Lessons from Blog Stalking

A quirky blog post title can sometimes grab your attention. I chanced upon one of these quirky titles a while ago on Twitter, visited the blog and got hooked. Hooked? Hell, I fell in love! The language, the stories she told, all of it. What’s more interesting is that the particular post title which introduced me to the blog was related to pregnancy – not a subject I would usually read about on blogs (or anywhere, for that matter).

It took me two or three days and I had read through all of her posts, written over a span of a few years. I read it with the enthusiasm I usually reserve for the best of books. I laughed and cried and gasped with her. What struck me most was her raw honesty. It was not about writing with “utter fearlessness” (maybe it was that too; wait I’ll get to that in a minute*), it was about how her soul, all her emotions were laid bare on paper. The blog had a heartbeat, or so it seemed. I’ve not seen that kind of honesty in a lot of blogs. She was writing for herself, like she did not care if there was an audience, and yet, she addressed her readers directly whenever she could. In *one of her posts, she called out the bullshit of one of the most despicable Indian bloggers I’ve had the displeasure of knowing. Called him out, and how! Of course, he didn’t mend his ways or anything, but felt good seeing someone showing that douchebag his place (something that I could only do passive aggressively till date).

I felt a kinship with her, like if she and I came across each other in real life, we could be good friends.

Unfortunately, she does not blog so often these days.

Recently, I decided to look for more blogs like hers. Personal blogs, life stories. Since this year, I’m going through some… “stuff”, my obvious choice was to find stories similar to mine.

I had little success.

So I went to my next obvious choice – personal bloggers whom I know/have heard of/have read at least and who write well (life’s too short to go through archives of bad grammar).

With more success than the previous attempt, and yet…

The reason I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for was because most bloggers lacked the complete and utter honesty of the first one, and the authenticity that comes with it. Not that they weren’t being true, but the extent to which they were true – it felt like something was holding them back – how I sometimes feel about my own writing. I get it though; not everyone wants their innermost thoughts plastered out, coating walls like that, which is perfectly understandable.

So I categorized personal bloggers into:

1) Those who speak about themselves, their thoughts, their lives (and if you’re like the first blogger – friends, family, frenemies, neighbors, dogs, whathaveyou)
2) Those who write one sentence about themselves and then weave generic scenarios around it. They write about everything from the traffic to the weather to vacations, and while the idea, the thought may be their own, they’re catering to someone else.

Type 2 is invariably more popular than Type 1, because they are writing stuff that a wider group can *relate* to, topics that *resonate* with so many people etc., etc.

Type 1 writes about more specific topics. I prefer Type 1.

When I first started blogging, there was this one blog I used to read. I didn’t add it to my list (like I did with Hyperbole and a Half) because she used to write only once in a year or so. I used to visit it intermittently before. Because she was a Type 1, or used to be from what little I remember, I visited her blog during my above-described quest. The post on the top, written sometime last year, started with “I’m not a feminist because I don’t believe we should ask for equal rights.” I was taken aback – this was not someone who had misunderstood the concept – she knew this was about equal rights, and she voluntarily chose to not want them, which is… puzzling. This was a deal breaker for me, and I said, “Girl, bye.”

In the end, I found quite a few good blogs to go through. Blog stalking is a strangely enriching experience. You see their writing evolve through the years, you see their lives changing, their thoughts changing. You see them contradicting themselves – turning their beliefs around by a 180. Learning. You see them learning. In turn teaching you.
You also notice the silly things – how they adored certain things when they were young, but now love to bash those very same things because that’s what the rest of us are doing.
You see their pain. Their losses.
You see their struggles.
You see them fall in love, fall out of love. You see them move on.
You see them set goals. Achieve them. Or not.
It’s like this time capsule – so much of them captured in their archives.

Eventually, I reached those points in time where I had first come across their blogs. I called it the present, even though it could have been a few years ago (my version of the present is always a little ways behind everyone else – the past two years have been an unfortunate, unmemorable blur for me). I tried to remember where the blogger and I were in our respective lives during those timelines. I skipped the posts I had read when they were originally written. Newer posts hit me like a jolt. For instance, someone had written about Demonetization, and I thought, “Whoa, wait, this is so recent.” Like I said, my version of the present is just a little bit old, so something that recent is basically the future for me (does that even make sense?)

