August 11, 2008

You Don't Know Me

Last Christmas, I met Katie for the first time. She'd married Bart's cousin earlier in the summer, but I'd missed the wedding. She'd commented on my blog a few times, so I knew she read and I knew she'd been reading for a while. It was the first time I'd met someone I didn't know who read this site.

Throughout the evening, I kept wondering what she thought about me - if she was surprised by how different I was in real life, or if I seemed much the same as my blog would lead you to believe.

Some people are, I think, very similar online and in person, while others (Ralphie comes to mind) are very different.

I think I'm pretty different. I'm definitely quieter in real life, since it can often take me a while to warm up to strangers enough to feel comfortable telling stories and making jokes, and I certainly am too reserved to tell you how deeply I hate your partial feed or that your private blog makes me crazy because it cannot go into google reader. My voice is probably lower than you expect. My "at ease" face makes me look confused (I know this because one of my professors my first semester at BYU asked me daily if I was getting everything because I looked so perplexed throughout the lecture).

I wondered about all this again when Kayla came out to visit. We'd clicked so well online. We turned into instant friends after her first email, but there was no telling if it would translate well into real life. Fortunately it did, beautifully, but I know we both felt the original tension of "is this going to be the most awkward two days of our lives?"

Last week, I met one of Bart's classmates and she mentioned she'd found my blog via Facebook. I know my blog is public access and all, but it's still weird to meet someone that you know virtually nothing about and realize they, quite possibly, know a lot about you.

It's just such a weird thing, putting yourself out there online, because people can know a lot about you, enough to draw major conclusions about what you are really like. And yet, it's never the whole. How do you see me based on what you read here? And how different might that image be from who I really am? It's a fascinating difference.

19 comments:

  1. You seem very similar in real life to how you seem on your blog to me. But then again, I knew you in real life first so maybe I've always had an easier time projecting what I hear on your blog onto the "real" you.

    I agree about Ralphie. In a good way. I like her even more because of her blog persona.

    I wonder the same thing sometimes. I'd like to think that in real life I'm not quite as opinionated and offensive as I am on my blog, but maybe I'm just oblivious ;)

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  2. Ditto to Gretchen. Your internet and real persona are in sync for sure. I also agree that it is so weird to find out people you don't know are reading your blog, or even people that you do know but haven't talked to in ages.

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  3. Like the others, I knew you in real life long before I started reading you online and I think your writing is very true to who you are in real like (although no written word can ever really convey your boundless energy.)

    I do, however, have friends that I like a lot in person but hate reading their blogs because I think they are trying to write themselves as something they aren't and the falseness is obvious to me.

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  4. I am one of those people who stumbled upon your blog and happened to enjoy your banter so added it to my google reader even though I have no idea who you are in "real life". Recently, I made my blog private because when I got home from Ecuador (I lived there for a year and just returned), I was really freaked out by people reading about my life. It didn't seem like such a big deal when I was in the U.S. but when I came home after the year away, I all of a sudden was very distraught about other people reading about my life who didn't even know me.

    I found this quote that is making me reconsider my private blog.

    "There was a part of her story she always held back. She told you just want she wanted you to know about herself, no more, and if you tried to get her to fill in the sequence of events that propelled her, you'd probe for the missing pieces in vain." ~ Judith Jones

    You raise an interesting point though. It is almost like a blog personality is kind of the public character you'd be.

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  5. Hm . . . I'm formulating a whole post on this. I've thought a lot about it to.

    I think I'm better on-line. In college I remember emailing a couple of different guys, friend of a friend and all, and we clicked great: in person? NO chemistry.

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  6. Yeah, you're you online, too. Good job. It does seem strange, though, that I have friends who feel totally bonded to me because of the blog when I feel not so bonded to them.

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  7. Amen.

    It's a little uncomfortable to know that someone knows so much about you but you know nothing about them.

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  8. I've obviously never met you. Yours was the first blog I read of someone who wasn't my friend first. But now I consider you my friend. You know much more about my life than many of my "friends" in my ward.
    I picture you as similar in personality to my sister. One of those wonderful people who you keep discovering new things about. So glad we could meet, and if you do go private, hopefully I'll make the invite list.

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  9. When you and Bart were going to come up here I was trying to explain to David how we knew eachother. This is how the convo went:
    S: We went to HS together.
    D: Were you good friends?
    S: Not really, but we were livejournal friends.
    D: And now?
    S: We're blogging friends.
    D: Uh-huh.

