“Personal” and “professional” blogging

At one point in time, I decided that this blog was going to morph into an academic, public blog that could be perused by colleagues (and – shudder – students) without giving my entire personal profile away.

Since then, every time the desire to blog seizes me, I have decisions to make. This topic is too emotional; that one is too “maternal” and “unprofessional.” This is too “personal” to be public.

My own research and writing focuses on the reality that is hybridity: how we are, e.g. Muslim and American and academic and religious and music-lovers and Pakistanis and pasta-lovers, all at the same time. To produce this performance for the public eye, however, I feel like I cast upon my own thoughts an Othering gaze, judging my own thoughts by masculinist criteria.  

We immigrants learn to privatize our thoughts and feelings, responding to “how are you” with a jolly “Great!” soon after we cross the Atlantic. Especially in the public space of the virtual world, which has many crossover spaces occupied by colleagues, we cannot afford to perform “personal” lives – the messy lives involving parenting, marriage, family, finances, etc. unless they square with some academic “purpose” – cultural critique/ analysis or theory.

Still, in the dangerous world of blogging, there is much peace of mind involved in not blogging about sadness, frustration, untidiness, confrontations, and other markedly unprofessional things. You are rewarded with peace of mind by your closing down shop as a person. Unfortunately it closes down a community too – one that is a rewarding exercise for all participants. The community has to be a secret trusted one, because the public gaze cannot be trusted to be benign in intent at all times.


5 Replies to ““Personal” and “professional” blogging”

  1. I define my own blog as a personal space. Hence, I don’t permit rants and ad hominem comments, or indeed comments by fly by night readers who make assumptions about me on the basis of a single (Muslim) post. But I still find it difficult to post on some of the messier goings-on in my own family – when I do, I always delete them after a few hours because they inevitably sound so unforgiving. Close relationships always entail a huge amount of forgiveness, but that is difficult to convey in the episodic snippets which are the stuff of weblogs. A few do manage, it though, such as the blog called “My Boyfriend is a T***”, but generally with the use of humour.

  2. Once again, Yakoub, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    This – messy goings-on in the family – is one of the biggest issues in public blogs. Families are like all human endeavours – messy, imperfect, beautiful, great and maddening at the same time. But in public, we like to maintain the pretence of Perfect Families. Especially when we interact in professional spheres (i.e. with those who might control our incomes), any “weakness” must be strictly kept from view. I’ve never been very successful in this pretence, but after a few years of blogging, I’ve come to feel that it may be a necessary evil.

    And like you say, a snippet, an incident, a rant is simply not representative of the entirety of one’s family experience. You could rant about how you “hate” your family, and 45 minutes later you feel pretty good about that same family. But you can’t be blogging every few minutes … though I have at times been pretty successful at this 🙂

    I do, however, believe that the pretence of being Perfect and Flawless does not do good to people in general. I believe that discussing the personal details of, e.g, having a child, etc. with readers, is extremely helpful to those who have not had that experience. Perfect People who show no chinks in their armour don’t help those who have much to learn.

    Maybe in another few years, I’ll change my mind – and switch back to baring all – when I’m a full professor and I can afford to be quirky. 😉

  3. Just hide your name, then write whatever you want. Might have to change ‘Koonj’ since that is too closely associated with you. I know the temptation to ‘diary openly.’ But doubtless you have correspondents that takes care of that need. Blogging is easier than engaging with someone, but anonymity is the only solution if one wants to be really open. The result is multiple blogs: Writing you want to share with the world under your own name and writing that is just an outlet, but of course, the trouble is, the latter (in your case) tends to be just as beautiful and share-worthy as the stuff meant for wider public consumption.

    Write fiction.

  4. Oddly dishonest is how I’d put it too, relaxedad.

    S., you’re too kind. I wouldn’t call my own writing ‘beautiful’ – at least not always, but I think it tends to be personable. Fiction I don’t want to do because I always project too much of myself into it – and people can tell.

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