The theme of the upcoming FS Blog Round-up is honesty. This is written in response to the theme.
My readers, predominantly my friends and family who know me in real life (as well as a strangely large number of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), sometimes ask me why I haven’t written on X, Y, or Z. There are a couple of reasons.
I don’t like to take pictures of strangers. I especially don’t like to include pictures of people on my blog who I have not obtained permission, particularly of people who don’t know they’re being illustrated here. Thus, I don’t have many photos of local clothes, local people doing daily things, etc. Sometimes when I pass a particularly colorful, or particularly odd, or particularly pathetic (using pathos in its strictest sense) person or event, I think… mmm… this would be interesting on the blog. But, to me, it would just be a kind of surrogate voyeurism, so I don’t. Other bloggers are braver, and willing to approach people to request a photo, but not me.
Stephen King criticizes writing workshops for teaching that there are two kinds of writers: those who write for and from themselves, and those who write to create an audience. However, there is some merit to the distinction, even if it creates really horrid literature. Bloggers are stereotypically thought of as the first, navel gazers who publish their narcissist musings. (Ok, maybe this describes the MySpace teen blogger best). There are also those bloggers out there who have a giant following, and make a living off of their crowd-appeal. And then there are those, like me, who write something rather bland, neither self-absorbed ramblings nor really gripping literature.
Why? It’s a combination of fearfulness and pride, I suppose. There’s always the fear of sounding like an idiot, of course. I don’t want my friends and family to worry about me, so I don’t blog about how often I get giardia or other debilitating diseases. I don’t want to expose too much of ourselves to those readers who are not of our friends and family, because “you never know…” (And, boy does the State Dept. drill the fear of internet security into us, paranoia of who might be reading) And, speaking of paranoia, I don’t want to talk too much about Mr. Adventure’s job and life in the embassy, because I don’t want to kibosh his career. In a job where security clearances and corridor reputations matter, the internet persona you portray can have real effects on both advancement and even retaining your job.
I’m not sure why I don’t write more about Z. I am thinking of taking my current job free-lance/self-employed when we move later this year, so I may start a whole ‘nuther blog and website when I do. I think I don’t write about Z because it is truly quite dull, unless you’re in the market for it, and then you’s want to know how much I charge, what my background is, and whether I’m any good at what I do. I am. But you wouldn’t know it from this blog.
But what does all this alphabetic nonsense have to do with the subject of this post?
Essentially, as a blogger, I got all verklempt this morning. A bit of a crisis/amusing-if-it-weren’t-real censorship issue arose in relation to a fellow Foreign Service Blogger, and I was one of the pieces behind the scenes that enabled a quick response. A solidaristic response, for wont of a better adjective. About a year ago, I started a Facebook group for Foreign Service bloggers (send me your FB account name if you want to join), I’m the admin now, but I’m kind of a behind the scenes type, compared to some of the big names out there in blog-dom. The group has been the most active FB group I’ve ever been in, and people are constantly in contact with each other, coordinating themed posts, suggesting topics, giving each other support both blog-related and life-related. It’s a great experience. There are members who write family blogs, craft and work blogs, and members who write blogs that challenge the status quo, both IRL and pseudonymously.
The group is, in fact, a tool of virtual solidarity, a way in which we who are so far-flung can actually live in community. FS bloggers share a social identification which unites us, a shared work, a shared lifestyle. We have different jobs, different statuses, different roles in our families and posts, but in our on-line community we’ve found an interconnectedness and a support network that was unexpected to me when I began blogging. We are free to be bold, edgy or bland, and we are free to speak those things which we can’t share with others outside the community. Which brings me back to Z. Before I became what was once known as a “trailing spouse,” I was a community theorist, an occasional consultant on community, a PhD in democracy, religion and especially virtual communities. Which you wouldn’t necessarily know about me from here, or from what I do on a day to day basis.
But, in all honesty, I am really proud of myself this week, even though I didn’t take a stand, or even a leap, and don’t really deserve to be prideful in anyway. I’m proud that online communities are legitimately communities (Yeah for Dissertation affirmation!), and that I was the impetus in starting one. Hopefully karma won’t hunt me down and throw lightning bolts at me for my hubris (to mix metanarratives on you).
6 thoughts on “…Solidarity and Honesty”
I don’t think I knew that you were the brains behind our FB group! Well done! I am so happy to see everyone rallying behind Jen. 🙂
wonderfully written piece. I feel the same about taking strangers pictures. I don’t feel important enough to ask.
That group was a stroke of your brilliance. It has been so useful. It has been amazing to see it function, esp in times like these. I’m more behind the scenes too and I appreciate that you created a venue where we can all support each other.
Hi – I may be inadvertently contributing to your high DRC hits. I am moving to Dhaka in late summer and have been using your blog for its links to the other Dhaka blogs (I hadn’t thought about how it would affect your stats, but I guess it could really add up). Sorry! Perhaps we will meet in person when we get there early Aug. – Kathrin
Mystery solved! I’m glad you found my little Dhaka blogroll to be useful, no worries, I’m happy that you’re reading. I was just really surprised to be popular there, since it was such an outlier. We’re only here until the end of September, but there’s a pretty strong blog community here, obviously, and you’ll have loads of people to meet.
I think you must know that I am especially grateful for the group. The support I have seen this week is nothing short of amazing. I swear it was the giant internet hug I really, really needed. Thank you!