04 December, 2006

How Do You Know When A Blog Entry Is The Truth?

I've been thinking about this a lot over the weekend. Okay, maybe not a lot but some at least. There are a kajillion blogs out there, and I think most people read them as "true".

I personally started blogging to keep myself honest and accountable in my writing. But I swear the more I read blogs, the more I come across the occasional entry that strikes me as what you could politely call "embellished." I know a lot of writers do this because the lives in our heads are more interesting than the lives we live on the ground. And I KNOW that everyone out there has thought of a wittier comeback to the rude sister-in-law/waiter/coworker than the one they actually said outloud. Blogs are nice place to type out the witty comebacks you missed giving the first time around.

There are times I'm tempted to embellish to make a better story on my blog. I'm sure those of you who've been bored to tears by the "gosh I'm sick" entries of the last couple days would love it if I would craft something wonderful to read. But I just can't. I have to tell it like it is. Or at least how I perceive it is anyway.

I guess if you want to invent stories to make your blog a more interesting place, that's fine. But what gets me when people do that is they know that blog readers come to a blog initially because it was titillating, but stay because they come to like the author and the author's take on things.

So when you have someone who makes up stories on their blog and puts the stories out there as truth I guess I kinda feel like that violates the spirit of community in the blog world. What's even worse is when the lying blogauthor then turns around and says "hah! It was all a trick. I fooled you dumb people." Worse yet than that is when the lying blog author goes further. "I fooled you dumb people in order to prove a point to the smarter people I know. We're all watching you and laughing at how naive/dumb/trusting you are."

Of course, I have no idea what got me started thinking about this. Not at all.


At 1:55 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger John H said...

maybe we could buy some gas from that gas guy that used to blog around here and burn up that Darth Vader suit!

I can promise you, as stated in my latest blog post, that my head hurts like a sonuvabitch and I'm teetering even as i respond to your post...

At 2:48 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger ceeelcee said...

Kncuk introduced me to blogging with the advice, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Believe it or not, 90% of what I write is verbatim and true. I would not make up a story about crapping the bed at the Waldorf Astoria. And if I did make it up, I wouldn't tell anybody about it.

I aim to entertain more than inform, but I get where you're coming from. I promise not to make up any facts to back up an opinion about something that I know nothing about.

At 3:02 PM, December 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote something over the weekend that was very painful and truthful to me and regreted it so much that I can't even start to explain. I was angry and went to the blog.
I took part of the post down and then like an idiot responded to myself for two more days about it. I don't know, I try to be as honest as I can but sometimes I'm telling a story which is true that I get carried away with. I wrote a post the other day about letting my dog lick my brotherinlaws seat, and that was true. (I need a new camera to document this stuff.)
I'll be honest (sorry I'm writing so much but I'm kind of raw after a bad weekend) I don't know the answer but this post stuck to me because I've struggled the last couple of days. I don't know what kind of blogger I am right now and it's weird. I started on politics and now I feel I'm just floating around.
I just read the folks that resonate with me, make me laugh or make me feel.
Sorry I used your comment section for therapy.

At 3:11 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Kerry Woo said...

Pictures don't lie; that's why I like throwing visuals up... plus i think faster than I can type (six words a minute). I understand where you're coming from Kat... that's why I steer clear of politics as the back and forth just make my head hurt... I think of blogs as a somewhat modern day way of sitting at your kitchen table over coffee and having you tell me all about the TV shows you watch... that's interesting to me as a friend to friend conversation...

At 3:42 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Aunt B said...

Yeah, but Smiley, I think there's a difference between the kinds of exaggeration for effect that folks do and the whole just making stuff up out of thin air in order to either achieve some level of popularity or to make fun of folks. Nothing you or Knuck does makes me think that your impulse is to have a good laugh at others' expense.

That's what I find gross, the using of a lie in order to make people like you while the whole time you are mocking them behind their backs. That's gross.

At 3:59 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I think there's a difference between the kinds of exaggeration for effect that folks do and the whole just making stuff up out of thin air in order to either achieve some level of popularity or to make fun of folks.

What she said. Aunt B. expressed it better here. She's obviously A) more eloquent than I and B) several days ahead of me in the Nasty Cold Sweepstakes.

For instance, I knew that the parents in Knuck's hot teen sex story were NOT too fat to fit down the basement stairs. But it did make the tale funnier to read.

