Real Talk: Honesty, Audiences and Online Identities

I have a question for you bloggers and online content creators: do you ever think about who is viewing your posts? I do, all the time. I pour over my WordPress statistics, trying to paint a picture of my audience. I’m mostly curious about the country and referrer statistics—because they can tell me, among other things, if people I know (people from Canada who, say, find my blog through Facebook when I know I’ve just shared a link on my page) are reading my blog.

I’m intrigued by the concept of having an “online identity” and I’ve often wondered what it means for me, as someone who started blogging because of a school project which involved many people in my school community reading my blog. I know, for instance, that friends, family, teachers and acquaintances follow my blog—but most of my followers do not know me in real life.

This makes my audience an interesting combination. Do I write for the people who know me personally? Or do I write for the large majority of my followers who have never met me? I think the simple answer is that I write primarily for neither of these groups—I write for myself. I sprinkle tidbits of my life across a page, strung together with a narrative and leave my words here for myself to come back in a few weeks, months or years; to remember a moment in my life, a thought that captivated me or simply an idea I deemed worth sharing.

Of course, while I write for myself, I don’t share my writing entirely for myself. I do write quite a few things that never see the light of day. I let these stories sit on the tip of my tongue (and the depths of my leather bound journal). Maybe someday I will craft them into blog posts, articles or (who knows?) a book. But for now, I like to let those words linger in the shade, away from the spotlight of the Internet.

Those places are just for me—here, on my blog, is a place for other people to read my writing. The over two-hundred SherinaSpeaks posts I’ve written and published are all authentic; but they are also all part of my so-called online identity. They are the parts of myself I choose to present to the world, both for the people I know and the people I don’t.

Sometimes when I go back and read my old posts (because, after all, right now I am the future self to which I once wrote) I am surprised by what I’ve decided to publish. Probably because I love the freeing feeling of writing and sharing true, honest words, I’ve blogged about some really personal parts of my life, like moving away for university. I’ve also blogged about a lot of random, seemingly mundane parts of my life; I often enjoy rambling on about these little details.

There’s a liberating feeling in leaving even these little details about my life on the page. If you added them all up, you probably wouldn’t get a complete picture of my life; if you know me in real life, then you’d be closer to it, but still. That is, I guess, what I find strange—that depending on whether my readers know me or not, they could interpret my posts in different ways. It’s not, per se, a bad thing; it’s just interesting. Even people I know in real life but don’t talk to me frequently could stay quite updated on my life through reading my blog. With the exception of comments, blogging can be quite a one-way conversation; I can write and write and write about my life, and whoever wants to read it and not respond is free to do so. I guess, really, it’s the same with any social network—but I share the most on WordPress, I think, so it’s what piqued my attention.

I guess at the end of the day, my online identity is just, well, me. No matter who I imagine is reading my blog (whether I know them in real life or not) I still strive to be genuine. Maybe that’s the best online identity you can have—I certainly believe that writing honestly about my life online has made me a better blogger and more reflective person.


What are your thoughts on honesty in blogging? | Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Header image source

 

49 thoughts on “Real Talk: Honesty, Audiences and Online Identities

  1. I think it’s quite interesting the idea of what your readers are like but also kind of daunting! People have read my blog from places I’ve never been to or seen but I kind of like that I could effect someone that far away from something I post from my tiny bedroom! I enjoyed reading this!Xx

  2. Honesty is often misunderstood. You can scare some people with one little sentence – “Let me be honest with you.” – as if honesty were some hidden, infrequent, damaging thing. Yes, honesty can be that, especially if roughly applied perhaps due to limited practice. However, when honesty is simply an everyday thing, it can be the simplest, clearest, and kindest way to connect with other humans. True, others may hold judgement about what we say, just as we can judge ourselves. Still, letting out those hidden thoughts buried in the leather journals can be refreshing, cathartic, and freeing. Revealing who we truly are isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to get to know each other.
    Thanks for your inspiration towards sharing.
    Vincent

    1. That’s an interesting perspective! I agree–honesty can certainly be misunderstood but it can also be a great way to interact. It is certainly, I think, a great way to go about blogging! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  3. I think that the statement “you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all of the time” is something to consider as a blogger. As long as your readers like most of the things you write you’re on the right track.

  4. Can’t argue with that, I sometimes wonder or want to know who read or view my post. Most of my readers are from outside of my country and so little in my own country.
    This platform is amazing how we are able to connect to one another all around the world!

  5. When I was in middle school and high school, I switched between a few different blogs where I kept my identity almost entirely unknown. I didn’t share these blogs with anybody that I knew “in real life” and none of those blogs ever stuck around. Likely because they were not personal enough. Even though I just started blogging again a few months ago, I already feel more connected to myself, just by sharing more directly with people I know. It’s nice to share with a variety of different audiences because like you said, you aren’t writing for them, you’re writing for you. You can’t cater to what anybody wants other than your inner voice.

  6. I think authenticity and sincerity are always valuable everywhere (well unless you’re a spy or something). I love being honest and maybe a bit spicy. It’s good for my soul, and I hope others deeply enjoy it. At the same time, I don’t share everything. Some moments are meant for that one moment.

