Monday, 11 May 2009

Who's looking over your shoulder (paranoid blog)?



Who reads your blog? OK we all know the people who comment (or at least, we like to think we do, while still harbouring suspicions about some of them) but what about those who don’t? What about the lurkers? It’s all too easy to forget that your writing is whizzing out there to the big wild world and anybody, yes ANYBODY, could be reading. When I first started blogging I didn’t really believe this and couldn’t get my head round the idea that anyone, other than a little gaggle of cyber-friends, would be remotely interested in my warblings.
But I’d forgotten that favourite pastime of the terminally bored and those in need of frequent ego nuzzles – googling oneself.


The day I wrote about T***y W***te (I’m being careful – see) will forever remain the most cringe-inducing of my life (check out this link if you want to smirk at my shame – you have to read all the comments to get the full picture). Then there was Rachel Johnson (oh heck - incoming - I’d better duck) who sent a series of emails accusing me of being a stalker and a holistic therapist (both equally untrue) and then (having eventually become quite nice – to the point where we were talking about meeting up for a drink) proceeded to slag me off in several (I think the final count was three) newspaper features. I’m happy to give you copy, Rachel, but cut out the hypocrisy next time eh? Just call me a mad stalker to my face as well as in print.
Anyhow. Enough already and I SO thought I was over that (note to self: practice forgiveness ritual on RJ). However, what I really hadn’t expected was to find out that my desperate ramblings were being read by the family.

‘Hello, Jane..is everything alright?’ My mother-in-law sounded cautious, edgy even, on the phone.
‘Yes. Everything alright with you?’ Feeling a little worried.
‘Oh yes. Are you sure everything’s alright?’
Any more ‘alrights’ and we were going to break into a rendition of ‘Everything alright, yes everything’s fine’ from Jesus Christ Superstar.
‘Yes, truly, we’re fine. Are you OK? You’re sounding weird.’
A long pause.
‘Well. Is it true that Adrian’s had a chest x-ray?’
What? Cogs whirring round in my head. Didn’t take long to figure out where this had come from.
‘OK. Someone’s been reading my blog.’
‘Ummm.’
‘I wrote on the blog about going to have a chest x-ray. Me going. Not Adrian. But someone got muddled up and left a comment asking how Adrian was.’
‘Are you sure he hasn’t had a chest x-ray?’
‘Yes, of course I am. I had it.’
‘Oh, thank God.’ Pause… ‘I mean, not that I’m not worried about you having an x-ray. Not at all.’
‘I understand. It’s fine. Really. But who’s been reading the blog?’
Long deep silence. But really there were only two likely contenders and I guessed right that it was Adrian’s cousin. So, if you’re reading this Beth, do me a favour and say ‘hi’ in the comments! And if anyone else is out there reading and keeping schtum, go on – cheer me up (or freak me out) and announce yourselves.

One of these days I’m going to have to shed discretion to the wind and blog about Liz Jones, the Daily Mail writer and YOU magazine columnist who seems dead-set on painting a ridiculously stereotypical portrait of country life, packed with clichés such as the pubs that still serve rum babas (er, where would that be, Liz?) and the population of ancient men and women with beards (all clad in our wellies and Barbours). I could put her straight on a few things, like the fact that we DON’T shoot furry things on Sundays (that’s bits of clay plate that are being blasted to kingdom come). But I think I’m in enough trouble for one day so might save that for tomorrow….



Meanwhile, over at my other blog – Never Knowingly Overwhelmed – I’m pondering whether Reiki is fabulous or purely a sneaky form of New Age pyramid selling. We’re debating whether breast-feeding advocacy is going too far and wondering if children should be allowed to play rugby. Oh, and getting all wistful about fabulous spa treats…. Come on over and join the debate…..oh, and leave a comment…..

56 comments:

Single Parent Dad said...

My folks read my blog, and I know this as they do the same. Check in after an 'announcement' on the web etc.

Anyway I am off now in my wellies to meet Amos in the local, for a babysham, and a chat about irrigation. Toodle pip.

60GoingOn16 said...

Ah yes, lurking compulsive self-Googlers. What is one to do about them?

