A Shocking Revelation

With Mother’s Day having passed, I considered writing a post about moms. I’m not a mom, so I can only write about them. But rather than wax eloquent here about the joys of having a great mom, I called my mom on Mother’s Day to experience the joy, rather than write about it. (We live far away from each other and could only communicate by phone.) So, you won’t get the eloquent waxing on that subject. Sorry to disappoint.

But this brings up something I’ve struggled with lately: how much to reveal about myself on this blog. As I’ve mentioned before, L. Marie is a pen name. That’s why I avoid posting photos of myself. Photos would defeat the purpose of a pen name. (There is a reason for the need for a pen name, which will be revealed at some point.)

Woman-with-paper-bag-over-head

We live in a culture where revealing the day-to-day minutiae of one’s life to strangers online is the norm. But I struggle with that, not just because of the pen name. I’m a shy person. I have trouble introducing myself to people in person, let alone online. So I’m always amazed at how much people reveal about themselves, especially on social media outlets like YouTube. I’ve seen vlogs about the contents of YouTubers’ bedrooms, refrigerators, purses, iPads, and TV screens.

I’m also amazed at what’s done for the sake of entertainment on YouTube—another way to reveal information about oneself. The other day, I clicked on one of my YouTube subscriptions to find a video of two guys playing a Russian Roulette-type game involving electric shocks. You can buy this game on Amazon, I later discovered. But I clicked away from the YouTube video before the game began. The thought of watching someone take an electric shock quite frankly horrified me.

Now, I’m not debating anyone’s right to buy this game or show it on a YouTube channel or even to watch someone else play the game. But this video brought up something I need to reconcile.

I’ve read the Hunger Games books and watched three of the movies. Now, the premise of the books and movies involves more than people using a party game to administer electric shocks. Young people in this world are expected to kill other young people in gladiator-style games. So if I can watch that, then why am I so horrified by two guys doing something that will cause one or the other pain?

The-HUnger-Games-Movie-Logo

Probably because they’re not actors who are paid to pretend they’re some else, while being supported by a huge special effects budget. So while my mind tells me the movie scenes aren’t “real” (thus cushioning the effect), there is no cushion for real life.

Still, you might argue, how much of YouTube is “real life”? Some vlogs, like reality TV, have a “scripted” feel to them, since the participants know that the camera stands before them, and they can edit out mistakes.

I’m not here to debate that issue. I’m here because the video I clicked off caused me to think deeply about what I watch. (See? You and I both learned something about me.) While I know they were playing a game, the experience reminded me that real life can be messy and scary at times, and beautiful and sacred at others. Some images stay with you for life.

That’s why I’d rather not watch two people waiting to see who gets an electric shock. I want to see or read something that makes me feel good about life. Like this blog post from Penny over at Life on the Cutoff or this post from Andy over at City Jackdaw.

How about you? Has something caught your breath in a good way lately? Please share it!

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The lone red tulip in the yard

Woman with bag from svtrainingconnect.com. Hunger Games movie logo from pop-break.com.

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42 thoughts on “A Shocking Revelation

  1. First of all, thank you for the link to my post 🙂
    I know what you mean about how much we reveal of ourselves on social media. I was always ‘Andy of City Jackdaw’, no photographs or full name. But once my book was published, (unless I decided not to highlight this) my anonymity became redundant. So I came out, so to speak.
    As for the things we reveal about ourselves-in regard to character, attitudes etc, on Facebook. Sometimes my newsfeed is filled with drama and vitriol. People use it to let off steam, verbally attack someone, open up their private lives for all to see. There is the attention seeking updates too: ‘Absolutely fuming!!!!!!’ People ask ‘Everything okay?’ The reply: ‘Yes
    I’m fine.’ I must be boring, my FB consists mainly of (as you may know) humorous stories of my kids, the famed Jenisms, etc. Maybe it’s my job to bring a little balance to the Force 🙂

    • Well, Andy, you needed to show yourself, since you’re a published author. I really need to get something up on Facebook under my pen name and legal name. I’m published under my legal name. Working on getting published under the pen name. But with the pen name, I can’t really use photos of myself.

