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Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/

Must bloggers be awkward in real life?

Categories: My boss is an idiot

4 comments


[This image courtesy of Shenkitup.com, and isn't actually a picture of me. But it may as well be.]

I am, as many writers are, an introvert. But I also, as many such writers do, integrate a fair amount of being-in-public-as-part-of-work types of activities into my schedule. So I can certainly put on my Public Face (and/or my big girl panties) and interact with strangers in socially acceptable ways. It may not be the most natural thing in the world for me, but I’ve had a lot of practice and when I head to a conference, for example, I know how to balance my experience so that I have enough time to recharge and can be my best self in public.

Recently I was going about my day—actually I was at physical therapy—and someone recognized me from my personal blog. It turned out to be kind of a funny encounter, and the woman who approached me was lovely, but (as I ended up sharing on the blog) I felt very awkward at first. It caught me off guard, being recognized locally, while doing nothing more than just going about my mundane life.

And then I felt like a giant cliche.

I mean, really, all we needed to complete the scene was for me to be a fat balding guy instead of the completely ordinary middle-aged mom that I actually am. Isn’t that the punchline to every Internet joke ever told, that those of us who write online live in our parents’ basements, recoil from the light of day, and in real life we’re awkward and not nearly as glamorous as we’ve portrayed ourselves online? People are supposed to meet us and realize that it’s all a lie, what we do online, because the reality is that we’re simply social misfits.

Lucky for me, I’ve never made any bones about my dorkitude on my blog (or anywhere else, frankly), so I always soothe myself after unexpected encounters where I feel I’ve kind of been clumsy with the reminder that anyone who is a fan of my writing should expect me to be friendly, sure, but not necessarily graceful or glamorous. (I like to balance out my penchant for hyperbole with the occasional understatement, like this previous sentence here. Ha.) Maybe I wasn’t wearing any mascara or being particularly entertaining that day at physical therapy, but I enjoyed meeting the woman who approached me and our subsequent talk. Hopefully she didn’t go home thinking I was a lunatic, but again, if she’s read my blog, all bets are off.

Here’s the part where it gets interesting for me: I wrote about the encounter (because of course I did), and one of my regular readers left this comment:

OK, you totally have to have a post now about proper etiquette for meeting you in real life. What would not feel weird? I mean, we know all about your divorce and marriage, good, sad and bad things that happen to you and your family, and we do feel like we know you. But you don’t know that much about most of us. So, what is appropriate?

The first thing this comment did was make me laugh, because someone suggesting that there’s “proper etiquette” for meeting me in real life seems like something better suited to people who are legends in their own mind, if you catch my drift. But her point about how readers know a lot of things about me actually gets to the heart of what makes those chance meetings a little weird—it’s not so much that bloggers are socially inept by design (though, let’s be honest, many of us are), but there’s a cognitive dissonance that happens in situations like this. For one thing, I wasn’t expecting to meet a reader in that particular setting. For another, once she approached me, I had to wrap my head around this woman knowing a lot about me when I knew absolutely nothing about her, and I felt… off-guard. Maybe even a little shy.

It worked out fine—I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much, and as I said, we really did have a nice talk—but the initial awkwardness remains an interesting subject for me. Because, sure, I can reason through how I wasn’t expecting anything but physical therapy, and the oddness of talking to someone who knew a lot about me when I knew nothing about them… but I’ve been putting my life out there for many years, so it’s not like I’m unaware that this is what happens. Unless I’m meeting another blogger who reads me and whose work I read, there’s always that inequality of “I know things about you and you don’t know me” when public diarists meet others. Sometimes it’s not awkward at all (like if I’m expecting it, say, at a conference). Other times it’s painfully awkward (not this time, thankfully, but I’ve had some bad experiences).

So is the conclusion simply that I Am An Awkward Person, As Are Most Bloggers? Or maybe that Surprise Meetings Are Awkward? Or maybe it’s just that somewhere deep in my brain, I really believe that things I write on the Internet aren’t embarrassing as long as I don’t have to meet people who read them face-to-face.

I’m not sure.



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4 comments so far...

  • I think it might be a combination of all of that. I’ve had that happen to me too and I don’t come across well. I turn red as I do an internal check to see if I’m doing anything embarrassing or if I have food on my clothes or something. Then I try to think of an appropriate response and wonder how much I should ask about the other person and then I wonder what the last insane thing I wrote about myself was and what they were likely to have read and then one of my children usually runs off and does something dangerous and it is all just very awkward for me. That said, it also makes me feel like a celebrity and I LOVE it.

    Stimey  |  November 16th, 2012 at 10:05 am

  • I don’t feel like a particularly awkward person, but that imbalance of personal information definitely makes me feel awkward when I meet readers for the first time.

    Miss Britt  |  November 16th, 2012 at 11:44 am

  • I’m a pretty social person, but that imbalance of knowledge is what makes me feel awkward when someone says they read my blog. It’s exacerbated by the fact that we live in a small town (10,000), and many people know so much about me and I know … not much about them.

    Angella  |  November 16th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

  • What about if you meet a person who reads your blog every day there is a new post, you strike up a conversation with her (likely it’s a her, I would guess), and only because she approached you and talked to you first, not because you did, and yet she never mentions that she reads your blog.

    She talks with you and there’s idle chit chat and at the end of the day you go home and you say to Otto or Monkey “I met this woman and we had a chat” and not think about it again.

    The woman who met you however may go home and post to her blog how she met MIR in PERSON at the THERAPIST where she herself was getting hand-physio and “she is X and Y and Z and not at all like her blog-persona”, or “so much like her blog-persona” and yadayadayada.

    It’s this part that makes me feel a little odd sometimes when I say certain things about my family on my blog. What if people know me more than I know them?

    That is a risk I take by blogging, for one thing. And I get it. But no one I know reads my blog except occasionally my mom or my cousin in Switzerland…

    And I know this idea of people knowing about you more than you know about them due to blogs or social media is real and true. It just happened to me recently where a mom whose kids is my son’s friend mentioned how funny a certain thing was I posted to facebook. I only friend people on facebook that I know (and like) in real life but I had forgotten that a. she was friends with me on facebook (she never posts there) and b. that I had said whatever funny thing it was.

    Made me feel a tad exposed just there and when I got home the first thing I did was check what the heck I’d been posting there recently.

    And the funniest thing was the very next day the other woman whom we are both friends with due to the kids requested a facebook friendship from me. She too now whats to know what’s so funny on my page…

    The whole thing made me feel a tad weird and reminded me of this and your blog post about your encounter.

    Javamom  |  December 8th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

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