Then, one day, Agathe wrote a post on her blog. “Stockholm here I come” she wrote. And that was that. Her readers never heard from her again.
Back in 2007, Agathe’s blog, Stylebytes, was one of my favourite haunts on the internet. Her posts weren’t particularly content-heavy or complex, just lovely outfit posts and a brief dip into her world from time to time. I loved her vintage style; I enjoyed the simplicity of her offering. I relished being a fly on the wall of her perfect life.
When Agathe vanished in April 2007, swathes of bloggers churned up a flurry of excitement. “Where is Agathe?” they cried. “How could she do this to us?” All manner of far-fetched theories were circulated. Was she pregnant? Had she been dumped? Maybe she moved to Stockholm or had technical issues with her blog. Or worse, could she have died?
I love blogging, and I love the online community, but if I haven’t blogged in a few days, or a post feels a bit bland, I start to feel guilty. This feeling is completely self-imposed, but it got me thinking, as bloggers, do we ‘owe’ our readers anything? Agathe was never heard from again. The truth is her marriage broke down and she realised that this was largely down to her blogging taking over her life. Did she have a responsibility to her readership? Did they deserve an explanation for her disappearance? I’d argue that no, she did not.
Agathe’s experience shows the darker side of blogging; how readers can get too involved, starting with enjoyment and curiosity and ending in obsession and bitchiness. Some comments at that time included:
- I was thinking.... maybe we should all do a "Where's Agathe??" post to try and find her
- I check out her site twice a day to see whether she is back
- I got so crazy over her whereabouts that I even thought about a Facebook group on finding her
- She seemed like a genuinely caring person and it seems so out of character that she would leave her readers hanging like this
- I even sent her an email that is listed in the WhoIs database inquiring if she was OK
- I’m actually crying
- I googled Agathe and an ad she had made came up, in which she was looking for an apartment for one person
- Agathe Bjørnsdatter Molvik went from being “single” to “in a relationship” is what my Facebook is telling me… mhmm
Concern for a fellow blogger is kind, and natural, and I have no problem that people wanted to wish her well, but it was the speculation, the nastiness and the belief that she ‘owed’ people an explanation that upset me. After all, we have to remember that what we see on people’s blogs isn’t a true representation of their lives. As spectators we may feel part of it, but the fact is, people censor their content. They decide what images to show, what feelings to share, how personal they want to be. And it’s perfectly within their rights to do that. If they want to blog, fine. If they don’t, well that should be fine too.
So why am I dredging up something that happened six years ago? The truth is, for me, Agathe is a constant reminder of blogging gone too far, where the line between blogging and living is gradually eaten away. What’s more, it demonstrates that there is and should be a line between a blogger and their readers. Any of you who read my blog will know that I’m a very honest and open person, and I value many of you as friends, but I want to respect the privacy of the bloggers I know, without gossiping or speculating about their lives. I blog because I enjoy it. When I don’t, I’ll stop, and I hope this will happen without negative repercussions from the online community. So when things become too much for people like Agathe, let’s have the maturity and decency to let them be.