boundaries.

by Liz on 02.09

How do you set internet boundaries?

For myself, I may have too lax a grip on boundaries. I use my full, real name. I write about what really happens in my life, where I live, what I do for a living. I post photos of myself. Many of the blogs I read are written anonymously or with a nom de plume. Many exclude photos of themselves and have cute nicknames for their friends and relatives. I don’t do any of that. Maybe that’s a problem? I don’t know yet.

When writing about my marriage, it’s been easier. Josh knows everything I’m going to post before I post it- I ask permission first (sometimes he even serves as editor!), but usually can tell what he’ll think is okay and what isn’t. For example, we don’t talk about fights unless they’ve been resolved and we’ve learned something to pass on. If they’re still painful or sensitive for either of us, I would never think to put them online. And even then, the things that do pass through the filter and get approved by us both, are usually put in general terms and without the gory specifics. Now that he’s on Twitter, it’s even easier. I feel he has control over his end of the narrative and (while he already reads my Tweets and my blog), even more direct access to the discussion.

Lately, however, I’ve been more concerned with my son. I originally planned to write strictly about my own story in relation to Little Josh. Here’s what it’s like to be a mom, how I’m learning about parenting, how I planned a birthday party, how having a baby has impacted my marriage, my self esteem, etc. But I posted photos of him, and even videos of him. I told you about his first snow. And I started to feel weird about it all. Am I sharing Little Josh’s story without his consent?

The truth is, this happens all the time these days. But we don’t yet know the effects of being a child that may be overexposed online. THE blog-child-darling, Leta, is only 8. We have at least ten years before we can find out if our voyeurism of her little life has impacted her in a hugely negative way. Who knows. And that said, how can I  still speak about my own life in a real and natural way without making Little Josh vulnerable? That’s the real question for me lately.

 

So, how do you set internet boundaries?

 

Your Comments | Add a Comment

Erin says:
Feb 9, 2012 9:28 am

I’ve kind’ve haphazardly set my boundaries as I’ve gone along, and sometimes I actually want to blur them a little more. I stick to using my first name, never last initial, and only using my husband’s first initial. I tried to be geographically anonymous, but then decided my location is actually important to my blog project (after I discovered folks were imagining me in all sorts of much more exciting places!), though I’ve tried to maintain some ambiguity there too. And I’m sure at this point I’ve shared more than I originally planned about where i’ve lived in the past, but it’s seemed so important when making connections with people.
I set my baseline to what I’d want in my author bio if I published a book (dream big or go home, right?). I’d use my name, not a pseudonym, and some general idea of my home area, because I think those are important to understanding how who I am affects what I write. I also try to be savvy and never tell where I am or when I’m going away.
Last paragraph in my longest comment ever: As for the littles, I think it can be really hard to sort this out. They’ll be growing up in a world where the internet really does represent a huge part of their identity, and I wonder if it’s almost better to start them out knowing there’s a difference between their online life and their offline life, and teaching them how to manage and separate the two? I know high school kids who have no concept of that filter, and the results can be bad news. I’m not sure how I feel about telling their story before they can participate, though.
The end.

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one soul says:
Feb 9, 2012 9:56 am

INTERESTING one. Figuring out boundaries for myself hasn’t been easy, but I’ve never felt comfortable writing in my real name about my goings on because the medical regulatory body here has a really old-fashioned view about unprofessional behaviour (using profanity! Talking about intoxication! FFS, doctors are the most sweary, most alcoholic bunch of people ever, and I’m pretty sure their patients already know that) and hasn’t yet decided how far it wants to go with monitoring and regulating doctors’ personal actions. (Because of the whole bringing the image of the profession into disrepute thing. MIDDLE AGES, I tell you.) Also, there’s the whole sticky wanting to be a therapist thing, and how awkward would it be for a future patient to stumble upon all my silly neuroses by googling my name? THAT would be unprofessional.

