Today I’ll share some thoughts about my upcoming author website redesign. And what does my website have to do with introversion? Well, one element of my hermitness is physical; finding time and space for solitude in the flesh-and-blood world, managing my energy in personal relationships, and so on. But there’s also an aspect that relates to how I relate to the broader world.
How do I reconcile my interest in having a public author presence with my desire to avoid parasocial relationships? How do I enjoy sharing my blog posts without giving myself barfy feelings? Where are my boundaries?
These are questions I’ve been thinking about. And I have a few ideas as to how to answer them.
1. Turn my Blog Archive into a “Best of” Archive
I’ve got hundreds of blog posts on my current site, and they’re a mishmash of photos, essays, book news, and so on. Sometimes I feel anxious about the sheer amount of stuff I’ve put out publicly. Yikes! Have I thrown my guts out all over the internet?
For my site migration, I’ll select a subset of my old posts to make public. Not only will this keep my site size more manageable from a data use perspective, but it’s also a way of limiting my barfy feelings from self-disclosure. I don’t need to leave everything up, forever.
2. Stop Hosting Comments
While I love chatting with people on the interwebs, and I consider these chats a form of friendship, I don’t particularly like the permanence of blog comments. Discussions regarding a blog post tend to be conversational and ephemeral; why store them indefinitely?
It kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.
So how to handle my love of chatting vs. my dislike of comment storage? I’m happiest interacting within two online communities, Micro.blog and (carefully curated) author Twitter. So I figure, why not be social in those two places without the pressure of “hosting” commentary on my site?
Removing on-site comments has the side benefit of making my blog less complicated and it means people don’t need to email me if they want a comment taken out of my Wordpress database.
I may keep webmentions (for cross-blog discovery), but I’ll need to think about that.
3. Separate the Personal and Professional (a little bit).
Becoming an author has made me far less comfortable when posting about things that veer into the personal and political. Oddly enough, this isn’t about the fear of professional consequences. It’s not going to ruin my livelihood if people read my political views and choose not to buy my books. I won’t even be offended! Nor am I particularly worried about being canceled. But I’m leery of being one of those authors who uses their platform to engage in divisive idealogical battles.
My reasoning for posting personal or political posts isn’t to “win” any argument. Instead, I post those things for self expression and for the opportunity to interact with other thinkers online. But our current online culture makes that difficult, doesn’t it? It’s tricky to express oneself in any genuine and vulnerable way without being co-opted, labeled, and assigned a trench in the ongoing flame wars.
Authenticity is important to me. I don’t like being one version of me in one venue, and another version of me somewhere else. But I may need to split the diff here and shunt some of my writing off my author blog. My bottom line is that I trust the Micro.blog community as a place where I can safely share ideas more than I trust the interwebs at large. Thus I may not post everything I write on my “big” website, and that’s okay. It’s fine if people find my more personal posts and read them. But I don’t want a blinking neon sign over those posts every time a reader visits my website.
Am I overthinking things here? Probably! But that’s what I do.
Looking for the Middle Ground
As an introvert* my feelings often conflict with my goals and desires. I want to blog freely and authentically, but I don’t want too much attention. And I want to have a big audience for my books, but I don’t want a big audience for my blog, nor do I want to be forced offline because my author-presence makes personal expression dangerous.
As in many areas of life, these feelings represent a tension, something I can’t fully resolve because there’s no way to have all the advantages of one thing without any disadvantages of the other. All I can do is find a middle ground that I can live with.
This concludes my hermity thoughts of the day. Be well, fellow introverts. And thanks for reading.
PS: My background in organizational psychology requires me to acknowledge that that the concepts of introversion/extroversion lack rigorous scientific validity, and thus they should only be used in a colloquial sense. The MBTI assessment is about as scientifically valid as a Buzzfeed Quiz, but the word “Introvert” remains a useful shorthand for a common set of human preferences and behaviors.