I recently hid my blogs for about a week by making them private. It was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see what it was like for someone who wants to hide what they are writing. It was an interesting experience.
Of course, some people have private blogs for very good reasons. If you want to keep a journal within easy reach, having it online is probably a good thing, but you also want it to be private, with no one else able to read it except maybe your therapist. Or if you are collaborating on a book, or some other such project, you may want to set up a private blog and grant access only to fellow collaborators.
In addition, there are others, who have valid reasons for hiding their blogs. This is often for their own safety, and nothing in this post is intended to minimise their concerns. If you are worried about your safety, but you still wish to share your experiences with a private online community, then that is your choice. Just remember that anything posted online, even in private, could be made public by well-meaning friends. Still, nothing in this post is meant as criticism of your concerns. Your worries are valid and must be respected and protected.
However, during my brief sojourn in blogosphere obscurity, I realised that some people have a more sinister reason to hide their blog from public view: To make themselves look good. Yes. You read that correctly. They want to make themselves look good. How does that work?
There are several ways to make yourself look good. Let’s examine them.
Make yourself look good. The best way to make yourself look good is to make yourself look good. Yes, I am aware that self-praise is no recommendation and I am not advocating telling everyone how good you are. However, if you act in a good way, dress in a good way, speak in a good way, and generally treat others in a good way, with good manners and a quiet and mild spirit, then you will, automatically look good. It’s not about self-praise and saying, “Hey! Look how good I am.” It’s about modesty and humility, often praising others above yourself.
Make yourself look better than someone else. The second way to look good is to compare yourself, favourably, with someone else. This is the syndrome of saying things like, “Well, yes. He is good. But I’m better.” This is false modesty. It pretends to be complimentary, but only serves to provide a false benchmark for how good the speaker thinks he or she is in comparison. Looking good in comparison with someone else is the second worst way to try to look good.
Criticise someone else. This is the worst way to try to look good. It is born from the speaker knowing how badly they are doing. Maybe, even, their conscience is bothering them because they know that they should be doing the good works that their victim does, but they are not willing to put forth the effort. Or, perhaps, they have acted in an unacceptable manner, and want to hide it, but they have to discredit their victim in order to conceal their own shady behaviour. So, rather than opening themselves up to criticism, they develop a smoke screen in the form of criticising other people; often the people who are trying to help them out. The serious critic may even resort to misinformation and half-truths in order to make their supposed antagonist look bad. (They often do this in the offline world, too.) When valid concerns are raised about their behaviour, they try to divert attention from themselves by telling you how bad someone else is. Then, they elicit sympathy from their so-called “friends” who would immediately dump them if they became victims of such abuse. To repeat, this is the worst way to try looking good.
Of course, having a private blog is essential if you want to criticise someone else. That way, you can block them from reading it and they are not likely to find out what you are saying behind their backs. These are things that you could never say to their faces because you would soon be proved wrong, if you did. Also, having a private blog means that you can hand pick your sympathisers. (For “sympathisers” read crones, not cronies.)
However, let’s be realistic, here. It is not always possible to post something positive about everyone. And, sometimes, it helps to point out failings, if this is done in a tactful way. Be honest, have you ever watched a TV talent show and wondered why the family allowed the contestant to make such a fool of themselves?
Yet the old maxim is still very reliable: If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything. That does not mean being a doormat; nor does it mean failing to point out someone’s faults; nor does it mean saying nothing. It means finding some positive way to offer constructive criticism.
And that brings us back, nicely, to the best way to look good: Always try to be encouraging and positive. If you must point out an error or failing, do it in a positive, constructive way.
And if you do that, you will have no reason to hide your feelings behind a private blog.