Honest

Honesty is the best policy so we are told.   And as a member of the blogging community we expect honesty in blog posts.   Certainly where reviews are concerned.   We don’t want to just read the positive stuff whilst the writer skips the negative because they don’t want to upset either the brand or PR agency.    We want them to be honest.   Similarly we don’t want bloggers receiving products, hating them and not writing a blog at all because they can’t find a positive.    This leaves the only reviews found online, positive, and skews what people really think about something.

But what do we do when the honesty relates to the blogger themselves?   When they want to write what is really in their head about life in general.    The options are either to pretend nothing is wrong and carry on writing reviews, joining in linkies, glossing over the reality and the possible cracks in family life.   Or the other option is to pull away from blog life completely.   To not join in.  To lay low and wait for the feeling to pass.

For bloggers there is much talk of thinking of yourself as a brand.   You are a brand that other brands want to work with.   We are told to think about being that brand when we set up our twitter name / blog name / Instagram account / business cards.   To have the same avatar across all platforms so that as a brand we are consistent.     To think about who we want to be with our blogs, almost to pigeon hole them.   To have a niche that we fit our blog and therefore ourselves into.  And we shouldn’ t really stray too far away from that.

We do that almost to make ourselves attractive to other brands that we may have worked with in the past, or want to work with in the future.   We try to keep ourselves professional.   To be a “known quantity” to both brand and other readers.   They sort of know what they are going to get.   What to expect.

Is this honest though?  Is this who we really are deep down?   Or are we in danger of losing sight of who we are, either in the here and now when having a bad day, or as part of the bigger picture.

Life for me of late has been, quite frankly, crap.   Proper crap.   In the past few years stuff has happened that I have dealt with at the time, or thought I had, but seemingly haven’t.   I have wall papered over the cracks by flinging myself head first into other things.   I have avoided talking about those things on here because do I really want my closest friends and family to read these things?  To really know what is going in my head?  I am not sure I do.

I don’t want to have to talk about it, to explain, to those who don’t know the issues.   Hell I don’t want to talk to those that do know some, but now all, of the issues.   To start from the beginning.   To try and dissect it.   I don’t want to talk about it out loud.  Truly I don’t.   It is easier to lock it away in a box and bury it, isnt it?  To carry on being the person people expect me to be and not be the person that I am right now?

The person that quite frankly would just like to run away and hide.   Who would like all the chatter and silence in her head to be silenced.   That lies awake at night trying to put into words just what it is that is causing all this turmoil.   Who is making herself sick.    Who can’t think straight and goes into a shop to buy one thing and forgets to buy the one thing but spends £50 on other stuff.   Who forgets to do things that her children have asked her to do.

Who would, more than anything, just like to be the person that people think she is.    The person she was.

But that involves being honest.

Is that really the best policy when it comes to a blog?

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  • I know how you feel. I honestly do. One day we can have a chat, but for now I’m going polish that facade and pretend everything is ok x

  • First of all I want to give you a big squishy hug, because I HATE to hear of a friend going though this, especially one as amazing as you.

    I thought long and hard before disclosing a lot about me on my blog – about my depression and what caused it. But I can wholeheartedly say I am so glad I did. I found it very cathartic for me and it has actually helped me form some sort of semblance from the jumble that was in my head. Like you I have things that I had not dealt with and writing them down for the world to see has made it impossible for me to deny there are problems and forced me not only to face them, but also come to terms with them. It’s a long process and a very personal one, but it worked for me.

    Much love xxx

  • I’m sorry to hear you are having such a hard time Tanya.
    I think whether you choose to talk about it on here or not is a very personal decision. I used to post more personal stuff when no one knew about my blog but now some friends and family have found me out i don’t think i would – i feel much more conscious about what i post, which has its pro’s and con’s.
    It could help though, there is no need to out on a front, people won’t think any less of you – if anything I’m sure they would respect you even more.
    Thinking of you and hoping things work out x

  • Put the idea of branding out of your head. It’s a distraction. That’s not what should (hark at me, with the “shoulds”, I know) govern your decision.

