“Who” the hell knows

Something that came up in a recent comment section got me thinking about how much we show of ourselves on our blogs. I try to be honest about what I’m feeling because I blog for personal enjoyment and socializing. All of us only reveal a slice of who we are which we gradually shape into a certain persona. There’s only so much time in a day so we have to limit the details we share. Depending on our selection, we reveal more or less in the same amount of words as someone else.

Imagine a dark room. We can go around with a flashlight and shine it on this chair or that table, and all you’ll see is the chair or the table. But both of them coexist in the same larger room. And there’s other stuff in the room. Embarrassing stuff. Or worse: creepy stuff. A blogger who wants people to get to know them will choose the piece of furniture that is most representative of who they are, or at least who they want you to see.

When I say, for example, that I blog to socialize, I might tell you that I do this because I’m lonely and have no friends in order to paint a picture in your head of a certain sort of individual. But it’s really only a half-truth; I’m not completely alone, I have a fiance, and family, and even people from work that I talk to on the–gasp–phone. But am I a big social butterfly in real life? No. Do I want to be? No. I can be both depressed at the general loneliness of life that all of us go through, because at a certain level, we’re all of us alone, and yet at the same time not want to be an extrovert even if given the opportunity. There’s no either/or in this case.

So depending on my mood, I might try to convince you I’m just a lonely retail worker dork holed up in her room with her stuffed animals, or an embittered ex-graduate student who’s given up on playing the game of life because she’s gotten burned by the shallowness of most people she’s encountered in real life. But they’re both true, in a sense. Right after I’m done bemoaning the meaningless of life and how I’m ready to end it all if only I had the courage, I’ll get dressed and go to church and hang out afterwards with a recovering drug addict because I believe that while there’s life there’s hope. I’m a devout Catholic who owns every one of Nietzsche’s works.

Why waste so much time introspecting when I could be, I dunno, trying to get a career and $$$ instead of languishing in a department store office taking it up the ass from my boss all day long? Because first of all, I selfishly enjoy it. (The introspection, not the other part.) I love the working of the mind; and maybe I ought not to call it selfish because I enjoy reading the same sort of thing from other people as well. I love when commenters tell me something about themselves, just as though we were all hanging out, eating Doritos and bitching about our lives. I try to stave off the impression that I’m attempting to elicit sympathy because I’m not. That of course is not to say that I don’t appreciate every sincere, kind word I receive. Indeed, those comments have buoyed me up on many a crappy day. I have been blessed with so much encouragement. But my primary purpose is not to collect sympathy cards.

While of course I was a straight-A student in college (ego demands I say so, just for the hilarious contrast between that and what I am now), I never wrote better papers than when I studied existentialism. I thought, this is the life I want, to sit and think and write about the living of life itself. Why get involved in the rat-race when I could be pondering the meaning of life all day? I can be authentic–I can be real–I can make myself and my life whatever I want it to be. Oh, how I looked down on those business majors. Well, looking at my student loan balance, I don’t feel so superior now. And yet, I still don’t wish I studied business. I’d rather do the bare minimum and save the rest of my time to do what I want, aka nothing.

Blogging on the Internet, while impersonal in many ways, can yet be intensely personal because we can skip all the formalities we must pass through in real life. I can’t tell my coworkers I was a bully in school and I hate myself every day even now for it, but I can tell you with little build up to it.

And half the time–no, almost all of it–in real life, people don’t get it. Or they don’t get me, at least. If they’re smart enough to grasp anything about me at all, they’re merely amused by my mixture of airheaded sweetness dripping with bitter sarcasm. The rarest, most astute ones see the real me, which makes me feel a little helpless, but I’ll leave that identity open for interpretation.

To summarize:

I am insecure.

I am arrogant.

I make no sense.

I am nuts.

I like this song. Forty years late to the party as usual.