      I enjoy your stories of your life in Manchester, especially your walks and the conversations you overhear at the coffee shop. That’s the kind of sharing I enjoy.

  2. That sounds like a stupid game. Anyway, I think we are living in a world of oversharing. I see all manner of TMI stuff showing up on Twitter and Facebook. Things get even stranger when it’s kid-related because there’s that line where you wonder if the child will be happy about the public share when they’re older. An occasional ‘oops’ is one thing, but constant revelations of what you and your child do every day feels off. It’s all so strange that people scream for privacy from some things (The NSA is on my phone!), but then they share so many intimate things (Potty Training video!). I tend to only look at comedy sketches on YouTube, so I don’t go near the Jackass-type things. That’s probably why you see it too. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and many rate their popularity in likes/views/shares. The desire to go viral is strong and some will do anything to get there.

    As for your own blog, share as much as you’re comfortable with. I remember people demanding I write about my daily life when I asked what they wanted to see on my blog. Honestly, I refused because some stuff is private and I have enough trouble with family reading what I’m posting now. Cost me some readers, but it felt like the right thing to do.

    • I know what you mean, Charles. I don’t know why people are so eager for every detail of someone’s life. I have to wonder what’s going on in theirs that makes them long to know about someone else’s life. I also don’t like the videos of children falling or being embarrassed in some way. I can’t see how that kind of thing shows concern for that child’s welfare.

      I was surprised at all of the great reviews the game received on Amazon. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen people rave about even stupider things. I don’t like games where “courage” is judged by something like taking an electric shock. That’s not courageous.

      I remember running across a six-lane highway on a dare. I thought that was courageous. It wasn’t. I was nearly killed for a stupid reason.

      • I have no idea why people are so interested. Maybe it deals with the nature of social media. A friend you are physically near would be privy to the personal information because they are there. Someone on-line doesn’t have the same access, but could want them because we define friends as simply knowing each other now. The problem is that the only way to get that info is for the person to make it public or at least risk it going public. Add in that some people don’t think of the consequences of putting their lives on the Internet. I can’t say I’m surprised about the game reviews or the falling child thing. At least with the latter, accidents happen when you’re taping something like first steps or first bike ride. It’s when the child is in danger or hurt and the camera keeps rolling with no adults showing up that I worry.

      • I usually send a private message on Facebook to friends and family who are far away. That way, I don’t have to bug everyone else with that information. 🙂

        Many people bored or angry and want to be entertained by someone else’s pain. I’ve got enough pain to deal with. So I don’t need to revel in someone else’s.

  3. I’m with Charles, that sounds like a stupid game. Since I’m not a YouTube user, I don’t know what goes on over there, but as for all of the sharing on other social media outlets, I’m amazed by the information and photos shared by parents.

    • I’m also amazed at what parents do on YouTube. Someone posted on her channel a video of her daughter failing to leap and roll on her couch. I couldn’t tell if the little girl was hurt or not or even wanted to be shown. But I would have been completely humiliated! I can’t laugh at a child being humiliated.

  4. I’m the same way, clicking off the reality of brutality. With movies my threshold is higher because, like you say, no one really gets hurts, not even animals these days (thank goodness). I still feel like I’m a very private person in spite of some of the sharing I’ve started to do. But even when I share, I weigh every word and try to anticipate the repercussions, especially if I’m writing about family. But I respect others’ privacy so, for example, you’ll never see a photo of my husband (well, only from the back). As for what has caught my breath in a good way, check your Twitter feed. You should find a tweet for you and Charles of a whimsical dragon yard decoration that I saw yesterday when taking a walk break. The quality of the video is not great (took it with my phone), but I hope you’ll like it. You can also go directly to it from this link https://youtu.be/LXlauqIg6zo 🙂

    • I saw that on Twitter! Thanks, Marie! I’ll have to pass that along to some friends whose little boy loves dragons. (In fact, he’s having a dragon themed birthday party this weekend.)