    Imagine standing in the middle of the town square and shouting about what’s in your head. Imagine opening yourself up to that support and friendship, but also that judgement and criticism. It’s potentially scary, but it might help people. Now imagine just discussing it over coffee with one or two friends.

    Which feels like the right thing to do? Your instincts are the things to trust here. It’s not about being brave or cowardly, or honest or inauthentic. It’s about looking honestly at you, how you work, and knowing what will deliver the best, happiest outcome for you and the people you care about.

    For me, personally, I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a rusty saw than stand in the town square and shout about my painful moments, insecurities, doubts and flaws. I don’t blog about those things – not because Tesco won’t give me free groceries if i do, but because I know myself and it wouldn’t make me happy to have that all ‘out there’. But heck, some people are sharers, and I know sharing makes them happy, so if that’s you, then why not go for it ?

    • Feck me you are good Whittle. That is an astonishingly simple way of looking at it. And yet brilliant. And spot on.

      Thank you.

      • Sending hugs, I have spent months feeling ignored by some being paranoid about life, hating everything I do but put a smile on my face for the world, I’m so sorry your feeling this way but Sally’s response has just made me laugh.

        I do hope we friends xxx

  • I have thought about this long and hard and it seems that there are two groups of bloggers; the ones that share everything and those that keep that facade. I don’t judge either but I hide away when things are tough as I don’t really want to share my negativity with other people. Yet blogging is therapeutic so I do wonder if I should be more honest as it would help and I know that people would offer advice and support. Only you can decide about being truly honest but I know that you would have huge amounts of support.

  • I’m with Sally I don’t share my inner personal me in my blogs that’s for my good friends and family Ijust share mty dsocial professional smiley faced me online and that’s how I like it. But tis for you to decide lovely and I am SO sorry life has been tough

  • It’s such a personal decision and really depends on what sort of person you are and how you want to use your blog. When things are going badly for me and I am not feeling good I tend to disappear online. It’s not something I want to share or seek attention for. And I especially don’t want to capture the bad stuff in a blog post. I’d rather deal with it in real life and move on. This is not necessarily a ‘better’ way to deal with things, it’s just my way. So you do whatever works for you. But always know that there are friends there wishing you well, both those you’ve met and those you haven’t.

  • Oh my love, I so understand this and it’s exactly why I find myself hiding from the laptop for weeks at a time. I’m not sure whether being honest does help, it can present its own problems.

    Please know that there are people here for you missus, we love you and we don’t need you to tell us a single word xx

  • Honesty will mean something different to everyone. I try to remember there is always two sides of the story. I also think people are at different levels of maturity and try not to judge. You are wise and learning all the time and have he support. x

  • I have this quandary often. I have rarely opened up on my blog but on the rare occasion that I have I have been overwhelmed by support which was wonderful. It did, however, result in a mass panic throughout my family and resulted in endless texts, questions, and phone calls from my Mother and others and, quite frankly, I could have done without it. Its weird. I found the online support really helpful as I didn’t have to get into a discussion. The real life support was actually awful. I know that sounds so selfish but it just added to my problems as I had to spend hours reassuring family that I was actually ok. Only I wasn’t, so being honest on the blog lead to being dishonest in reality simply to avoid endless talk. Sorry, this has turned into a huge waffle. Anyway, I know exactly how you feel and, I guess you just have to do what your gut tells you. You are also more than welcome to blog anonymously over at mine and I am sure many other blogs anytime if you just want a bit of distance x

  • It’s a tough one to call, but I think Sally has nailed it.

    I tend to be really open with how I feel, my heart is definitely worn on my sleeve, and, for me, talking about stuff helps to clear my mind and stops me dwelling on it. Yep, you’re totally opening yourself up to the Internet but that is a chance I am willing to take.

    Having said that, there is a lot to be said for keeping some stuff more private. Before all this, did people so willingly share their innermost thoughts and feelings? I am not sure they did.