    I honestly can't remember any real life coversations I've had with you. Can you??
    But I feel like we've been friends since HS because of livejournal and now blogging and our occasional passing on campus at BYU.
    WEIRD. Janssen I'm realizing I might as well not know you in real life... because I've been reading since we were 17. You really should plan a trip to Dallas.

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  10. I'm with all who say you're the same...because I met you first. I pity those who never get to know you enough to get your humor and genius. Funny about your professor, though. I've had people tell me that my 'at ease' face makes me look mad. Try fighting that first impression.

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  11. Your blog was one of the first I happened to stumble upon a few months and although I am new to the blogging world I consider you a "blogging buddy."

    My co-worker's wife has a family blog where they post pics of their kids etc. and when I mentioned I had a blog too he said he wanted the url. He is still waiting for it. I think it is easier for me to write and have people who don't know me in "real life" read it. I guess I feel safer and free to be completely honest. Not that I am trash talking other people, but some topics I wouldn't bring up in casual conversation.

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  12. I don't have an "at ease" face. I have a "concentrating" face and a "distracted" face. If I'm not actively engaged in conversation with you, my mind is probably off on some random tangent. I try to make my "distracted" face look more like an "at ease" face...but I sometimes I get totally busted.
    Kevin can always tell.

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  13. From the little bit I've talked to you, you seem the same. But what do I know? I've actually read your blog more than we've had real conversation, so maybe I just think I know. I'll take everyone else's word for it though.

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  14. Like others wrote, your blog was one of the first one I ever stumbled across. You obviously loved to read, so I would always look to see what you had just read and reviewed. Then you would post little bits about yourself. You reminded me so much of my daughter (I think I told you that before) that I continued reading your blog.

    At first, I felt like I was stalking. Then I decided that you wouldn't be posting book reviews and tidbits about yourself and family if you didn't want people to read them.

    Truly, if someone doesn't want strangers reading their blogs, the blogs should be made private.

    (It is so much easier for me to state an opinion in writing that to say it to someone's face.)

    Anyway, I wouldn't presume to "know" you, but I do hope that you are as nice a person in real life as you seem in your blog. (I'm smiling, not being crabby.)

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  15. This is kind of hard to articulate, but I'll try. One of the things I loved so much about BlogHer is that for 3 days, I was truly Rhi. I have awesome friends at home, but we've all known each other for so long I often wonder if it's the Rhiannon of days past that they like. So, I find myself being a little quieter, a little less opinionated, a lot less quirky. At BlogHer, the friends I made know the girl I am online, who is exactly who I am now. So, I felt comfortable being her.

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  16. I have a feeling I would really like you in real life... if you're ever driving through Cedar City I would love to see you and Bart!

    ps. For some reason I am always surprised when someone tells me they read my blog and I didn't even know they knew I had one. It's very weird. I'm not sure how I feel about it either.

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  17. I definitely think you are the same in "real" life. Here is my logic (and professional opinion ;) I say "real" because I think when its just you, me, Bart and Brad hanging out I totally think you feel more comfortable to be yourself and a little "saucy" if you will. Its great, and we love it, so don't change that please. However, when we are around lots of other people (like at Enrichment or something) you are alot quieter than you are at "game night".

    With that being said, I think that goes for most people. Comfortable and more yourself in smaller settings with people you know well and quieter/more reserved in larger settings with people who don't know you as well.

    At any rate, I'll take you any way I can get you. You're great Janssen, and we love hanging out with you.

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  18. I'm waiting for you to make your NZ visit so I can be the judge of that.

    Also, I sat down for a branch conference meeting last Sunday, and met the following comments:

    "I think it's awesome that you parodied a 'Survivor' theme for your class camp"

    ...and from the other side of the room,

    "And that your class pet is a soccer ball."

    I tipped my head sideways in response - I hadn't spoken with the branch clerk OR Elder's Quorum president since I got back from "The Room 1 Adventure". I also had no idea either of them read my blog.

    I can't wait until it's someone I haven't met. You're my hero.

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  19. Um, I definitely read your blog and I have never met you. My bad. I like your writing style and I always learn about literature from your posts. So far I think you're pretty cool... You must be if you're friends with Becca :) Sorry about my private blog. Want an invite?

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