The first factor I should consider is whether I need to write about a certain topic. Writing helps me sort out thoughts, fears and challenges. When I write, I clarify what I believe and what I should do. Solutions often appear on the written page which I hadn't experienced cognatively. And there's a factor of accountability when I blog publicly. One example of the benefits of writing is that of when I'm getting ready to go to a difficult class. I've frequently used this blog to help me decide how I want to tackle a challenging class or topic I expect to come up in class. There was the infamous psychology class where it was suggested that people with disabilities should be aborted. This blog allowed me to solidify my perspective on the issue (no way will I accept that as a possibility), and it allowed me to decide how to address the issue. I ended up writing about disabilities in infants for the next paper required in that course. I think it really helped the professor to understand my perspective, but I know that the blog helped me to understand my perspective and how to share it effectively. That's just one example. I've also used the blog as a way to understand my emotions. Why do I feel anxious about physical therapy, for example?
there are times, however, when I need to consider my audience. The piece I wrote yesterday, for example, needed to be written in a way that it could be understood by several groups of people. Many people on my friends list are Guide Dog users, and don't need clarification on what Julio does. But other readers, those who are sighted, don't work with a guide dog on a daily basis and won't know exactly how Julio and I work together. That's a less controversial example. I also have to consider how I write about issues of faith, ethics and even the medications I take. I'm blessed to know people of several different faiths and with several different lifestyles. I cannot assume that everyone is coming from the same background. I choose to write about things i understand or need to understand personally. In other words, I try to get around the potential for offending people by saying "this is my experience, what's yours?"
There's also one specific group of people I worry about most when I write. That group is those whom I've met, those whom I hope to meet and those with whom I'm friends or family. I'm not sure if I should share this, but there have been times when my writing has gotten me in some trouble. Some people I know offline do read this relatively regularly and we don't always agree. on how I choose to handle things. These disagreements can be about such diverse topics as my pain or what I ate for dinner today (a banana, some soup and ginger ale if you're curious). I sometimes choose to mask how I'm really doing because I don't want to worry people who know me in real life, or don't want to deal with the consequences of them knowing.
Finally, there is the issue of privacy. I have to consider the rights and feelings of others who might find themselves popping up in my writing. Some people want to show up and wonder why I never write about them. Others don't want to be written about, even with a false or masked name. I've learned to navigate these issues, but even now, it's something I am fearful of dealing with.
I know I've written about the negative fears I have around the need for writing at all, specific audience considerations and confidentiality, but there are some definite positive aspects to these challenges. The most obvious is that I've seen this blog help others understand who I am and where I come from. People often tell me "I had no idea you didn't like..." or "I never thought about... that way". Sometimes, this blog smoothes over difficult topics because when I write, I write slowly enough that I can avoid taking shots at a person's character just because I'm angry, and the written word has the benefit of being consumable at any speed. So if you are frustrated with this post and want to read it later, you can. And, finally, the issues of confidentiality will make me a better social worker. I'm learning to communicate in new ways every day through this blog. Yes, it's a balancing act, but I wouldn't ttrade this blog for anything.
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