It seems to me that I have been reading a bit more of late about fear on the Internet. It is often dressed up as something else, but on reflection I am recognizing it as fear. People are afraid of change, of making mistakes, of taking the hard road, or of doing what they want to do.
A good instance of this was a question asked of the Blag Hag, elsewhere on these Internets:
i can’t deal with the statistical likelihood that somewhere, some business person with an opportunity that would help me will turn away from me because of some objectionable knowledge about me. because of my blog. if i blog. how do you deal with that?
I thought of adding my own answer in a comment, but realized that it was something I was thinking about anyways for here, and it would make a lovely introduction.
The answer is: If something about me is objectionable, it is objectionable. Hiding it will result in an uncomfortable relationship at best, or a falling out at worst, further down the line. I do not wish to find myself with an employer who will drop me the moment I spout an opinion, or a business partner who will leave a project halfway through (after investment, before return) when some piece of my personal life comes to light.
If anything, I would guess that the Big Bad Blog helps to filter these people for me. But certainly somebody who would avoid doing business with me over anything I have written here is probably somebody I do not want to do business with.
However, I think that the question goes deeper than blogging.
People are often afraid to try things at which they might fail, or for which there might be consequences. I am reminded of an anecdote found in Seth Godin’s blog some months ago:
Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, “none.”
And there, you see, is the problem.
Human beings learn from failure. Fencers do not improve themselves by winning all their bouts. Children fall down repeatedly in their first attempt at walking — to say nothing of potty training. Writers tend to experience years of rejection before their first novel is published. Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school basketball team.
The bottom line is that self-improvement and success require adversity. We need to lose, fall, shit our pants, and be rejected along the way.
If you will only accept a life path where there is no risk of rejection, one without (perhaps insurmountable) obstacles, you will find it rare that “some business person with an opportunity” will come knocking down your door. And even more unlikely that you will be that “business person with an opportunity” yourself.
Do not be afraid to be yourself.
Do not be afraid to have an opinion.
Do not be afraid to make a mistake, or to be wrong.
I have been there, and took that approach for a long period of time. It was not very rewarding.
Life is better when you take risks, even when they do not work out.
To our question asker (who is unlikely to ever find the Big Bad Blog): If you have what — to you — are good reasons to write a blog, then write.