Incidentally, Jane, both Liz J and Rachel J (see, I'm being careful too) attract far fewer comments (as in hardly any or none) to the online versions of their columns than you do to your blogs, including your brand new blog. What are we to deduce from this? That no-one reads their columns? Or that no-one thinks they're worth commenting on?

Answers on the back of a stamp, please.

Mud in the City said...

Oh - you've got me looking over my shoulder in increasing paranoia....

Poor Terry. At least you were nice about his speech!

Strictly said...

I actually had to completely delete a blog because I wrote something that appeared innocuous but actually caused fur and feathers to flie all over the internet. And if you want to know what, I'll let you know if you email me!

Jen (Nov98)

Cathy said...

Other than my husband and my daughters, I don't have a single family member reading my blog. They are all convinced that I have no life so why should they bother. I have no idea about lurkers but there may be some. I haven't been at it long enough I suppose.
I love reading your blog. You have such a wonderful view on life.

Faith said...

Well hopefully everyone is now 'blog-aware'. I certainly think you should blog about Liz Jones' take on the country. It's ridiculous and not even funny.

Mopsa said...

I'd missed the Terry Waite comments before - how brilliant. One of the more successful claims to fame that anyone could wish for, and what an utter gentleman. And I LOVE rum babas. It's why I live in the country. I look for them in every hedge I pass. Still looking though, cake fork at the ready.

Milla said...

HOw funny, had JUST posted a comment on someone else's blog about it letting slip and people reading it. Was shocked beyond shock recently when a member of my bookgroup said that she read me. HORRORSVILLE. she found me via E who'd left a rant on the Guardian website and from there it was a couple of clicks. I know this sounds naive, but hadn't thuoght, with the sheer number of blogs out there, that anyone "real" would actually find me.
Can't suss out counters, either, to get any real idea of who trots past.

Phidelm said...

Proof positive of decreasing literacy rate in UK ...
As for Googlers, any minute now Ms J will be after you with red-hot eyelash curlers in one hand and ditto David Mellor toasting fork in the other. Although if you'd like to nip any LJ retaliation in bud, de luxe An Bean Sidhe service is on special offer this week, + extra discount for signing up to regular user package.
TW: what a lovely man!

Exmoorjane said...

SPD: yes, but your blog is nice and kind and yummy - not vitriolic rant like mine!

G0goingon16: slap them round the face with a wet kipper? Ah, I think people read the columns, but can't be arsed to leave comments. When you look at your blog stats, the number of people who actually comment is miniscule compared to the people who read. Wish it were the latter though.... ;)

Mud: oh me too....scary isn't it? His speech was FANTASTIC.

Strictly: Oh wow, off to email you in two secs.....

Cathy: that's what you think!!! Be worried, very worried.... Thank you SO much for saying nice things - personally I think it's a bit of a warped view of life but I'm happy to accept your description.

Faith: I dunno. Reckon I've still got a fair bit of naivety left! Watch this space for LJ...

Mopsa: oh no, you used the saintly one's full name! Now he'll come back and I'll feel like a ten year old kid all over again!

Milla: it's just too grim. We should have stayed as hairy truckers from Hull. I'll get you sorted with a counter, never fear..my new favourite toy.

Phidelm: sign me up. I think I may need a vengeful banshee on side!

globeonmytable said...

Well I have just sent a note on FB giving name/number of my blog. But I binned all my diaries/papers up to age 30 a few weeks ago. So all that stuff is down at the landfill site now.

Have you tried pestering your relatives to start blogs of their own?

Maternal Tales said...

And here's another one reading your blog - but then you know that because I leave a comment!

Most family members read my blog which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing. I had my Mother on the phone last night saying she was a bit bored of reading about the children because she knows all the stuff anyway and couldn't I write about something else?? Er, Mum, has it ever ocurred to you that it's called 'Maternal Tales' for a reason?

Then there was the time when I'd just started and my Dad was rushed to hospital with kidney stones. At that point my brother hadn't read the blog, but I'd given him the address. He decided to check it one day on holiday when he realised he could via his Blackberry (hadn't realised up until that point). The first post he read was about Dad and the hospital and he phoned up not only frantic with worry, but also a tad pissed off that he'd only heard about it via the world wide web!!

