Welcome back to Lune's Loving & Living with your Blog series. Last time, I wrote about Celebrating Non-Portrait Moments. I'm skipping ahead in order to talk about Privacy, Dignity, and What Goes Unsaid while blogging. This is a very important topic and something everyone should continue to consider while authoring a blog. The result of your decisions on what to share through blogging can make make your experience pleasant or regrettable Keeping this in mind, it's a good idea to set some guidelines for yourself. Write them down if you think you might need a reminder. Where do you draw the line as far as internet privacy goes?
Will you use your real name or a blog specific moniker?
If you choose to keep your name private, be consistent and use this name to sign up to all social media accounts, on all profiles, in your email correspondence and in all settings for these accounts. It's near impossible to reverse your decision once your name is out, so if you're a new blogger who is considering doing so, now's the time to solidify your choice.
What do you plan on sharing?
In another way, what information is TOO much to share with the world? Remember, even if your readership is small, photos and information about you can be shared beyond your blog. You will not have control over what is said about you or done with your photos once they are made available to the public. Consider what image you want to maintain. What would you feel comfortable sharing with co-workers, friends, your family members, your neighbors, your kid's teacher, and every stranger out there? If an edgy lifestyle blog is your thing, then decide if you're cool with your grandma reading your colorful narrative about the night you got waisted and walked home alone in a snowstorm. I love reading all sorts of blogs, and I'm glad there are ones that over share. It's very entertaining. If that's your vibe, go into it knowing what the consequences might be and play it smart.
Here's a personal example of how blogging is a choice to be a very public person. Last year I was very surprised to find that my son's teacher knew of my blog. Apparently, one day his daughter came to help out in class and said she recognized one of the students from a blog she reads. Although I share a lot about our family life, I defiantly see a divide between day to day life and the blog world I'm a part of. When I'm recognized in a restaurant or out around town, I'm both very flattered and also a little weirded out. It's not as though I don't want readers to talk to me - I definitely do! But I also get a reminder that I have made a choice to be a public person. That comes with a lot of responsibility, because what I say and do here on the Lune blog can have a big effect on my well being, my career, and most importantly the ones I love.
What do you share about others?
This is something that really needs to be considered carefully. When you start to author a blog, you are making a personal choice to become a public person. When you include family, friends, and other people you know in this narrative, you make them public people. Respect their rights to privacy, and always ask before publishing any identifying information on your blog. Details about a current or past romantic relationship are very sensitive. Always discuss your intention to share your relationships with those involved before doing so. Photos, real names, and detailed stories all fall under this kind of information.
Children are a different story. They either are not able to give consent or are not old enough to understand what they are consenting to. I have started to ask Luke (7 years) every time I want to post a photo of him. Does he like it? Would he be comfortable with his friends from school seeing it? Is he OK with strangers seeing it? I know his opinion might change in the future and if he doesn't want to be a part of his mom's blog, then that's something I will respect. In the mean time, I try my best to be a responsible parent and make these choices with him and for Eve (1.5 years). There has been a lot of controversy in the "mommy blogging" circuit based on the occasional naked photo of a child in a bath tub or peeing in the bushes. I'm of the belief that if you wouldn't have your child walk around the neighborhood, the grocery store, or the park naked, then you really need to keep those photos to yourself! On the other hand, if you're the kind of family who likes to go to the beach in the buff, then nudity is not private to you and sharing photos of those times is just as normal as ones with bathing suits included. It's all tied into the following fact . . .
The online world, the blog world, is the real world.
There is no divide in this age of information. How you represent yourself online should be true to who you are in person. What you share is available to everyone, people you know and people you don't. Yes, even people you don't want to know. Should you be scared? I don't think so. Take the city bus or the subway, and you'll probably have a good chance of sitting beside someone who will share too much information. If you leave your house, you become a public person. It's how you engage with that world audience that makes the difference. Everyone has to decide what rules they will blog by. It's a very individual choice.