In case you couldn’t tell from the title of this piece (and the use of I in it), I write a lot about my own experiences and about my own opinions. I use “I” a lot. I include some of my own suspicions and conclusions about things. I write about things that I care about, things that are in my life, and things that affect my life. Now in most traditional forms of writing (or at least what I was taught in school) this was bad practice. In most academic writing you’re told to keep yourself out of it: stick to the facts. Don’t weaken your point by making it your opinion. Don’t make it about you. I’ve also seen this attitude around a lot recently: stop making your posts about yourself.
Well I’m here to say that I believe it’s ok for us to include ourselves in our writing (yes ME). I’m bringing myself into my writing and making my writing about me and I think that’s AWESOME. While there are reasons for keeping things as objective as possible in academic writing, there are also many problems with the idea of “objectivity” in our writing. Obviously all of us are coming from our own perspectives with our own experiences and writing about the things we care about for our own reasons. I see no reason to obfuscate those things. In addition, there should be no shame in owning something as your own feeling, your own writing. And particularly when you are blogging and are writing about personal things, when you are writing in an arena that is entirely your own, when you are writing for yourself, you should be allowed to make it clear that you can only speak from your own experience.
It is not being self-absorbed or making things about yourself to attempt to only speak about what you know. And it is good practice to make it known that what you’re talking about IS your own understanding and experience. Particularly in the arenas that I write in (mental health, feminism, atheism), experience is a massive part of my data set. I try to write about things that I’ve heard from others as well as just experienced on my own, but in order to be responsible about how I know what I’m writing about, I have to be open and upfront about the fact that this is what I experience, but may not be others’ experiences.
I myself have been told I’m making it about me, and watched other people be told the same thing. How can we speak if not from our own experiences and our own perspectives? Of course there is a time and a place to insert yourself into a conversation, but when you are offering your own opinion it is the best possible time to make it clear that you are inserting yourself.
Because I want to be clear about where I am getting my information and my experiences from, and because I advocate being clear in the way we communicate, I like the word I in my writing. It allows me to tell you all what I’m thinking and where I’m going with a topic. It allows me to be as bluntly straightforward as possible without sounding awkward. And it forces me not to pretend that what I’m saying is fact, but rather that I’m making an argument or putting forth an opinion. Where there are facts, the facts speak for themselves. Where there is conclusion, I am always there. So yeah. This post is about me. It’s written in the first person. It’s my opinions. I’m here and I am absolutely shameless about declaring that this is what I think.