48 thoughts on ““Who” the hell knows

  1. And yet again to hard on yourself. Seriously no one ever portrays their real self to anyone. I’m a bit of a trouble maker, most people don’t realise this but if anyone is in trouble, even someone I intensely dislike, I come out swinging in their defence. It’s human nature, ain’t no crime to it. You can only be yourself, with your self.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. That’s a wonderful trait, to be willing to put yourself out there to help someone out. To be able to do that for someone you don’t like, I think, helps a person to be fully integrated in their personality, rather than be a hypocrite, and that’s no small thing. Thanks so much for stopping by, Pam.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Hetty (Real Name? Does it matter?),

    I was writing with Aaron a few days ago and we talked about how what we read (along with what we do) ends up in our writing. I’m taking it your text on a dark room and a table and a chair was a riff on Plato’s cave and the chair and table from Bertrand Russell’s chapter titled “Appearance and Reality”. If not consciously, than subconsciously. We pick up specks of ideas from the most curious sources.
    Subjective vs objective forms in reality are big ones for philosophy. I often say, that the truth (reality) in a bit of writing depends upon the reader, not the writer. I also say, style is more important than content. Content is viewed very much from the reader’s POV, while overall style usually has nothing to do with the reader’s POV. It just is and so revealing. So for me, reality in writing has more to do with style than content. A corollary to all of this is my belief that there is no reality without language. In fact, language is the source of reality. First the word, not the table and chair, etc. (This coming from a true atheist.) Strained perhaps, but a real feeling on my part. So the answer to the question of who is this Hetty Eliot can be answered more from the way in which you write, than what you write about. In that sense the existential nature of your style shines through. It is just, if not more, easy to believe you are a practicing absurdist or existentialist from the way you write than a lost soul working in retail. (Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that. This is just a virtual conversation.) That could easily be untrue. Books and internet blogs are filled with content that is imagined, but the style of the writing exists apart from the content and, as I say, just is and shows the author despite best efforts to obfuscate. You have the ability to get inside your own mind and spill out the interior life of yourself and other people. I’ve encouraged you to extend character and plot for a novel. Will either of us ever do that? Of course not. There are other writers on Word Press in the same boat. Good writers, but unable to complete the circle. Why? Don’t know. Must be in the hardwiring. If we were communicating with bottles in the ocean, this conversation would be much more god-like in my opinion, but that is just me. Duke

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Duke, for this very insightful comment. (Btw you give me way too much credit for the philosophical influence, although I was laughed at once by an entire class in graduate school because I dared to say I liked Plato and believed in a mind, so who knows, maybe it’s all buried somewhere in my subconscious.) You’re onto something very interesting about this style vs content question, and it’s something I’ve sort of grasped at without realizing it. I always want to know how people started writing and how they developed their style, and I’m always told just write, don’t worry about that, etc., but it’s not that, it’s the studying the style in order to get into the writer’s head. Maybe I do this not for any writing purpose, but because I’m a little creepy. You’ve said a lot I will continue to think about.


  3. And yet, even this could be a ruse. Impossible to know what is truth and what is fiction on the net.
    Over time, I agree, the sense of an online persona leaks through, as yours no doubt has (and mine as well). Still, is that us? Would that person evidence themselves IRL? Some relationships are meant to be distant I believe, detached and personified. This is assuming that folks are more real in person. And that thought made me stop and think. Who I am in person is a lie. Who I am here is more the real me. In person, I’m kind, considerate and supportive. Here, I just want the world to end already. Which is the truth and which the illusion?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Who I am in person is a lie. – You could more charitable with yourself and call it vocational theater. The trick is don;t let them see you acting.
      Cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colors from our sight. Red is gray and yellow white… But WE decide which is right…

      Liked by 3 people

          1. And, I met a girl so fair. [Only the Zep could have invoked Lord, (can we posthumously award him knighthood?), Tolkien.] After which I asked her for some happy news. But I was a daydream believer, and she was…

            Liked by 2 people

    2. I sometimes wonder about that myself, that is, meeting people in real life and how they actually act. I for instance am extremely opinionated but in real life I’m so non-confrontational that people with diametrically opposite opinions feel perfectly at home telling me the most extreme version of them. I’ll sit there nodding and wondering, what on earth makes them think I agree? But I guess that’s the real-life lie.


