Sometimes the comments posted to online articles are as important as the article itself.
This morning I read a blog post at The Good Men Project titled Marriage is No Fairy Tale. I liked it when I read it, but when I read the comments I saw something I didn’t expect. I saw that readers and writers interact in a way that can be either heartwarming or painful or both at once. I also saw the degree to which we tend to presume we understand a writer’s intent, lauding like a returning hero or attacking like a hated enemy, based entirely what we are sure the writer meant.
This happens in daily face-to-face interaction, too, it’s just that the asynchronous and anonymous nature of the writer-reader interaction, perhaps especially on electronic media (whether internet or email or text message), makes it both easier to maintain our presumptions and harder to correct them.
When I read the article I heard, “marriage is not the fairy tale we are told growing up that it should be, or the one we are convinced it will be when we are in thrall to first love – but it can be very, very good.” Most likely I read that because it is what my beloved and I have built over the years, though it often feels to me like it really has been a fairy tale (that’s a different post for another day).
The commenters, on the other hand, took things very differently. One said, in part, “So I would thank you kindly for not stuffing us into the mold of your life in future.” Another wrote, “I know it feels like everyone has had the same experience as you. But I can tell you, i’ve talked to your kind before … Don’t think you know people.”
Um, speaking of the pot and kettle and name calling …
I find it interesting, and instructive, how often we – me, too – commit the “crimes” of which we accuse others. I am also aware that writing from personal experience is fraught with the perils of being misunderstood as saying either more or less than we intend, especially around certain subjects like parenting, and partnering/marriage, or sexuality. This is perhaps especially salient for me right now, because Maddie and I are building to a launch of A Daring Marriage, which will be a website and blog devoted to open and honest discussion of married (in the broadest sense of the word, not the narrow versions that some have tried to legislate) sexuality, along with factual information, which is so hard to cull from the massive amounts of “information” available on the web – some of it excellent and much of it drivel. I feel sure that, when we and guest bloggers write for the site, we will engender some animosity, and some praise. For a writer, the key is to stay focused on the writing, and leave to others what they take from it.
Are you a writer, and do you experience this disconnect between what you feel when you write, and what others presume? How do you manage it? Have you felt this in other ways? I’d be interested to hear from you, very much.
Dr. Les Kertay, Awakened Moments
P.S. If you are interested in knowing more about our website about married sexuality, feel free to head over to A Daring Marriage where you will find a temporary landing page – leave us your email address and we’ll let you know when we go live.