I consider myself a very honest person. One of the consequences of being honest, is that you also find yourself as labeled blunt. I once had a friend, who after sharing her bucket of woes and asking for my opinion, told me:
Anne, you’re too honest.
I was rocked back on my heels, I’ll admit. How can you be too honest? Shouldn’t everyone strive to tell the truth, to the best of their ability, all the time?
Well… that’s complicated.
Everyone views the world through their own perceptions, whether we’re talking about biological or cultural.. As much as we might make the effort, or recognize the disparity in our own perceptions and someone else’s, bridging the gap is a difficult and tension-fraught process which will never result in absolute consensus across the board. It’s one of the facts of the human condition.
When my friend told me I was too honest, I really thought about what honesty meant, for me personally, and as it affected others around me. I came to recognize (and still struggle with coming to grips) that what I consider honest is sometimes wrong. Honesty is only really valid in a contextual sense, and depends on a multitude of factors. While this hasn’t fundamentally changed my desire to be an honest person, it has somewhat tempered what I consider to be a direct result of being honest: my bluntness.
For one thing, I try to not give unsolicited advice or opinions. I figure if you come to my space (my blog!) then you’re asking for it! But if I’m in game and someone truly needs a tip on playing their character better, I’m not going to bother them unless they ask. I make my best effort to not be rude when I am being honest. Just because you’re thinking “poor, poor idiot,” doesn’t mean you have to say it.
And then there’s the honesty of sharing, of giving yourself to others, of letting them know who you are.
When I sit down to right a blog post, I write, and write, and write, then publish. If I ask someone to proofread, it’s to make sure that my ramblings make sense, because I don’t read my words again. I write, then publish. Sometimes it results in a bit of dissonance in my argument, typos and other things that I’m sure makes the grammatical minded among my readers clench their teeth. There’s a couple of reasons I write this way. The first is simply because that’s the role my blog plays in my writing time: it doesn’t have to be polished to provide the place I want to share my thoughts on the game. The other is because I want my freshest, cleanest perception to be preserved, not a crafted well-thought out analysis of an issue from all sides. I do enough of that in other writing that I do, that the option to just put my words down and let them fly is wonderfully liberating.
When I put something out, I want it to best reflect my initial reaction and thoughts on a topic. I figure the discussion will flesh out my own thoughts and bring different perspectives to the table. Sometimes, I make myself look like a giant flaming idiot. Others, I find that I’m really happy with how that initial thought turns out. However, as much as I’ve put this discussion in terms of my initial, most honest perspective on a topic, that doesn’t mean that I share everything.
I don’t feel compelled to share the intimate details of my entire gaming experience just because I have a blog. I don’t feel compelled to share things about my personal life, even though I’ve done so to some extent, because I can. I don’t feel like I’m sitting in the shadows, hiding myself from others, but rather, doing what I do in every situation: choosing what to share. Not sharing is not, in and of itself a dishonest act. If you choose to make assumptions about me, based on the information I have provided, you’re welcome to it. If somewhere down the line, you’re disabused of some long-standing belief you’ve held about me, that doesn’t make me dishonest. Asses and assumptions folks.
Writing is a medium, and people are going to tackle it differently. In many aspects of my life, I’m a perfectionist, never happy with the final result. I choose to abandon that here, but it doesn’t make what I write any less honest than if I spent the time that I would usually spend on a writing task.
As much as I personally would like to think that honesty is a cut and dried, in or out, right or wrong issue, it’s not. There’s a lot of layers, a lot of contextual considerations and assumptions that go into finding and discussing the truth.
This post was inspired by a post read from Stubborn at Sheep the Diamond.