Saturday, June 28, 2014


Below is something I wrote two years ago. (My writing mojo seems to have taken some kind of summer sabbatical, so I'm dusting off a popular post and revisiting it.) The topic? Blog Envy. 

Prior to May 2012, when this post first ran, I had never even heard of such a thing. Urban Dictionary describes blog envy as "the jealousy you feel when you see another blog getting recognition in the mainstream press" and "the jealousy you feel when you realize your friend's blog is more popular than yours." 


And that's how my morning started off May 11, 2012...

Three things happened this week that birthed this blog post.

First, I was catching up on my blog reading when I checked in on Jan from Mourning Has Broken; her post title caught my eye. By the time I was done reading it, my emotions had run the gamut. She had shared a secret she'd been harboring for years, and was so brave in revealing her truth that I couldn't comment quickly enough! 

This is what I wrote:

  • "When I first started reading this post and saw the words “blog party,” I thought oh, this is going to be a funny post. As I started reading I realized it was serious — but I thought you were telling the story of the girl in the video. THEN I finally realized you were telling your own story. And then I watched the video. And now I want to give you a great big hug and say you are AWESOME and brave and amazing for sharing your secret! So proud of you!! And so sorry you have suffered with this disorder on top of suffering with BC and lymphedema. It ain’t fair. Truth be told I think we all have idiosyncratic behaviors that we use to keep our anxieties at bay. Some people drink too much. Some eat too much (as you have described). Some have compulsive routines that bring a measure of calm to a very topsy turvy world. Some are hooked into being drama queens. Some people exercise too much. Oh, the list goes on. The important thing to know is that we’re all just trying to cope. And you are definitely not alone. I suspect you have helped more than one person with your sharing today. Good on you!"

That's a cancer surviver for you: Strong, brave, and not afraid to tell the truth. (To read Jan's revealing post, click here.) I continued on with my blog reading.

Next, I popped in and out of a number of blogs (you know how that goes: One blog leads to another, and another...) before I landed on a sweet little one that (again) caught my eye: "Things I'm afraid to tell you." Intriguing title. Sounds like what Jan just did. I keep reading.

I quickly learn that blogging has gotten too pretty, too perfect, and too polished (not my words, but those of other writers). In fact, a movement is underway to bring more honesty to the blogosphere

More honesty? Really? Again, I think of Jan's post. And I keep reading: A group of bloggers have challenged each other to be more authentic by writing about the stuff they don't normally discuss on their blogs. You know, the things they are afraid to tell you.

As I'm sure you guessed by now, these are not cancer bloggers.  
So what's this 'movement' all about? Blog envy. It's (apparently) a real thing. Bloggers see beautiful things on other beautiful sites and have a misperception that the blogger has a beautiful life too — free from the many things that make us all human. Bloggers want to see that their fellow bloggers aren't perfect.
Well come on over to Cancerland! I'll show you a community of bloggers that is not shy about sharing its dirty laundry. Heck, it's why we're here in the first place! Our blogs are our attempt to make sense out of cancer, purging our minds of the darkness that hides within its cracks and crannies. 

Yes, I had a good laugh at the humor of it all. But don't get me wrong — I mean no disrespect to anyone out there who is blogging about something other than cancer. (Talk about blog envy — I wish I wrote about travel, not tissue expanders!) We need those kinds of blogs too: The ones focused on the pretty things, the ones we go to in order to forget (for a moment, anyway) our troubles. They're all important. It's just that I had no idea that "blog envy" existed. 'cause I have never felt it. So I decided to leave a comment. 

And here is what I wrote:

  • "This is my first time visiting your blog (I followed a link to 'Things I'm afraid to tell you' and landed here). I feel compelled to leave you a post. I started blogging after a breast cancer diagnosis, and honesty is the backbone of my little corner of the blogosphere. I am stitched into a supportive, witty community of cancer survivors who tell it like it is every single day. No holds barred over there. No one afraid to tell their truth. There is transparency aplenty. And talent. And humor! Lots of humor. Really. But I had no idea that it wasn't like that in other web niches. Never really thought about it before. Kinda having an AHA moment over here — seeing a benefit to cancer I never noticed before. Thank you!"

I felt a great deal of honesty and transparency in leaving my comment. Maybe one person will check out my blog and discover some of your blogs too. We never know the ripple effect that one toe in the water can create. (Ever hopeful am I.)

Lastly, I read a brilliant post by Suleika Jaouad, who writes a column in The New York Times about her experience as a young adult with cancer (in Suleika's case, it is acute myeloid leukemia). The title of her article also caught my eye: "Posting Your Cancer on Facebook."

Whoa. Talk about truth telling. I don't share in that way on Facebook. That's my cancer-free zone. I'm just not comfortable talking about all my 'stuff' to all my peeps when all of them probably don't really want to know all the gorey details. That's why I have this blog. If you are a regular reader, you're not afraid of my truth or my cancer. And that makes me feel safe. Facebook does not feel safe to me in that regard.

Suleika was deep into chemo when she decided to finally "come clean" on Facebook. She writes that it felt "inauthentic, even dishonest" that her FB profile did not reflect her current reality as a cancer patient. I have to give her props; I'm just not ready to do it. 

And that's not blog envy. That's just the truth.

(To read Suleika's revealing post, click here.)

Amended to add: The Huffington Post has picked up on this "truth-telling" phenomenon (aka, TIATTY). OY. Too bad no one mentions cancer bloggers...

JANUARY 2017 ADDENDUM: It's been four and a half years since I wrote this post and I have yet to "come clean" on Facebook about my cancer diagnosis. I prefer to write about cancer under my pen name (Renn) and not my real name. I realize that makes me unusual. How did you/do you handle talking about your diagnosis on Facebook and other social media? I would love to know how you did it.


  1. I've kept my FB contacts up to date on my condition (including links to my blog on Cancer Survivors Network) ever since my "nothing's certain yet" status following my screening mammogram result back in February. I'm currently on chemo. I've got a terrific cheering section on FB, including others who are fighting cancer. Some of my FB friends are people I've known for 50+ years.

    That said, I do not post details on FB about my caregiving. In addition to being a cancer patient, I have been (and continue to be) a caregiver for 12+ years, to someone whose disorders include emotional and cognitive issues. I prefer to protect her privacy.

  2. I don't have cancer but I don't share everything on FB I do have a link to my blog that shares everything... good and bad. I love the honest and open posts, like yours ;-)

  3. Me too. I'm not posting as much this summer. Just not that motivated right now. :-)

    I'd never heard of Blog Envy but Yeah I can see it. Anne Lamott wrote about this happening to writers in general. What do you do when a fellow writer gets published and is a wild success? Sparks all sorts of conflicted feelings - especially if underneath it all you think that the friend's writing isn't all that good. :-)

    The whole thing about honesty and blogs and FB reminds me of the arguments I used to hear among my friends who did radio. What was better and more authentic: live radio with all its imperfections, sponteneity and unintentional honesty or pre-taped and cleaned up radio which was much slicker and more professional?

  4. Blog envy...hmmmm. Learn somethin' new everyday. ~d

  5. Renn, you are not alone. I am not as prolific as I'd like to be, and that's because of a full schedule. Try to keep blog envy at bay; writing inspiration comes in spurts sometimes.


Your comments are encouraging — and encouraged!