Most bloggers present a rather shallow version of themselves online. I don't necessarily mean that their interests are shallow, although there are quite a few blogs out there devoted to essentially shallow topics, but very few bloggers really delve that deeply into themselves. What we present to the public is a hollow shell of ourselves; our safe interests and less traumatic life events wrapping an empty core that we rarely allow the reader to peak into. We may paint the occasional mole or wrinkle on this public shell, but we rarely fill it with any of the messiness that makes up the base of who we really are. Our blog personas are like department store mannequins, relatively human in appearance, but little more than hollow plastic.
My subject for the The Great Interview Experiment inverts the typical blogging method and ends up with a blog that gives us a clear view into that emotionally raw core, but rarely gives us much of a feel for that side of her we would know had we met her in person rather than peered in on her blog. Whereas most of us show the world our plastic mannequin selves, Brittany, writer of Perks of Being Me, offers up the Slim Goodbody version of herself, offering up the visceral with little of the skin that would be emphasized more in everyday life. Of course leaving out the skin does lower your fat and cholesterol intake.
I interviewed Brittany by e-mail, and after a long delay of my just not doing anything with her answers, I decided to display a big middle finger to my journalistic training and just present this as the classic music magazine Q&A rather than working it into an article and pulling quotes from the interview to weave into a web of my own prose.
JLBB: You post a lot of things that seem like they would require an incredible amount of courage to write about in a public medium. Do you find that writing about things like your time in Richland Springs helps you deal with it, or is there another reason you choose to share these thoughts and experiences?
POBM: Writing is how I generally deal with everything. From my time in Richland Springs, to a bad day at work, writing is how I process my thoughts. I often seem to find that I don't seem to have a large enough vocabulary to correctly say what I'm thinking. It's as if the words get stuck and just cannot come out, but when I'm writing the words seem to come easier to me.
JLBB: Your blog seems to start mid-thought almost. There's no build up, no evolving sense of the self as a blogger. I get the feeling while reading the post history that I've come in at the middle of the story and I'm missing the earlier posts, or that I'm eavesdropping on a story where everyone but me knows the back story. Is this the sequel to a previous blog?
POBM: I guess you could call it a sequel to a blog, or more accurately a sequel to a journal. I had a blog before on livejournal and while I still use that one, I started it in middle school. I found that I wanted to start fresh and I get bored of blogs pretty easily and tend to start new ones that last for a month or so before deleting them. Writing back ground at the beginning of each blog, well I never thought of doing it, as for the most part my blog is for me and I don't plan on getting a lot of people reading it. So I never really thought about it.
JLBB: In a similar vein, would you mind providing a little of the back story to some of the things your reference in your posts like your pets, your experiences with being bipolar, some of the events that led you to your current life working and schooling full time?
POBM: With the bipolar disorder, I was first diagnosed a little over a year and a half ago, after a time of big mood changes. With that, came great depression and it was on a night that I had a plan of suicide in place when I randomly decided to stop in a pet store. When I walked in they had kittens for sale. The store was closing in 30 minutes, and I was about to walk back out when this little grey furball caught my eye. That grey furball is now my beloved Aslan (named after the lion in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). As you can tell (since I'm still here) I returned home, flushed my pills and fell asleep curled up next to a six-week old kitten. I call him my lifesaver. The working and going to school comes from the fact that since I am a college student I am covered under my mom's insurance and I have to be a full time student, however, I pay for everything I need myself. I pay my medical bills, I pay for school, I pay for my cell phone, etc. So that's where working comes in.
JLBB: There are a lot of references to children's literature and film, Le Petite Prince, what I'm assuming is a reference to the Madeline children's books, and self-medicating with the Hercules movie (Disney or another version?). What do you think is the reason for this?
POBM: First of all Le Petit Prince is a book (The Little Prince) that is in its original French form. I find that with books and movies (any type but more particularly children's genre) I can get lost in the story. Sometimes with a chaotic day, or an overwhelming work load it's nice to be able to read or watch something that does not require extreme mental processing. Both The Little Prince and Hercules (the Disney version) have been favorites of mine since I was little and the magic that both of them possess seem to still remain with me.
JLBB: You share a lot of stuff that is incredibly personal, yet I can't seem to get a feel for the shallower side of you. I know that in reading my blog people would know my musical tastes, my taste in movies, food, books, my academic leanings, and that I hate my job. After reading your blog, I know none of these things about you. What are your passions? What would you rather be doing? Do you like to travel or are you a homebody? You seem pretty creative, what are your favorite outlets for your creativity? Tell us a bit about the person that people who know you in
real life know.
POBM: Since I never started this blog as a "get-to-know-me" blog, I find that I don't really say much about the shallower side of me. But let's see. I'm southern. I love warm weather, reading, singing, writing, painting, dogs, cats, any type of music (my favorite is 80's, country, and Broadway). I'm pretty eclectic, and while I would love to travel, I seem to find that most of the time, I'm happiest being only a short distance from home (unless of course the trip involves a lake or some body of water- then I'm there). I love water, and by that I mean, being near water, swimming, skiing, anything to do with being near the water.
JLBB: What was the result of the identity theft? Has there been any resolution yet?
POBM: I had honestly forgotten about that. I should post about that today. Thanks for reminding me. (I should say- see post later today for answer but I'm not that mean) My money was returned and as far as whatever happened to the guy who took my card number, I'm not sure. Everything with my bank was changed and the company who he ordered from was going to press charges but I have not heard back from them. So I'm lead to believe that there will be no trial and he simply pled guilty to the charges. (Ed. note: This answer was given on 2/17/08. She has since given an update about this on her blog.)
JLBB: You're a college student. What are you majoring in and what do you plan to do with yourself after school is over and you've got your degree?
POBM: I'm a psychology major and I plan to get my M.A. in Social Work. After that I would like to work as a counselor for troubled youth. If possible I would also like to go back to school and finish my special ED degree and teach for a while.
JLBB: If you had the power to change one thing about yourself or something about the world, what would you change and why?
POBM: I would choose to change something in the world rather than something about myself. I would want to change the stigmas that people seem to have. It never fails to see someone judging another because of the way they look, the way they're dressed, the way they act. It's not fair to judge someone based on the outside when you can't determine their true character from that.
JLBB: What do you think your choice for the previous question says about you as a person?
POBM: I'm an idealist. I would love for the world to be perfect, you know
world peace and all that.
JLBB: And this is a reader-submitted question: If I offered you $100 to tear the wings off a butterfly, would you do it? Why or why not? (Thanks for the question, Chris.)
POBM: AGH!! NO! I'm this huge animal person and the thought of hurting
an animal (even a butterfly) makes me sick. Again, maybe it's the
idealist in me, not wanting to see any animal or living thing hurt but I
can't even kill a lady bug :)
So there you have it. I hope I was able to reveal the shallower side of Brittany enough for you so that you get a feel for the public visage that goes hand-in-hand with the personal side she shares on her blog.