There was one blog which surprised me a bit. I’d never heard of the blogger before, but when I checked the blog out, it became obvious that she had certainly visited mine at least once. I changed my blog layout when I returned from my break. In the old one, I had a Blog Roll on the sidebar – links to blogs I read. Some of those blogs are those of my friends who neither write often nor have their blogs listed on any communities. Like the blog of my friend Wii (who was, incidentally, the inspiration behind one of the two main characters in this story (I hope he never reads this post)). Some are the findings of a “blog-hunting exercise” I carried out some time ago. Interestingly, her blog roll was an identical copy of mine – the exact same blogs that I follow (including this one blog that only the blogger and I know of and hasn’t been updated since 2015 with a total of about 3 posts!)

At first, this made me think that if someone went through my archives, I’d be mortified. I’m more embarrassed by my old posts than anything that happened to me in real life. There have been times when I felt there’s too much of “me” in my posts, as if all my vulnerabilities and weaknesses are out there. (And typos; let’s not forget typos.) But then, I went back to all the good lessons I learned and thought, who do I want to be? The honest writer, or the one that deletes the un-pretty posts once they start looking stale?

PS: While they were all fantastic, I won’t be linking to any of the blogs because a) it’s not stalking if you spell it out, is it? b) I don’t want them to feel I’m flattering them or whatever c) they should not feel obligated to link back. Hence, it is best to keep it all anonymous.

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12 thoughts on “Lessons from Blog Stalking

  1. Lata Sunil February 20, 2017 / 9:42 AM

    Though I love to read Type 1 blogs, I think I am more of Type 2. I find it very uncomfortable to put down all my personal life. I can put in a fun or angry take on my life and surroundings. But, I find it difficult to put in my political views too. Any tips?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva February 27, 2017 / 8:09 AM

      I think I’m more of a 1.5 trying hard to be a 1!
      I would never put my political views anywhere either. But life and surroundings, yeah. Sometimes I wish I had an anonymous blog so that I could put down all the garbage that flows through my head 😛

      Like

  2. Anisha February 20, 2017 / 12:31 PM

    Wow…this one was unexpected 🙂 happy stalking!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mithila Menezes February 21, 2017 / 9:37 AM

    When I read the description of your post on Instagram, I actually had this huge malicious grin on my face, thinking about all the times I acted like a complete stalker, checking out each and every detail available online about my celebrity crushes.
    I confess, I haven’t really stalked a blogger’s blog, unless I really missed their posts, or if I was on a reading break. I love to stalk one particular blog, and that blog has me memorising lines from it like as if my life depended on it, it’s a superb blog. ❤
    I guess I’m a type 2 blogger, an enigmatic, and fabulous secret 😛 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva February 27, 2017 / 8:10 AM

      Most people are Type 2s.
      I wonder who this blogger is whom you memorize lines from! DM me?

      Like

  4. shalzmojo February 22, 2017 / 7:28 PM

    Blog stalking got me to land on yours S 😉 and am glad I did.
    I was missing along with every line that I was reading in this post as it resonated so well with how I would like to read personal stories too- loved one blog by Kavi priya who has written some humorous posts abt love lost and found.
    I also love mindfulness and mental health blogs and love writing abt it too.
    But yes getting too personal on my blog scares me too- maybe I need to let go off a lot of excess baggage….. Cheers to reading more good stuff online!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva February 27, 2017 / 8:13 AM

      I should check out Kavi Priya’s posts then.
      Getting too personal, well, it depends. Some things that go through our head may shock someone else. So while I wish there were no restrictions on how outrageous I could be on my own blog, something always holds me back. Especially cos I know that there are some people who read my blog when I wish they didn’t.

      Like

  5. Chandnimoudgil February 26, 2017 / 8:31 AM

    I am a completely type 2 blogger. Even though I’ve written about myself all through these years , there are parts of me I keep hidden from this space too. The most raw , personal , emotional pieces. I think its so difficult to know anyone . Even if you’ve lived with them. As bloggers the most liberated , the most honest , the bravest – the type 1 truly make blog stalking enjoyable.
    But type 2 have a mystery about them that I enjoy a lot .. they want you to read between lines and when you see something that they’ve unknowingly given away , its like an achievement .. na?

    But yes, blog stalking is fascinating and so many times I have gone to the very first post of a blogger I love [ and I keep falling hopelessly in love with bloggers ALL the time] to really get a sense of the journey they’ve made on these pages and may be life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva February 27, 2017 / 8:18 AM

      I think my poetry is Type 2. I just wish someone would read between the lines and figure out who or what the inspiration for a particular piece was (or maybe I’m just fooling myself, and even my poetry is very obvious and type 1ish – I don’t really know!)
      That’s what I’ve been doing these days – go to the first post and then read from there on. I’ve received some surprises along the way!

      Like

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