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A Reminder

November 5, 2009

I’ve said it before, but perception is everything.

I’m not going to rehash everything I’ve written in the past on the subject just because there’s discussion of it going on elsewhere today.

But I felt the need to comment on it, in my own space, in a place I understand and I hope leads you to understand me.

Because I don’t agree.  I don’t think Derek can speak for all of us.  He speaks for himself, certainly, and many other bloggers, I’m sure.

But not me.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, maybe I’m jaded, but I believe that

I am REAL.
Here, in this place, I am a true version of myself.

It all comes back down to the different ways we get to know people, and this is just one of the ways you have the opportunity to get to know me.

If I’m not real here, and you’re not real with me in the comments or on your own blogs,  does that make our friendships unreal also?

I hope not, but I fear it is so.

Misunderstandings happen in “real” relationships as well as in online ones… so I don’t buy it as an argument.

Of course, once bloggers meet in person, things do change.  It’s inevitable.  But in the same way seeing your coworkers with their significant others for the first time, or growing up to become friends with people who were once your teachers leads you to a different understandings of those people, hearing a blogger’s words, rather than reading them, doesn’t make the written words any less valid.  It doesn’t make them fiction.

This is me.  I’m real.

I just wanted you to know.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    November 5, 2009 4:24 pm

    I feel like you’re real.

    We’ve never met, and our interactions are limited to me reading your blog and occasionally commenting, and one snail-mail exchange. Not much, in retrospect.

    But when I drove through Nashville a few weeks ago on my way to go camping, I thought “Hey, I wish I’d had the time and foresight to plan a meeting with Courtney.”

    When I go through my google reader periodically and delete blogs that I’m not interested in anymore, I always think “Well, I can’t delete Courtney!” Not because your blog has me on the edge of my seat with every installment, but because I feel like I would be deleting a friend.

    When I was working on my wedding invitiations, I thought through my online “friends” to consider which of them I’ve known well enough and long enough that they’d want to come to my wedding. You didn’t make that list, mostly because our interactions have been so one-sided (I hate that wedding planning and grad school have turned me into a lurker), but you were considered for it.

    Sure, I may interpret you a little differently than you expect, and my idea of you might not be dead on. But it’s always that way, with everyone you meet. I think your blog is as real as they get, and since I’m also inclined to think my comments are pretty real (hey, I just admitted to briefly considering you for a wedding invite, and if that’s not real I don’t know what is). I think that therefore our relationship, as tenuous as it may be, is real.

    Heck, if you want to come to the wedding, you can. Just keep being you.

    • g2-af8ce5995d5588d1ee3b257945aed709 permalink
      November 5, 2009 4:36 pm

      I really appreciate your input on this. Our connection is a little more casual than some of my other online connections, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and a big reason for that is because we haven’t met (yet?). You’re exactly right… interpretations of people we meet are just that– interpretations– no matter HOW we meet one another.

      I like thinking you know me. I think you feel like you know me.

      And if I thought I could afford the trip, I would totally come to your wedding.

  2. November 5, 2009 5:15 pm

    I really liked what David had to add to the discussion on this. He said, “What you get from me online is 100% me, but you don’t get 100% of me.”

    And I think that’s kind of what the message was.

    I know you’re real. But we don’t see ALL of the real you here, you know? We can’t. It’s one shade, though a gorgeous one at that. The same way my coworkers see the real me every day, but they don’t know me the same way my sister does, or my best friend does. A different side of the same, still real, me.

    I’m not going to try to interpret someone else’s words, but wanted to just throw my reactions to both of these ideas into the mix. You’re VERY real. So we can read and love your reactions to experiences and know that you’re conveying them honestly and in your own voice, but it’s still a slice of the beautiful real person you are.

    • g2-af8ce5995d5588d1ee3b257945aed709 permalink
      November 5, 2009 6:09 pm

      I agree, and I know similar things to what I just said were said in Derek’s discussion. In fact, David’s quote has more or less been a part of my “about me” page since March (“This blog is a very real and honest representation of who I am. It is not a complete picture by any means, but be assured, it is accurate.”). It’s just that I get a little worked up over this subject because I’ve been told, straight up, “You might read my blog, you might have met me in person more than once, we might have had one on one conversations regularly for months on end, but no, you don’t know me. You don’t know the real me at all.” Of course I did. Not the whole picture, no, but I did. And I just think that in some cases (not all), all it really is attempting to brush off responsibility for our own words and actions and placing the blame elsewhere. As bloggers with any kind of audiences, we HAVE to understand that our words will impact others, and beyond that, our actions combined with those words. Our willingness to converse, send mail, talk on the phone, meet in person… it all adds up. But all of those things add up in real life too. This “slice of a person” phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the internet. It’s why I can’t seem to wrap my head around why it has to be defined as such.

