A Post-Mother’s Day Post and “Losing Face”
Last week, I had written a Mother’s Day post that came from the heart.
My many days of soul-searching were rewarded with memories that revealed themselves in full Technicolor splendor. My words were honest and truthful, as personal essays ought to be. I did share some intimate moments from my childhood but nothing I thought would color anyone’s opinion of me or my mother. Yet, something was nagging at me, like a hangnail so teensy yet so there.
When it came time to hit the ‘publish’ key, my finger froze. I couldn’t do it. I hit ‘delete’ instead. I shut down my computer and went off to wallow in a teetering bowl of Tillamook Mud Slide ice cream and a decadent afternoon nap.
A few days later, I made a new acquaintance. When she found out I was a food writer, she told me she knew a very famous food blogger and writer and had once asked her, “Does it bother you that the whole world knows every detail of your life?” The answer was, “No.”
That simple conversation was a revelation. In hindsight, I was concerned about how my mum would react to my essay (not that she reads my blog but still…), or that she might “lose face” if any of her friends or friends of friends read the piece (not that they will but still…).
As Asians, we are very concerned about “saving face,” an abstract concept that can simply be described as taking steps not to publicly humiliate oneself or others. Western culture appreciates honesty (sometimes to the point of being too in-your-face) and transparency but the opposite holds true with Asians.
As such, we never air our dirty laundry. Certain topics are so taboo they’re not even discussed behind closed doors, let alone laid bare for the prying eyes and ears of others!
I was also feeling particularly sensitive having just read Amy Chua’s contentious Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The book evoked many emotional (and verbal!) responses that I won’t get into but what I found most shocking was that despite Chua’s flagrant claims of being a very traditional Chinese parent, she’s flaunting some seriously filthy laundry for the whole entire world to ogle, rips, tears, stains, racy hot pink panties and all.
I could never do that to my family. And knowing how sensitive–and how very Asian–my mum is, I was right to err on the side of caution.
After some reflection, I decided on the following guideline *for my blog: If I thought my words may have even the slightest chance of hurting someone *close to me or making them feel uncomfortable, I would keep them to myself. (The same goes in real life, no?) My family and friends are worth much, much more than any number of hits on my blog.
What about you? Where do you draw the line when revealing details about your private life to the blogosphere? Do you have guiding principles? Please share your responses in the comments section, I’d love to hear them!
(*Addendum: I added the words in red after original publication)