I am re-re-re-committing to the blog, to blogging. For the sake of my sanity, I have been weening myself off of Facebook and largely relying on Twitter to 1) stay in touch with the world outside of family and teaching and 2) maintain a semi-public life as an academic. My relation to Facebook had always been more-or-less antagonistic, but the last few years have made maintaining a constant Facebook presence simultaneously and paradoxically necessary and toxic. On the one hand, I have come to rely on Facebook for communicating with some groups and acquaintances with whom I do not have other modes of staying in touch. (I quickly realized that when I tried deleting my account for a week over the summer only to realize that there was a message thread that contained a series of important articles I friend had recommended to me. They were not saved to my computer. They were not in an e-mail thread – pssshh, how formal?! They were part of a long back and forth with a friend.) On the other hand, Facebook has the particular capacity to elicit from me a kind of social schadenfreude that I find unpleasant. With recent changes, it has been harder and harder to maintain a positive public persona while struggling with private setbacks/hardships, and Facebook has always existed for me on the threshold of those two worlds. An angry post about serious financial struggles, for example, recently produced two opposed reactions: a series of sympathetic and encouraging words from fellow-academics who know too-well how contingent our lifestyles can be and the frustration and anger that can result and a second series of reactions astonished and disapproving that I might let certain vulgarities slip in my reaction. I understand that part of the point was whether I should type the word “fuck” in a place where people might read it, but I was also shocked at how my language or tone had become the issue rather than my feelings, or the situation that had led to those feelings, or the history of the situations that had led to feeling so viscerally and so strongly about that particular situation. It is not that I wish for better relationships or even to be more clearly understood in those relationships. It is rather that Facebook had revealed itself so clearly in that moment not to have been a space where my relationships were delimited in any real or helpful way.
I do not expect the blog to become a space for delimited my relations to family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and former family, friends, or casual acquaintances. That is certainly not the intent. The blog will, however, permit me to maintain a semi-public presence that simply does not have to answer to so many simultaneous interpellations. For example, I am going to use words like interpellation and fuck without explanation, apology, or anxiety. I will strive to keep the swearing to a minimum not only because I readily acknowledge the violence of such language but also because I do not want it taking up room in my discourse or my attitude. I find it easy to be positive and to maintain a respectful and decorous tone most of the time, and I much prefer it to being angry, hurt, frustrated, or blue. But I will also not pull punches when shit does hit the fan or when I honestly just feel like everything is actually and seemingly irreparably fucked. I need a space that will permit both. I need a writing that can afford both. I cannot afford not to find that space or to make it for myself if other spaces have accumulated new structures or expectations.
Finally, then, why blog at all? Why blog and make it public? Why write anything that can ever be seen by anyone else’s eyes? I do not have a good answer to those questions: I never have. Even when I share, I withhold. It is my nature, and I am not ashamed of it. (I am a little bit ashamed that I was one of those who would place a piece of tape over the webcam of a laptop because of privacy concerns and would refuse to carry my cellphone everywhere because it is practically a mobile tracking and recording device. I still believe it is a mobile tracking and recording device, but I guess I am just lazier now … and more addicted to the games on my phone.) If I were to be honest with myself and with whoever else may read this, I would say that the answer I am currently working through is that this mode of public writing -this tiny, intermittent disclosure – is needful. At the very least, I think it will do me some good to get (words) out of my own head.