Know what's just AWESOME? When one of those people, someone I thought really got my need to write, accuses me of manipulation (subconsciously or overtly) by making writing available for "public consumption" I have to at least stop and consider the possibility.
The exact words, verbatim:
"If you write for consumption of others, you're MANIPULATING them."
Had it come from nearly anyone else on this planet (barring a very select few) I would've blown it off as ridiculous, malicious, and downright stupid. But this came from someone whose opinion I value. At least, I did. That, along with my motivations for this blog, are currently under review.
/məˈnɪpyəˌleɪt/ Show Spelled [muh-nip-yuh-leyt]
verb (used with object), ma·nip·u·lat·ed, ma·nip·u·lat·ing.
1. to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings.
Even dictionary.com acknowledges the word has negative connotations, that manipulation (in an emotional sense...I didn't reference the physical manipulation of objects...like driving a car) is an attempt to influence the minds/emotions/actions of others.
I suppose technically that's true: if I share a ridiculous episode from my life on my blog hoping to make someone laugh because I thought it was funny, am I not attempting to influence my readers' mind/emotional state?
What if I share my opinions on gay marriage, abortion, parenting, current events, or Game of Thrones? Is making my view of the world available outside my own mind an attempt to change someone else's?
Every reason I posted on this blog, on Facebook, even personal view essays I've written for submission to magazines, short stories or even the goddamned novels...they're all under review in my head now. Maybe I shouldn't have written the post on the Texas abortion debate. Maybe I shouldn't have posted anything about depression. Is it ok to put things out there if I put out a disclaimer? Is expressing myself manipulation if I say up front these are just my own stupid thoughts, and I don't expect any sort of reaction or change? Hell, most of the time I'm shocked if someone reads it at all.
I have no interest in manipulating anyone for any reason. The word itself means, to me, attempting to deviously force someone to think, feel, or act the way the manipulator wants them to. (Yes, I know that's a grammatically incorrect sentence.) I'm interested in people: their motivations, their thoughts, their feelings...if I'm in any way underhandedly influencing my experience with another person (even through writing) is INAUTHENTIC. It's not my goddamned place to try to force anyone. Not to my point of view, not to learn what I may be able to teach, not to even understand where I'm coming from.
My writing is for ME: it's my therapy. It's my escape. It's my need. I thought by sharing it I may touch someone else once in a while: give them a moment of escape or commiseration or just a quick distraction from their day. Let them into my life and experience, if they wanted to hang out. At what point is expressing myself an attempt to influence someone else? At what point does it become propaganda, which IS a clear example of manipulation?
The bare possibility that I may be doing it means I need a break to figure out my shit.
Therefore, I'm taking a hiatus from my blog and social media. I don't know how long I'll be gone: I have to figure out what's ok to put out there in public and what I should keep to myself.