  4. “And yet, I still don’t wish I studied business. I’d rather do the bare minimum and save the rest of my time to do what I want, aka nothing.” The first, hell yes. I know people who couldn’t pass using a spoon 101 who have MBAs and psych masters. The second? Consider for a moment not being afforded, or enabled, that luxury? What if your medications, your shelter, your crutches were all out of reach? Who and where would you be? As for extrovert – I got paid for exhibiting my passion. Did I get rich? hell no. Did I have a lot of fun? hell yes. Am I going to pull a Hetty and bum out because I’m no longer drinking wine with Keith Emerson or telling car jokes and signing posters with EVH? No. Because there are worlds inside my head that got me there in the first place. The hardest part is getting people to leave their baggage on the sidewalk and climb in the sandbox.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s the sandbox, anyway? Isn’t life itself one big sandbox (or perhaps litterbox might be a better analogy)? How do you leave your baggage on the sidewalk until you reach a level of enlightenment at which you’re able to recognize what it is and then shed it? For whatever reason, the psychology of certain people makes it easy for them to live in the present, whereas for others it’s very difficult. For the latter, it requires a little more awareness and analysis. That’s a luxury for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I daresay you’re not as nuts as your comments section 😂.

    Some people aren’t born to join in the rat race. And thank fuck for that!

    Your interest in the mind isn’t selfish at all especially as you’re interested in others too. You seem very philosophical that’s all. Having a questioning mind is priceless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Robin, there is no doubt I have an interesting comment section. I love how you say, some people aren’t born to join the rat race and thank fuck for that. I’m too tired and lazy for the rat race. I prefer to be like Smartphone Man.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love to get to know you better. Hetty. I love your clean writing. I love how you describe the future, coexisting, the mess. Very interesting. We are all unique and we should be happy to be unique and different. I think it is so important.

    I believe we are a ‘contrast’ in our personalities. We are all nuts and insecure in given situation.

    If I ask myself why I started blogging ? Well, I had no clue what a blog is, and do I have any clue 5 years on- not sure. I started blogging to share ‘thoughts’ – lol! But that is the honest truth. I noted why i blog on my about page – for two reason – but the main reason to remind me why I blog . lol. I am a blogging joke – still clueless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First of all, you’re definitely not a blogging joke, although I want to call myself that now because it sounds funny. You made me aspire to be a blog laughingstock. But all joking aside, I like how you evolve over time. I think that keeps things interesting. And I too am very glad we have gotten to get to know each other better, and that’s one of the things that makes me intensely grateful I came to WordPress. Coexisting with the madness and insecurity–that’s what I’m all about. Life is no doubt crazy but honestly, it’s a privilege to be able to examine, ponder, and make something out of it. I enjoy the journey and I don’t always want a quick answer to all my problems. I like examining why we feel what we feel. Anyways, always good to read your comments, Bella.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is true, to ponder etc is what makes life , life totally agree. Yes wordpress really is the best to make friends one would not otherwise. As for blogging joke I use that for myself light heartedly, because honestly sometimes I really laugh at my blogging , I am still learning and still clueless, but it is okay. You however are not a blogging joke, because you entered blogging with a clue and a plan. I honestly didn’t know what blogging was and sometimes I feel I still don’t know.. lol. But wordpress.com community makes it fun.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, I thought I had a plan, but things turned out differently than I thought they would. I think not having a firm idea is more fun. Trying to stick to a rigid plan takes the fun out of it, makes it more like work.


  7. I go through phases where people comment on my niche content…but apparently now is not one of them. 😅 I’ve connected to a lot of great people blogging on WordPress in different incarnations over the years, but niche content is a tough one. I feel I have something to say though…so I keep at it until I run out of steam or things to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Abi, nice to meet you. I have heard that niche content can be tough. Either the field is excessively crowded or the topic is narrowly focused. But that doesn’t mean the content isn’t important! Just gotta keep plugging away. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. According to the summary, we’re twins! 🙂

    Joke aside, I believe we are alike in many ways. I just don’t find the time to chat with you more often on the blog. Because I’m afraid of any kind of attachment and I really can relate to you, so you’re dangerous to me. In the best way possible.