And one more quick one...I wrote about a crap present my daughter had been given once by my aunt, not knowing that my Mum had passed on the blog details...needless to say she wasn't very impressed!!

btw - I love your blog x

Rachel said...

You've got me scared now. For a year, I thought that no one read my blog - my friends pointedly don't - and recently I've been thrilled to find comments increasing (usually to do with death and despair-type posts - very comforting too)and real Followers to soothe my fragile ego. But should I be bracing myself for venomous Slaggers-Off next? Should we care?

And there is something other-planet-ish about country blogs, you know; it's all part of your charm for us envious city folks!

blackbird said...

The thing about the internet is that you can continue to get in hot water over and over- nothing ever goes away.

I've been reading blogs for a while now but am just starting to comment- and I hate thinking of myself as a lurker. Such a name. Now, with a new blog of my own- I love comments.

Not feeling paranoid at all, I've kept my settings so that the search engines won't find me. So, if I tag a post- cream puffs- I won't show up if someone googles 'cream puffs'. That's the idea anyway. People will just have to find me the old-fashioned way- being invited or following my footsteps.

As for families reading blogs- 2 of my sisters have just signed up at blogger. Maybe they want to tell their side. Why I take most of my indoor photos in the same spot- the only clear area. That sort of thing.

English Mum said...

I get stern email from my Ma telling me off for swearing, and stern emails from my Dad when there are 'too many bloody recipes'. Oh, and you must give me your laser therapist's number, Jane, there's not a hint of your beard visible ;0)

English Mum said...

Oh, and forgot to say that I got ten (TEN!) emails about my religious rant - two of which from our local vicar (yup, the one I called Trendy Protestant Vicar). And I thought I blogged anonymously!!

ChrisH said...

I can't recall you ever writing anything that wasn't straight from the heart on one of your blog posts. It's brilliant writing, you don't charge anyone to read it so if they don't like it they can do the other.

Having said that, yes, I've been surprised by what friends and family have picked up from my blog and it has made me wary of hurting them. I can't let off steam, like I used to!

As for folks I don't know reading it? Well, great - I write because I love writing and it's an added bonus if someone leaves a nice comment.

Interesting post.

Helen Suzanne said...

Wonderful Jane. Love the Terry scenario.

claire p said...

I just added a hit cointer to my blog. In 24 hours I've had 24 hits but only a hand full of comments. I'd love to know who the others were.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Have to say, I haven't a clue who's reading my blog either apart from the ones that comment!  I know my family don't read it, I don't think they can be bothered but I do know that family friends read it and often fill my family in on my life's happenings.I don't think we can go through life looking over one's shoulder though, we'd get nothing done.  And if our ramblings do cause offence, perhaps they were meant to.Love CJ xx

Helen said...

I'm holding up my hands and delurking - I've been following and enjoying your blog for a while and I promise I don't know you in real life and am not a member of your family!

I have a blog on livejournal which is partly public and partly locked so I can control who reads what - that seems to work well for me.

Helen P in Cheshire

Exmoorjane said...

Globe: what a great idea (getting family to blog, not binning all your previous writings!)

Maternal Tales: ouch. That had to hurt. Still wincing at that one.

Rachel: funny isn't it - don't think any of my real-time friends read it either (apart from those who also blog)....otherworldly, us country bloggers? Splutter, choke...

Blackbird: I used to keep my blog much more under wraps but then figured, what's the point? I'm a writer and I love writing and I really LOVE getting feedback (something that very rarely happens as a journalist and author)...so keeping it unlisted was sort of missing the point (for me). But I guess it depends why we blog...and we all have very different reasons. Be interesting to see what your sisters blog...

English Mum: not surprised your mother told you off for swearing - the air is blue when you're around! really enjoyed your church rant btw...

Chris: thank you so much....and yes, that is my concern too, hurting people unintentionally. I'm with you on the reasons for blogging openly.

Helen Suzanne: huge thanks!

Claire P: Yup, wouldn't it be fab to know?

Crystal: not surprised you can't keep tabs on who's commenting on yours - never SEEN so many followers! You're right, we can't really live life looking over our shoulders...though in your house maybe you should!!!! (I mean the ghosts!)

