When I started this blog as a travel narrative last June, I launched it by sending an email with the URL to a large group of friends and family, and added it to my facebook info page at the same time. I figured people I knew were about the only ones who would be interested in reading about my adventures as a temporary nomad. Even so, I chose not to block other web wanderers from accessing my blog. First, ‘cus I didn’t feel I had anything to hide, and second, ‘cus I kinda liked the idea of virtually connecting with people who shared my interest in storytelling in the digital age.
To maintain a bit of privacy (or at least, attempt to), I avoided including my real name anywhere on my blog. I am v (small caps being a stylistic preference as opposed to carrying any great meaning, in case you’re wondering) and my friends and family are similarly referred to only by an initial or two. This way, only the people I chose to share the URL with would know who was writing.
Then I did something to mess it all up. I joined twitter. (Which I adore, btw. The information access is mind boggling. Gives me that same shiver of excitement I used to get as a nerdy bookworm of a kid stepping into the five story library that opened near my folks’ place in T.O. in the late 80s.)
How did twitter mess it up? Well, because I was a bit of a twit about it. I opened up my account under my full name. And then I included my blog URL on my profile. All of a sudden, anyone who googled my name could find my blog.
Had I still just been writing a travel narrative, this probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But as you know if you’re a regular reader, recent posts have tackled subjects like my new job and dating, forcing me to ask the question: am I okay with the idea that a new colleague or a prospective date might read my blog without my inviting them to do so?
My initial reaction was yes, of course. I’m not ashamed of, or embarrassed about, anything I post. Most subjects are ones that I would easily talk about with friends, family, and, yes, even new colleagues or a date.
But then I thought about the fact that I would do that in the context of a conversation. An exchange. A relationship. Meaning they would be hearing about me and my highs and lows only as I was hearing about them and theirs. And we would do this over time. As we got to know each other.
I removed the URL from my twitter page soon after I realized what I’d done. But, part of me is wondering if this is the right approach. If I should really be so concerned with people judging me for my ability to be more open about my highs and lows than others?
We live in an information age. And while I tire of overly dramatic and boring facebook posts as much as the next person (really, you’re sad today because your cat wouldn’t eat his breakfast? It’s only Wednesday and you might not make it to Friday?), I do believe there exists a legitimate space for using social media like blogging, facebook and twitter to share meaningful information. To let others know it’s okay to talk about tough stuff (like struggling through a major change such as the end of a relationship). To suggest stuff to do to get you out of the rough periods (like listening to awesome music). To exchange stories and ideas about the world around us (e.g. 80 per cent of the people I follow on twitter are journalists).
Suspect I’ll continue to think about this in the coming weeks. Because as much as I’d prefer that people I know read my blog only once I feel connected enough to them to share it, I hate the idea of feeling like I’m hiding it. ‘Cus actually, I’m kinda really proud of it. Of being someone who is comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to share meaningful information about myself (my struggles, my music suggestions, my ideas and my stories) in the age of information.