In the world of blogging, there is always a tricky line which we bloggers must choose a side on….
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!
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?
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.
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!”
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?
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 late. You’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.
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…