      I know what you mean about weighing each word. Because once on the internet, it remains on the internet, even if a post is deleted. I don’t have the permission of friends and family to share their photos. I barely do that on Facebook!

      • Glad you like the video and I bet it would be a great gift for a kid (or an adult ;)). My family and friends share so much (and sometimes too much, imho) that I don’t worry too much about sharing photos. My husband has been empathic about not having his photo anywhere in social media. I even ask before posting photos that show him but not his face. He allows me that much 😉

      • I can’t blame your husband! I know a number of authors whose spouses do not want their photos shared. 🙂

        I’ll have to show my friends that video. I’m sure they’ll try to find that dragon. 🙂

  5. I enjoy uplifting positive themes when reading or watching TV, movies, or videos. I don’t enjoy dystopian books or movies. I never watch “reality TV” shows because I don’t think they are really “real.” And if they are, that’s too depressing to contemplate.

    I will watch documentaries, nature shows, biographies, travel shows, cooking shows, tiny home shows, light-hearted murder mysteries on PBS (Father Brown, Death in Paradise, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), and well done historical pieces (Downton Abbey!).

    I use youtube as a tool when I have lyrics stuck in my head and want to hear the whole song or I’m wondering how a local band sounds. I get in and get out.

    My rule of thumb for posting something on the internet (or sending “IT” to someone in an e-mail) is whether I’d have a problem with “IT” appearing on the Front Page of the NY Times with my name attached. If I’m willing to own “IT,” I post. If not, I rephrase.

    • I love the PBS Mysteries too, Nancy! And documentaries and foreign films. Yes, Downton is really well done!

      Ha! Good rule of thumb!
      I’ve tried some reality TV shows, only to find myself bored rather quickly. 😦

  6. Thank you for linking to my post, L. Marie – and for linking to Andy’s. I loved the poem and will visit his site again.
    I concur with you and others. The game is stupid. I turn to YouTube for songs that are running through my head. I enjoyed reading The Hunger Games series more than watching it.
    What took my breath away? ah, just this past Sunday morning, waiting for guests to arrive and have brunch here, I stole a few moments with a cup of tea to sit in our arbor and to see what might be blooming. Feeling a bit contrite as I missed going to church, I was greeted by a Jack-in-the-Pulpit, who was giving a short sermon at my feet. 🙂 You know what? I think I’ll just make a post of it. 🙂

  7. (Spoiler alert: this is longish and also a bit disjoint)
    I agree with all of the above…there is a balance between professional revelations for the purposes of one’s career and/or marketing which (for me) were decided early on in the internet ‘super highway’ phenom (when cdbaby was new and My Space Music was all the rage!!!) and then how much other info to send out into the nether lands of the web…I tend to err on the side of less is more…

    Right now, it bothers me (it really shouldn’t, but it does) that MaryAliceTeenagerbornin2000 can be googled and turn up tons of stuff via facebook entries, tweets, etc not much of consequence, but lots of ‘stuff and noise’ and yet: (here’s the biggie for me) guys like my dad who were movers and shakers and professional working jazz musicians in the day, sidemen on big name recordings, guys whose names had regional significance, etc google their names and nothing comes up…or my great uncle who was in the “Who’s Who” books as a prominent artist in the 20th century – google his name and though a prolific artist and nationally recognized, not much comes up…

    I’m not mentioning this just because it’s personal, but because it represents the deep flaws within the current landscape of available public knowledge.

