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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
I've had this essay by s.e. smith, entitled "My Private Life is not… 
18th-Nov-2015 09:45 am
Hearth
I've had this essay by s.e. smith, entitled "My Private Life is not for your Consumption", open in a tab for a while. And I'm going to quote heavily from it here:

As a public figure, I cultivate many different personas; like anyone who performs for the public to any degree, I face certain public expectations, as well as the natural desire to appeal to the people I write for, and with. My public personas aren’t fake, but they are facets of myself rather than the entirety of who I am at all times. They aren’t an unfiltered view of myself, the view that my personal friends see when they encounter me in private. They are components of a whole, parts of an identity, and I like it that way. I prefer to retain a private life and there are some things I don’t care to discuss in public.

The same is true of many other public figures — certainly of the people I talk to about the issue of private and public lives. We want to interact with people, we want to forge genuine connections with people, and we want to be active in our communities, but we also want to maintain distance. Otherwise, we become objects of public consumption, something that makes us deeply uncomfortable and that at times can be actively dangerous.

Yet, many of our fans seem to struggle with this. I hesitate to use the word ‘fan’ because it makes me feel weird, but people use it self-referentially, so I’m tentatively using it here. Despite the fact that what they see is only part of who we are, many exert a strong and troubling sense of ownership over us, and it’s especially disturbing in an era of collating data about every aspect of people’s lives. There is a sense of familiarity that can feel very offputting even as I encourage people to talk to me, to not be shy around me, because I genuinely like talking to people who enjoy my work or have interesting thoughts about it.

I see this as a passive observer sometimes when I see people with very high public profiles struggling to balance the desire and need to connect with their fans with their own personal desire to have private lives. The high-profile author who had to politely ask fans to stop ferreting out his old address and sending things to it because it was creeping out the people who bought his house from him. The author who was criticised for not providing details about a medical condition even as she was opening up about having health problems. The film star subjected to scrutiny for wanting to be left alone while doing ordinary public things like getting some food or going to, well, a movie. The person who wants to be able to ride the train without being photographed and mobbed.


I'm sharing this because it's part of why I haven't been blogging here as much.

To fully explain, let's go in the Wayback Machine and take a look at when and why I started a LiveJournal in the first place. It was early 2002, and I had just moved from Florida to Georgia, to be with my beloved yendi. And while everything with Adam was wonderful... Adam is an introvert, and he didn't really have a community that I could step into.

So I started my LJ, as is apparent from the first posts, to keep in touch with my Florida friends. Because I was disconnected and horribly lonely. And that's the place LJ filled in me - connection. First with existing friends, then with new people who found me because LJ was very small back then, and suddenly I had 500 "friends" and, well, I was a performing monkey there for a while. Because I was deeply lonely, and here I could get little snippets of connection, even if it didn't mean much.

There was that hideous mess of harassment in 2003-2004. There was me documenting my epilepsy diagnosis and the side effects of the almost-dozen meds they put me on. Those were the days of the several-times-daily posting - not so much out of loneliness anymore, but because the drugs fucked with my short-term memory, and I needed to keep a record.

And then I moved to Boston.

I haven't looked back to see if there's a marked decline in posts then, but it wouldn't surprise me. I didn't *stop* posting, obviously. I did daily good-morning posts til quite recently. But my LJ had shifted to conversations with friends I already had.

While remaining aware of hundreds of lurkers, watching. But trying not to think about them.

In the early days, yes, I really did put everything out there. It stung during last year's harassment incident that someone accused me of being disingenuous because I hadn't posted about something that happened, that someone told me that I expose my entire life and thus the lack of a post was proof that I had not been hurt by action X at time Y.

And... no, I don't. I never did expose my entire life. And for the last five years or so, I've been exposing very little.

Except when I was forced to, in 2013 and 2014.

And my refusal to dig up receipts and screencaps during the harassment in late 2014 mostly because I was in the middle of prep for the court case against my rapist and therefore had zero spoons, but it was partially the decision that no, I don't owe people this.

This is not me saying LJ is bad. This is me saying that viewing people on LJ as public figures of whom you find it natural to make these demands, to hurl abuse at when you don't get to see as deeply into their personal lives as you want - that's bad.

The people who need to read that sentence won't. I know.

But that's not why I'm not posting as much. I've said I'm busy, and that's true, though anyone who follows me on Tumblr knows I can take a few minutes to reblog a few things. :) But the real thing is: my life is full. I have a large community - so large that it's become a challenge! Since finishing my first novel, I know that hey, I can finish a novel, and now that I have writing time back I'm focused on that. I have dates, I have stuff I'm doing around the house, I have art stuff, I have shows and parties and museum adventures. I've spent the past couple of weeks wishing I had more time, and some time to rest.

Which doesn't lead to having much time to write long introspective posts on LJ. :) Plus, the emotional energy that went into that? I do hope y'all get to read the novel someday. Because I do it better there.

And I could be here daily telling you all the stuff I'm up to and finishing with a breezy "gotta run!", but...

The direction I've been going the past several years is the opposite of where I went when I first came to LJ. I have had the hell of fame. (That's part of what the book is about.) Whether you noticed it or not, I had been withdrawing for my own emotional well-being.

Until 2013, and being forced to reveal everything, everything, everything.

Look at that. Is it any surprise that I don't post much anymore? That I haven't done a big namecheck post about that last party, that I didn't tell you about that conversation Adam and I had?

For a while there, I had my right to privacy, my right to silence, my right to self-protection, repeatedly violated.

It used to be that me being quiet here was a sign of trouble. Now it's a sign that I'm listening to and taking care of myself.