But, I’ll stop making this about ME. ;) The whole thing about blogging one’s children I find really fascinating. For some reason, I’ve never felt that uncomfortable about the way Dooce does it, but there are more than a few blogs out there that I can’t even read cause it makes me feel so voyeuristic. I do not know where the line for this lies, though. On the one hand, taking a really personal approach draws readers in, but how much is too much personal? I guess everyone decides for themselves, and you & Josh will work out a system that you’re comfortable with. Still fascinating and thought-provoking stuff, though.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 10:31 am

Believe it or not, it’s the same for teachers! You’re expected to uphold a “higher standard.” I know teachers who’ve been called on the carpet for posting pictures of themselves (legal adults of drinking age) at bars (not drunk- just drinking). You’d think I’d have a tighter hold on all of this blogging business.

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one soul says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:03 am

Fascinating! I find the whole idea of trying to regulate the personal lives of any professions so antiquated. Except if you’re a priest perhaps, but that’s part of the deal in that case. ;) Then again, I *do* remember being pretty scandalised when first seeing a couple of teachers from school out at the same nightclubs I was at. (In retrospect, they were only a few years older than us, but there’s a huge perceived divide when you’re the student. Or there was back in my old, very strict Catholic school.) But I survived the shock, and I’m pretty sure realising my teachers were only human was a valuable lesson in perspective.

I guess it also depends on how you see your future career. If I thought writing my blog would be in any way positively linked to my future career moves, I suppose I’d do it in my real name regardless. But even though I think I see writing in my future, I’m pretty sure it would be professionally, so while my blog may be good writing practice, I don’t think there’s any gain to be had in linking it to my name. But with your businesses, and involvement with APW, etc, it’s probably good to blog in your own name, no?

Also, I was thinking more about the kids thing. I suppose I’d apply to any hypothetical children the same boundaries I set for the hubs and me – no real names, no identifiable photos. And, if we have the adorable babies I imagine we might, keeping all that cute to myself will likely KILL me. ;)

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Novice Wife says:
Feb 9, 2012 10:59 am

Such a great post and I think Erin’s point about teaching children how to manage online/offline is super interesting.
The thing I worry about is consent – no one in my real life actually knows about my blog, besides the hubster and my sister. They both have no problem with what I’ve written and I would take something down if they did.
But I clearly also write about other members of my family as well as friends – and they have no idea and no ability to consent. Yes, of course, they’re not identifiable (because no one has names), but I worry that I’m sort of being the girl who talks behind everybody’s back. Even though I certainly hope I’m not “catty,” I still worry about the one-sidedness of it.
And I think I would worry even more about our kids (when/if we were to have any), for roughly the same reason . . .

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Erin says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:50 am

This is very interesting, re: other adults in our lives that make it onto our blogs. This is a big reason I don’t do a personal blog, because there are so many other folks in the stories I’d be telling there, and they might not always appear in a flattering light. I try to keep those things quiet offline, and I feel the internet is a public place, not private, so I don’t want to spread others’ business out here either. I imagine how I’d feel if I discovered a secret blog I’d appeared in, and I don’t like it (unless I appeared in a highly flattering light, but that’s a little double-standardy…)

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:24 pm

My blog has recently been linked to my business, so it’s become more public to my personal friends and family. At first it made me HUGELY afraid I had spoken out of turn about someone. But, rifling through old entries, I remembered that I never wrote anything about anyone that I wouldn’t (in theory) let them read.

I see a connection to my son, there- I don’t post about embarrassing diaper explosions or things he may be ashamed of. But I feel (with him at least) that may not be enough.

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Margaret says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:11 am

I don’t have much to add, other than I’ve been super curious about this when I see friends post stuff on facebook and blogs. There’s this whole generation of kids whose lives will be chronicled on the internet. I wonder what they’ll think in 10 or 15 years when they’re old enough to realize it.

I only use my first name and general metro area on my blog (although my actual city is on another blog where I participate in an ongoing discussion). When I refer to other people, I’ve tried to avoid names (e.g., “the other girls at dinner” instead of “Jane and Betty”), and if that weren’t possible I’m planning to just use first initials, unless I had their explicit permission to use their first names.

