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Message -v- Messenger

September 9, 2013

Two different men have been unmasked as the bloggers behind two separate lesbian feminist-identified blogs.  This has caused outrage, from what I have read in brief, but I am neither familiar with the specific blogs nor the content of the same, so am unsure what exactly they wrote.  However, from the outraged reactions, I can safely infer that it is the falsehood of their identity which has caused the pain to those readers, who before the unmasking had assumed the identity of the bloggers was as the blog gave – that of women who identify as lesbian feminists – and that the blog posts did nothing to cause the reader to question the identities of the bloggers as given.

I understand the anger of the readers – the labels ‘lesbian’ and ‘feminist’ cause many to be discriminated against and/or misinterpreted, misquoted and misunderstood, and to learn that two blogs which have been a source of support and understanding for many have in fact been written by members of the oppressive sector of society (white heterosexual men), whether these men were writing supportively or not, is a wound.  The voices of lesbians and feminists are so frequently silenced, when two of the voices which had been heard turn out to be lies it is a wound which cuts deeply.

But what exactly is it that people outraged about?  Does the message as perceived by the reader alter because the identity of the writer is not that which the reader believed to be true?  Certainly, any factual biographical information used within those blog posts can now be refuted – a male heterosexual cannot give life experience facts as a female homosexual for obvious reasons.  But any other forms of facts remain the same; statistical information, researched testimonials, all remain as factually irrefutable as before the identity of the bloggers was discovered to be false.  Facts given in blogs, especially if not source-cited and seemingly independently verifiable, should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

If there are facts detailed in a blog, then they should be verified if possible.  Libraries (vital to any society to enable all members to self-educate and self-inform in an independently verifiable manner in an egalitarian way – but that’s a different blog post), alternative websites such as news sites or encyclopaedias (even Wikipedia needs its facts checked), etymology sites and so on, all can be utilised to verify the truth of the data given as facts.  The life-experiences can only be verified insofar as the reader perceives the experience to be truthful to their own experiences.  The internet is a source of information, not the source.

You are reading my blog.  Unless you know me personally in real life, then there is no way which you can verify the personal information I have given in my ‘Who Am I’ biography.  I can assure you it is all true, but again you can only take my word for it.  My written word, as given in this blog.  How very Catch-22!

In a blog, it is the message which is written which is all the reader can perceive.  So it is how it is perceived, the resonance with which it chimes and the truth it speaks to the reader, which is important.  Did the message of the bloggers confessing their lies change as a result of the reveal?  The people who were outraged would seem to say it did.  But the words don’t change, only the truth of the people writing those words.  The perception originally gleaned from the articles when first read by the readers doesn’t change.  The bloggers were not ‘caught out’ in their lies, they confessed the real identities behind their blogs.  So the perceptions of the readers were as if those messages were written by lesbian feminists, and were believed to be true.

Blogs are read for many reasons.  Fiction, poetry, life-experience, political and/or social ‘truths’ (to a given value of personally-experienced and blogger-understood truth), all reasons for reading particular blogs.  But the only truth that can really be taken from a blog is that which the reader perceives.  Even if the blogger (such as myself, I again attempt to ensure you) is telling the truth about how they personally identify themselves, it is the reader’s perception which informs the reader.  Misunderstanding abounds; cultural and life-experience mean even individual words let alone entire passages are comprehended in a variety of ways which make blog posts mean different things to different people.

Ultimately, in a blog, it is the perception of the words which matters.  It is the message, not the messenger, which is strong.  It is how the reader perceives the written word, not the writer who writes it, which gives strength and the understanding to a post.  Message, not messenger, is the word.

From → About Writing

  1. NB: this was originally published 29th June 2011 – I have moved the post to a different category folder and it appears to have decided to re-publish today!

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