Often the appeal of the blogger comes from their anonymity.
We, as readers, are free to imagine the writer to be anybody we please. A young girl? An older woman? A boy who keeps his blog secret from his football mates? Envisioned as always smarter, funnier, wiser, prettier than us – why else would we be spending time reading their thoughts, after all?
Depending on the formality of the posts we can generally ascertain the gender, sometimes the age. Teenage girls are often easy to pick out, and older men are visible in particular to us younger ladies – sorry, guys! The modes of language, the vernacular used – determining not only age but place within the world – the level of openness in the memories provided, the topics chosen. From these we can establish who is behind the computer screen typing what we read, almost like psychic ability, or innate instinct at times.
Those pages that lead instincts astray, making us picture somebody else, give quite the surprise when the reader gives themselves away one day. I could have sworn I was following a girl in her early twenties only to discover she was in her early forties. Twenty years older in a simple admittance of age! Her topics, speech, and lifestyle were similar to mine, (an actual woman in my early twenties) so I assumed we were the same age and at the same stages because I was in fact, further in life in terms of relationships. This became a completely absurd truth to absorb once I knew her age. Really? You’re sure you’re older? And yes, I feel a right peanut for admitting I thought I was more advanced in the relationship area.
I used to provide a photo of myself in the top banner of my page until I realised I’m not famous and don’t need one. In fact I looked kind of cocky and self-centred – look at me! Look at my face right here at the top! It’s mine! The ‘success’ of my blog hasn’t changed much from when I had the photo up; same sorts of views and comments, I put down the increasing traffic to an increase in followers which is a natural progression over time, and has nothing to do with my header photo.
….It doesn’t, does it? My face wasn’t actually repelling people, was it? Please say no. I’ll be polite and pretend to believe you.
Often the shock reveal can turn readers or followers away. Kind of like when you’re in love with a musician’s voice only to see the musician singing it for the first time and suddenly, the song no longer means the same thing. The same applies to authors, especially if they use a pseudonym: my step-sister insisted that she was going to marry J.K. Rowling no matter what, ‘he’s the best. I don’t care. I’m marrying him.’ I asked, ‘What if it’s a woman?’ The thought had never crossed her mind until then, and suddenly, that mysterious man J.K. lost a little of his magic.
When we don’t know the person’s details, we create them. So, what about me, then? What do you, reader, garner from these glimpses into my thoughts and opinions? This blog, even if I get a little personal, can still never replace actually knowing me. Hearing me speak, joke, watching me move, looking back into my eyes as we converse in a real, human moment and knowing for certain who I am, or at the very least, what I am on surface level. I often look at the bloggers I follow and wonder who they really are. I look at the blogs of people I know and pick out the parts that differ on screen from their real lives.
Our mind’s eye creates a character for the blogger we read, just like how we imagine characters from books as we read. It’s always startling to hear somebodies voice for the first time, and whether or not we admit it, it’s startling to match a face to a post. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it completely discredits the person we previously declared blogging love for, i.e. ‘Wow… you have a Swastika tattoo? Never woulda thunk it… Unfollow.” All we can do is remember that spirit that breathed through the posts before we saw the face – remember how they made us feel with words rather than with their aesthetics.
This is me. The most recent picture of me, showing my facebook friends my glittery dress for the ‘sparkle’ party I attended. This is me taking a selfie.
Still have any respect for me? Can you separate my blog posts from this one point in time where I photographed myself, like every other girl my age? I imagine I look a little different to each of you, in whatever way.
Do I appear as you imagined me? Too many questions? I’d say ‘then just enjoy the pic’, but… well…