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Justine says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:20 am

I think about this all the time. I think about how, if someone truly wished me harm, it wouldn’t be that difficult for them to carry out those wishes. Am I too open? Probably. But I’m extremely careful about things that happen in my marriage. I think we all have about ten too many examples of celebrity couples that put everything out for public consumption, only to have their marriages crumble, crash, and burn in front of millions of viewers. My relationship with my husband is too precious to share our most vulnerable moments. Which is why when I do talk about it, I focus on our best qualities and the times when I feel we set an example. We don’t have children yet, but I do think about how that will play into my life as a blogger (and as a tweeter, a Facebook user, etc.). It’s difficult to draw too tight of a line when you’re dealing with something that is so integral to the rest of your life.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:27 pm

The “causing harm”!! That part became very apparent to me when I was in Brooklyn, meeting several people who knew of my blog. Several people recognized me BECAUSE they recognized MY SON. That’s terrifying, when you think about it in a certain creepy way that I only think about at night after watching too much crime TV.

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Liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 7:15 pm

We see Little Josh on here and on the tweets more than we see your shining face. But I’m pro-Little Josh and those CHEEKS.

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Jo says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:21 am

I’ve been really thinking about this, and restricting what I share. In large part because of a professional standard.

Babies is the hard part. I have no idea on that answer. I love reading about babies and their lives, and other people’s lives, but I’m a pretty respectful person online and offline, and not a stalker. I also am in a fairly sheltered and positive internet community, and really don’t want to grow beyond that ever.

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Nina says:
Feb 9, 2012 12:54 pm

THIS: “I also am in a fairly sheltered and positive internet community, and really don’t want to grow beyond that ever.”

Please let it never change, because the only reason I feel as safe as I do sharing as much as I do, is because I feel sheltered in this community. But I realize that feeling of safety really is a fallacy in many ways – we might be on a pleasant little boat but we’re still in the middle of the wide-open ocean for all to see.

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Liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 5:39 pm

This, this, this!

I only feel comfortable sharing as much as I do because my privacy settings are so strong. I’m basically on facebook lockdown and my twitter feed is private, etc. It’s so reassuring to have a positive community to reach out to.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:29 pm

Do you know when the creepiness hits? When you look at analytics. I get maybe 10 post comments on a good day, and then I see how many people have actually viewed the post- holy moses. We really, really are out in the wide open for everyone to see.

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Maggie says:
Feb 9, 2012 7:14 pm

This is why I finally decided to make my blog private. I got maybe 3 comments on a good day, but when I eventually checked analytics (nothing fancy, just whatever the host site offered), I had visits from quite a few more — and from areas in which i was fairly sure I didn’t ‘know’ anyone online or IRL. Kinda freaked me out, though I suppose I was being pretty naive to assume I’d never get random hits?

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Des says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:35 am

My only real guideline is to try not to write anything that would hurt or embarrass my kid (or any friends and family, really) if he read it as an adult. But that does make it hard to be entirely honest all the time. I sometimes wish for a completely anonymous blog to vent and kvetch without fear of hurting anyone else in the process. But alas.

There are a few blogs I read that have stopped writing about their children after a certain age (Girl’s Gone Child and Pacing the Panic Room, I think?), and I’ve thought that was a good approach. It gives you freedom to write about the younger years, and then it gives your child freedom to own their story once they’re a little older.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:31 pm

I hadn’t thought of it that way, Des! My thinking was the opposite- when he’s older, I can ask him what I can share and what’s not allowed. Right now, he’s stuck- meaning maybe right now, I should set extra strict limits since he has no say.

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Kerry says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:53 am

I have been really lax about privacy since my Internet beginnings, mostly bcause I am lazy and I really don’t believe that I’m so interesting or conspicuous for anyone to come looking for me. I realize that is naive.

I had a wake-up call about internet privacy last week when my sister-in-law called, requesting that I remove a picture of her I put up on Facebook. It was of her, laughing, and I had edited it beautifully (if I do say so myself!) and she looked absolutely gorgeous. I got kind of bent out of shape about the request and grumbled for a while (after taking it down immediately, of course). But after removing my own ego from the situation I realized how much in her right she was to do that, and how it takes balls to do that these days, and well – good for her. Everyone should get as much privacy as they damn well please, when they can.

