You can generally spot an old timer blogger by the title of her blog, her url, her twitter handle, or all three. Here's the key: none of them will contain her real name, certainly not her real first and last name. Hence "lisa_writes" on the Twitter and "lisa-writes" on my first blogspot address.
Back then anonymity was heralded as the blogging best practice. We were warned against, and in response we feared, that nebulous bad guy out there intent on nefarious action regarding our real name. And don't even think about posting pictures of your kids!
It's funny in hindsight, what with the explosion of mommy blogging whose single most identifying characteristic, at least in my unofficial and unscientific observation, is beautiful, professional quality photography of the children.
Which I love by the way. Though they hold up a standard I could never ever hope to aspire to, I do love cute kids in a great pic. Just so you know.
Some habits die hard though. I rarely if ever refer to my kids or even my husband by name on my blog. Not so much because I think you the reader want to do them harm but more because I respect their privacy and want them to be the arbiter of their online presence when and if they choose. Same deal over on Twitter. Two of my children have Twitter accounts but I always hesitate just a moment before I retweet or mention. Maybe I'm hearkening back to those overly cautious early days of blogging but, whatever the reason, I've decided to err on the side of too careful rather than too careless.
Speaking of old timers, any of you who blogged way-back-when remember the meme "I am more than my blog"? The point of the meme was, as is no doubt obvious, that not all of my life is represented on the blog. What you see is merely a sliver of my real life, which incidentally is only the sliver I allow you to see.
I think about that meme when I am tempted to make the following PSA: "Dear Twitter friends, what you see here is not the sum of what I think, believe, appreciate, or esteem." I leave you to determine my tone of voice. There may or may not be a certain level of snark involved. Shocking, I know. Just keepin' it real.
The blog posts and the Twitter feed and the Facebook timeline, while I strive to be as authentic as possible, they are not the sum of who I am. Neither are yours. The virtual life is the virtual life, important, perhaps, edifying, to be sure, fun, of course.
But it is not real life.
My real life has real people in it, a real family that is my privilege to love and serve. There's a real church too where I learn to worship the Lord in accountability and fellowship with other believers. There are real women I meet on Wednesdays at the pregnancy center with real problems that break my heart. They need the real gospel--and here's a news flash: my blog posts or Twitter updates, no matter how wise or witty or well written, will not give that to them. There are real women in the Bible study I teach, real women hungry to know the realness of the Word to infect their real lives with real power and real passion as they grow to know and love a real God.
I am not abandoning the virtual life, not at all. I both enjoy and learn from my online friendships and the interactions I find there. I am the better for the friendships I've made with women from around the world. How else but the Internet? Who else but our God?
What I am saying is this: let's not pursue the virtual at the expense of the real. Serve your online audience and serve them well but do not do so to the neglect of the real people that the Lord has placed in your immediate, real context. And let's remember we are all real people and, as such, more than our blogs, our feeds, and our timelines.