    What really helps, though, is knowing you have the support and love of the people who matter. And you definitely have that xxx

  • And that’s why Whittle is my Love Squirrel. It’s easy to get sucked into the ‘I neeeed to be on G+’ or ‘I neeeeed to blog 6 times a week’ or ‘I neeeeed to be honest on my blog’.

    You only need to be honest with yourself, in real life. It’s hard when we share so much online not to share everything online. Random and tame example, all the times I am out with the kids enjoying family time and think ‘oooo I must instagram this moment and share it!’, when actually what I need to do is just put the phone down and enjoy the family time.

    You know I love you, even with the whole angry duck fart thing you have going on, if you need me you know where I am x

  • Hi Mummy Barrow – I’m sorry to read you are having a tough time. As others have said, you shouldn’t feel compelled to write about what you don’t want to share with the world. It’s about what your blog is for, and what you want it to be.

    Maybe it’s more of a place to escape your worries, and (at least pretend to) be the person you want to portray. It can be that fun place, clear from the daily struggles. For me, I started my blog more as a place to share my thoughts – about my mental illness, and recovery. I have found it therapeutic, and others have since opened up to me. It’s rewarding, but in a different way.

    So don’t put any added pressure on yourself – your readers clearly love what you are doing, however much you choose to share!

    Best wishes,
    Kathryn xx

  • Hooray! It’s not just me then?!! Not that my life is particularly crap at the moment, but we all have these feelings, and with kids of similar ages (I think) life can be tiring, and at times they can be thoughtless. As a relatively new blogger, I use my little piece of the internet to create a life in which a middle aged Bridget Jones copes with the realities of school, life in general with its ups and downs and I try desperately not to gloss over too much. I’ve lost count of the times my readers have told me that they identify with me. But there is always a sense of holding back – for many of the reasons that people have given above. I don’t know what the solution is, but the very best of luck in your voyage to discover an answer that works for you.

  • Just because someone doesn’t write about the shit stuff going in in their lives doesn’t mean they are not being true.

    Someone’s depression or past trauma doesn’t define a person, so there’s no reason why you can’t be having a hard time, yet post about a fabulous family day out or a new rug for example. Doesn’t mean you’re not honest. We all put on a show to the outside world to a greater or lesser extent.

    Don’t beat yourself up about that one.

    I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, anything we can do? x

  • That whole dilemma is why I blog about it, but then don’t publish it. It helps me feel better, having got it all out of my system, but I don’t have to let anyone else read it.
    Having said that: Big hugs, Use the the friends you know will give you the support you need.

  • I think honesty is definitely best. I wrote a couple of blog posts over the last couple of weeks about my Grandad dying, his funeral and then our family dog dying. These weren’t characteristic posts of mine, I don’t write ‘down’ posts very often but they were things that were happening in my life and things that I needed to write about. Having said that, I’m sure there are some things that I would never talk about on the blog and in that sense I can understand why you haven’t shared your turmoil with the whole world in that way x

  • We write about what we feel we can write about. At the beginning of my life as a blogger i use to write about more sensitive things…these days i rarely do it. There are doubts I have and I don’t write about there are experiences i live and prefer to keep them off line. Is like when you have a friend and you know there are things you can share with him and things you can’t. that is all. And if you feel that you want to write but not publish it just write it in your diary.
    Big hugs T xx

  • It’s a tough one. If you omit part of the story, part of your life, are you being dishonest? I don’t think so. It’s up to you to chose how much you share with the internet, just as it’s up to you how much you share with anyone in real life. If it would help you to order your thoughts, then write it all down. You can write it in a notebook, or in draft. You don’t have to publish it. I’ve shared some of my deepest darkest thoughts about my relationship with food, but there’s other deep dark stuff that I only share with my husband (and my therapist). There’s no obligation for a blog to be warts and all. Your blog, your rules.
    Sending you a massive hug and lots of love xx

  • Massive hugs. You know what I decided that the whole reason why Blogs are more powerful and influential for Brands is because we are honest, and real, and therefore people can identify with us, and trust us. So we should just be who we are.