  3. Tracy permalink
    November 5, 2009 5:16 pm

    I know you are real, and at one point in our like i have hugged and giggled so much it turned into a full on laughin out asses off. but i get your point, and i wanted to tell you i miss you, and you are the best and i love reading and listening to your stuff!

    • g2-af8ce5995d5588d1ee3b257945aed709 permalink
      November 5, 2009 6:09 pm

      Tracy, I love you completely and totally, and miss you like crazy too. Thanks :)

  4. November 5, 2009 8:11 pm

    Courtney, you’re not real. You are mythical and magical and legendary. No real human can house that much awesome.

    :P

    But no seriously, I get what you’re saying here and I can see both sides of the discussion being valid. But for some reason, I think my idea of authenticity is different than the two sides of this discussion. My knee-jerk response to “are you real?” is simple, vague, and open-ended, just how I like it:

    “I’m as real as you want me to be.”

    Perception. Trip.

    • g2-af8ce5995d5588d1ee3b257945aed709 permalink
      November 5, 2009 8:16 pm

      A) Flattery will get you everywhere, my friend. B) I like it. I like it a lot. “I’m as real as you want me to be.” Because it IS largely about perception. But then, the power shifts not from the writer who is saying “I’m NOT real” but to the reader who gets to determine it for you. When you say, “This is what I am,” and then people do what they can to accept that… the balance of power is just that– balanced.

  5. cari permalink
    November 6, 2009 10:20 am

    as one of the few(?) here who really, honestly know you in real life, i think i can VERY confidently say that yes, this is you. this is real. when i read your blog, your words, i can HEAR you saying them in my head. i can hear your voice (since i never seem to hear enough it outside my head). you write things the way you say them. in your cadence. in your speaking style. it’s like i just know when you’re stopping to think about something, thinking how to say it just the way you want to say it. i feel your heart through my computer screen.

    i know you’re real. if you weren’t being real here, i can honestly say i would have never come back. because i would know the difference. i would come here and know that this is not courtney. at least not the courtney i know. there are things that you say on here that i don’t know about you, but it doesn’t change the PERSON that you are. the essence of who you are.

    i have more to say, but i’m going to be late to class if i don’t leave right now. just know, i love you. and i can’t wait to see you again. :)

    • g2-af8ce5995d5588d1ee3b257945aed709 permalink
      November 6, 2009 11:59 am

      “there are things that you say on here that i don’t know about you.”

      and there are probably things I’ve said to you that I haven’t said here. But there are things I’ve said to some of our friends that I haven’t said to you, or said to you that I haven’t said to some of our friends… it’s a relationship, it’s just a different relationship.

      Thanks, Cari. Love.

  6. November 11, 2009 6:24 pm

    Not to drop in late, but I didn’t want to leave this unaddressed…I think it’s really cool you responded to that post on your own blog. I was pretty surprised that some people took my post as a challenge to their online authenticity. Authenticity is something I’ve always championed and I think bloggers lead the charge when it comes to being ‘true’ online.

    You’re right…I definitely don’t speak for everyone. The post was me thinking out loud…the fact that one of the women I’ve been reading since I was 22, watching her become the most prolific blogger I’m aware of, told her audience in the midst of a hugely significant life event that they didn’t have a right to everything felt like validation of a thought I’ve had for a while. She even called Raymi a character of sorts.

    Don’t get me wrong…the personal blog world is full of diversity, and most notably it’s full of honesty, but when I sat down and contemplated all the truest, most prolific, skilled writers online and throughout literature, it dawned on me that meeting them would undoubtedly include some surprises.

    The fact that the audience matters is a great one…perception is a dance between parties. My only point was that when the audience goes and assumes that what they see is an infallible representation of the person producing that content, there’s a chance an unrecognized gap exists.

    Anyway, I can’t tell, but I hope my post didn’t insult you!

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