The Internet, like most things, brings with it both the good and the bad. It’s an often (relatively) free mode of information, a consumer gateway, a communication device and even a community of like-minded souls whose appetites for entertainment, information and camaraderie are voracious. The positives are too lengthy to mention, but it’s the negatives that I feel compelled to address.
We live in a society of free speech, at least here in America. I have the right – and ability – to post my true thoughts on my ex’s, to vent about my frustrations and to boast about my successes. Those who read my website also have this unalienable right, and like television or radio or other mediums, have the ability to choose what they want to read. In clear terms, if you don’t like what you see here, go away.
That may sound strong, as I love getting new comments and seeing my site stats rise, being the oft-times narcissistic attention whore that I am or at least portray myself as on this website, but it’s come to a head lately and it’s led me to contemplate something I thought I would never do – shut this site down.
If I am anything, I am a writer. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. Having this website, as petty and trite and whatever derogatory comment you would like to say about it, has been an exercise in growth, a much-needed personal journey into the land of the published. After all, one of the hardest things for a writer is obtaining the clips and the credentials – the publication – that validates you as a writer. A vicious cycle, the writing world, where the prerequisite for getting published is BEING published, and vice versa. And even though a blog is essentially a self-publishing venture, it’s endearing and validating to see that there are people out there who not only read what I write, but find many of their own sentiments and feelings in my words. Until recently, it made it all worth it.
Yet by putting myself out there, I’m making myself and my innermost thoughts vulnerable. Sounds logical. Brings me back to my discussions of self-censorship and whether the person I portray myself as on my site is actually who I am. More often than not, it is. My life is basically an open book. Which isn’t always good.
More than my friends’ fears of random stalkers finding out too much about me, it is when how and who I represent myself as begins to affect my life, both at work, and in my personal interactions, that I begin to wonder if the good outweighs the bad.
I have never apologized for who I am. I’m a much different person than I was in middle school, in high school, even in college. It’s the wisdom that a few broken hearts and a woven tapestry of success and failure can give you. It’s the self-awareness that comes with being comfortable with who you are. And yet the fact that I am being judged for this makes me question it all.
My identity is important to me. Not only as the depiction of who I am, but being Aubrey Sabala defines me more than the mere name. I am a daughter, I am a granddaughter, I am a friend. And I am all of these things as Aubrey Sabala. I am proud of my name, and more often than not, proud of who I am. Narcissistic or not, I want to own my writing, and want it associated with who I am, as well as my name.
In the era of Google, where nary a detail is truly held private, having a website is a risk, and it’s a risk I have undertaken knowingly and until now, without much reservation. Having a website using your full name, containing a lot of personal details about yourself, and containing your photographs only ups the ante. It is vulnerability at its greatest extent.
I am not unique in this quandary – Dooce was actually fired for her website, and there are countless others who have gone through conflicts for what they have revealed about themselves online.
And this is the struggle that I am going through – is the risk of judgement by coworkers, friends, foes, and perfect strangers stronger than the desire for accurate self depiction? I am neither ashamed nor insecure about who I am nor who I portray myself as on this site, though apparently others’ judgments do hold credence in the real world. It would be much easier, at least in the short run, to shut the site down, to possibly re-emerge somewhere, sometime, under a different identity, quietly fading into the sunset as yet another casualty of the Web.
Right now, I just don’t know.