    Lots of love to you xxx

  • We really, really don’t HAVE to do anything. We certainly don’t have to put it all out there. I don’t write about my stuff because it’s mine, it’s stuff I share quietly with friends – online stuff is on view for all and sundry and that makes me cringe and hide in the cupboard. But that’s me. You should do exactly what works for you, what you are comfortable with now and can cope with as time ticks on. I’m a fan of paper, I love a notebook – I know who can see it and that works for me. Does that make sense? xxx

  • I was given excellent advice by my late FIL about writing a letter. Never write anything you wouldn’t want to be read out in court! I think this goes for all social media – so tempting to think of your posts as being private messages when sitting alone in front of the screen, but do remember how easy it is for things to leak out you might regret. Or even have them taken out of context by the less than scrupulous. Have seen photos of myself on FB and tagged. Somehow felt violated by this as no one asked permission and I’m there for ever in deep web space looking unspeakable!

    Just be kind to yourself and see if you can share with close friends – trust has to be earned, and you’ll know who you can open up to safely. It’s nothing to do with being honest or not, privacy and secrecy are very different animals – I’ve learnt that the hard way. Take care and most importantly be as kind to yourself as you would the people you love most in this world. XJo

  • So many thoughts on this it’s hard to unscramble them. Firstly some hugs. Secondly, you are wise inside, and you will come to the right decisions yourself on all of this. I know from experience that sometimes the things that are hardest to share are also the ones where you can be overwhelmed (in a good way) once you do share them and get the support. At the same time, I also know from experience that some things really are not for sharing on your blog. Among family and friends, over a bottle or eight of wine, for sure, but not out there not there on the internet. I think that is especially the case if the things that are stressing you are also things that may impact or effect other people in your life. There have been times when I’ve been desperate to blog some of the shit in my life, but I’ve held back because I’ve known it would upset or confuse or otherwise affect those close to me. That doesn’t meant I haven’t written the posts – I have – but they exist as Word documents on my computer, not as published posts on my blog. If ever the time is write for them to become public I think I’ll know that. There are no blogging rules other than do what makes you happy, Mummy B. Whether that means spilling it all out here, or whether it means taking a break from the blog for a few weeks or months until your head is more together, we will love you and support you just the same xxx

  • So sorry you are feeling like this my love. I have felt confused about this many times too. Over the years I have created compartments in my blog for the things I feel ok talking about and even then I don’t talk about the half of them. I have to remind myself it is okay not to document everything, to let things go more often than not. I keep my blog positive because I believe it attracts more positive and keeps me positive. Cheetahs in My Shoes did a really interesting KeyNote about ethics and blogging at the weekend, it was a series of questions to ask yourself before commiting to a tricky post, as Ruth says often stresses involve other people, so it questions that too. Any time you want to talk I am here xx

  • Oh T – firstly let me give you some big big hugs xxx

    How much to reveal on your blog is to me a very personal thing. When I first set out blogging my strap line was “an insight into the things in life that make me smile” as I wanted to very much focus on the positive things in my life rather than dwell on negative issues. That was my personal choice for a variety of reasons and it’s something that I’ve tried to keep up over the years. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do though – and it’s something I decided long before the idea of brands came into blogging. All the time I’ve remained honest, but I may have omitted something that I didn’t want to write about.

    Blogging is a personal thing though and I think it’s down to individuals as to what they want to put in to blogging and equally what they want to get out of it. If you go back to the original online diary idea then yet I would expect someone to include everything, good or bad in their life, but then some blogs are set up purely to be commercial and to be honest on some of those I do question their honesty over their greed. Again it’s up to the individual in my mind. I certainly know which blogs I prefer to read though! x

  • Sod the brand stuff. I don’t do any of that (OK, I’m not an A-list blogger, but hey ho, people can take me or leave me). Blogging is therapeutic and if you want to blog and be honest, then do it. Many people will love and respect you for it. There are many bloggers out there who do it and do it well and have lots of support. On the other hand, if you don’t want to share, you don’t have to. Honesty, as in not telling lies, is good. Honesty as in revealing the deepest, darkest things which are hurting you is right for some and not others. By not sharing you are not being dishonest.
    Sorry, that wasn’t helpful, but just wanted to show support and hope things improve for you soon. x

    • No it is helpful. Its true isnt it, it is not dishonest to not reveal all. Wise words. And as for you not being an A list blogger, excuse me?! I think you will find you are epic!

