Monday, December 1, 2008

Making readers uncomfortable

It has been made abundantly clear to me by a significant number of comment over the years that it makes a lot of my readers uncomfortable when I talk about myself. They much prefer me in "sage mode": Dispensing wisdom, writing analysis, giving advice, reviewing facts, reporting news, and telling funny stories. But when I show too much enthusiasm, write about what worries me, react with emotions to some negativity, or show interests outside the narrow world of MMORPGs, it is making people flinch and wince. Bad news is that I'm not going to stop to write at a more personal level. Because being totally impersonal is an impossible task, and because this blog wouldn't even exist if it weren't about my feelings.

I totally understand why it makes people uncomfortable. After all MMORPGs are basically fantasy worlds into which we escape to avoid having to deal with the real world and real emotions. Dealing with people online, in games or blogs, allows us to reduce them to specific roles: The tank, the healer, the blogger. There are less dimensions to "my guild's main tank", or "Tobold the blogger", than there are to real persons. If these characters suddenly start showing more depth, the tank skips raids because of personal problems, or Tobold whining about his angst that his warrior is becoming obsolete, it quickly becomes inconvenient to have to deal with that.

But as much as someone might prefer me as being impersonal, in reality that just isn't possible. Just like there is a real person with real feelings behind that tank avatar, there is a real person behind Tobold the blogger. Sometimes I just have a bad day, or I rant, or whine, or go off on a tangent, or worry, or am happy. And people telling me I shouldn't let my feelings show usually just cause me to rant or whine even more, because such comments touch me on a personal level, and thus provoke a personal response. This is a one-man operation, there is no editor who could edit out unseemly content that isn't perfectly neutral or politically correct. The only way you *do* have to "edit" me, is to simply not read the posts that make you uncomfortable.

And as I mentioned, the personal stuff is a necessary condition for the existence of this blog. Because I am not a robot, but a real person, there has to be something in it for me that causes me to write this blog, people don't do things without any motivation. And there is obviously no financial incentive. You might think that this blog is about MMORPGs, but in reality this blog is about me. I blog because I feel a need to express myself. This is my place, my retreat, my Cheers where everybody knows my name, the place I hang out, where I can talk about the stuff that interests me, or bitch about my problems. To get me to leave my personality at the door, I would need to be motivated otherwise, for example by being paid for my work. I guess you could get a magazine with a similar amount of game content for about $50 per year, so how about you all send me $50 per year? Thought not. I think that getting ample content for free in exchange for having to put up with the occasional personal post is the better deal.

And yes, I'm perfectly aware that this post made you feel uncomfortable again. "Tobold's Blog: Making readers uncomfortable since 2003" :)

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