One of the great advantages to having a blog, over the last eight years, is that it has gradually made me real. I know, the idea most people have of online presence is that it's easily faked -- there are all these articles about people presenting their lives as perfect on Facebook, and so forth. People warn you that you "don't really know" people you've met online. But my personal experience of blogging, and online life generally, has been one of inexorable outing. The people who knew me as a massage therapist met, in my comment threads, the people who knew me as an Old English scholar. The people to whom I was primarily a software guy at IBM read memoir that I had written with an audience of radical lefty free-school kids in mind; the people to whom I was a hard-core Buddhist, arguing about the emptiness of emptiness of an evening, got to read my posts about how I couldn't resist ice cream. The process culminated when I found out my father was reading my blog. All these communities I'd carefully kept apart, at arm's length were all in the same room. And the explosion --
The explosion never happened. Nothing blew up. Nobody hated me, nobody thought less of me. People have been -- especially given how cranky and contentious I can be -- remarkably kind and thoughtful and spacious. I had been basing my idea of what was safe to expose to people on my experience of junior high school. In fact, junior high was the exception, the only community I've ever inhabited in which people despised you for having eccentric interests, and maintained rigid hierarchies of social cliques. I know there are others, and I'm very sorry for people who have to live in them. But the actual social world I live in now is very fluid, very generous. I have gradually learned -- through blogging and online communities -- that I don't really have to hide. Probably I never did, once I was free of compulsory schools: but it took a long time -- and a blog -- for me to learn it.