Thursday, December 3, 2009

Validation


Since I wrote two weeks ago about Freudenschade, I have been thinking a lot about Lindsey's comment on that post.  In her characteristically eloquent way, she wrote: "Most of the things people say to us, most of the criticism, judgment, or, even, approval, is about them and not us. We are mostly screens for other people to publish their own issues onto."

I have thought about the truth and wisdom of Lindsey's words, and the ways in which they apply to my life, particularly in the context of blogging - in the blogs that I choose to read and the comments I leave there.  It occurs to me that my life in the blogosphere is really about seeking validation.  Do I simply search out people who reflect back to me what I want to see in myself?  And, if so, is that a bad thing?

I have been blogging now for one month and one day.  During that time, I have found a number of bloggers whose words stir me, whose stories resonate with me.  Almost all of those writers are women; almost all of those women are mothers; almost all of those mothers seem to share my general ideas about balancing selfhood and motherhood.  So when I read their words, I often think to myself, "Oh yes, that is so smart."  But perhaps what I really mean is, "Oh yes, that is just what I think so it must be right."  Meanwhile, when I follow a link to a blogger whose writing style, basic beliefs, or realm of experience is far different from my own, I don't usually stick around too long, click, click, clicking my way back to safe territory.

In other words, I don't spend much time in this world challenging my assumptions; most of my time is engaged in assuming my assumptions are the valid ones.

And I think that is both good and bad.  It is good because I have started to uncover a community of like-minded people, an audience to listen and voices that need the affirmation that I want to give.  I have written before about the need to share vulnerable information; never would I have imagined the immense satisfaction I have found in doing so here.  So I have no interest in or intention of disconnecting from these writers and their words.

But I also question my own tendency to fall into the trap Lindsey outlined, my preference for a pot unstirred and waters untroubled.

I wonder what else I should be reading.  To rock my boat a bit.  Maybe even to rock yours.

And here's where you come in.  I have two questions for you today, followed by, in the fashion of academia, a call for submissions: 

What types of blogs do you read?  Do you think it's natural, productive, dangerous, or all of the above to seek out only the type of writer you yourself wish to be?

Please give me the name and url of a blogger who is going to challenge me and the other members of this community to think outside of that proverbial box and maybe even invalidate some of our assumptions.

11 comments:

  1. I read a variety of blogs. Many are ones that are written by former writers at my local paper - which went through a huge series of layoffs the first and second quarters of this year. These writers, while trying to find new work, continued their "columns" in blog format. http://maryhaupt.blogspot.com/

    I also read several blogs for business purposes - discussions of marketing, SEO, writing. http://sharemarketing.wordpress.com/

    Then, there are the photo blogs. These are either friends of mine or not but generally are all photos. http://gallow-photo-year.blogspot.com/

    I don't know that many of the blogs I read will challenge you to think differently but I would recommend reading my friend Steve's - http://jassnight.wordpress.com/

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  2. What an interesting point. You just made me realize that I'm doing the same thing you are--reading in my comfort zone. Not that people like you don't stimulate me and make me think, because you do. It's just that we're usually on the same wavelength.

    You know what they say: Everybody thinks they have a great sense of humor and good taste!

    I'll be reading with interest to see what people recommend!

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  3. Thank you for the link! I think about this all the time (as you know). Is it really awful, ultimately, to choose to be with people who are like us? In the blogosphere this seems even MORE legitimate to me, because the "like us" is not the superficial stuff that the rela world includes, but people whose views on the really important and fundamental stuff feel familiar.
    Yes, I think stretching our perspectives is a valuable thing, but I think we ought to be gentle with ourselves for an innate preference for people whose views on things like identity and love and mothering are familiar.
    At least that's what I am feeling today. You know I beat myself up about this all the time.
    I read a lot of blogs that are totally different, but in that difference they aren't really about a different view on the same stuff at all. Does tha tmake sense? Technology blogs aren't going to push my thinking re: the self the way some other different blogs on the same topic would.
    I do love a blogger at www.breedemandweep.com - her mothering philosophy is familiar, but she struggles with (and writes about) bipolar, so I have a lot to learn there.
    I will keep checking the comments to see what you hear from others! Great question.

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  4. I think Lindsey has (again) hit on something. It makes sense that we gravitate to those with whom we sense affinities. And in the online world, which delivers so much in superficial soundbites and tidbits - to find those willing to challenge their assumptions and read - really read - and think - that's the exception and not the rule. (My impression, at least.)

    You say you stick around blogs that (perhaps) reflect your values and impressions, that validate you. Yet you are now reading the Privilege of Parenting, as am I - daily - because I am constantly challenged and expanding when I read his words. His life is nothing like mine (and "he" is a man); presumably his days are nothing like yours. What we have in common (along with Lindsey and Sarah and Jen and Teresa and many others) is a willingness to do much more than seek to validate our own actions and beliefs - to honor our basic values, and delve deeper, expanding understanding and behavior.

    Of course we like to read people whose style we enjoy. As we have varying tastes in film, literature, music, romantic partners. Affinities, including a desire to learn and give back AND write well.

