Blogging Central is a strange place.
You read blogs and are privy to people’s innermost thoughts and feelings, but you don’t really know them. So when someone disappears after posting regularly, you don’t know whether you should write to ask if everything’s OK, or mind your own business.
Perhaps something came up, like a career switch, or they’re just not inspired. You try to give people space, but then wonder: I hope she’s OK. She’s been quiet for awhile. I guess she’ll come back if she feels like it, or maybe she never will.
This happened with one blogger chronicling her battle with terminal cancer. When she failed to post for about three months, I feared the worst and checked Legacy.com. She had died about a month before, leaving behind her husband and two little girls. I was terribly sad because I knew her story, her fight and how much she wanted to live for her daughters, whom she called her “crayons.”
I know I’m not the only blogger who wonders about people when they don’t post. One blogger, Radjah’s 2 Cents, even dedicated a blog to Behind the White Coat in December. R2C wrote that she understood that she was a busy physician, but misses her posts. Her plea was moving, but did not elicit a response or blog post from BWC, who has been MIA since last November.
(Yes, I feel like an air traffic controller referring to everything with initials, but this is another part of blogging. Abbreviate whenever you can.)
I also enjoy BWC, and have been wondering where she is. I tried to log onto her blog today. It has been rendered “private.” I don’t know what that means, but I’m hoping to get some kind of feedback, just to know she’s OK.
I don’t think people mind if you want to stop something you’ve started. We understand. Sometimes things that seems fun and entertaining, like beading or engraving wood, become a chore. But if you don’t mind, we’d like to know that you plan to fade into the sunset. No one likes being dumped, least of all bloggers hanging on your every word.
Blogger Mick Canning did this today when he announced he was taking a break to pursue other interests, such as painting. He’s got nearly 900 followers who will miss him during his hiatus, but will return because he let us know his plans.
Chrissy of Chrissy’s Fabulous Fifties has apologized for her infrequent posts and comments because she just bought her first house and is busy settling in. I understand. The first few months in a new house are crazy, leaving little or no time for anything else. I sort of wish I could bottle that enthusiasm and use it to spruce up a place after 15 years, but it doesn’t work that way. At least for me.
Of course, blogging is not all fun and games, not by a long shot. Some people use their blogs as an instrument to try to process and make sense of life’s blows, like multiple myeloma (Battling the Bone Breaker) or your child’s fight against an inoperable brain tumor (Common Slaves).
Common Slaves is written by Minnesota pastor Joe Reed, whose daughter Alice is dying of an inoperable brain tumor. Alice is teaching her parents (and all of us adults) a thing or two about life. When her Dad told her that she would be seeing Jesus and his friends pretty soon, she said, “But you can’t come with me.”
Pastor Joe writes with such love and grace about his daughter, generally including a passage or two of scripture. I wasn’t prepared for his latest post last week when he shared Alice’s grim prognosis. I wrote him a brief message of support on his blog, but felt the need to do more. I felt unsettled, as though someone was dying in my family.
I considered asking the Dominican nuns at a nearby monastery to pray for Alice, but wondered how I would explain my relationship to her. I don’t know her or her family, yet through her father’s poignant words and photos over the past several months, I feel intricately connected to them. I was speaking to a nun on Monday and nearly blurted out, “Please pray for Alice and her family” and then I caught myself.
“You don’t really know Alice,” I told myself, desperately trying to establish emotional distance or boundaries. “You’ve read about her, but you don’t know her. You have no right to feel upset. This doesn’t really concern you.”
And yet it does, and this in a nutshell is the good and bad of being a blogger. Millions of people around the world share their stories on this platform every day. And though in many cases we have no idea what people look like, we get a peek into their lives and what makes them tick, or ticks them off.
I love the reckless abandon that is WordPress because people let it all hang out, pouring their heart and soul onto the screen. I’m sometimes a little taken aback by people’s honesty – there is, after all, such a thing as over-sharing and discretion – but in general it’s a wonderful forum for telling your story.
What you learn as a blogger is that everyone has crosses to bear, some much heavier than than others, and that some people are a lot better writers than others. You also learn that some people are dealing with terribly heavy issues with grace, while others are drama queens, making a big deal about everything.
I like to read blogs by people who quietly or humorously plod along because I’ve got enough drama in my life. I can’t stomach any more, particularly those who use their blogs for attention and sympathy. We all need a little reassurance from time to time, but some people are over the top. What really bothers me is that many of these people have an incredible number of followers. It’s often the best written and most poignant blogs with the fewest followers. Go figure.
As someone who’s never kept a diary or journal, I’m amazed at what comes out on the page and what I’m willing to share about myself. As a reporter, you’re taught to be impartial and keep yourself out of stories. But I hope giving insight into some of my feelings and battles, particularly with infertility, adoption and “relaunching” after two kids, will help people. I know reading about other people’s problems is often helpful, putting mine in perspective or making me feel less alone.
Of course, there are days you wish you hadn’t opened a suggested blog. Today, I clicked on a blog called something like Dealing With Shit written by a young woman talking about her devastation over her upcoming birthday, the first since her father committed suicide last fall. Ugh. UGH! There’s nothing anyone can say, no empty words of encouragement that you can muster after reading such a heartbreaking post.
Perhaps the only thing that I can say to her is that counseling, alone or with her family, may help her cope with her feelings of deep grief. I would also like her to understand that her father suffered from an illness that can be as deadly as cancer or heart disease unless treated properly. Suicide is the leading cause of gun death in this country, but that is a post for another day.
But I said nothing, at least for now. I am someone who always feels the need to comment or offer words of advice. But sometimes people just want to vent and know they’ve been heard, even by a stranger 1,300 miles away in Connecticut.
Here is a link to Common Slaves: https://commonslaves.com/2018/04/17/alice-puddle-boots/