Helen: yeay! Bless you for delurking.....are you sure you're not a longlost cousin??

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

http://joanne-helpinghands.blogspot.com/2009/04/you-see-this-its-called-spear-tackle.html

This is a post you may fancy reading re kids rugby.

I'm definately keeping my blog to myself after reading this.

Yours is a great blog, I'm glad I found you.

pebbledash said...

I can be guaranteed that there will be something in every post here that will make me chuckle... much rather be entertained by you than any drivel from RJ or LJ.
Keep it up, Jane!

Phidelm said...

Sorry, forgot to add that sometimes read without commenting because have nothing to say.
Also, looking with interest at your new pic: had no idea you were so beautiful - almost approaching my own stratospheric heights ...

Ladybird World Mother said...

Where, oh, where do I start... what a great post, and just had to read your Terry Waite story. Oh. My. God. Jaw dropped and sat with mouth Agape. Great Stuff!
Would just love to know who reads what and why...I have a socking great picture of myself on my blog, so cant really say I am anonymous... but do sometimes get the willies when people I know say that they 'found' my blog and read it. Makes me feel immediately guilty in case I have written something awful about them... great post, my friend. Now have to go back on all the links. done the terry one. Now for the rest!!X

Mark said...

I wrote piece on my blog a few weeks ago about a book I had read thirty years ago. What ever happened to its author I wondered? A week later I received an email from him in California.

Your blog was chance find today - how wonderful.

Mark

HER ON THE HILL said...

Well, Jane-oh, I can safely say my family don't read mine! Well, not quite true, brother-in-law sneaks a peak from time to time. I feel slightly hurt they don't (I've dropped a very few very subtle hints), but at the same time it would curtail my freedom even more. As it is I am very careful. A friend in the village once told me 'Oh yes, the whole village reads you' - well, I certainly wouldn't know by the comments (i.e ZILCH!!) but it means I now cannot say ANYTHING about ANYONE!

More creepily, my husband came home one day and told me that his PR department knew I wrote a blog and that they'd checked it out - and passed on a slimly veiled threat that I should be careful not to write anything detrimental to him or the company. Ok, so that's ANOTHER whole swathe of material down the Swannee (how d'ya spell that?)...hence my blog is not exactly audacious, more's the pity. Oh, and there's a WHOLE part of my life I haven't dared touch on - way too sensitive. Like writing dynamite. I shall have to make oblique references - or start a REALLY anonymous blog!

Send my love to Terry.

xx

PS, you have been a busy little bee, haven't you? Have been over to check out your new blog - will spend more time and comment. Promise. Husband demanding supper - it is nearly 11pm after all!

Sanj said...

Hey Jane. Love your blog. Liz Jones, what can I say.
all the best
Sandra Wheddon Cross

LittleBrownDog said...

Know only too well what you mean, Jane. I recently googled the name of our village, only to find my blog popping up without an awful lot of scrolling down. Am now trying to be a bit more careful about what I say... (hmmm - wonder how long THAT'll last...) Anyway, didn't I just hear that LJ is being sued by K**e W****tt for suggesting she spent a lot of time going to the gym and being on diets? Sauce for the goose, eh?
Please don't stop, though - like Chris, part of the reason your writing is so engaging and enjoyable is that it comes from the heart and it's not something that's manufactured or contrived.

PS Yes - I've often wondered about the pyramid selling aspect of reiki. Jury's still out, I reckon.

Pondside said...

I'm pretty sure my kids read my blog but they never comment. Otherwise......who knows?

Jude said...

Jane, I've followed for a while now and love your blog. I can always rely on you for a giggle or something thought provoking...
hmmm, lurkers? we must be doing something right to get them, but sometimes, just sometimes I'd like them to put their hands up and say Yes, I Lurk!!
My 75 year old mother says she's far too busy to read things like that....then complains she never knows what's going on. As my blog is basically a diary of my life in Crete???? Says it all......

Exmoorjane said...

Reasons to be Cheerful: noooo, not the dreaded spear tackle - will check out that link after breakfast...thank God it's cricket season.

Pebbledash: thank you SO much. As you well know, I'm a BIG fan of your blog too...

