It’s the second day of Podomas. If you missed what I mean by this, I recommend checking out yesterday’s post, “The Best Advice I Ever Received.
But as a quick summary, I’ll keep it super simple. Podmas is actually for podcasters, and the podcast She Said was started by Lucy Lucraft, who runs the What She Said Every Day in December podcast. There are prompts each day so everyone is talking about similar topics. But since I’m a blogger and not a podcaster, I decided to blog using daily prompts instead of recording a podcast.
The prompt for today is: Being vulnerable online means xyz?
Bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, and other online creators often talk about online vulnerabilities. The reason is that when we open up and share our anxieties and fears, we show a very real and authentic side to ourselves, and you become more real and empathetic. And anyone who can relate will gain more followers online. Vulnerable people online are able to amass huge followings because, let’s be honest, people love that shit.
People want to know they are not alone in their daily struggles. The reason bloggers became popular in the first place is because bloggers are real people and we love peeking into real lives and seeing real struggles. No one wants to see perfection. We want to see the lives of ordinary people, warts and all. “Influencers” have become the new celebrity because everyone is obsessed with following reality.
And with reality comes real conflict, real anxiety, real problems, real anxiety, and real depression.
Even worse, reading about other people’s depressed moods can make you feel better. I feel less alone with my problems and it’s so nice to know that others feel the same way. In a world where everyone shares their best lives online and we see perfectly curated feeds of polished photos and happy smiles, everyone has their own issues and our social media It’s easy to forget that an account is just a highlight reel of a person’s life.
Swapping vulnerability for honesty
But I don’t like the expression “being vulnerable online.” Vulnerability is a negative thing. It sounds weak, fragile, and scary, but I don’t think opening up and sharing your difficulties should make us feel weak or scared. I would like to replace the word “vulnerable” with “honest.” Because it’s a similar feeling, but it makes you feel more like a human being who has made a choice than a fragile ladybug in the hands of a two-year-old. Be open and honest.
Side note: We have an infestation of ladybugs in our house, and they all appear in the fall. There are hundreds! Joseph loves playing with ladybugs, but teaching a toddler how to delicately handle one is not easy. He accidentally crushed a lot of them.
In my case, I don’t want to put myself at risk online, but I do want to be honest.
Someone once said to me, “Can I ask you a very personal question?’
When they asked, “How do you separate ‘online you’ from ‘real you’?” I hesitated, a little worried that they were asking me something strangely personal. I got it’?’
I hesitated again, not knowing what to say.
“Um.. that’s not true. I’ve never thought of that before. I don’t share it. I’m the only one online. I don’t try to be anyone else.’
How I blog about problems
I find it hard to blog about issues I’m having in real time, and I often wait until a few months later to share them when I know they’ve been resolved. I find it hard to write about something until it’s completely resolved in my head. Because it just becomes a never-ending jumble of weird thoughts.
This happened last year when George wasn’t feeling well. He had a large tumor in his neck, but I didn’t talk about any of the details until the results came back that it was a non-cancerous tumor and that he would be okay. When we were on our knees going to the hospital, we couldn’t share the details of what we were experiencing. We didn’t even talk about what we were going through. Because we just held out hope that the growing lump was no big deal and pretended like there was nothing to worry about.
At the time, it felt weird to share content online and still act like everything was okay. While waiting at the hospital for an endless series of appointments, I was responding to messages from people asking for travel advice.
I didn’t talk about it. We didn’t really know because people weren’t ready to message me and ask if we were all okay, if George was okay. I liked pretending everything was okay.
Online vulnerability and clickbait
One of the reasons I try to avoid so much “vulnerability chat” is because it’s often synonymous with clickbait. If you’re not sure what clickbait is, it’s basically creating an online article, YouTube video, etc with a title (sometimes a misleading title) that entices people to click on it.
Imagine if I wrote a blog post about George. I think the title was something like, “I think my son has cancer.” Everyone will click on it. How could you not click? The more clicks you get, the more you get paid, so it feels wrong to make money on something so devastating.
I would like to point out that George is totally fine! His scar is very clean and although he has to be checked regularly, the tumor hasn’t come back in over a year.
Those are my thoughts when it comes to online honesty. I think it’s good. I think that’s necessary. I don’t think you should act like your life is rosy and perfect just because other people think your life is crap when it isn’t. But I also don’t like when people use their problems to enhance their online persona.