Graham and I had a conversation about the Internet yesterday. He’s on it more now that he has a laptop, but he says it’s mostly to look at bike parts and hats. He does read more of this blog, though, which is nice. It’s not that I didn’t think he cared before; pretty much everything I’d write would come out of my mouth in conversation, anyway. But now that our schedules make it nearly impossible to see one another more than twice a week, I like knowing that he knows what I’m thinking.
He said he likes what I write for the most part, but he wonders if some of the things I write are too personal. When I asked him to clarify, he said that it wasn’t necessarily too personal for me, but it was definitely too personal for him to write. If he was writing, I mean. Which I understand. Kind of. What’s too personal for one person is public fodder for another, even though I don’t think I write about anything very personal at all. If it happens, it’s probably an accident. I’m sure to slap a disclaimer on it when it does, because if I’ve learned anything from my hit tracker*, it’s that (to quote Holden McNeill’s grandmother, bless her probably-dead-by-now heart) “the real money is in dick and fart jokes.”
I know all about people who ended up with destroyed relationships because they shared something personal with the entire Internet. And not just romantic relationships, either; there are stories out there about bloggers who became estranged from their family after writing about a fight that happened when everyone got drunk on Christmas. On one hand, I think that any family who starts a brawl on a major religious holiday deserves to be exposed in a blog. On the other hand, I do see how some issues – though darkly hilarious to me – might be embarrassing for the people involved, and I’d feel like a real dickhead if something I wrote somehow made its way through my friends, their parents, family friends, and back to the perpetrator(s). It’s one thing to live down an ugly incident in your head, but it’s quite another to be reminded of it by someone else based on something they heard secondhand.
For every dick and/or fart joke you see here, there are a dozen uncomfortable, incriminating, deepdarkbad secret stories behind it. I’ve come close to writing about them before. A couple of times, I’ve had the entire entry written before I had the good sense to delete it. For me, the decision is made based on the following:
– Did the person I’m writing about mean to cause someone else harm?
– Did the person I’m writing about do something stupid intentionally, or because they have some unpreventable mental or physical impairment that causes them to behave like a dumbass?
– Did the person I’m writing about do something so fucking funny that not writing about it would be a disservice to the Internet?
– Would the person I’m writing about find it amusing if I was telling this story to their face in a bar?
– Is the person I’m writing about closely related to me and may therefore bequeath to me some sort of inheritance in the future?
All valid points of consideration. If someone is causing someone else harm and not doing anything about it, then they’re assholes and deserve to be called out. If they’re being purposefully idiotic even though they know better, then they need to learn that being stupid is not okay. If the story is funny and the person would agree with this once the smoke has cleared, then obviously it must be shared with the world. If the story could potentially cause lasting psychological damage to a living member of my family with whom I speak regularly, it disappears from all written annals immediately.
These are my rules for what’s too personal and what’s not. I have no idea if this is what Graham meant; for all I know, maybe he saw the word “period” and decided that I shouldn’t be trusted to maintain an Internet connection.
Which makes sense, because he’s a boy, and everyone knows that boys are allergic to periods. Except the ones who are really into them (in that way), and I don’t want to meet those boys at all.
* Speaking of my hit tracker: hello to repeating readers in Australia, Philadelphia, Boston-area Massachusetts, and Upstate New York! I don’t know who you guys are, but thanks for reading my dick and fart jokes!
Also according to my tracker: recent Google search leading to my blog is “experiment with garbage.” Terrific.