And there’s that line…

In the world of blogging, there is always a tricky line which we bloggers must choose a side on….

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Pick a side...

Uncle Lewis: Do you mean choosing whether or not you’ll post nudie photos from last year’s Christmas party??  When you drank too much eggnog and lost your Depends?  ‘Cause I definitely know which side of that line I’m on!

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Uncle Lewis, put down that 5th can of Yuengling!  You’re cut off for the night!  I will make you sleep on the couch again!

I, of course, was not talking about the nudity line, much to Uncle Lewis’ chagrin.  I was, in fact, referencing the delicate line of anonymity which exists in the blogging world…a line which inevitably forces all bloggers to answer the question:  will I or won’t I keep my blog a secret?

I have been commandeering the Captain’s Chair here at Miracle on 32nd Street for over a month now, and have upheld the decision to keep my blog private from friends and family members, save two people.  No one outside of these two people has any knowledge of my blog, my writing, or my RAC quest.  Trust me, it has been a decision that I’ve continually pondered over and over again.

I can obviously see the beauty of telling everyone  and anyone you know: site stats sky rocket, you have more comments than you know what to do with, and you receive recognition from those closest to you.  There have been many a web-browsing session where my mouse cursor lingered slightly longer over my Facebook status box.  It would be so easy to tell EVERYONE about my blog, I thought.  Just a few swift keystrokes, a mouse click, and boom…instant publicity.  Tempting, ain’t it?

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Ohhh, Andy...

Instead, I’ve chosen the path of privacy….the alleyway of anonymity.  I am Aunt Bethany, and it may come as a shock to all of you, but I am actually not a senile 90-year-old who wraps her cats up for Christmas gifts.  I have all my hair, and I do not require Depends.

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Honest...not me.

As far as real facts go, I’ll only ever reveal what little you can gleam from my writing and my statements.  No names, no addresses, and certainly no credit card numbers.  (I like you all, but I can’t afford to buy you all Glee DVD sets and Soda Stream machines).

I’ve drawn my line in the sand when it comes to informing others about my blog, but sometimes, that line gets a little muddy.  Sometimes, with certain posts, I really want to tell friends about an inside joke or a funny picture I used, but I always hold my tongue, choosing to keep my code of silence.  Sometimes I want advice or critique on what I write.  I have several erudite friends who could offer great ideas, but I never consult these people.  And sometimes, I just want to be able to tell someone what I’m really doing on my computer for hours on end instead of saying “Damn, Bejeweled Blitz has really got me hooked…I can’t stop!”

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Want to press "GO"...want to press "GO"..want to...

But most importantly, sometimes I just want to scream to the world about the wonderful moments that stumble across my life, and I don’t want to be hesitant of directing someone to my site.  I want to tell my closest companions about why blogging is so amazing, and all that it has done for me.  I want to boast and brag when someone finds their way into my life that deserves an entire post dedicated on their behalf.  I want everyone to know when I eat an amazing piece of Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza, and most importantly, I want to spread laughter to those who have always kept me laughing.

I had a conversation about privacy with one of my readers today, which sparked the idea for this entire post.  We discussed how a blog remains “safe” until you begin to tell your friends and family about it.  If you choose to go completely public with your blog, every word you say will be read on a completely different level.  You’ll have acquaintances, friends, family, co-workers and colleagues reading your words, and they possess something that the normal blog reader does not:  information on the author. Once you open that can of worms, you move under a completely new level of scrutiny…should you make that comment about a nose-picking secretary?  Should you post about your embarrassing love escapades, while your ex-boyfriend subscribes to your blog?  Do you freely drop the “F-Bomb” if your child’s Sunday school teacher may be stopping by your site?

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Oh, Fudge!

It’s scary to imagine what kinds of drama you could kick up.  To aid in my explanation, let me present a scenario for you:

It’s lateYou’re cranky.  You’ve just had the worst day of your life, and have just spewed all of your frustrations onto your next blog post.

“Had the worst day ever.  Sometimes, there are people in my life who make me want to scream and cry at the same time.  Today HAD to be the day where I was late.  Stupid boss!  I plan to drown my sorrows tomorrow night with my favorite, Jack Daniels.”

All that’s preventing you from a good night’s sleep is the final click of your mouse…PUBLISH.  Ahh…there.  Now, time for a great night’s sleep…

You arise the next morning, refreshed and energized to take on another day.  It’s Friday!  How can anything go wrong?

You amble on over to your computer, search to your home page, and see the shining glow of your blog staring back at you.  Excitement builds through your entire body as you anxiously click on “Manage My Comments.” That excitement as quickly ebbs away from you as your jaw drops to see the following:

Mom: Honey!  Are you all right?  I read your post, but you’ve got me really worried. Is there something you need to tell your father and I?  LATE? Are you pregnant?  Who is this Jack Daniels you’re talking about?  Weren’t you dating Rocco?  Honey, call me.  I’m having a heart attack just worrying about you.