    Take care Eliot and thanks for another post.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think you were referring to my comments as to being the triggers for this in-depth entry of yours. I read it in that preening sense. My peacock feathers extended fully.

    I edit very little of my life on my blog. Actually, I’m too honest and too specific. I’ll write 5 out of 6 entries on girls in a row and then I’ll suddenly swerve and write about the pussiness of world American politics. I’m trying to get at something, Hetty, and I’m not sure what it is.

    When you said “Go away” on another blog, directed to me, that piqued my interest enough to take another look at you. You should make an effort to comment at my blog. I’m going to stop being self-destructive toward my female viewers.

    What I was doing was working out my kinks as regards girls. I won’t repeat much of my blog’s statements, only that in my life I’ve relied on them too much. I don’t like dependency and weakness. I prefer to be the one with the whip hand. So I’ve turned chicks under my hand. Already, I feel myself trying to turn you, Het-ster.

    Anyway, if I triggered a post/entry, I’m glad. It’s the kind of material I like to indulge in myself.

    — Catxman

    Read Mr. Catman Here

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Mr. Catman, I will award you 50% of the credit, the other fifty goes to another individual who’s trying to rankle me. But thank you for your comment. I see progress in self-awareness and in your recognition of your hang-ups about women, which might be worth exploring further. Unfortunately, I am probably too old and set in my tyrannical ways to “turn” (although one wonders, is a woman ever too old for that, really?).


  10. I just got hit by a blizzard of spam which my moderator all caught up. I was slow in the uptake however. Watch, Hetty, if you get strange URL website addresses attached to poorly written
    comments. Wouldn’t want to see my new best friend go under…. 😉

    — Catxman

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t know, Hetty. I feel like I open up to you more than I do with people in real life, even just through these comments. Then there’s the baring of everything on my posts. So yeah, blogs can get pretty intense.

    Also, I feel like I know quite a bit about you from my time reading your blog. More so than some of my real life acquaintances. A pretty interesting thought to have. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you feel comfortable about sharing. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say. It is weird how we can be more honest or open online than in real life. Maybe we feel less judged somehow? It’s something to ponder. Thanks for your kind words and I echo your sentiments.


  12. This is so very relatable. Blogging does involve the creation of a persona, a different kind of persona than I have in offline life (side note, I hate the terminology that online life is different from IRL – online can be very real – so I use the term “offline life”), but definitely a persona. The lack of small talk from offline line is a factor that makes blogging more genuine, but at the same time, blogging still allows for the creation and curation of an online identity. I think of it as not that different from therapy, in that it’s the space where I’m supposed to be able to share the dislikeable things about myself that I can’t share in other contexts and in some ways, I have, but yet, I haven’t shared the really dislikeable shit because I still want to be kind of likeable.

    Re: college selves of years past, I was a science major and I thought I was better than others because I had a real major, not like marketing or something (this is laughable because my grades in science were terrible; I stuck with it because I was too lazy to switch and I had low enough expectations re: grades) Fast-forward to now, when the marketing majors, business majors, English/dance/music-majors-who-went-to-law-school-and-became-lawyers have more impressive careers than I do. Not that “career that sounds impressive to people not in your industry” is the most important thing, but it does make me cringe at the smugness of my former self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *sigh* As per usual, JYP says everything far better than I ever can. It’s funny, “IRL” does have a different ring to it nowadays. I sort of like it as an ironic throwback to my younger days when I’d get in a lot of trouble online without my parents knowing who I was talking to…. much like I do now, actually. I pretty much echo everything you say here 100% except I studied philosophy for which there is no justification whatsoever. And I don’t even remember anything I studied anyway. Think of all the “dislikable shit” I post here, and then imagine what I don’t share…. Thanks so much for your comment, I really and truly enjoyed reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

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