Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The act of revealing

I struggled a bit in deciding to post this, as it is a little raw and embarrassing. However, based on the spirit of confessions from yesterday, I decided to do it anyways. 

I am probably being paranoid, but if there is anything about this that leads you to match me to a secret you have read, please keep that knowledge to yourself. I am not there yet. This exercise was like putting my toes in the water. A necessary step if one is to swim, but I'm not ready to jump in right now.

***

I had insomnia on Monday night. 

At first, it was the neighbour's fault. Usually, the only thing I hear from their side of the wall is silence or screaming. Apparently, they have friends-- which was honestly a surprise to me, particularly when I just become aware of said friends at 1am on a weekday night six months into my residence at this apartment.

This began the tossing and turning. Then came the bit where I checked the glowing red numbers of my alarm clock every ten minutes, calculating over and over again how many hours of sleep I could plausibly get before my 6:30am rising, and panicking as this number grew smaller and smaller.

I woke up, fuzzy-headed, Tuesday morning, to words I haven't spoken in a long time displayed on the site of another.

As I went through the regularities of my day, I checked intermittently to see if anyone had responded. The first time I noticed only a single response, I kind of wrote off the number, thinking the day was still early.

The day progressed, and a steady flow of comments came into my inbox for the secret posted on my site. Nothing still on my secret. I wondered if I had just ended up on a generally less visited blog.

Then I checked my site stats. Hundreds of visitors, all directly from the main Blog Secret page. Which means that hundreds of people were visiting the site with my secret.

And none of them were saying anything.

I arrived home that evening, fatigued from my lack of sleep, worry seeping in. I tried to focus on television, on the food in my mouth. I told myself that lots of people probably didn't get the responses they were hoping for, that this was part of the risk I took by participating.

After dinner, I set myself to reading other's secrets-- beautiful, tragic, funny. Comments flowed in, offering kind words, support, contact. People wrote new posts about the amazing sense of community they'd felt from this exercise. And, as I found my fingers compulsively clicking on each new link, I couldn't help but realize that my secret had received drastically fewer responses, by a huge margin, that every other one I read. Empathy was pouring out for everyone except me.

As I sat there on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, I felt very lonely. Lonelier than before I had shared this secret. And ashamed, that even these people willing to provide an outpouring of support could not find anything worthy in my words. 

And then suddenly, near bed time, the number of comments exploded in a second, to double digits. The compassionate words and insights I'd seen for others were directed at me, too.

It turns out the blogger had some sort of invisible comment moderation process that led to people's words not being posted when they had been written.

It also turns out I'm still a lot more vulnerable than I thought.

36 comments:

Deutlich said...

I think blogging is a double edged sword for this reason.. we really shouldn't be worried or concerned about the comment logging, but often times we are.

And frankly, we're human.. we LIKE camaraderie, even if it's through the interwebs.

It just goes to show that you're very much like the most of us.

EF said...

Cursed be thy comment numbers!

I found many fascinating secrets, but failed to comment on many because, for whatever reason led the person to feel it must be a secret, my two cents wouldn't matter more than what their own feelings have already led them to conclude.

Now, if they missed a chance to be crazy, I offered helpful hints for next time...

Lauren said...

Writing is scary like that. You put stuff out there and wonder if people will comment, wonder if they'll even read it. It's the risk we all take.

It's somehow we keep doing it. I guess because we know someone, somewhere, is reading.

Paula said...

Oh man, I can totally identify with what you are saying there. Especially since it was something you put out there anonymously (well, more anonymously than usual), something you probably debated over whether to share.

LizSara said...

Damn I was hoping your secret was like mine and got hardly any comments...but then you ended with loads. Paranoid, not at all.

the almost right word said...

First off, I want to say how much I hate counting down the hours of sleep you could still potentially get. As each hour passes, you think, more and more, "I can still survive with __ hours of sleep." Worst feeling ever.