Now if Knuck were to all of a sudden start blogging about how he has The Flarting Mimsey and needs to have a Mimsey transplant so that people will send him food and money and good wishes and then turn around and say "Hah! I didn't even have a Mimsey! I was just doing an experiment on the gullibility of the blogosphere!" I'd be mad.

At 4:09 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Busy Mom said...

What's with the Flarting Mimsey hate? There have been many advances in that area. I am sponsoring the FM telethon. Send me money.

At 4:49 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

I was thinking the very same thing about the blogosphere veracity level this weekend.

Occasionally, you just come across a post that you KNOW is total bullshit.

At 4:49 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Kathy T. said...

When she came out of her closet, she went from being entertaining (albeit obnoxious) to a pretentious liar. So la-tee-da, I'll stick with the honest bloggers any day over a student whose A is earned through lies and deception. Her parents must be so proud.

At 5:00 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger newscoma said...

Well, heck, Kat.
I'm the anonymous on this comment page.
I posted from work and my work computer sucks. I also did this at Hutch's.
Now you know why I don't blog from work.

At 5:07 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I wondered who the anon was. I was deadly curious.

I don't know what kind of blogger I am right now and it's weird. I started on politics and now I feel I'm just floating around.

I think we've all started as one thing and turned into the same type of blogger as we've gone on. Most of us started with what was comfortable--politics, motherhood, movies, TV,books--but as we've grown into a community we've gotten more open and honest with each other.

I think that's what gets me when people abuse that trust. Like I said, I don't even think little exaggerations count as an abuse of trust. But made up stories--such as saying you've had sex with Richard Burton even though he died 60 years before you were born--are bad.

But I don't own the blogosphere, so it's certainly not my call. I'm just rabbling about what hurts my feelings.

At 7:15 PM, December 04, 2006, Anonymous Kate O' said...

It's been an interesting arc for me because I got into "blogging" (through LiveJournal) as an extension of a mailing list I was on for many years. I had come to be very open and introspective on that mailing list, and it made sense that I would continue to do so in my journal/blog. Of course, LJ also offers security levels, and I made full use of protected posts to discuss things I didn't want random folks happening across.

More recently, though, I've changed my approach, and have opened up 99.9% of my ongoing posts. I have never been one to disguise my identity online, all conventional wisdom to the contrary, and it's been very important to me to be honest about who I am and what I'm about.

I enjoy some bloggers who embellish their stories; it's almost like magical realism. But I appreciate even more the bloggers who bare pieces of their souls and allow us a treasured glimpse into their humanity, good or bad, funny or sad. On my best days, I strive to be that kind of blogger, but I know I'm not there yet. And I know it isn't for everyone. But it's one approach, and there aren't any rules that I know of.

I think your style is great, incidentally. You're in my "must-read" filter. So whatever you're doing, it works.

At 8:55 PM, December 04, 2006, Anonymous sista said...

Geez...my internet connection goes down for one day and Wonder Dawg's place becomes a spot for serious discussion and...issues?

Is all this because of Nemesis Boy?

At 10:35 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Except that you're at Kat's, not Kerry's. ;-p

Easy mistake to make...

Kate, thanks for saying I'm in the "must-read" filter. Makes me feel good, you know.

At 7:04 AM, December 05, 2006, Anonymous sista smiff said...

I was gonna say.....whoa there Big K.

At 8:51 AM, December 05, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

I'm seeing two different conversations here.

A few people are referencing Nemesis Boy. It was fairly obvious from the outset that was a put-on. Did anyone really take that at face value?

On the other hand, there are the bloggers who rather than exaggerating their exploits because they make for a better story, create tales out of whole cloth in order to elicit sympathy or establish a set of false credentials.

For example, if a blogger claimed to have cancer when no such illness was present so people would pay attention to them. Or, if a blogger claimed to be a former Navy Seal so as to attain expert status during a discussion of military issues.

Those are the insidious types who skew the interpretation of events through their lies.

Anyone with any sense knows that when dude shows up wearing a Darth Vader mask, that he isn't on the level. What is bothersome are the million little James Freys online who present themselves as just another normal person.

Nobody knows anybody. Not that well.

At 9:35 AM, December 05, 2006, Anonymous shauna said...

I have little to add to this conversation, but I keep coming back to see what everyone else has to say.


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