Can you keep a secret?


Photo courtesy of ~robot robot lover on Flickr

I had a fleeting thought the other day: are bloggers good secret keepers? Or are we in a special category because we have a public Internet presence? (I suppose saying “public Internet” is like saying PIN number–redundant and unnecessary.)

In my case, I can certainly keep things to myself that other people tell me in confidence. But I am a pretty open person and don’t mind talking about myself to most people, creepoids excluded. I also have a hard time buying gifts more than one week in advance for loved ones and not spilling the beans on what it is. I may have mentioned already that Christmas poses a huge problem for me because the anticipation just kills me. For weeks, I drop hints about how much my loved ones are going to love what I got them. Last year, I gave Kevin half of his presents early because I couldn’t stand to wait.

Now, I’m not saying I’m one of those people who has no tact or just blurts out what I’m thinking. I can actually be a pretty quiet person. I just mean to say that in my friendships with people, I have to compartmentalize friends into categories like Can Tell This Person Anything, Everything But Sex Stories or Fart Jokes, or Doesn’t Get My Humor. I suppose everyone has to do this to some degree but I keep detailed mental notes on what I can and cannot talk about with certain folks.

Having a blog allows me to write down many of the meandering thoughts that pass through my brain at any given moment. Sometimes it’s a miracle I even remember a topic for later if I don’t write it down right away. I find that a lot of my ideas or wonder-ments come to me while I’m driving (formerly it was on the subway when I lived in New York). But like dreams, they can be easily forgotten, gossamer wisps lost to the wind.

Naturally, not everything I think about or that has happened to me is written about on this blog. I have considered writing on more private topics but then I think that that goes against the grain of what this blog is about and would be better suited for a different medium – certainly a different kind of blog.

Still, I admire authors who have the ability to write short stories or memoirs of their lives where it gets rather down and dirty; we are reading about intimate moments that I don’t think I could fathom putting down on paper for any old stranger to read. Two examples come to my mind: Running With Scissors and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. One is by Augusten Burroughs and the other Chelsea Handler. Granted, the latter author’s books are written with a huge dose of tongue in cheek, but we’re still reading about all of her sexcapades in gritty detail. Hm, the word ‘sexcapades’ is officially on my blog now.

As for Running With Scissors, all of that dude’s family business is out there for anyone on the planet to know, albeit with a lot of humor and hindsight thrown in. I struggle with how much I want people to know about me and thoughts that I have which are deeper than complaints about salesmen and even what some of my childhood pasttimes were. I don’t know that I could keep a blog that is much more like a diary and one which I allow the world to see. I really possess such admiration for those who can regularly write out their innermost thoughts. Maybe it’s something a blogger or writer progresses towards, much like an actor who works on successfully drawing upon certain experiences in his or her lifetime to evoke a specific emotion for a scene.

But that begs the question again: does being a blogger/writer necessarily make a person naturally more open? Or can s/he remain an immensely private person regardless? Perhaps I should be directing this question to someone like J.D. Salinger, a notorious recluse, even after (and in spite of) the success of his books. (Side note: I do not think The Catcher in the Rye is one of the best stories ever written. Quite the contrary.)

Here’s my first attempt to put something out there I normally wouldn’t: bad as it sounds, I rather hope that if I get to the point where I feel comfortable publishing some seriously private ish, that I have a generous book advance in my bank account. That’s not to say that people are clamoring to read my life story, but it’s the private stuff that usually garners more attention and is more interesting to read.

How’s that for revealing? Eh, it’s a start.

And because this is Zoe Says and I usually leave you with something arbitrary or funny, the below picture is of a book I can actually highly recommend. Its title is apt. Some might call it “chick lit,” a term I’m not entirely comfortable with, but it’s a good story written by Miss Sophie Kinsella. If you don’t mind modern day romantic comedies with a British female protagonist, I can assure you that you’ll enjoy it. And with that, I’m off to my private life. I think it’s suppertime.


  1. Kevin Schneider says:

    Having kept a blog that I treated more like a journal, I guess I don’t have quite the concern over putting stuff out there. Still, as I have aged, I am definitely more conscious of the public nature of the internet and all of the problems that can entail. Now my Facebook is private, I’ve removed most of my internet activity from the public domain, and I’m careful exactly what I put out on the interwebs. In any case, I think that having a blog tends to be for those who are *more* introspective, not less.

    • Introspective is one thing but does that mean that you necessarily want to put your thoughts out for others to read?

      I wish you still kept up that blog/journal sometimes.

  2. Some of my friends are terrified that I not only can’t keep a secret, but will openly mock them in my blog if they trip up and give me ammo. I guess that’s not a good sign of how people perceive me. I can definitely keep secrets, but if someone does something publicly and I feel it’s mockworthy, then the blog claws come out….

  3. I’m a secret keeper. My blog is very personal, and I think some of my friends worried that I would out their personal business online. Five years of blogging without advertising a girlfriend’s impending divorce, another girlfriend’s professed sex fetishes, or an old roommate’s Bar Star Greatest Hits…. They mostly trust me, now. (Though my site traffic would probably be MUCH better if I wasn’t so goddamned ethical.)

  4. I can keep a secret and the good thing is, I keep ones even when the person hasn’t told me its a secret. I just have this innate sense of what I should or shouldn’t be talking about with others. But when I was five, and my dad and I were secretly wrapping a gift for my mum, I nonchalantly strolled by her saying “its a secret, its a clock!” so obviously I’ve grown up considerably.

  5. Dian Wijayanti says:

    Aahhh, I think I’m a good secret keeper. Of course when it comes to people’s secret, I would never reveal any of those in my blog, because my blog is meant for public, but when it comes to my personal life… I think I’m quite an introverted person in real life, and then, my alter-ego blabbed everything as I write in my blog (and I believe I’m not the only one who think it’s easier to express things by writing instead of spilling things out orally to others in reality), but still, when I talked about my personal life in my blog, I sometimes reread it, and when I think that the stuffs I write is too personal and private, I’d make such post private, so I’m the only one who can read it. It’s like writing a diary, I suppose 🙂

  6. I have been told that I’ve lost my filter. My argument is that I never had one! The only thing I consider off limits is the personal stories of my friends and family (unless they give their permission, of course). About myself? I’m an open book.

    • I definitely don’t talk about my friends’ secrets, nor my family’s. I’m more open about myself in person than on the blog, even though I have put a lot about myself out there already.

  7. Alan King says:

    ” I also have a hard time buying gifts more than one week in advance for loved ones and not spilling the beans on what it is. I may have mentioned already that Christmas poses a huge problem for me because the anticipation just kills me. For weeks, I drop hints about how much my loved ones are going to love what I got them.”

    I’m the same way. My fiancee knows I’m terrible with surprises. I think it’s because I’ve already anticipated the surprised expression on her face, the whole scenario playing itself out in my head. It’s so bad that when she makes me wait for the desired effect, I start dropping hints.

    And I do have certain friends I can tell certain things to. I have friends I can call to vent about stuff, and friends who appreciate my corny sentimental ways.

    Thanks for this, Zoe!

    • Thank YOU, Alan! Glad you enjoyed it. I’m also kind of relieved I’m not alone in being a Surprise Party Sue haha. Christmas is only four months away – AHHHH!

  8. I used to have a blog and used to be ALL over the Internet (as savvy as I thought I was). Once all this public information started pouring out, even with everything on “lock down” (despite having no desire to become President of the US in the future…as far as I know), it freaks me out. I try to be very careful about what I post, how I post it and how I identify myself. Even on your blog comments…as you’ve noticed 😉

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