Writing about your friends on the internet

I bite into this apple of creative energy and there’s a worm in it; another project eats away at the time and thought I normally put into my Thursday update. I’m working on a thing that my collaborator and I avoid putting the b-word on like that’s some sort of curse, but yeah, it wants to be a Book.

(We’re basically writing about our sexy times and our sad times, framed as a series of letters between lovers.)

I’ve been somewhat hush about this writing project because I know sharing too much too soon can crush my enthusiasm. Once someone’s read it, it’s lived its purpose and I lose interest. However... The thing is upwards of 50k words by now (raw, disorganized words at times but still words) so I feel a little braver. I can almost see the finish line, and this time instead of tripping over a false sense of confidence, I’m eagerly putting one foot in front of the other to draw the conclusion closer to me.

I’m not just sharing this information as an excuse of a blog post, and I’m really not sharing this to create hype out of my writing project & 50 friends bugging me to finish it already && when can they read it? — though that may be a fun side effect. Truthfully, I just want to say it occurs to me that I’m struggling with the same thing in my writing project as this blog project, and that is, writing about my friends.

I navigate thornier ground with the b-word thing, because I’m writing about friends I’ve seen naked. Wait, who am I kidding? At some of the parties I go to I see y’all naked too. Anyway, at what point am I crossing the line between enumerating the details of my personal experience to exposing too much about people I care about, even if the law of memoirs means truth is fair game?

I think we can all agree that killing a rattlesnake, cleaning, baking, and eating it at dawn* is an occasion worth commemorating. By contrast (though proudly displaying the burn marks to all) the guy who opted to get branded with a potato masher may not want me to publish any of his identifying details. Yeah, you didn’t go to that party, you don’t get to know.

Remember, though, the “list 10 friends” fad back in Myspace days? It probably started with guidelines like:

  1. Say something to the person you wish you could talk to but can’t
  2. Say something to your BFF
  3. Say something to your crush
  4. etc….

I think by the end of the meme’s lifespan, the rules disintegrated/purified to their true motivations: let’s write 10 anonymous things about each other so we can splash around in puddles of narcissism.

It was glorious to recognize myself. Perhaps I’m really fucking arrogant to believe this, but I think it’d be pretty fun to find yourself in this blog, too. Unless, of course, you said something sexist to me. And while sexists are assholes that deserve to be defamed, anyone reading this should realize my perception of reality has its limits.

FOR FUCKING EXAMPLE: I described a guy in a cookie monster onesie in a less-than-flattering context, only to realize later that I know this guy and he was chummy with me for good reasons. My bad. Guys with brown hair all look the same to me. We all have a lot of people to keep track of in this day and age — and for some reason I prioritize learning the faces of lady people…

Anyway, my dear readers, my baby birds I want to feed and feed, what’s going on here? Do you prefer reading about other people? Are you yearning for your own cameo? Are you just glad I manage to update every Thursday, like a goddamn consistent person? Like, you read me the same as you’d watch a dying TV show past its prime but you might as well since it’s still going every week, did you hear they’re making a season 6 why don’t you kill me already…

The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’ But I’m not Picasso and these sentences are search-indexable. I owe you your privacy, perhaps.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting for your cameo, here it is: Yes I did write this because at your party you said, “Careful around her, you might end up on the internet.”


*This occurred the night I contracted strep, but I didn’t write about it because I missed most of the rattler feast when I conked out early on a bottle of Jameson. Didn’t feel like my story to tell, which is the rubric I’ve used thus far in choosing what to put to words.

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4 thoughts on “Writing about your friends on the internet

  1. Well, I love that my house has gotten some cameos here (and will again, I’m thinking, come June). I really enjoy your posts, and wouldn’t have any problem making a cameo myself. You do walk a fine line, though, when you bring recognizable reality into things. Assuming we’re talking about people you are in regular contact with, maybe sometimes it’s better to run it by the person before you post?

    • Agreed, and I do get permission most of the time. My mistake with the cookie monster was that 1.I didn’t know who it was to ask and 2. I am so inured to onesies that it didn’t occur to me that this one was particularly recognizable. Like, don’t we all have footed pajamas of some blue creature or another??

  2. Can’t you write about people you know and use aliases or obscure/alter identifying information to both protect privacy and write about what you’d like?

    • Not sure if you’re asking or making a suggestion, since I do use fake names or none at all. Aliases and changing identifying details helps, but it can still be argued that a person is recognizable. Legally, a writer is protected by free speech in almost all cases, especially if the other person’s role in the writing is more than incidental (e.g. a lover). Far as ethically.. I try to only be critical of people who truly deserve it. But, deserve it? That’s just my opinion!

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