  • Blogging should be whatever works for the person. Even if it is online, most people get to know the persona and can understand why or why not they’re including the worts and all.

    I’m not the type of person to share everything because I don’t in real life (plus my husband would probably kill me if he found out!), but that doesn’t mean to say others shouldn’t.

    Hope life treats you better soon.

  • I can see what you mean. As a blog grows, you develop a niche, a format, a voice. You dismiss ideas because “you don’t write about that sort of stuff”.

    That said, the posts with most comments are always the ones that resonate most with others- the rants, the observations, the personal details. People who read blogs like to know a little more of the person behind the on-screen voice.

    But once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. It’s what stops me. What helps me is knowing that there are several people- most of whom I have met through blogging- who would allow me to talk, want to hear, want to help.

    I don’t think it’s about being honest or dishonest. I think it’s about disseminating information to the right audience. If you haven’t shared anything until now, there’s a reason you are holding back.

    We all compartmentalise. I don’t tell my children everything about my life. I don’t tell my blog audience everything. I share different information with different people. I don’t think I am deceiving anyone. I just want the big stuff to be in the right hands. The key thing is that you share with someone. Because sharing does help.

    Big hugs Duckie (see what I did there?)

  • So many sensible words of advice here – you have so much love and support in the blogging community. All I will add is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to blogging, just do what feels right. Big big hug xx

  • i have never branded myself – yes I have “branding” but I am who I am and if people don’t like it then they can sit and spin. My bolshiness and brashness has won me lots of fabulous blogging-related work and I know I’ve lost even bigger opportunities because of it. I promised myself that my blog would never change me and I don’t think it has. But then I’ve never really written a day-to-day journal of what is going on in my life- more about how certain experience affect us as a family. My journal would be so boring, if I’m being honest (see what I did there?).

  • Sorry to hear you are going through it a bit at the moment lovely. Some very sensible comments above – how much to reveal on my blog is something I’ve struggled with many times myself. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong answer. It’s a very personal decision and one that you can make and unmake as many times as you wish. Your blog, your rules. Sending you lots of love and a big squeeze and hope things get better for you soon xxxx

  • Tanya, thank you for writing this. When I started my blog 2 years ago I read a post by a well established American blogger which has always stayed with me. She wrote “Your blog is not your best friend.” Now not everyone will agree with the sentiment but I do. I share my intimate, deepest darkest secrets with my best friends, I do not share them on my blog. But I don’t feel any guilt that my site isn’t a true reflection of me. It is, it’s the bits of me that I am inspired to share and my creative space on the internet to say or show whatever I want. So if taking endless photos of pretty stationery laid out on a doily with some tulips on the side makes me happy then hooray! I have said a few times that just because I don’t write about the rows I have with my husband doesn’t mean they don’t happen. But our blogs give us all the freedom to share whatever content we like and that’s for no one to judge. It’s not necessarily rose tinted it’s a conscious choice. I find the whole debate about branding and being brand aware really interesting. I agree with not being pigeon holed into a particular niche but I do think that choosing what we share on the internet is part of our mini marketing. Something I hope to talk more about at BritMums. I have found juggling real life and blog life really tricky lately and this post inspires me not to worry as much. Blogs can be the most wonderful distraction but its your real life that is the most important. Looking after you has to come first. Sending love xxx

    • wow “Your blog is not your best friend”. Just wow. What an extraordinarily insightful sentence. Thank you for sharing that Lucy. And please can we catch up at Britmums.

