Boingboing links to a dead interesting piece on facebook and privacy. It’s something I think about a lot. Well, not facebook, which I currently avoid as actively as I avoid twitter, but privacy and blogging.
Because it happens frequently that my ideas about privacy and those of others do not line up. Fer instance, I never blog about the stuff I hold to be private, which includes most of what’s going on with me offline, except as it relates to my writing career, and even then I share only what can be publicly shared. Thus you don’t hear about my selling a new book until the contract is signed. Which means an interminable wait between my knowing that a book is sold and my telling you. Whereas I have seen writers blog the very first offer.
It goes the other way too. I blogged about how much I earned last year because I think it’s important that wannabe writers are acquainted with just how little a reasonably successful full-time writer earns.1 I know several writing bloggers who are appalled that I shared my income. I also blog sometimes about when the writing is not going well. Again there are writing bloggers who think that’s way too private to ever share.
But that side of the privacy issue is easy. We bloggers blog what we want to blog. We’re in control. If we think something’s too private for blogging then we don’t blog it. What we don’t have control over is what our friends and family choose to share in the comments thread. I have had friends bring up stuff I consider deeply personal in comments. I delete those comments. But even so, sometimes those comments are up for quite awhile before I see and destroy them. *Shudder*.
Less egregious are the friends and acquaintances who use comments to say, “Hi, how are you doing? We should get together.” I write and say, “Hey, you have my email address. I love you but what are you doing putting stuff like that in a comments thread about the end of publishing as we know it?”
It feels to me like an etiquette breach. If we haven’t seen each other in ages and you want to reconnect—email me. There’s a contact form on every single page of this blog. Here’s a rule of thumb: if you post in comments something that is of no interest to anyone but you or me then it should be an email, not a comment.
My blog is my public face. It’s a place to discuss a wide variety of topics—books, writing, publishing, Elvis, mangosteens, quokkas and so on and so forth. I expect people to stay on topic and the vast majority of folks do. Tis why I love my blog. The people who comment here seem to have the exact same notions of blogging etiquette that I do. Bless you all!
Note: I am not saying this to remonstrate with anyone. When my friends do this I call them on it and they apologise and never do it again. They are quick learners. Or, you know, tolerant of my eccentricities. Just as when I do stuff that bugs them they call me on it and I attempt never to do it again2. It’s a beautiful thing.
However, I keep being made aware that many, many, many others don’t think about blogging in the same way I do. They are surprised when I mention my feelings about this. They think I have a major stick up my arse. “If you want to keep your life private,” they ask, “why do you blog?”
There are many people who live their entire lives online. They share. In my opinion they massively overshare. But, hey, it’s their blog they can do what they want with it.3 Some also mark their blogs as a place with an in crowd, who can talk personally with the blogger, and whose comments always get a response. When the blogger in question has a public career as a writer or an artist or a musician or what have you I wonder how appealing that makes the blog to potential readers. Do they feel shut out? I know I am never tempted to comment on such a blog.4
What do you lot think? Am I a fuddy duddy? No, don’t answer that! What are your thoughts about privacy and blogging? How do you feel when a personal discussion takes place on a blog that you went to cause you like the blogger’s music or art or writing?
- Sure some earn heaps more, but not many. [↩]
- Though sometimes I fail cause I am not as quick a learner as they are. [↩]
- And I confess that there are some extremely personal oversharing blogs that I’m deeply addicted to. [↩]
- I try hard to make this blog as inviting and non-in-group-y as I can. In the olden days I would respond to almost every comment. Sadly, I am no longer able to do that. Though I am still more likely to respond to comments by people I don’t know than I am to comments by the known. [↩]