I think something is wrong when you start to dread updating your own blog.
It could just be me, but over the past year or so, I feel like the culture of the commenting readership on this blog has changed. This is a personal blog, not a craft blog or a political blog or a cooking blog or a celebrity gossip blog, so the things I write about here are selected personal details of my life--my kid, my family, my job. In opening up one's personal life to a public readership, it is (I think) only fair to be prepared half-informed analysis or attacks or judgement from people who read about that life, and over the past eight years I think I've come to expect and accept that. I don't think that the things I write about are so revealing or inappropriate or beyond the pale compared to most personal blog out there, and I can't explain why I've detected such a spike in the hostility or knee-jerk reactivism in the comments section of this blog, only to say that in that strange Venn diagram overlap between mommy-blogging and medical-blogging and working-parent blogging lies a readership with very strong opinions that they have no trouble expressing, occasionally and unfortunately in full-throated vitriolic attack-mode.
Again, I realize that in having a personal blog, I have opened myself up to this. I have said time and time again that in putting something out in public, it is only fair to allow people to respond to it. You have opinions about what I talk about, and that is OK. My life is not perfect, as I expect that yours isn't either, and I suspect that the blog of someone with absolutely no conflict in their life would not only be cloying, but boring and probably extremely unfunny. This blog started when I was a second-year medical student as a way for my friends and family to keep up with my life, but as readership grew to include people not related to me, evolved to something a little bit more. I wanted to show people honestly what it was really like. This is what it's really like to be a med student. This is what it's really like to be a resident. This is what it's really like to be a resident married to another resident while trying to raise a young child. This is what it's really like to be a working mom starting out in a new career. This is what it's really like. The problems are real problems. The people are real people.
Again, I don't know why there's been a change in the culture of the readership here over the past year or so--maybe it's my fault, that what I'm writing about that invites it, or what I write about, or maybe the internet has changed, anonimity as always granting bravery and a form of bluntness that people might not normally employ face-to-face, in person. But I think something is wrong when I feel like with the exception of the utterly superficial or banal (I LIKE TAB SODA!), that there's nothing I can write about that people don't jump all over, or when I dread checking the comments section for fear of what I'm going to find.
Despite the fracas from the last post, this isn't necessarily in response to any one thing, rather the culmination of a long line of things that I've been thinking about for a while. I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do about this website in the long run, honestly. When a hobby stops becoming fun, is there any point in continuing to do it? When you realize that the seemingly innocuous can so viciously become hurtful to the people you love, is it right to continue to leave that door open? Sharing my life is nothing new--I've been doing it since October 2000, when I started writing online. But there are a lot of people in my life, not just me. I'm just honestly not sure that continuing to share that life in the way that I've have so is what I want to continue to do. Some of you (many anonymously) will say that what I reap in terms of public critique is my own fault, and you know, you are probably right. But it doesn't mean that there's nothing I can do about it.
The comments section is down. If you want to tell me something, e-mail me directly. I am accountable for what I write, I respect your right to dissent, you can e-mail me tirades all day if you want. But you have to be accountable too. True, commenting as "Anonymous" is at the core no different than commenting as "Dan," because really, who the hell is "Dan" or "SuperMedStudent" or "mominmichigan" but some pseudonym that reveals nothing about you except that you have access to a computer and can type (questionably) in a text box? But having a handle, or an e-mail address, at least makes you somewhat (if only very loosely) accountable for what you say. No one needs to be hassled for my blog but me. No one needs to have their feelings hurt because of a response to my blog but me. If I have misjudged the forum for talking about my life or issues that concern me, as it seems that I have, then I am surely sorry for that.
So the public comments are down. As for what comes next for the site in general, I'm still deciding that. I don't mean this as some huge dramatic gesture or as a punative measure--I'm not much for those, as I hope those of you who have stuck around for the majority of this eight-year blog run will know--I just have quite a lot of other things to keep me busy in my life these days. And stressing about a blog--a blog for chrissake--doesn't need to be one of them.