  • You have put into words what has been jumbling around in my head for a while too. Some particularly crap stuff is/has been going on in my real life, but sharing this has been difficult. I have confided in my immediate family and the fall-out from doing so has been quite spectacular so to put it on my blog would be akin to skinning myself alive. At the same time, the distraction from blogging and all that comes with it needs explaining somehow.

    Yet at the same time, my blog was about celebrating my children as they grow, recording the little changes that are too easy to forget. Not about wallowing in ‘me’ stuff. So to discuss my issues in that way wouldn’t be a good fit for my blog. And I am trying desperately to preserve that despite temptation. I sometimes wonder if I need to start another blog about me, about being a parent to run alongside it. The good and the bad stuff. How the crap stuff life throws at you affects your parenting, etc. There is not a place for that on FSM so for now I will keep myself to myself and keep shimmering away like the sea I gaze upon.

    I often think about writing the post I want to write and hiding it away and not publishing it just to get my thoughts in order and some of it out of my system though. And something like Blogonymous is also a great option for putting some of it out there if you feel the need I guess.

    And I know how hard maintaining that facade is while you’re crumbling away from the inside out – not just in the blogosphere, but in the wider world too. So sending big, huge hugs your way. xx

  • I have been rather open and honest on my blog about many things on my blog; my mental health, my grief, homelessness. I have been told that I am inspiring for being so open and have had a huge amount of support (including from you) that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. And yet there are things that I won’t share. In part because they don’t just affect me (so the homeless period didn’t just effect me but my husband was happy for me to share it and thank goodness I did), in part because the experience of others has taught me that I will be judged negatively for sharing that aspect and frankly that is something I could do without. I have also learned the hard way that things said only (and in particular on Twitter with the character limit) can be easily taken out of context and quickly descend into an argument which results in fall outs.

    I don’t think it makes me any less honest. I hope it doesn’t anyway, I still main my integrity on a professional level and it’s not like I am lying, I just choose to not mention that part to the whole world which is, essentially, exactly what I would be doing and instead have chosen a handful of confidants (and not necessarily “real life” ones!) who have been extremely supportive and non-judgemental.

    Lucy and Sally have both given wonderful ways of thinking about your blog; I guess as much as we love our blogs, they aren’t confidants at the end of the day. xx

  • So sorry you’ve been having such a tough time T. I hope things get easier for you soon.

    I don’t tend to share much on my blog, I’m quite a private person and there are lots of things I wouldn’t want my family who read my blog to know, I’m also conscious that one day my kids might go back and read my posts and so I have to bear that in mind as well.

    In some ways I envy those people who feel they can share their thoughts and feeling so freely, but I just don’t think I could do it.

    xx

  • This is a really thought provoking post and thank you for writing it. I am sorry you are going through a crap time. My blog, instagram and other forms of social media are full of happy smiling shots of my girls, or superficial things like what meals I am eating or clothes I am wearing. To me social media and blogging is a form of escapism, and while I love to read the honest posts and life lessons from other blogs, I personally don’t write about the bad things. That’s not to say I sugar coat my life, more that I just prefer to make my blog a happy memory rather than anything else. I haven’t had to deal with anything really bad though, so I don’t know what I would do if I was going through a tough time as writing is therapeutic. I think Sally summed it up perfectly really.

  • We can still write about the ‘bad’ things…we don’t always have to publish. If writing is our succour, then write we must. It does not follow that we have to share everything with our readers. We do not even share everything with those who know us intimately, so the standard should be no different for our internet space.

    If we make the conscious decision that whatever we do publish is authentic, our space does not become a lie and the only decision left to make is publish or not to publish?

    My love and understanding, Mx

  • HUGE hugs. And much as I love social media, one of the negatives is how everyone paints these “perfect” lives. Think of selfies as the example. NOBODY ever puts up a bad one. That’s like social media in general. It’s the “you” you think everyone WANTS to see – but actually every wants to see and love YOU – the REAL you xxxx

  • And I just spotted your Dr Seuss quote in an earlier post – strangely relevant:
    Be who you are and say what you feel
    Because those who mind don’t matter
    And those that matter don’t mind
    Dr Seuss