Sunday, June 4, 2006

Blogging Privacy

I really should have called this "blogging without privacy". When I started this whole blogging thing, I really didn't think through all the repercussions. I just thought it sounded like a fun thing to do. And it is. I'm loving it! I really didn't expect to have anyone pay any attention to my blog, except my sister and her friend, who were starting blogs of their own. Then I told the rest of my family, thinking they would like to hear what is going on with us, since we live so far away. The surprise is all the friends that I have made out in the bloggy world that I didn't know before. It's not just family, but people whom I have never met that are reading!

Then last week, my son introduced my blog to his friends at school. They needed a picture of him for a project they were working on, and my son knew where to find one: on my blog. So, a couple of his friends came to my blog for a visit and did a little perusing. I wasn't sure what to think of this. When I blog, I try to take into account who may be reading. I never dreamed my "audience" would include the neighborhood teens. Not that I expect to have any teen regular readers other than my son. This is definitely not a private diary!

I must say, I haven't made it known locally that I have a blog. Other than a couple neighborhood teens and a couple friends, no one knows outside my immediate family. I don't know why. Maybe because I don't want to explain something that may seem geeky to anyone who has yet to discover the wonders of blogging. Maybe because I'm not sure I want the real world to know as much about me as I am willing to let the virtual world know. Maybe it is because I don't want people I know to know so much more about me than I do them. How weird is that?

I have always tried to write as though anyone I was writing about might possibly read what I have to say. Which is a rule I probably ought to better apply in my real speech, and not just the virtual.

Even though I did start this impulsively, I did think hard about safety. I have decided not to say where I live, or my or my husband's names. Nettie, for those who've wondered, is not my real name. I'm also hesitant to include any photos that would make it possible for someone to identify our home or my children's school. I did choose to call my children by their real names, because I'm partly doing this as a record of family history. It would be nice if there were official guidelines for how to do this, wouldn't it?

I blog publicly. I suppose the only audience I should keep in mind is possibly anyone with an internet connection. That will limit what I share. Not that I ever really had an urge to write about the intimate details of my life. I kept a journal as a kid. And I remember my Dad saying once, "You shouldn't write anything you don't want anyone someday reading." That advice probably holds especially true for my blog.

Maybe this will make me feel distant to those who read here. I won't be sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings. I won't be venting. You will have to trust me when I say that I find being a woman and mother in today's world as challenging as you do. No details. Sorry. The irony is I tell myself I am partly doing this to express myself. I guess it is just my public self I am expressing after all.

So, who knows you blog? Does your husband read it? Do your kids? Do the neighborhood teens? Do you feel that you restrict what you might say, knowing who might read? What guidelines or rules do you follow to protect your families safety and privacy? If you were to start over, what would you do differently? Yep, I'm being nosy again! But, mostly because, in some ways, I'm still trying to figure this whole thing out for myself.


  1. I have to agree. When I started blogging I to am worried about safety. I decided to not to use my DH or my reall names and to call my children by the so called nicknames that I personally call them and not anyone else. My DH does not like me blogging at all, but I enjoy being able to be in contact with my family. I know you get alot of comments, but that is because your blog is so wonderful. I don't ever expect to get as many as you do. I hope you don't plan on stopping (at least not until there is a different way to keep in touch). If you are to worried I guess you could put your blog as private. I do worry ablut the blogs in that the other day I was clicking random blogs and found one that was very offensive. Well good luck to you. :)

  2. I have been thinking a lot about this since starting my blog, and this is a really well thought-out post on the matter. I'm glad you brought it up.

    I have been thinking of changing names and stuff, even starting all over, but I also feel like I've kept a fairly decent amount of anonymity.

    I am glad that you said you have challenges just like the rest of us, and I have actually really admired the precepts you put on your blog - they are my ideals, and I fall short of them SO often.

    I do blog to vent a little - I try to keep in in check, believe it or not - but that is mostly because one of the struggles I've had as a new mom is having challenges come up and no one ever told me it would be like this, they all look like they are doing it so effortlessly and their life is constant bliss and their kids never made messes or smarted off, so I thought I was seriously doing something wrong. Until I realized that everyone gets tired or upset or loses their cool or their eternal perspective sometimes. It was only when I knew I wasn't really alone that the good news of the gospel finally made sense - it's not that other people are perfect and I'm not - it's that the gospel exists to help us make it through it. I also take heart from the scriptures - they told about the crummy things that happened right along with the good because it taught their children how to rely on the Lord through thick and thin.

    Maybe the blog isn't the proper forum for that, but I use it for family history purposes, too, as well as a place to be more open about myself and get honest feedback from others, and I definitely try to keep duragatory or hateful things out, even though I bellyache more than I probably should. :)And I will never, never post terribly intimate or personal stuff.