    I read other blogs for professional purposes, one or two for humor. Those I read daily - as part of a community of thinking (mostly, but not entirely) women - are becoming my grounding, my classroom, and were we all located nearby, the friends I would choose to have sitting in my little living room, discussing life and learning and literature and everything else. And I would savor that.

    Very thoughtful, as always. Which is exactly why I love coming here, Kristen.

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  5. PS -

    http://privilegeofparenting.wordpress.com - but you already know that. Bruce is a remarkable find. I am a better parent, and perhaps a better (renewed) "thinker" than I was before discovering his blog a few weeks back.

    http://afemmeduncertainage.blogspot.com - which you also know already - where I delight in the combination of things French, all things good taste and style, dry humor, and gentle reminders that there are reasons the French are as much loved as they are (at times) scorned - a value system that is deeply rooted in tradition, in family, in love of intellectual rigor and culture, in style, in good food and good wine and even better conversation.

    BLW

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  6. Thoughtful post, as always. I often think about this. About not getting too comfortable, not getting to comfy cozy in a little constructed world. Frankly, this is why I think I am blogging. As much as I seem to be gravitating towards people a bit like me (hey you), there is still a compelling diversity here that is not attainable in our "real" lives. In this space, I read words from mothers and fathers, people sans kiddos, happiness gurus, modern philosophers and the list goes on... We all live in different places, have different styles, ask different questions, have different sensibilities about what we will and will not reveal...

    Not prepared to offer up one URL because I have too many in mind, but fantastic post.

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  7. My time spent reading other blogs is precious valuable time to me. It's time that I crave for myself and just as I won't spend time at a movie that hasn't gotten rave reviews for fear that I will feel it was time wasted, I won't spend time on blogs that don't resonate with me. Until FiveForTen and Momalom I read only humorous blogs written by other moms. They were my escape. They were my stress relievers. Now I've added you, Lindsey, Aiden, BLW, Jen/Sarah, EO, and a few others to really push my thinking. It's more than just "oh me too!" when I read your posts, it's also, "wow, what an amazing way to think about that". You've pushed me to think harder about choices I make and the way I do things and even what is important. I now seek out blogs that will push me to question, and give me different insights, but always I will be able to relate or find comfort in the words. I won't spend this precious time with people who although may be fascinating in their own right, aren't who I'd want to go out for a drink with too...

    Hope that makes sense.

    If you want some comic relief, here are the blogs I adore:
    notdrowning.wordpress.com
    mama2point0.wordpress.com
    whyisdaddycrying.com

    As always, a post that's left me thinking... which I love!

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  8. Hiya.
    Guilty.
    I guess.
    However, I would like to think that our blog does not offer up the same view, perspective or tone every day. Jen and I spoke about this just today. Some days it's long and lengthy (hello today) and some days it's a picture and a quick hello. Some days I'm half-drunk and revealing a bit too much, and some days I'm sad and looking for comfort in the words.

    I feel I surf the blogosphere with an open heart. I'm not looking for a certain tone or subject matter. I'm looking to laugh. I'm looking to cry. I'm looking to connect. To something. Someone.

    My time is limited. I have taken time to find and build a community that I feel at home with. It means a lot to me. And while I am always ready to expand my circle, as evidenced by Five for Ten, I am also sweetly content to read the same group of blogs that make me think, laugh, cry, and sweat with deep and heavy thought.

    I'm not sure I am seeking approval, but I do know that I enjoy sharing my screen with the world in this way.

    Gosh, I'm scattered today. My apologies.
    If I think of any blogs outside the little world we've all grown to love, I will send them your way.

    Let me add one more thing... I have come to find, over the last nine months or so of blogging, that there are indeed little communities within this community of blogging. I am just so thrilled to have found one I feel so comforted by. When we began it was hard to imagine feeling a part of something so fully. And now I know just how much I would miss it if I ever gave this up. And that is so sweetly awesome.

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  9. I wish I could say that I only read blogs of people who think like me. There are quite a few like that and thought-provoking blogs like yours, Kristen. But because of my writing classes, and because of the blogger/writer community I'm in and supporting, there are people whose blogs I read to support them in their writing. Does that sound awful? Because I have to say that when I was blogging at first (for a long, long time it turned out) and no one was reading or commenting, it was the loneliest thing in the world. I guess I feel like I'm one of a big link now and that I need to visit my friends each day, read the work they've pulled so painstakingly out of their heads, and let them know they're not alone.

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  10. I am like Linda. It can be a lonely place with only your thoughts. What a thought-provoking post, one in which I cannot fully penetrate because of my baby screaming.

    I will be coming back and responding.

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  11. I like this idea. Here's a suggestion of a blog I came across that offers great, thoughtful book recommendations in a way that I'd never have time to formulate, much less write. Not sure if it's "challenging" but it certainly will take you to books you haven't yet seen:

    http://katykeim.wordpress.com/

    (fyi: I read all kinds of blogs on different topics, some just about writing, some just about parenting, some about happiness, even one about fashion (!)...I typically look for voice over topic.)

    Thanks for this!

    Delia Lloyd
    www.realdelia.com

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