I Am a Big Ol’ Hypocrite: One Lesson Learned in a Painful Month of Lessons

12 Nov

Several years ago, one of my former students announced on Facebook that she was blogging and we should all check it out.  At the time I didn’t think much of blogging, especially personal blogging, that genre of internet exchange where one can either share the first thought that comes into their heads (“I like grilled cheese”) or pursue a more in depth treatise on one’s inner life (“I think the reason I like grilled cheese is that it was the first dish I learned how to cook…etc.).  I read my former student’s postings, a brief consideration of hook-up culture viewed through a kind of third-wave feminist lens, and got back to her with my thoughts.

“This is too personal.  You’re going public with things that should remain private.  The whole world has decided that the internet is a big confessional, and I for one am tired of it,” I arrogantly opined. 

Unfazed by my obnoxious ramblings my student made clear that her life was an open book.  She had nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide.

No shame? Nothing to hide?  I don’t know if the social conventions of the world, even the cyber-world, have really benefited from that kind of reckless abandon, but I do know that it was wrong of me to admonish my former student for her brave act of sharing.  I might have told her I didn’t particularly gravitate towards her topic, or perhaps corrected her grammar and spelling, but to give her a hard time for being brave enough to share her thoughts and feelings with the broader world….that was wrong.  I’m sorry.  You know who you are.  I told you I was writing this apology, and here it is.  Let’s face it, I’m a big ol’ hypocrite. Those of you who know me know my past disdain for the revelatory nature of personal blogging, and yet here I am working out my own personal concerns about health, fear, and happiness on the World Wide Web.  I am the poster child for self-righteous hypocrisy. 

There is nothing I can say in my defense except that, I was wrong, and, really, I should have known better.  In a 2010 essay, the UCLA historian Lynn Hunt reminded her peers that “writing leads to thinking (and not the other way around). “Thought…emerge[s] from writing,” Hunt asserts. “Something ineffable happens when you write down a thought.  You think something you did not know you could or would think and it leads you to another almost unbidden.”  This piece left a big impression on me when I was writing my dissertation, and it continues to influence me today. 

Writing leads to thinking.  That’s what I’ve been doing here for the past month or so, attempting to think through my physical and existential concerns by trying to articulate them in written prose.  Something ineffable has happened to me and my thinking while writing this blog and it helps, a lot.  Having an audience for this particular exercise is not, strictly speaking, necessary, but it does keep me on task.  It forces me to articulate as clearly as possible what is whirling around in my head at breakneck speed.  It also presents some sense of boundaries about the number of acceptable rants and the acceptable interval between each post.  Also, I like reading people’s responses to my thoughts.  Egotistical? Perhaps, but I prefer to think of it as a manifestation of my intellectual curiosity and of greater importance, a way to stay in touch with long lost friends.

So I am sorry that I am a big ol’ hypocrite.  I thank all of you that have the patience and interest to read my work, and I will continue to blog until it becomes physically or emotionally impossible, or until I get embarrassed by my new earnest streak—which I hope never happens.  Until then, thanks again.

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