Secondly, the vulnerability. Every time I publish a more "personal" post, I feel more vulnerable. To the point where, last night, I published a post and then thought twice an hour later and hit "unpublish." I know that it's therapeutic and important to write, and even share, the more personal things inside my head. But it's also more challenging. And so, more rewarding.

S. said...

That whole comment moderation thing toys with your emotions!

I once left a comment (for the first time) on somebody's blog (that I read all the time and really like) and they had to approve it first but I kept seeing other comments posting and I was all worried and wondering if I offended them or something....

comment moderation <-- me no likey!

Crushed said...

Its a pain in the arse- but I suppose its our only ultimate protection against trolling- a last resort defence.

We all have secrets.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but right now I weaqnt to give you a big hig and a sloppy kiss.

Katelin said...

i think we're all vulnerable like that and hope that although we don't write for an audience, but that they will be there when we need them.

Essentially Me said...

See this is why I had comments turned off on my blog for so long. It was because I didn't feel like I should expect them. And now that I've got comments back, it doesn't bother me in the least if people respond or not. I'm pretty much past all of that. I'm glad you got the support and that you didn't feel alone.

Joanna said...

So human.

the frog princess said...

*hugs*

Deutlich said what I was going to say, only much more eloquently. :)

Hotch Potchery said...

I moderate the comments on my blog to make sure that noone "outs" me...(my blog is a secret from everyone but my sister). The secret I hosted only got 10 comments, even though I got over 200 hits to the blog...I think some of the secrets were so raw, people, like me didn't want comments to come off like jackassery...

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I want to hug you right now and embrace the amazing, courageous woman who posted her secret. I was too shy and scared to post mine so I applaud you and honor the risk you took. As for being vulnerable...I am right there with you....

Ant said...

:-)

That is hilarious.

Thing is... why do people associate the volume of comment numbers with merit or support? What if the post had garnered a pile of comments telling you that you're an idiot?

wee-h said...

Aww hugs hon. I went through the same thing reading mine, and im sure the person i hosted did the same too. Id been blogging (ok pathetically) for 4 whole years before i got a comment, some people are 'popular' right from the start. Blogs like in life are a popularity contest, i wish it wasnt tho :(

Crashdummie said...

i suppose we all seek validation, and somehow the comments have become one way of doing that.

But like Ant pointed out, why do we do that?

lspoon said...

Oh goodness! What a terrible feeling. BlogSecret was so cathartic for me and I was hoping it would be that way for others as well. And while I'm sure it was after that comment explosion I know how you must have felt before those kinds words of encouragement came in.

I must say however that I found it very difficult to comment on most of the BlogSecret posts b/c I just didn't have the words. I read every single post and probably only commented on about 4. And I'm hoping I wasn't the only one! :)

Psychgrad said...

Aw. I'd feel that way too. Good to know it was the comment moderation. If it weren't, I'm sure it would just be an issue of traffic going to that blog. Clearly, what you write inspires a lot of people to comment. So, there's no reason that your secret wouldn't do the same. But, yeah, I understand why you would have felt that way.

I guess if someone's goal for blogging is to connect with people, there is a constant feedback system that tells you how much others want to connect with you. So - this activity that is meant to connect with others can actually emphasize failed connections. Same problem with Facebook.

Jess said...

What an eye-opening experience. How scary it must be to reveal a secret to hundreds of people and feel incredibly ignored. I'm glad that turned out not to be the case.

Rachel said...

you have no idea how bummed I am that I didn't get to take part in Blog Secret.
I understand the nervousness and I am glad that you got the support you wanted.

Yoda said...

I read a bunch of blogsecret posts and never commented on one of them. I don't quite know why. Maybe I read yours too?

I have bouts of insomnia too, no big deal now. I used to panic when I initially had them, but now, I just calmly get up and do whatever needs to be done. I'm sure that the next night I'll be so tired that I'll just fall down with exhaustion ;-)

Also, exercise seems to work.

Princess Pointful said...

