Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Sharing Too Much

"Are you sure you want to be telling me all this? 
All What?...What am I giving you? I am giving you nothing. I am giving you things that God knows, everyone knows. ...It seems like you know something, but you still know nothing. I tell you and it evaporates. I don't care--How could I care? I tell you how many people I have slept with (thirty-two), or how my parents left this world, and what have I really given you? Nothing. I can tell you the names of my friends, their phone numbers but what do you have? You have nothing. They all granted permission. Why is that? Because you have nothing, you have some phone numbers. It seems precious for one, two seconds. You have what I can afford to give. you are a panhandler, begging for anything, and I am the man walking briskly by, tossing a quarter or so into your paper cup. I can afford to give you this. This does not break me. I give you virtually everything I have. I give you all of the best things I have, and while these things are things that I like, memories that I treasure, good or bad, like the pictures of my family on my walls I can show them to you without diminishing them. I can afford to give you everything. ...We will die and will have protected...what? Protected from all the world that, what, we do this or that, that our arms have made these movements and our mouths these sounds? Please. ...These things, details, stories, whatever, are like the skin shed by snakes, who leave theirs for anyone to see. What does he care where it is, who sees it, this snake, and his skin? He leaves it where he molts. Hours, days or months later, we come across a snake's long-shed skin and we know something of the snake, we know that it's of this approximate girth and that approximate length, but we know very little else. Do we know where the snake is now? What the snake is thinking now? No. By now the snake could be wearing fur; the snake could be selling pencils in Hanoi. The skin is no longer his, he wore it because it grew from him, but then it dried and slipped off and he and everyone could look at it."
--Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Sometimes I feel like maybe I share too much. On my blog, on social media, in my writing. That I get too personal, divulge too much information. But then I think of this Eggers quote and I'm reminded, what am I really giving away? The other night, I was thinking about how long I've had this need to write and I realized that I've had some sort of online journal since I was 13. I've been writing about my life, my experiences, thoughts, feelings, opinions for the last 14 years. But what have I really given away? A look into different parts of my life that at best someone can relate and identify with, and at worst, won't even be remembered?
I think a lot of people are hesitant to reveal anything at all, which I understand, but like Eggers says, you will die and have protected what?  Tell your stories. They're all in the past anyway, they aren't who you are now. They're just a relic of what you used to be, of where you were at one point, even if they happened yesterday or an hour ago. And more often than not, there will be someone out there who will read it and think I thought I was the only one.

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