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Erin says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:58 am

I’ve made those calls, and it’s hard to do. People don’t know whether they should be insulted or not, and we don’t yet have etiquette in place to dispose us favorably to these reasonable requests. I have hope people are catching up, though.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:32 pm

Oh, how I wish I’d had the guts to make this request SEVERAL times.

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Lyn says:
Feb 9, 2012 11:57 am

I don’t necessarily think that telling us about his first snow is a transgression of the rights to his story — it’s still told as seen through you. And I’m honestly not sure that you could completely cut out stories about Little Josh on your blog and on Twitter. You’re a mom and he’s a huge part of your life. You’re learning things along the way that you’re invariably thinking about and will want to share. Moreover, I think those stories are terrifically valuable things. For as much as privacy has vanished on the internet, it allows us to reach other people we normally would have never met and to have a dialog. It allows us to take things as big and serious as marriage and motherhood and break down conventional ideas about them. To put into words how we truly feel about them. Speaking just for myself, being able to read about your motherhood experiences has lessened my tension about it. I’ve been able to start to imagine myself facing the same experiences.

Can you tell that I’m arguing for sharing, here?

I’ve thought about boundaries a lot, too, but i’ve thought about it on the back end. I never understood how the big blogs out there cheerfully posted their children’s full names along with full descriptions about their childhood struggles, tantrums, and middle of the night poop explosions. Not because I abhor reading about all that, but because I can just imagine the day the kid’s friends finally google his or her name and find a BACKLOG of embarrassing details to tease him or her with. But I view your blogging differently, for some reason. I’m already able to tell that you’re careful and restrained when talking about your family online. Also, you run a business. Your full name is already out there. You already know that potential clients might see this blog, or you wouldn’t have mentioned it at Pink Slip. I view this approach as limited transparency. “Here is one small slice of my life.” That’s it. You haven’t yet blogged anything about Little Josh, in my opinion, that anyone could find embarrassing or traumatic. “Ha ha, when you were a baby you broke some bowls!” Yeah, no.

Here’s how I think about it — my children’s experiences will be mine, too. I have a right to voice my side of a story, and I plan on doing so. Even though I plan on using fake names for them, I still won’t tell everything, and I’ll still write with the idea that one day, my adult children are going to read it. They will have a diary about their past like no one’s business. But they’ll also have a window into the kind of person their parents are when they aren’t just parents.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:50 pm

This comment is so flattering, Lyn. I think I love you.

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Jackie says:
Feb 10, 2012 4:28 pm

I think I do, too! This sums it up perfectly for me. Your own story and your voice, while it also involves your kids, is yours to share. I love the idea of their future selves having some record of what we were thinking, too.

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Helen says:
Feb 9, 2012 12:09 pm

This is sort of a hard question- you’re absolutely right. I didn’t really think about anonymizing my life when I started a blog, because back then, the only people who read it were my college roommates and my little sister. Now? I don’t know how to backtrack and be anonymous in retrospect. I use my first name, my wife’s first name, and the name of our blog is our two last names together. I talk about where we live in general. I use the names of the people we do photography work with, although if it’s a boudoir session, I only use first initials.

I think it’s something that everyone has to find their own balance with. And I agree with Lyn– the stories you tell about your son are, at least for now, YOUR stories that involve him, not so much his stories. I think you just have to figure out what you feel comfortable with personally and go from there.

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nikki says:
Feb 9, 2012 12:22 pm

I’ve never heard of Leta, but I do read Pacing the Panic Room. I really respected Ryan’s decision to stop posting about LB once he turned 5 and started kindergarten (kind of like how Girl’s Gone Child stopped posting about Archer so much once he started school). I think that’s a good age, where they’ll be making new friends and just might come across someone whose parents know them from a blog. LB and Archer still show up in their parents’ blogs fairly often, but it’s never about them anymore. They’re characters in their parents’ posts, instead of the focus (while their younger siblings remain in focus, until they reach that magical age where they get a bit of privacy)

Here’s a well-balanced “glimpse” into LB’s life

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:37 pm

You’re the second to mention these two as examples! I’ve read them in passing, but not diligently. Maybe I’ll do some digging.