You may or may not have noticed that the way I use LJ has changed. But I'm telling you, and I'm telling you why. I'm listening to myself, and what I need to do is have quiet spaces. What I need is to assert my right to a private life.

And if you think that's contrary to the person you've seen so far, you've been reading me wrong.

I'm still connected. I do read my friendspage, and I'm on Facebook and Tumblr, and I'm happy to interact there. And here, when I feel moved to post. But here is different now.

And now I gotta run - my boyfriend will be here soon, and after we spend the day together, I'm going to a Marian Call concert with Adam and Aimee. All good things.

I hope you're well. I may do an ask me/tell me anything post sometime soon. I'll see you then. :)
Comments 
18th-Nov-2015 04:06 pm (UTC)
Do what you need to do. Protect yourself. Be well. Have fun. Post what you want, when you want, even if it's nothing at all.

18th-Nov-2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
+1 as they say over there in that other place.
18th-Nov-2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
I have noticed, yes. And I respect your self-care.

When I started my journal, I was one of those who put very little behind a friends-lock and allowed anonymous commenting. That has changed over the years due to some amount of harassment, but also a change in my thinking from "why should I hide what I want to say?" to "why should I make public what I want to say?". There's nothing wrong with discretion and keeping more of one's life to oneself.

*hug* Be well.
19th-Nov-2015 06:09 pm (UTC)
also a change in my thinking from "why should I hide what I want to say?" to "why should I make public what I want to say?"

Yes, that too!

18th-Nov-2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
I had noticed the change (and missed the old days) but I actually assumed the change meant that things were going better. I'm glad to know that's true, and look forward to reading whatever you decide to share with us.

And I might try to find you elsewhere, just cuz you're cool.
19th-Nov-2015 02:45 am (UTC)
I'd also noticed and figured the same thing.

Honestly, LJ is a dying social platform, anyway, so I also figured it might just be you moving on to other platforms - I read and occasionally comment, but I almost never post anymore.
19th-Nov-2015 02:53 am (UTC)
Yeah at the moment I'm posting more than I have in a really long time, but the vast majority of my posts are private, to process things that are going on IRL without violating anyone's privacy, so that's not very social.
18th-Nov-2015 05:56 pm (UTC)
I've certainly missed you here, but you are doing what is healthy for you.
18th-Nov-2015 07:56 pm (UTC)
Similar to Moonfire, I've hoped it's a good sign. You're one of the reasons I still read my LJ f-page; I've largely moved to DW, and I don't do FB, Tumblr, or Twitter.

Glad to hear that things are indeed going well ... and I hope I wasn't one of the ones who unthinkingly hurt you.

M
19th-Nov-2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
No, those who were aggressive about demanding that sort of thing are no longer part of my LJ world, for good reason!
18th-Nov-2015 09:24 pm (UTC)
Well, of course I want you to take care of yourself. And I'd much rather that you live a happy life than be chronicling your misery here.

But I do miss you.
19th-Nov-2015 06:11 pm (UTC)
And I'll try to post more little snippets. :)
(Deleted comment)
19th-Nov-2015 01:43 am (UTC)
I may miss your posts but I understand how you feel as I am writing what I do for my job for the month of November. It's not easy but for me it erases my boundaries a bit for a short time.

Like any sown field on a farm sometimes you need to let one go fallow to replenish it's nutrients.
19th-Nov-2015 02:43 am (UTC)
"someone told me that I expose my entire life and thus the lack of a post was proof that I had not been hurt by action X at time Y."

Often it's what we are quiet about that hurts us the most.
19th-Nov-2015 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yes. Or we're protecting someone else.
19th-Nov-2015 04:34 am (UTC)
I worry some times that I put TOO much of myself on LJ, (too many rants) and chastise myself for not generating content.
Then I remind myself that it is MY journal and I can write what ever I want.

It is YOUR journal. Like you, it will change over time. What doesn't?
Fundamentally though, it is here to serve your needs, your wants, to do with what you please.

I read you because you are well spoken and interesting and don't believe for a minute I am entitled to know anything about your personal/private life!
Good on you for knowing where the lines are for you, for taking care of yourself!
19th-Nov-2015 04:44 am (UTC)
I am so glad to read that you are doing better and are better able to choose what to make public and what to keep private!

Also, thank you for all of the really short fiction you posted here back when we first became LJ friends. I enjoyed the pieces and also I learned some things about writing very short fiction from them.
19th-Nov-2015 06:11 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I could help! :)
20th-Nov-2015 10:46 pm (UTC)
I am glad you are taking care of yourself.
28th-Mar-2016 10:30 am (UTC)
As one who has been mostly absent from LJ (and very spottily on DW) for the last few years, and only just now rediscovering folks I've lost touch with, I fully understand, and agree.

Also, whatever fuelled those early days of (seemingly?) complete openness (certainly more openness than I was used to in any social context before), your posts back then broadened my world, helped me see sides of human life and relationships that I'd never considered (you were one of at least three poly people on my flist, having never (knowingly) encountered any before), and made me... at least a better *informed* person, if not actually a better one. =:o} So thankyou.

You also inspired a poem, back in 2003 (which I see now was a very fertile period for me, creatively and socially), which I rediscovered yesterday. So thanks for that too. =:o}

(P.S. Out-of-date-icon is out-of-date. Just apply Photoshop to inject lots more strands of silver, and you'll get the idea. =;o} )


Edited at 2016-03-28 10:32 am (UTC)
28th-Mar-2016 10:33 am (UTC)
Dagnabbit, even my corrections to typos have typos! =:o\
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