I’m interested here in the idea of blogging as parrhesia.
Foucault believed that parrhesia necessarily involved the telling of truth to an interlocutor; and this telling of truth necessarily involved danger. For the parrhesiastes truth is told, not out of compulsion, but out of a sense of duty. If we told the truth to a friend – you have bad breath for example – we might risk losing their friendship or suffering a brief period of ostracism but feel compelled to support them through our comments.
Can we think of personal blogging as parrhesia? If the blogger’s audience was known, and the blog post was a criticism of members of the audience, then the blog post could be labelled as parrhesia. But what if the audience was unknown? Or what if the audience was known in potentia, that is, I suspected that my audience, through the public nature of my blog, may exist? The mere possibility that the person who is the object of the criticism might one day read the criticism creates, in the mind of the parrhesiastes, the sense that their speech is dangerous.
Blogging as parrhesia to an unknown but imagined audience is akin to writing a damning letter and then leaving it laying around so that it can be found by the person who is its object.
I think to answer this question we would need to consider Foucault’s broader project of an analysis of the interplay between power and subjectivity. Danger is sensed through the internalisation of the gaze of power and therefore, even a potential audience, brings about the creation of a subject position.
I argue then that blogging can be called parrhesia so long as it is a speaking of truth that involves a level of known or unknown danger.