I truly mourn the loss of friendship over words that could have been exchanged in a better manner. This is the problem with compassion, or at least the self-depreciating side --to care more about how others will understand, perceive, or react to the way something is written, than to care what the subject is that is being written about. The curse, as it is, is something I have embraced. In all reality, it can be seen as a deformity of sorts, but I see it as the chance to exercise some respect and care on the side of my reader. In my own defense, I do not hide the truth --only details. I do not ignore my life --I only refrain from writing about those things that could incriminate people I love, including myself. This is self-censorship, is it not? And when writing for a public audience, this censorship is a must in my mind.
What about you? Why do you write your blog? Is your intended audience privy to your deepest thoughts, or do you also censor yourself? And can you tell I'm reading Jane Austen again? Persuasion this time. Holy cow, you'd think I talked like this all the time!
P.S. My next post will have lots and lots of pictures!