Where does our responsibility as bloggers sit, with regards to one another? Is it enough to be polite, to not insult or slam those whose blogs we visit? Should we be honest above all else? If a blogger that we like starts another venture, be it an online magazine or an etsy shop, or a real, brick and mortar store, should we support them in their endeavors, with clicks or cash or both? Are we obliged to support them by putting a link to their other endeavors on our sidebar, if that will help them? Does it depend on how well we feel we know them? On if we feel like we can get behind what they’re selling? On whether they come by and comment and seem like a real friend, or if they are just someone whose writing impresses us?
And what if they’re sick? Or may be sick? Is it our responsibility to be honest with them, there in the comments, and tell them, “Um, you may be in real live trouble here, you may need to seek help. Your family, your husband and parents and siblings, all think you need some help. Listen to them.” Or is it enough for us to stop by and say, “I’m thinking of you. Hang on.” And what if what we say is, “F-them, they don’t know what they’re talking about, you’re fine.” Are we then assisting in their denial that something may indeed be wrong? Are we doing them a disservice then, and perhaps even harming them?
The thing is, I think that sometimes in the blogisphere, we mistakenly think that we truly know each other. That we understand someone truly and wholly, based on what they present for the world to see. And for some, that’s more true than for others. Some people pretend to be something they are not, perhaps they pretend to be single and hot and female, while in reality they’re married men in an office park, living out some weird fantasy. Call me naive, but I suspect that the majority of bloggers out there, at least the ones I have come across, pretty much present themselves as they are. “This is me”, they say, “and I’d like to tell you my story, my side of things, the story of my life as I live it.” But even with that, it’s still just their side of things. It’s not true any more than it’s true that beets are yummy. Beets are yummy to me, so to me, that statement is true. But if you hate beets (like Ted and Maya do), then it’s a lie. But my blog=my truth, not yours. I think we’re all like that, to some extent or another.
A blogger friend of mine has been having a passel of trouble lately. Real trouble, and more than her fair share. (Since when is life fair? Never.) She has lost a lot, and is having trouble coping with those many and significant losses. She is not coping with it well. Perhaps as well as she is able, but really, she seems to be spiraling out of her own control, and she needs some help to get back where she wants to be in life. She has been very public and honest and forthright about her battles, and it’s been somewhat scary to watch. I do not know her in person. I have never met her. She writes the truth, but again, it’s her truth, no one else’s. She has never claimed that her truth was anyone else’s, just that it was hers. Really, truly, all hers. So another blogger mentioned on her blog that while the first blogger clearly needs help, the only comments she is seeing are ‘you go girl’ type comments, and not anything more constructive. While I have been worried about her, and think she may be in real trouble, and that she most certainly has a hard path ahead of her, my comments have stayed at the ‘I’m worried. Take care. I hope you can get back to O.K.’ variety. I kinda felt like she already had it coming at her from her husband, her parents, her siblings, the authorities, etc. That she needed to feel safe on her blog, like this was a place where she could come for support. If she didn’t already have all of those people talking to her, perhaps I might have said something along the lines of, “I think you need to get help. I care.” But I didn’t.
Would you? If you see someone in real honest to god trouble, someone you like, but don’t really know, how much should you say? Is it enough to tell them you care, or do you think that a blogger, one who claims to be a friend, should say more? And if so, how to say it without chasing them off, if they’re already in a fragile state?