Rocco:  WTF?  Were you talking about ME when you said you wanted to scream and cry?  Is this because I spoke to that waitress at Steak-n-Shake?  Look, she bent over in front of me, okay?  I had dropped my fork, I couldn’t help it!  And you’re late?!? Like, “late” late?  As in you’ve got a bun in the oven?  And WHO THE HELL IS JACK?

Stupid Boss:  Hi, I just wanted to let you know that we’re gonna need to let you go…the department’s downsizing, and ascertaining from your blog, it seems like you’re not satisfied with management, anyways.  We also don’t need moody pregnant alcoholics in our workspace.  Please turn in your stapler and go.

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Please don't take my stapler!

AHHH!  Do you see what I mean?  An innocent post, totally misconstrued by three people who know you very well.  Let’s re-read the original post with commentary from the author, shall we?

“Had the worst day ever. (This was true) Sometimes, there are people in my life who make me want to scream and cry at the same time. (Also true…I had an acting class today…we went through a range of emotions) Today HAD to be the day where I was late. (I WAS late and missed free Starbucks Strawberries-n-Crème frappucinos the instructor brought in!) Stupid boss!  (I was late BECAUSE I was listening to Bruce Springsteen, a.k.a. “The Boss”) I plan to drown my sorrows tomorrow night with my favorite, Jack Daniels (best gay friend who will look better than me in a sequined top).”

So, you see my concern about going public.  This concern keeps me from giving away too much personal information, just in case someone from my neck of the woods stumbles upon my site.  If you tell people about your blog, there is an added filter over your content…you can choose to disregard this filter, venting about anything and anyone that causes you to have a bad day…or you choose to be extra careful with what you say.  It’s a fine, fine line…

For the moment, I am enjoying my relished anonymity.  I can say what I want, when I want, and without any hesitation.  I can vent about old cronies who talk during musicals, my unusual diet habits, and even my quirky family without ever having the individuals I blog about take things the wrong way.  And, I keep my information relatively private.  Ah, to be able to vent without criticism…priceless.

And yet…to be able to proclaim utter happiness to friends and family?  To be able to post publically about how you’re the happiest you’ve been in a long time?  To be able to tell everyone about the wonderful individuals who love you unconditionally and challenge you to be a better person?

Well…maybe there is reason to make your blog public, after all…

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25 responses to this post.

  1. I completely understand! There are many moments when I wish I could write about other stuff in my head. But don’t for all the reasons you mention and some you didn’t. Over a hundred hits without your mom forcing everyone to read it is most impressive!

    Reply

    • Do you share your blog with friends and family? There are times I want to tell mine, but I rather like having my own little niche in the world no one know about. How’s that Edmonton cold treating you? 17 degrees here today!

      Reply

  2. I made the mistake of crossing that line and making it public info to all family and friends. One of the BIGGEST mistakes I ever made. I told one friend right off the bat after starting it, who was a fellow blogger herself with the thinking she understands the blogging world and what it is about. Wrong..I was so so wrong. She was the first one to cross a line in my mind and went and talked about it to others..stirred the pot within our group of girls and started a fight. We are no longer friends…I have lost 2 friendships because of her.

    Reply

  3. Hi, me again! I commented to early..mental note made to always click on the title of the post so the WHOLE thing will be there for me to read and just not half of it 😉 It’s early so my brain is still not working properly! heehee! Anywhoo..after reading the rest of your post I have more to say, I know you are so excited. Your scenario is exactly what happened to me. I had a bad day that involved being upset with a friend I posted about it, never mentioning a name mind you and my one friend read it, called her and started a whole thing about it. I have had things taken out of context..my buddha post for example, I had family members calling other family members asking if we had little buddhas all over our house now…wtf! How about calling me and asking besides calling others, I mean it is my blog and not theirs so what makes you think they would have the answers. My point is if you want to be able to write what you want, *major one* vent about certain things..keep it private from your family and friends. Ok I am done now. 😉 Have a great day!

    Reply

    • I am taking your advice to heart and NOT making it public. There have been many times I’ve wanted to share the goal of my blog with other like-minded people, but once you open that can of worms, you can never go back unless you move your blog. So, Miracle on 32nd Street will kind of be like Sirius Black’s house in “Harry Potter.” You can only find it if you know the address!

      Reply

  4. thanx for stopping by. family is the last group that should know about the blog. trust me. the consequences are not pretty….

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    • I am taking yours (and everyone else’s) advice! Good to know others have had problems with this decision before…thanks for checking out my site. Happy holidays!

