The danger of wearing your heart on your sleeve

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October 10, 2013 by nooffensebut

Despite writing a newspaper column that often touches on my personal life, I place a lot of value on discretion.

“You get awfully personal,” my father has observed to me on more than one occasion, a cautionary tone in his voice.

I’ve assured him that, no, I really don’t. While everything I say is honest, I certainly don’t open veins in the newspaper.

As a reporter, I do sometimes seek to get other people to do so.

My most oft-used word during interviews is “elaborate.” I’m forever seeking to get people to peel away more layers of themselves. Call it a hazard of the job, call it plain old nosiness, but I often find myself very curious about other people’s lives.

Social networking encourages that curiosity. In recent months, for example, I’ve noticed a number of relationship status changes or deletions, or women reverting to maiden names — and I’ve wondered.

A relatively new development on Facebook — Timeline — has stripped us all even a little more bare. With the addition of this new feature, it is possible to look at every status every friend has ever posted.

In the same manner that I have the good sense to not discuss my politics, religion or deep, dark secrets in the newspaper, I have the same sense to not reveal those things on the Internet. However, there have been occasions where I must admit I’ve been a tad bit more open with my feelings than makes me comfortable now.

Therefore, I’ve been going on a bit of a trip down memory lane, as it were, perusing old status updates and deleting certain ones. In my case, this typically includes musings where I used certain unsavory words, sounded overly angry/bitter/judgmental, or put up articles that might permit someone to cast aspersions on certain political leanings I may or may not have.

That said, I make no apologies for my chastisement of those who wear midriff revealing shirts. That’s just logic. I’ve also deleted certain off-color, mean-spirited or overly personal comments others have made.

“Like, when did you get skinny and bitchy?” one woman asked in response to a statement I made about misuse of apostrophes. So I’m currently mean and formerly fat? The latter is true, but don’t go reminding me of it where others can see. Geez.

I have moments of saying what I feel in the moment, even if I shouldn’t. My mother once told me I wear my heart on my sleeve. I do my best not to wear it on my Facebook page. I enjoy a forum for fairly active commentary, but refrain from bleeding on the Internet as much as I avoid bleeding on a newspaper page.

I have to confess, however, that wanting to strike a balance of guarding my own privacy and dignity while still being an open, communicative person has not quelled my curiosity about the lives of others.

That said, I don’t quite understand the inclination to advertise feelings such as: “Why did my girlfriend leave me? Won’t anyone ever love me?” or “I hate my job so much.”

Yes, I do realize the inherent hypocrisy of this statement.

I don’t think it’s committing too much of an indiscretion to say that I’ve never been a perfect person.

Originally published Jan. 6, 2012 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press


Reader Note:

Take two teaspoons of Andy Rooney’s Elixir each morning before breakfast.  It will fend off the werewolves for you. – William F.

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