    Then in time, instead of encyclopedia-type info available via google, it’s all skewed to who ever entered the most blog posts or twitter feeds or photos taken from one’s phone….or who ever took the time to painstakingly enter a few already seriously documented items (ie newspaper reviews, accounts, biblio lists, etc)

    For as much as is available to us in these digital times, it has narrowed our view of reality significantly.

    sigh

    • I agree with you, Laura. There are some things to reveal for professional reasons–ala biographical details for a website. Kids who have to write reports on authors need somewhere to get information. (Hence Wikipedia’s rise in popularity.) But I don’t need to know the contents of someone’s backpack or glove compartment. I don’t ask my friends for that information offline. I don’t think anyone really needs to know what I have in my purse. Really, the information is boring anyway. (And I also have searched for information on famous writers and musicians only to come up with very little information.)

      We’re so inundated with information that provides a false sense of intimacy. 😦

  8. Extensive sharing about oneself on social media can be a sign of narcissism, anyway. 😛 (I say that teasingly and with no ill will, though there is some scientificky correlationy stuff.)

    A lot of introverts find the online community a safe place, because it lets them interact with people without interacting with people. It can be the perfect medium for someone who has trouble being themselves in person. Almost all people use it as a filter. You’ll only see what they want you to see. It’s a way of building ourselves little pedestals so we can pretend we stand a bit higher than we really do. Everyone’s definition of higher is different, of course. There are the people who try to be the most shocking (some, literally, apparently), those who want to be the most burdened and enduring, and those who are above everyone in their goodness and light (but still getting there, wherever there is).

    Personally, I started sharing some personal stuff because it’s what people responded to most. I’d get comments, likes, and such on other posts, but people wanted to know about me. My family posts consistently get more likes than anything else I post on FB, and maybe 4 of them will be from actual family members. Which I get. People start to connect to the people they’re reading about. I think it’s a little like a story. “You shared this with me, so now I’m invested in your story and I want to keep reading.” We want the little details to fill in our mental images so the mind-movie will be as complete as possible.

    • I love your family stories, ReGi. And I enjoy those on other blogs. But there are some things people share online (and these are self-admitted introverts) that shock me. Like showing the contents of their phones and other things to people. Some things just don’t seem wise to share, even if others demand it.

      Have you seen this blog? I think you might like it: http://www.handsfreemama.com/

  9. I’ve never understood the whole sharing personal stuff on the Internet thing. The longer we all read each other posts, the more we gradually pick up about each other’s lives and that suits me just fine. But watching youtube vids of total strangers doing either nothing very much or really stupid things just seems weird to me. One of the blogs I find most uplifting is Karissa’s – she does blog about books mainly, but since she had her daughter Pearl a year or so ago, she’s done a series of posts showing Pearl developing and just talking about how much she’s enjoying the experience of motherhood. I’m not really a ‘child’ person, but Karissa never reveals anything deeply personal (except her love for her daughter and her faith) and never ever posts a photo or a word that would embarrass Pearl when she’s older. I really love the posts, and feel I know them both, though of course I don’t… https://realizinggrace.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/4268/

  10. You’ve made some excellent points here about people revealing too much about themselves on sites, as well as that large group of weird and uncomfortable shares. Knowing that these are real definitely makes it a different experience. I much prefer the upbeat!

  11. You bring up one of the main questions bloggers have to answer: how much of ourselves to reveal. When I started, I thought I would be writing about interesting facts related to my novel. But that didn’t take me very far. People can read facts on Wikipedia. Blogging is more about sharing yourself and your opinions. I still don’t have it figured out, but I know that I enjoy getting acquainted with other bloggers through their writing.

  12. I would not enjoy a video of people giving themselves electric shock.

    I did not know L. Marie is a pen name. I wondered why you don’t have a photo of yourself. I look forward to reading about why you use a pen name, if you decide to share. I’m curious.

  13. I encourage you to tell more about you . Is there a important difference between a book and a blog ? It is always the expression of our self through our writing
    Encouragements
    In friendship
    Michel

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