    My family knows about it, but are not really interested or web-savvy, so many of them don't even read it. A few close friends follow my blog, but mostly I keep it in the land of virtuality, because it makes me feel more able to be completely honest and real about stuff without real people's preconceived opinions of me (the bossy, "perfect" big sister - you don't see that on my blog, huh?). Not that I'm two different people online and not - just more relaxed on the blog.

    I so love your blog and you have become one of my heroes. I'm so glad to know you also wrangle with the conflict between real self and virtual self, too - funny world, this blogoshpere. :) Thanks for the food for thought. Sorry to blog on your post...:)

  3. Great responses! I changed my blog to be private because I felt I wanted to control who would see it. This way only those that know about it or hear about it from someone more in the same frame of mind would access it. I too am not inclined to express detailed or intimate facts about me or my loved ones here. If I feel the need to tell someone these things I will email, or better still, call them.

    I find reading and commenting on the blogs of friends and family is fun. I haven't been much for posting on my own blog. I am not as creative as my offspring. But I do try, once in a while.

    I feel it is a good idea to be safe and, although I don't remember saying it (and it is nice to know that one of my kids listened), don't write anything you don't want someone to read someday.

  4. I worry some too. I started out more cautious and I think I've let down my guard- maybe a little too much. I don't include last names, but I have used real 1st names. I've never said the city I live in, but I'm sure someone could figure it out if they wanted to. I need to be more cautious because now I have people reading it that I've totally never met. (Kinda like ME reading your blog!!) I'm sure there's some weirdos out there that try to put 2 and 2 together and that is scary.

  5. Great thoughts. I find I am much like you. I have used a psuedoname and my real name. I use my husbands and childrens first names. Perhaps I should be more careful, but even in my cautiousness in using my psuedoname one of my SIL would always use my read name. That is one of the biggest rules is to use the persons profile name unless specifically given otherwise, that is for the very reasons you have given.
    I try not to speak negatively about anyone. I will not be afraid to speak my mind on issues close to my heart. In that way I feel like I can be real and at the same time I hold to the ethics I have in my heart.
    As mentioned if you wanted to do something more private you could do a private one also. The nice thing about blogging is that it can be what you want and what you are comfortable with. Just because you may see others that are comfortable writing all their woes and griefs about people they know and supposedly love doesn't mean you have to do that too.
    I enjoy your blog, and do what you think is right.

  6. Nettie, that would be kind of weird to have children that are old enough to read your blog . . .I never thought about that. I know what you mean though . . .I always try to consider who is going to read my blog. It really does go to show that you have to stand by your beliefs anywhere that you are because people are watching.

  7. Boy--you sure hit on a hot topic!! You got entire blog posts on your comment section. Pretty cool.
    I think I'm like you and haven't thought out all the repercussions of how I blog. I'm not sure I will until my son is old enough to look up his picture on my blog. He's 3. I blog sort of as a journal and also like I'm writing a letter to a friend or sister. There are some people who read my blog that make me curb what I say. I don't want to rip into the odd genetic tendencies my son has acquired from his dad, and let my mother-in-law read it. But that's a small price---I love being able to update them on the kids in a fun way for me. I like viewing the world now through a "bloggable" lens. Good luck finding your middle ground.

  8. That's funny - before I read your blog entry today, I wrote a brief little entry in mine yesterday about not knowing what my boundaries were yet as a blogger. I found your entry answered a lot of questions that I had - thank you so much for writing it.

  9. Thank you everyone for their comments! Some of them even brought tears to my eyes. It's nice to know we all wrangle with this issue. And, I too and wondering how many RL people I know are blogging and not telling!

  10. Thanks for the reminder, Nettie. I decided to run through most of my posts and make sure that I wasn't crossing any blogging boundaries I had set for myself. It is easy to feel too comfortable in this kind of situation!

  11. I originally decided to use my blog as sort of a diary so that I could record my joys and vent my frustrations. One of my main frustrations is my mother. I never said anything truly hurtful, just expressed some difficulties we had. When I (reluctantly) added her to my instant messenger contacts, I discovered that my blog link is attached to my IM link. Luckily, I found out about it before she did and spent a panicky evening deleting everything I might ever have said about her. Like I said, it wasn't anything hateful, but our relationship is rocky at best and even little things could have gotten blown WAY out of proportion. Oh well, so much for venting my frustrations. At least I now have new friends, even if they do live all the way across the country.

  12. Wow, that's the most in-depth forumI've encountered in the blogosphere. Interestingly I found your blog by random surfing! Not much chance I know you though seeing as I live in Australia!
    Random teens who know me reading my blog would both delight and disturb me!
    I'm pretty open about myself and my family on my blog but have the benefit of living in a pretty safe place. I'm surprised how many people know about and read my blog, it gives ma a bit of a buzz to know I have readers, but as you say it also makes me circumspect and vulnerable.

    Like you, I LOVE blogging! several of my family are now into it and it's a great way to keep up. My brother knew it was my birthday today because he read it on my blog!!!!

    Take care.

    PS What does DH stand for in your comments?