Phidelm: ah, I wish (the beautiful bit)....it's slightly more recent than the one before but still not exactly up to date....ho ho. Banshees, of course, are forever young and stunning....xx

Ladybird World Mother: aw, thank you hon.... it is a bit of a shocker, isn't it? I use it as a cautionary tale (while not practicing what I preach)....

Mark: thank you. Love your blog - especially that post about how our work defines us - or not.

Her on the Hill: Yes, I think blogs are now attracting a lot more attention and so companies ARE starting to notice (for good or bad). YOu and I were playing tag on Mark's blog btw last night!

Sanj: YEAY!!! Someone I know in real time! Hope all's well at Wheddon Cross (hmm, wrote a funny post about Wheddon Cross once - did I ever tell you about the one where I tried to google you and ended up with dogging in the carpark??)

LBD: tricky, isn't it? I'm the same - can barely say a word. Maybe that's why LJ doesn't make friends around here - so she can't lose them when she writes about them!

Pondside: aw, shame your kids don't comment..... I think it would be great if family did comment.

Jude: Yup, I'm with you totally. Sometimes I think it can be hard to butt in on a blog with a first comment (bit like barging into a conversation at a party) but personally I would LOVE the lurkers to delurk...but, equally guys, if you want to stay incognito, that's fine - just keep reading!

Deb said...

Hi Jane, I'm a devout reader of your blog(s) but as I don't have a blog of my own I tend not to leave too much in the way of comments as I sense it's meant to be a give-and-take thing with bloggers and their readers. So glad to see a face and name behind the words (my image of you, based on your disparaging comments of yourself, has been exploded as you're not at all frumpy, but rather, quite glamorous!

Exmoorjane said...

Deb: thank you SO much for commenting. No, I don't think you have to blog to comment, not at all.... It's just so lovely to read what people think. btw, have to say, that isn't me on the top-right hand corner with the gun....though in my dreams..... ;)

Yummy Mammy said...

Had to chuckle a bit there. If my parents read my blog, I'd be dead. If any of my nasty exes read my blog, I'd be dead. If any of my neighbours read my blog, I'd be dead. I literally can count on one hand the number of people in my real world that know about and read my blog, the rest are my "virtual" friends, who are sometimes far nicer than the people in my real world.

Shabby Chick said...

Hi Jane

I'm so sorry I didn't come over before to say thank you for the comment before. I'm pleased to say I haven't given up blogging so if you fancy popping back anytime you're more than welcome!

I must check out your link in a minute, your post has made me giggle (I hope it was meant to!!!). I haven't yet come across anyone who's recognised me from my blog or someone I know who's found it but I live in dread of it happening! Especially my mother in law, that would be the worst ever.

Don't even get me started on Liz Jones, something forces me to read her columns and yet she makes me so bloody furious.

Mel xxx

Shabby Chick said...

Am just trying not to laugh at T**** W***** post! Genius!

And fancy someone accusing you of being a holistic therapist?!

Irish Eyes said...

Don't you dare change your format of writing Missis! Love catching up on your blogs - but you know that since the old CL days [sigh, cough, scream with laughter, regain balance,...and onwards]. Might not always leave a comment, as I am usually on the run these days, but still try to comment when I can.
IE
x

Exmoorjane said...

Yummy mummy: eek, that's a lot of dead. Stay VERY secret!

Shabby chick: oh yes, nearly always meant to laugh at my blog - at me, with me...don't mind, but do laugh! Glad you're back to blogging...

Irish Eyes: ah, the one who (along with Bodran and Sue) got me into blogging in the first place...I'm deeply honoured by your presence, dear friend.

Edward said...

Sometimes we lurk because we haven't anything to say, or someone has already said it first. I want to know if your MiL ever asked how you were, once she'd got over the shock of finding that her son was fine.

blackbird said...

Thinking more on comments and why people don't.

Now that I've begun to comment- on record, not just to myself- I find it much easier to comment quite soon after a post. If there are too many comments by the time I read it- most of what I would say has already been said and usually in a more articulate way.

I also think that it's easy to get the feeling that everyone else knows everyone else- best of friends and all. This is similar to your reference to a party atmosphere and just jumping in.