Like I said above, the age limit thing is sort of the reverse of how I was feeling about it. In my mind, when Josh turns 5, I can ask, “Is it ok if I share this story?” and get a reasonable answer. Right now, he’s sort of at my mercy- meaning maybe the limits should be more strict NOW rather than LATER.

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Morgan says:
Feb 9, 2012 12:43 pm

I find this all fascinating. I started my first blog before the term had even been coined – on Diaryland at the end of the 90s. And I shared EVERYTHING. From my sex life to my grades to details about my friends. I’ve of course gone back and deleted it now, but I do have everything saved in word files. And it horrifies me to look at what I shared, even back in what really was a more innocent internet era.

And then, a few years later, my X’s father found a picture I’d put up on flckr of his (evil) mother where I had blocked out her face but commented on her evilness (long story, but I stand by it) and the world just about ended the fight was so bad. And that taught me a quick lesson, as well as deep gratitude that he didn’t find the blogspot blog I had at the time where that picture was used to illustrate a story about (evil) grandma.

So, I guess, for me, now, I’m okay about talking about me and how I feel about the world, but now days you’d have to do some work to cross link my blog with almost anything else about me, but my city. (Okay, or read the APW book to get my full name, but it’s not like I’m listed in the phone book, so that won’t get you that far.) I’ve done my best not to be findable by people who know me, and I try not to talk about much outside my personal sphere, but really I’m using it as a diary I can type while at work and occasionally get comments on.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:40 pm

I had a similar experience! Back in Livejournal days, I did the Livejournal thing and wrote about being in a fight with SOMEONE but didn’t mention any names. Of course someone found it and was VERY insulted. Oh, internet lesson learned.

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Rob S. Parham says:
Feb 9, 2012 12:47 pm

I use a pretty simple set of rules. Would I be comfortable if my grandmother saw this? Would I be able to comfortably explain my decisions to my satisfaction if I had the national press breathing down my neck like the poor folks that run for office?
If I were in your shoes, I’d add: Would this bother me as an adult if my parents posted this about me when I was that age?
You are a good mother and naturally protective of your child. You will make better decisions than you think.
We all need to know and remember there are much easier ways, that we can’t control, for people to find out information about us than our blogs.
Always be vigilant.

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Emily Rose says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:31 pm

Oh, I like Rob’s suggestion – would you bothered by imagining your parents posting similar content about your childhood? Of course you can’t predict how Now-Big-Once-Little Josh will feel, or what unexpected affects could spring up later, but that’s a good rule of thumb.

First snow? Cute! First crush? Embarrassing.

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Bridey says:
Feb 9, 2012 4:28 pm

I have the same first rule as Rob, am I happy for my grandma to see what I’ve posted? My family have been reading my blog since it started, so I’ve always been aware of that when it comes to what I share.

I use real names and post photos of me and my husband, and occasionally photos of friends/family members (like in our wedding party) but I’d take them down if anyone asked (I’m glad no one has though!)

And I also agree with Rob’s suggestion in regards to posting about kids. Sharing less as they get older seems like a good plan too.

I also like Amanda’s photo style at Soule Mama. It wasn’t until someone mentioned it that I realised that most of the photos of her kids don’t show their faces. I’m impressed that she manages to do that without giving the feeling that she’s holding something back.

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liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:42 pm

BUT HE HAS SUCH A CUTE FACE, BRIDEY.

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Nina says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:21 pm

The sliding scale from sharing everything to being totally anonymous has so many different levels and variations that it’s incredibly difficult to know where you’re comfortable. Especially when you’re just getting started and you have to make those crucial decisions about whose names to share etc. before you really have any idea what you’re actually getting into.

I have tried to strike a balance where I’m pretty open about my life – sharing my name, my husband’s name, my face, my city – but as closed as I can reasonably be, while still sharing my stories, about the people around me.

Since no one but my husband knows about my blog, anytime I mention anyone else, it is without their consent. I haven’t always been perfect at it, but before I mention anyone I try to ask myself : 1. is this is inherently my story to tell? and 2. can I tell it while being respectful of other people and only writing things that I wouldn’t mind being shared about me? If the answers are yes, then I think I’m ok. I think, I don’t honestly know though.