  7. Great post. I decided to not tell anyone about my blog, yet I always wonder if someone I know might read it, might read my thoughts. Indeed, the most important part of blogging is that you write for yourself.

  8. I can relate. I agree that honesty and openness are the best way to go, though I might be biased: I have a mental block about lying. XD I freaked out a little before sharing a post about my struggles with anxiety, but my desire to break the taboo surrounding mental health made me push the “publish” button anyway… It’s still one of my “Top Posts”. I can’t say if it’s my honesty that did the trick or some other circumstances, but its relative popularity did me a lot of good. People read, liked, related, understood. I am not alone. That’s one of the perks of blogging for me. ^_^

  9. Sherina, beautiful and interesting post!

    I can well relate since I often find myself in the same crisis; not sure of what my “online identity” is and who exactly it is that I’m writing for: followers I know personally or the ones I don’t. As for the former, I don’t have an answer since I’m fairly new here but as far as the latter is concerned, I definitely agree with your perspective. At the end of the day, I’m writing for myself and I guess I’m doing so, I’m curating an online identity of myself.

    Thanks for sharing your! 😊

  10. A very insightful and well articulated post. It touches on something I grappled with when I first started blogging, particularly when people near to me in my personal life began recommending topics of things they’d like to read on and suggested changes to my blog’s to aesthetic, etc.

    I’m big on constructive feedback and took it as such but it began to sway and ultimately have too much of an influencing “say” in my writing and style. I think it’s valuable to consider your audience and remain receptive of other perceptions and insights, but it’s even more important to do this while maintaining your own, unique voice.

    I started my blog to make writing more habitual in my daily life, but also to be creative and unwaveringly “me” and, therefore, genuine. I think in the end, it’s served me well to stick to this approach, because it’s allowed me to be unrestricted and honest and ultimately led to some very fulfilling writing. I think that is what people can sense and identify with most. Whether you’re being sincere in your writing. And that is what will draw folks to read your work, whether they are a close personal friend or a stranger who discovers your wonderful blog on a community pool thread 😉

    Looking forward to reading much more!

    1. That’s very interesting! I’ve experienced that as well, with friends in real life suggesting, “Blog about this! Blog about this!” I, like you, certainly take their suggestions into account but try to keep my own voice and perspective. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  11. I agree with everything you’ve said in this post! I’m also always trying to find the balance, and what I’d decided a while ago was that while people who know me personally can find my blog easily (I share links to a few articles on facebook occasionally, and my blog is linked in my instagram bio), everyone else who finds me directly on the platform has no idea who I am in real life! And I really like that feeling of anonymity, as I can write about surprisingly personal aspects of my life which may seem like just stories to the people who read them, although to me and to people who know me irl those details may have been more than I’d share on a general basis… Although contradicting the anonymous aspect, I included an image with my face in it on my latest post – and I must say it made me quite nervous, even though I doubt anyone who sees it would give it a second glance.
    Wow, I realise how much more I could say about this – you’ve almost inspired me to write an entire post myself on the same topic!

  12. My personality is to be open and honest and that is how I write when I am the only person involved. What I find interesting is that I know some people who read my posts but they do not mention them in conversation and others who will ring me up to ask what I meant in a certain phrase. I wrote something the other day which I will not post because it involves another, I guess that’s just respect. Anyhow I loved your writing, it captured many of my feelings and thoughts too.

  13. I like this post. I like to think I post for myself. Just writing for the pure pleasure of it. But, it’s different to writing in my journal, when I blog I take care with my writing, I want it to follow rather than just be scatter brain ides that randomly pop up in my head. There’s only 6 people that know me that have seen my blog. The rest are strangers, fellow bloggers I suppose. I only have 1 follower ,another blogger, and that’s fine by me. At first I was worried about having an online identity, but now, it’s not so scary, because still no one really knows haha!

  14. As a starting blogger I am really struggling with the online identity that you are describing in your insightful post. I decided at first to not spread the word about my blog among my friends and family, to leave me the freedom to write about them occasionally. However now I am regretting that decision and consider coming out of the closet. 😀 I guess the feedback and the encouragement that you can get from people who know you personally, especially in first stages of blogging, are important.

  15. Right now, because I’m blogging mostly for “the people at home”, most of my readers are friends (but not family). I’ve gotten more readers as I’ve started to engage other bloggers in comments and readership just to get better at blogging, and also increase my community since I’ve moved somewhere where I don’t know anyone, but I definitely anticipate (and write as if) the people reading my blog already know me. I think a lot about the fact that this means that my online identity should match my personal identity (because that is who people know), but I also have to think about the fact that this blog is public even if most of my readers know me, so I have to think about exactly how personal I want to get/what’s appropriate or safe to share. But my life is what gives me my material, so it’s just about being mindful, and staying true to my voice and what feels right in the moment.

  16. That was a really interesting post! I haven’t shown anyone in my nearest environment my blog, but I cannot really say why. Maybe I am scared, because I share very personal stuff on it and it is easier for me to write when I know it is more anonymous. But I will maybe tell them some day 😊Have a lovely day! Marina xxx

  17. Amazing read sherina… Honesty and staying genuine… I love that… Stay true to who you are and people will be attracted to you for that… Thanks for reminding me of this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s