I just want to put it out there that this is not the same thing as "I wrote a well-written post and I got no comments" in general. This was a very raw and vulnerable secret. It would be like (and this is not my secret, granted) someone telling you they had attempted suicide in the past, and you not saying anything, while that person had watched you (and many others) comforting someone else who had spoken about their secret. I thought that hundreds of people had read it and only two people felt empathy enough for me to say "I'm sorry for what you've gone through." And I'm sorry that I'm sensitive enough to want this. I'm sure I should be strong enough to not need anyone to tell me this, but we can't be strong all the time about all thing. There's a reason we don't say these secrets, and it is because we don't think people will really listen.

It was even hard to be this open on this post. I don't want to be thought of as seeking sympathy for wanting the most comments ever. If that is what it came across as, my words have failed a little here.

eric1313 said...

It think I've put too much stock in comments in the past. Hell, I know I have.

What does it lead to? It leads to over-blogging, and eventual burnout.

No matching secrets, ehh?

...

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm................

OK

I can deal with that.

Daisy said...

I am so glad (but not for you, sorry) that someone else has terrible insomnia and does the pointless and terrifying clock checking and panicking that I do. And thank you for writing so well on the insecurity of waiting for that validation when you've pressed publish- it's ok to be vulnerable, it makes you a lot more sympathetic and interesting as a writer I think. Now, I have to track down this secret!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Shouldn't the act of liberating the secret be more more important than the response?

Kat from Tough Girl 101 said...

I think that there's a problem with blog secrets because it's like unleasihng a flood. It's the dam that breaks, and all your feeligns come out, maybe feelings you didnt think you felt before, and... I'm not equiped for that. Hence why I didn't participate in it.

Confessing too many secrets actually makes me think about it, and makes me depressed.

Surfergrrl said...

I think I've gotten so used to low numbers on my site that this doesn't even cross my mind anymore. But, I also write it like a diary and I don't have a lot of time to read and comment on OPB's so I don't expect anyone to leave comments on mind.

With that said, and not knowing where your secret blog was, I think a writer's biggest insecurity is having their words have no meaning. To express feelings with a result of any kind. It's that readership or comments that validates us. Whether that's "right" or "wrong," it's human nature to want to be heard.

DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR CLOCK! You should know I became sort of the expert on insomnia.

verybadcat said...

Aww. I adore you, you know that?

I know just how you felt, I've poured my heart out on my blog before, gotten no comments, and laid my head down and cried, because:

"even the interwebz don't love me."

You can always tell me your secrets. ;)

Libby said...

i loved this...it's easy to say comments? meh, who cares? but i think we all do, in some way. i know i do.

Maithri said...

Your words have not failed at all here...

Its that vulnerability we feel after we share something very intimate... Something deep and untold...

In that sharing we want to feel affirmed. Loved.

And thats not in any way limited to blogging...

This is a beautiful exploration of vulnerability.

Thank you for being so honest,

For keeping your heart soft,

With love, M

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

I purposely didn't read any of the blog secret posts except for two that I read by accident. I just felt weird about it for some reason. I was afraid for the writers that people would figure out who they were and I was sad for them that they needed validation so desperately, yet couldn't be honest with the people in their own lives who love them. It hit a little too close to home for me, maybe.

This post made a lot of sense to me, PP. Though I didn't participate in Blog Secret, I felt so much for you while reading this and imagine I would have felt exactly the same way.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

p.s. I have comment moderation for the same reason that one of your other commenters mentioned. I don't use my real name on my blog, but a lot of my real life friends read it and sometimes they forget and post comments with my full name or other identifying info, so I have to ask them to re-post with that info removed. It sucks to have to do that, but I wouldn't want blind dates and potential employers to find my blog by googling my name!

Mrs4444 said...

You're so great. I wish I knew you in real life :)

Michelle said...

Everytime I post something personal, I get that feeling. It doesn't happen so often these days though. Glad it turned out OK though...

eric1313 said...

Friend, your support is so nice to have! You and a few others, like Crushed and Ivan, have been huge in making coming back really easy.