Friday, January 12, 2007

Hyper-Reality || Authenticity

A good friend of ours recently made the comment, first to my wife and then to me, that if she didn’t know us in real life and her only impression of our family came from reading my blog that she would conclude that we were The Waltons, and she’d feel really inadequate…which appalled me, because it has never been my intention to present my family as some frankly very fake version of being ‘perfect.’

I’m certainly glad that because ‘Marge Simpson’ (only kidding; though, you know, Bart and your boy…and come to think of it, I’ve never seen them together) knows us in real life she gets a different perspective – and it won’t only be from getting my wife’s version! She knows that as well as being the weird mystic type – “Most of us have enough on our plate just getting on with everyday life. You see…a brick, and it reveals God to you” – I’m also the weird mystic type who gets deeply frustrated with my kids/wife/and, to be fair, other-human-beings-in-general, even though I love them more than I can say. And that sometimes, just sometimes, I can’t resist saying something really inappropriate, but funny. It is not so much that the ‘real life me’ is more honest (or, less able to pull off an illusion), and the ‘blogged me’ is less honest: it is more that when you have both you get a fuller picture than when you only have one or the other (and not least because I’m an introvert, and writing comes easier to me than speaking). As a form, blogs have their limitations; and their potential, too. Personally, I like the relationships where the blogosphere and real life entwine best: other bloggers I know in person; or those who don’t blog themselves but read mine because they know me.

Anyway, I’m reading Michael Frost’s Exiles, which is both convicting and inspiring; and in where I’ve got to this evening he writes about the culture of hyper-reality (better-than-the-real-thing products; reality TV), and how more and more people have had enough of it and are seeking for authenticity instead (e.g. food that tastes of food, not like-food-but-more-so); and how so much of church culture, including how leaders present themselves, buys into hyper-reality hook, line and sinker. When we should do the very opposite; should hold out authenticity.

I think it is important that I do write about my family, in the midst of other reflections: that it helps ground the other stuff - or should do. Plus there are some people who only come by to read the family stories. And what I write should honour my family – but not portray them as porcelain saints. I don’t want to write (too often) about the things my children do that make me mad – but perhaps I ought to write (more often) about the brokenness in me that triggers my getting mad at them…I want to tell stories that inspire, not agree with negative images of family life (there are enough out there to choose from) – but not pretend that shit doesn’t happen.

So I just want to say sorry if I have ever crushed anyone with hyper-reality. And I know that I get comments posted on here that show that some of what I blog is really appreciated by some people – that it either inspires them or gives them some kind of helpful resource – and that is great. That is why I do it. But, I’m sorry if what I have posted – and in particular what I have posted about my family – has done the opposite. Please forgive me.

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  1. the waltons? i dunno, i always thought you were more like the simpsons

  2. David3:32 am

    This is an interesting post. I often think that blogging is a bit 'spun' in that you only present a side that you want people to see. Appreciate your honesty and am inspired to do the same.