      Reply

  5. Thoughtful post. You are wise to keep the privacy if you intend to get personal in ways that some people should never see. Everything begins with the purpose of your site and the content therein. Family and workplace issues are the biggest considerations.
    I’ve got a million thoughts popping in my head and I think you’ve inspired me to write a post of my own after the New Year, but I’ll say this at least.
    1. Clear writing comes from clear thinking. If you’re mind is jammed up by concerns over potential visitors then you’ve lost some focus.
    2. Good writing must be truthful. I can very easily omit some things if I choose. That can be the same thing as lying. Will the impact of your potential private world challenge you to be less than truthful?

    That said, you can do anything you want here. As you say, it’s your world and as I say we’re all squirrels trying to get a nut. Take care.

    Reply

    • Very well said, Clay. I like the “clear writing comes from clear thinking.” I’ve not had to censor anything I’ve said so far, and that’s probably why blogging is so cathartic for me. Well put.

      And I have far too many nuts already…they’re called “My Family.”

      Reply

  6. Ooo ha ha ha ha ha. Your right. Absolutely right! And hilarious!

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  7. Posted by botut on December 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Very true. There is a trade off either way. The pros for disclosure must outweigh the cons and basically the decision should represent what is important to you, the blog owner.

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    • I totally agree. In this case, I don’t really care that all my friends aren’t checking out my site. It’s tempting to tell them to gain publicity, but really, that’s not what I’m going for. In fact, one of my best reasons for NOT going public was because I didn’t want people to think I was bragging about my blog or it’s aim. I wanted to do it for myself.

      Reply

  8. It is tricky. I’ve just told a handful of people about it because I don’t want to censor what I’m writing. My mom definitely doesn’t know. She’d overanalyze everything: “When you wrote that you were ‘good,’ what did you mean by that? Is it code for something?”

    Reply

  9. I came here via another blog I follow, Marinasleeps, (I don’t know how to do links >_< )

    I agree it is a dilemma whether or not to tell those who know you well that you have a blog or not. For me, I like the fact that I can rant, vent, spill, whatever it is I need to do, without knowing that those who know me may misunderstand/get upset/become concerned etc etc.

    My blog is a little like my own personal diary, I would NEVER want my friends and family to read THAT, so the choice to keep anonymous and not tell those that know me, of my blog, is a pretty easy decision.

    At the same time, I like that people CAN read what I write, but as they don't "know" me, they are removed from whatever I write, this I think gives for more freedom in what I write.

    Ultimately, I think it is down to the individual. Some people are quite happy for their friends and family to read about whatever thing drove them to distraction etc etc. Personally, I think it is nice to have an "escape" from our everyday lives and blogging allows for a little piece of sanctuary where we CAN say what we like without worrying about annoying/upsetting/worrying those who are our friends and family.

    Reply

    • I totally agree with you, Willow Moon. Another blogger put it this way…if you’re tempted to distort the truth because of fear of censure, they you aren’t writing truthfully. Hence, why I’ve kept my blog private, save two people.

      Thank you so much for coming by today! And thanks for subscribing! Hope to see you around here again soon!

      Reply

  10. Hi there AuntBethany, I found you through EduClaytion (but also subscribe to Marina’s blog so it’s a double whammy!) and am loving your blog!

    It’s interesting to read the reasoning for keeping blogs private and in many ways it makes total sense. Personally, I’m quite open about my blog; my family and many of my friends know about it.

    Given the nature of my blog though, I don’t think there’s any harm done at all.

    Of course it’s an individual decision – I’m just glad I can read yours! Keep up the great work, it’s always great to find more fantastic bloggers.

    Happy Holidays! 🙂

    Reply

    • Welcome, OpentoAdventure! Make yourself at home!

      That’s awesome that your friends and family know about your blog. I’ve often wondered what kind of response I’d get from my own “clan.”

      Thank you for your kind words…glad to find another blogging friend!

      Merry Christmas!

      Reply

  11. My blog started as a very, very, very private journal of sorts. First my mom found it, then my sisters, aunts, grandmother, and finally (and most horrifying) my mother-in-law. 90% of the time I love leaving my blog open and out there. There is a great freedom in letting readers and those who know you personally see how your brain is working. The other 10% of the time, I start to write a post that may or may not offend someone and feel pretty awful as I back down from my idea and replace it with a less controversial (and less honest) version. I think if not telling everyone all the specifics allows you to write from the most honest and free place, keep your face secret, sister!

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  12. Awesome…..I never let family or my close friends, well any friends for that matter in on my blogs, They have no idea I have been for a few years now, only siwtiching over to WordPress most recently….batting it back and forth, do I like i here, do I hate here, do I like it, do I hate it….phuck…I am just so busy to put out like everyone else. Putting up a blog everyday that is…lol But I sure enjoy buzzing around and stumbling across blogs like this! Good stuff 🙂

    Reply

  13. […] And there’s that line… December 2010 24 comments and 5 Likes on WordPress.com […]

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