I have two concerns with every blog post I write: 1) Is this piece narcissistic? Have I focused too much on myself and my personal experience, or have I done enough to share something of overarching value—something that might make a positive difference in someone else’s life? And conversely, 2) have I shared something I shouldn’t have—something sacred?
Life these days can feel like there’s no such thing as oversharing. We’ve become accustomed to 24/7 news cycles (although we usually tune in to the networks and narratives we already agree with). Our infinite wireless connections give us the capability to share, thumbs-up, angry-face, comment on and caption everything and anything, wherever we are, anytime.
There are lots of stories out there, individual as well as global, and they are constantly being told and talked about.
But what about the stories we don’t hear? And the ones we don’t tell?
We don’t have to tell all, do we, friends? And maybe, sometimes we shouldn’t.
The stories that are sacred to me are the ones I experience on a deep, quiet level with my family. Moments that have a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign hanging from the doorknob. Scenes from my life in which I feel joy, or sorrow, or the presence of a higher power—and to narrate that experience would be to besmirch the sacredness of it.
You probably have these experiences too—the ones that make you pause before you click “Post.”
A few months ago, I wrote a rough draft of a post about moving from Texas to New York. The working title was “10 Signs You’re Not in Texas Anymore,” and included social-culture tidbits like, “Texas is a bit more ‘bling,’ while New York (upstate, at least) loves L.L. Bean.”
I worried that my post might come across as “poking fun at” either place, rather than “just for fun” about both. So I shared the rough draft with family and friends from both regions. Some of the “signs” prompted them to affirm, “Mm-hmm.” Others made them laugh. “Maybe this will go viral,” I said, half-joking.
Then someone noted that it would have to be snarky in order to go viral.
He was right: Snarky rules. It’s right up there with screen names and online personas, soundbite-heavy broadcast journalism, and hashtag-friendly campaigns (from advertising to political…if there’s even much of a difference).
Snarky isn’t my style. So I’ve saved this “10 Signs” story for face-to-face conversations, to limit any potential misunderstandings about two unique places, each amazing and special in their own right.
With all the sharing that does happen, we might turn to overemphasis and emojis galore (or, if we’re writers, clickbait headlines) to attract people to our stories. “Come on, folks—pay attention to me!”
Every now and then, though, it might be helpful to ask ourselves, “Is this a story I should tell the world? Or is it one better saved for face-to-face conversations?”
In the beginning, we told stories to explain the unknown. We didn’t have blog posts or phones or YouTube. All we had were one another, gathered around a fire—together.
If we were gathered together, like that, today—right now—would we speak in extremes? Would we lodge ourselves on opposite sides of the fire, or would we acknowledge the shades of gray that are part of life? Would we talk to one another?
Would we tell our stories, from the heart, about what matters to us? About the experiences that have shaped us? Would we share the moments that we know not to simply lob online?
For many of us, I think the answer would be, “Yes.” Yes, we’d really talk to one another.
We probably would find some common ground, too.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.