Maybe this can be blamed on my being a middle child (I’m the third of seven). Or maybe it’s just a temperament thing. But whatever the cause, I would describe myself as a pretty conflict-avoidant person. I really like people to get along. Tension and fighting often make me anxious—and if I’m personally involved, they can make me extremely anxious. In such cases I’m prone to feel sick, and often unable to sleep, until things are resolved. I can deal with disagreements, but it’s a lot harder when there are bad feelings involved. I probably worry too much about people being mad at me.
This isn’t exactly the ideal temperament for a blogger—particularly a blogger who regularly discusses controversial subjects. And I find that I both love and hate blogging. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s just stressful. Given the latter, I’ve frequently questioned why I do it. It’s not as if anyone is someone is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to write about Mormon feminism. I do it entirely of my own volition. And I find that I go through cycles in which I blog a lot, then find it to be too much and take a break, and then do it all over again. I’m not sure that it’s exactly a healthy addiction. The unforgiving nature of the internet doesn’t help; in a live conversation, your words aren’t publicly recorded for all to read. But when you say things online that you later regret, there they are, preserved in virtual space. I can’t go back and look at certain threads without cringing.
I’ve struggled with these issues ever since we started ZD. We launched ourselves into a heated controversy pretty quickly, and I didn’t last very long before deciding to bail out. I was overwhelmed by the vehement critiques were were getting (from both more conservative Mormons, and ex-Mormons), some of which crossed the line into personal attacks. It was enough of a miserable experience that for a while, I would flinch whenever I heard the word “blog.”
But (obviously), I found that I couldn’t stay away forever, and I’ve thought a lot about why that is. And this is one reason why I find it so enticing. There’s a cost for deciding to speak up, in whatever setting. But there’s also a cost to staying silent. This is frequently a dilemma for me in church—when do you decide to say something in response to statements you find troubling, and when do you decide to let it go? I don’t think there are hard-and-fast rules, but rather that it’s a judgment call that you have to make in each particular situation. And in my experience, either way I end up with some regrets. I want to respect that church is a devotional setting, but I also want to have a voice; it wears me down when I feel invisible and unheard. It’s a challenging balance.
Which brings me back to blogging, which I find at times both intoxicating and terrifying. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really know how to do it—but at the same time, I’m not sure I know how to not do it.