But I agree with Lyn – respectful sharing is good. It’s what we’re here to do. His life will be lived on the internet so much more than ours ever were at an early age regardless of whether you blog or not. I can’t imagine that doing so mindfully and adjusting as needed over time could do any harm.

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Zan says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:37 pm

I use the basic criteria that Rob S. Parham uses. I consider everything on my blog to essentially be on a billboard and so I write things that I’m comfortable putting out there on The Internet Which Never Forgets. Like Kerry though I don’t think I’m *actually* all that interesting in the grand scheme of things, so I’m not too worried about someone doing something nefarious with what I write.

As for kids – I think that GGC has a good model, as does Amanda Soule, whose snapshots theory I love, and that I think speaks to a lot of what we do (and don’t do) when we blog. She also doesn’t talk about certain aspects of her kids lives (like school, their struggles, anything less than positive) because those are things she feels aren’t her place to share on the web. When I have kids I plan on following her lead.

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Emily Rose says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:38 pm

I’m looking forward to reading through others’ thoughts after work, because I have been wrestling with this idea for a while. I just started a blog and have included personal photos but not my last name. If someone finds it who knows me, they’ll know it’s me; if someone searches for it who knows me, they probably won’t find it (*cough* in-laws *cough*).

I can see the privacy going two totally different directions: (1) Oversharing could cause relational fallout, future employment issues, or general embarrassment/regret; but also, (2) some folks are out there quitting their jobs to go full-time with blogging/writing/media as a result of personal blogs, at which point publicity is somewhat necessary. I don’t really plan to actively pursue (2), so in the meantime I’m going to try to avoid the possibility of (1).

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Zan says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:39 pm

PS I’ve been reading about Leta since BEFORE SHE WAS BORN. Holy HELL but I’ve been on the internet a long time.

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Erin says:
Feb 9, 2012 2:18 pm

It’s so weird to think of my internet history like that — knowing other people’s kindergarteners from before they were born, Meg before she was married and famous, memes from the first time they came around… The internet is getting OLD, man.

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Meg says:
Feb 10, 2012 12:46 am

Famous. Ha. The funny thing is, Liz and I had a conversation about this before it was a post. I actually am on the side of sharing very little, at least in an unguarded way. My rule has always been write it on the Internet if you’d write it in a book. Now that I’ve dine the latter, I think it’s the right rule for sure.

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Maggie says:
Feb 9, 2012 1:41 pm

I feel sort of hypocritical, because I eagerly relish all the details other people put online, especially when they’re gorily honest about struggles and rough times and embarrassing situations and it makes me feel less alone.

But then when I started blogging about my own life, I was somewhat cautious. I didn’t use my IRL nickname at first and I tried to keep from mentioning B’s actual name or our last names. Once my APW grad post aired, my anonymity was pretty much shot, considering that IRL friends/acquaintances read it, it used our first names and photos of our faces, and I’d been automatically linking to my blog in my APW comments. I had no real reason to find this alarming, but it still made me feel uneasy. I don’t know why I like to keep my internet and real life separate, but I do (except when it comes to meeting online friends–I’m all for that!).

My blog posts were never juicy (though I did share our wedding budget in minute detail), I never posted about sex or work (except to bemoan being unemployed) or family issues. I’m freer in my comments on others’ blogs because it feels a tiny bit removed… but I stopped linking to my blog and I recently made my blog private (if I did it right; never really checked). I vacillate between wanting to be as honest and forthcoming as I can, to make connections with people and feel close… and then feeling overexposed and wanting to draw back and erase all traces of my online presence.

I am glad twitter offers the locked feed option (though frankly, I don’t know EVERYONE I’ve approved *that* well) and I still keep my fb wall quiet, boring, and private.

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Liz says:
Feb 9, 2012 6:54 pm

I’m an oversharer by nature and tend to be on the less guarded side in real life so my online boundaries are a tad blurry. My sharing tends to be political and I am lucky to have a union job that provides me with more job security but I do worry from time to time about what I’m putting out there in writing and public speaking (that being said, I’m speaking tonight, come see me!). I’ve considered publishing articles with an intentionally misspelled last name but have yet to make that request of editors.