I have been surprised to find that most of the most talented bloggers that I read are the nicest people if you 'talk' to them.

It's so easy to get overwhelmed by the talent out there- the photography, the writing and even the interesting lives. But, what I like most about reading blogs is everyone has their own true voice- whether they're just starting out or have years of posting. And that when you write a blog- you can only rely on your own true voice. And maybe that goes for commenting too.

Sanj said...

Yeah, I did read your post about dogging in WX,so so funny, obviously its the place to be lol.
Started reading your blog after I read your article in The Mail. I thought it a marvellous idea a form of therapy, the only problem is, I cant write, so I read yours instead and they are brill, thanks for making me chuckle.

Maddie Grigg said...

I've got people in my village complaining because they're not in my blog. I don't know how they found out about it but it's become a bit of a talking point and real people are morphing into their blog characters.

Yummy Mammy said...

You've been awarded over at my place http://yummiemammy.blogspot.com/

Exmoorjane said...

Edward: thanks for dropping by. Not remotely saying people HAVE to comment, btw - more that, if someone who really knows you (as in real corporeal life) it's a little weird if they don't register any kind of acknowledgement (ie by becoming a public follower or even sending the odd email or making a phone call saying, 'hey been reading your blog'....

Blackbird: thanks for coming back to this - it IS interesting, isn't it? I do know what you mean and, particularly if I read blogs with huge followings, I often feel a bit intimidated about leaving a comment. But then I figure, well, he or she doesn't have to respond and everyone likes a metaphorical pat on the back or feedback, however successful. What continues to interest me is the way that blogging seems to bring to the surface our insecurities and issues around self-esteem. Well, I know it does for me!

Sanj: glad you read that - well, you were the inspiration (eek, not that you go dogging - but, well, you know!) Please keep trying with the blogging. You don't have to be a great writer (in fact, often it helps if you're not!)...But very glad you enjoy mind.

Maddie: Too funny! I just haven't the nerve!

Yummy mummy: that is just THE best and blingiest award ever. LOVE it. Still desperately craving sparkles and pixie dust in my post-Disney depression. THANK YOU.

Preseli Mags said...

I think one of the worst things is someone sidling up to one and saying: "I've read your blog..." A phrase full of menace. Anyway, must dash, it's rum baba time...

Calico Kate said...

47 comments Jane! - Takes longer to read the comments than your blog!!
Dad occasionally reads my blog but only when he remembers and comes across it by accident. Mum doesn't bother although in an early blog I mentioned the names of her parents (now deceased) and where they used to live. She got very shirty about that, goodness knows what she though was going to happen!) I don't write anything remotely interesting enough to cause offence or concern to the family apart from the names bit & I deleted those. I'm probably not paranoid enough!
Have you heard back about the x-ray yet by the way?
CKx

Milla said...

you don't need it - look at all this vile love you get - but I've given you a wee award.

KittyB said...

I've just rumbled LJ! She's in our village, not yours - I really do wear Wellies and a Barbour (or Baba maybe, when I eat messily) and I'm trying so hard to grow a beard but I don't think one errant goat-hair on jaw counts for much.

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

Well, I dont think we are related, unless you have a beer belly and a habit of forgetting what people are talking about while they are still talking to you.

I fear any of my friends or family finding my Blog - especially if I have just written about them!

My Little Brown Book said...

I'm going to start peppering my blog with liberal doses of 'Johnny Depp', 'Daniel Craig' and 'Benicio Del Toro'....

*crosses fingers*

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Jules said...

I was googling "how did I become a spoilsport" when I found your blog Nov 18 2011 and found it so entertaining I went right back to "the one that started it all" and have been reading off and on for days now - and I dont read blogs!!!! but I am enjoying lurking in the shadows of your past exploits - lol
*raises hand* Yes I am a lurker! Hope to eventually make it up to present day but I am enjoying the trip :)

Exmoorjane said...

Jules! Thank you so much for 'coming out' and showing yourself! Am so thrilled you are enjoying the blog. But heck, that's some undertaking. Not all the old posts are there, actually, as I didn't import all of them from the old server. But really, THANK YOU. You make my day. :) xxx