Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Ethical Hiatus.

Ultimately, 99.9% of my written words are to entertain me...and to get them out of the racetrack in my head, and I started this blog to share those stories with friends who regularly wanted to hear them anyway.

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.
ma·nip·u·late
[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.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:56 PM

    I like your blog! I don't feel manipulated at all! Maybe that's just because I like it- oh ya baby, manipulate me- no, that's just wrong. I just like your writing. And I am chicken-sh!t so I shall remain anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well of course it's manipulative, but that's just because everything everyone does is manipulative! It's called having opinions that are different to other people and being willing to defend them. Just because you put them into writing doesn't mean they're less valid.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Huh? You're over thinking some asshat's insecure comment. I love to read your thoughts, you are able to fully articulate some of my own feelings (which makes me envious but it also damn handy because I can send my mom a link to your blog and say, "see? This is what I was trying to say. Jess gets it!"). Also, you're leaving us hanging on the neighbor stories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Roxie9:24 AM

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter, here! Just wanted to say, any blog that manipulates me into smiling, laughing, or otherwise feeling better throughout my day is the kind of manipulation we all could use more of!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I paused before commenting (very unlike my bossy self), and re-visited this post today. I hope that you will reconsider, but I encourage you to follow what feels right for you...

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  6. OK, I'm still meddling, but I read this today and thought of you

    http://www.stevewiens.com/2013/07/16/why-youre-addicted-to-approval/?utm_source=The+Actual+Pastor+Email+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=e37e7bc491-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6beb214c33-e37e7bc491-54446937

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah...I'm really good at blowing off shitty reviews, internet trolls, posts that never get looked at...rejections in general. Have to be: I write fiction too and have a collection of short story submission rejections. Ha!

      This isn't really about general approval: I'm evaluating whether this blog has remained what I intended it to be, what I intend it to be NOW, and whether I should take the feedback of someone I cared about or if I should blow him off as well as his opinion, permanently.

      HIS opinion meant enough that I had him read other writing for feedback (as opposed to internet trolls. Or, really, any trolls...Norwegian trolls express rejection by eating you or throwing trees at you (according to Trollhunter) so I'm not cool with that). Shrug.

      I haven't (can't!) stop writing.

      Delete
    2. STOPPED writing. Sigh. Not "stop writing." Snicker. Look ma, I can grammar and tense!

      Delete
  7. Stumbled upon your blog today..and apparently in the middle of a crisis. But I have to comment. Because I'm really, REALLY pissed at whoever has said this to you. And here it is:

    I think you are missing half the definition. Are you being unfair by posting on a public blog about what's on your mind? No. For that to be true you would have to force people to read your blog when reality is telling us that we can click the "x" and find other caves of the internet to explore. And this applies to any other published material you have: did someone hold a gun to the consumer's head and say that had to buy your writing? No. At least I'm really hoping they didn't because that would be messed up on so many levels.

    And I'm sorry but isn't everything we say "for consumption"? If this blog is a rundown of what's on your mind isn't that like someone overhearing your conversation with your bff at a coffee shop?

    Even more, writing may be a "hostile act" and (hopefully) influential and maybe even persuasive but rarely (i.e. propaganda) is it "in an unfair manner". It is nearly impossible to make writing unfair. I think the most unfair writing comes from the tabloids that write untrue things about real people. The fact that people are manipulated by tabloids is their own fault. The assumption in writing is that the reader is there to be challenged or at least that is my assumption. Do you believe everything you hear? No. The same way you shouldn't believe everything you read. If you can't listen, read, observe, without discretion then you are just screwed regardless of whether you are reading a blog or walking down the street reading a billboard telling you to jump off a bridge.

    So be hostile. Write. Challenge. And manipulate us to tears, laughter, and tears from laughter. Whatever you choose. But I for one, don't feel that your ability to make me laugh or cry is unfair. In fact, I demand a little manipulation. Why else do we cry at the sad parts of books and movies? Why do we jump at the scary parts? Manipulation. But we all possess the choice to consume what you create so you can not manipulate in an unfair manner.

    (Sorry for the novel of a comment. But I got really upset. Heh..)

    ReplyDelete

Unload your brainpan, but please prove you're not a Russian spam-bot. Or Skynet. I don't want the T1000 after me.