“Tom I want to talk to you about something,” my Mom said.
‘Hmm,’ I thought. ‘She doesn’t say that unless there’s really something wrong.’
“Tom, I’m not sure if I should even be mad about this, but I saw your latest article about me and Dad on Medium, and I feel betrayed,” my Mom said.
My long run of creative anonymity amongst my family was over in an instant — it lasted four years.
The conversation between my Mom and I was awkward*. I didn’t think she’d EVER read what I had to say about her and my Father’s political opinions.* I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal, since nobody knows who my parents are anyway.
I mean, shit, I’m not fucking Ben Affleck here.
But it meant a lot to her, and I could definitely understand where she was coming from.
All she asked was that I tell her ahead of time if I’m writing about her or Dad.
“Fair enough,” I said. I apologized, and went on with my day.
Does This Sound Familiar?
If you’ve written online for years, you’ve MAYBE gone through a similar situation. I write maybe because you probably haven’t.
I’m about to detail why you shouldn’t care in the slightest whether your friends or family read your shit, anyway.
The reasons might surprise you, but I stand by them.
Here’s two of them..
Loved Ones Don’t Read Your Writing 99.99% Of Time
I’ve written some 900–1,000 blog posts online. I can’t keep count anymore, to be honest with you.
My best friends, family, and loved ones never read my shit.
Hell, I can’t even get 95 percent of the people on my email list to click through to my articles. Yet I keep getting the question “What if my family reads my writing? Shouldn’t I write under a pen name?”
The answer is no, your family most likely will not read your writing. You are not the center of the universe. Nobody from your personal life cares about what you type into your laptop late at night and post on Medium the next day.
It’s sad, but true.
The reason for this is people have their own lives. They have kids and partners and family gatherings and work and weekend projects. They can barely keep their own lives straight, and few people will have the time to sit down and read you whenever you publish something new.
Is this always true? No, it’s not. And if you have friends or family who read every single post you’ve written, please show them to me immediately, because I want to also be their friend.
You got a one in a million friend right there.
I also don’t broadcast my latest articles on Facebook or social media. I hit the publish button and then I’m done, which keeps my creative life relatively out of the spotlight from those close to me.
I like to keep it that way.
If They’re Mad At What You Wrote About Them, They Should’ve Behaved Better
“If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”
This is the part where I throw the gauntlet down. If people get upset about what you wrote, then maybe they should’ve behaved better.
We’re simply the documenters. We document what the hell happened in our lives. If you’re getting mad at us for writing about when you were an absolute asshole, you need to take a look in the mirror first.
If You’re Really That Scared, Just Change The Names And The Details
Sometimes you simply can’t get over the idea of hurting someone you know with an article — even though it’s basically a certainty they’ll never read it.
If that’s the case, change the names and details — change the genders, even. I’ve done all of the above at one time or another to hide the identities of people I know could potentially read my shit.
Also, you could just ask the person if it’s okay if you write about X or Y.
That’ll probably force you to take a more measured approach, which will likely improve your story.
At any rate, worrying about whether people will read you is a bit ridiculous. For one, they probably will never find the story you wrote about them, and two, they should’ve behaved better, then.