The blog that I share with a girlfriend is all fluff and glitter and vanilla cupcakes. I post occassional photos but usually of nature or things I spot or yummy snacks. The Boyfriend is code named The Boyfriend. I try to keep where I live and work in vague terms (metropolitian area, type of employ). These seem like common sense things to me and boundaries I’m comfortable with.

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Sharon says:
Feb 9, 2012 8:47 pm

Oh man, I’ve been thinking about Internet boundaries a lot recently. I started my blog in the midst of wedding planning, thinking probably only a few close friends would read it, so I wasn’t particularly fussed about anonymizing everything. But then I found the APW community and had several guest posts go up with my name/pictures/links back to my blog AND I started on the career path toward being a professional academic… so now I’m uncomfortably aware that I have far more exposure than I’m comfortable with/aware of (as Google analytics attests to) and than I can control. I don’t write about super-personal stuff – no sex, no griping about friends or family, nothing vulnerable about marriage that Jason doesn’t approve first – but at the same time I’m hyper aware of being in a profession that would look veeeeeeerrrrry askance at me, a woman(!) blogging(!) about weddings and marriage(!!!!).

I’ve been thinking about taking my blog down altogether and locking my Twitter feed, especially since I start teaching this fall, but I worry that then I’ll feel left out of the Nosy Bitches community, etc.

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meghan says:
Feb 9, 2012 10:24 pm

My entire family and Eric’s read the blog so yeah, I only post things I don’t mind them knowing about.

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Lyn says:
Feb 9, 2012 10:58 pm

That’s where I go rogue. My family doesn’t know about my blog and I don’t want them to, because then I wouldn’t be able to say what I want. Which makes me worry sometimes, in turn. When I started the wedding blog I wanted a space where I could say whatever I wanted without fear of offending anyone. That’s carried over in my current blog: I like to be able to vent things I can’t tell certain family members. Which has made a huge division in my social life. My real name is attached to entirely different email accounts and social networks than my blog “name.” Everything attached to my real name is fairly neutral and safe. It’s like the good angel to my “bad” blog devil.

It’s not a perfect system, and honestly I don’t know what is. All I know is that I still want a space I can be myself on the internet, without every potential employer, long lost middle school friend, or second cousin knowing about it. This was the best approach to setting boundaries that I could figure out.

Wow, look at me hijacking your post with a comment ALL ABOUT MEEEEE AND MY ISSUESSSSS. I’m sure my long-winded story about MYSELF will help you immensely in your quest.

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nikki says:
Feb 10, 2012 12:06 pm

my family doesn’t know about my blog either. which means I can complain about them, or get all mushy about them, without ever having to deal with it in real life.

somehow my husband knew to keep my blog a secret from everybody this entire time, despite the fact that we’ve never actually talked about it. (thank god)

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tirzahrene says:
Feb 13, 2012 6:53 pm

I read all the time and hardly ever comment and I SWEAR I’m not creepy or a stalker. Promise.

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DanEllie says:
Feb 21, 2012 1:59 pm

Me too! I found you through APW and find your stories interesting and compelling.

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Jess says:
Feb 21, 2012 10:58 pm

Same here! I’m lame about commenting on 99% of the blogs I read.

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Jenny- Adventures Along the Way says:
Feb 21, 2012 6:55 pm

I have been thinking about privacy a lot too in the last months. I really don’t know what my answer is for myself, though I feel pretty good about my current blog set-up. (No last name on the blog, only initial for my husband, etc.) And I share but I am careful what I share, and only share things that I would be okay with anyone reading.

I have been thinking a good bit about what Nina said about being in a little boat in a huge ocean where anyone can watch…. And that thought makes me wonder if I should try to be more anonymous than I am? Then I realize that there is very privacy in the world these days (from video surveillance to grocery stores tracking purchases and saving data about you), so I wonder how much privacy is actually possible. And what will be considered a “normal” level of privacy be in 5 years or 10?

So nice to read everyone’s thoughts on this!

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