Sharing and Oversharing

After I read this article, I had a conversation with M, regarding sharing and “oversharing” on blogs, and the internet in general:

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me: I sometimes feel like I’m getting over my head with Web 2.0. I think I need to re-think about what I share and what I “overshare”.

M: Hmmm. Yes – you share a lot. Remember like 2 years ago your blog was “secret”?

me: Yeah, and now it’s not secret at all.

Mike: I was scrolling through random blogs the other day, and i saw this one which was a mom blogging a lot about her kids, and she shows a picture of her ~4y/o pulling up his pants and blogs about how he’s had a “difficult time” since his baby sibling came around, and he’s been peeing his pants, and then peeing in inappropriate places (there were even more specifics i don’t remember). I was shocked. I seriously almost commented on the ladies blog that if she wants her son to continue to love her she might consider filtering some of that shit.

me: Yeah. When the kids of parents our age grow up, they are going to need even MORE therapy than our generation. They will already be all over the interwebs. That’s not so cool.

M: Although i will say that i would take @vmarinelli as my mom any day.

me: But she’s different, she doesn’t reveal too much about her kids…or wait, maybe she does. I dunno. At least there aren’t pics? This is a strange little ethical question.

M: Something also tells me not all of her family reads her Twitter, which i think in the case of parents with blogs about their kids is the whole point. I actually have been thinking about this lately myself and i had a kind of a mini-revelation, which is that the privacy thing is really all or nothing: you can be totally anonymous or you might as well consider it open kimono. Because if someone wants to find it, they will – including potential future employers. So, with that in mind, unless you’re going totally stealth-ninja-style, you should consider it all public. And therefore, you should be careful.

me: I see your point, and adore the saying “open kimono”, but some things are more difficult to find than other things. And employers…well…even the gov’t doesn’t take that much effort to check you out.
When I started modeling, I realized that I had to be cool with the fact that any photo of me could show up anywhere at any time. And out of context.

M: OK – but I’m not finished.

me: I’m sorry, finish please…

M: So, realizing you’re open kimono is on one hand a burden. But on the other hand, it should make you a better blogger AND a better person.
Here’s why:
It’s about accountability.
You know you’re accountable for what you say, so…the trick is you want to still be yourself and be interesting, but you don’t want to say something you’re going to regret. Have you heard the wisdom “never write in email anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to read or to appear in the newspaper”? Now – i definitely have not followed that, but it is good advice, because anything that there’s an electronic record of can show up in the paper or in front of mom. So again – the trick is to look at this as a positive.
It’s like you have an added incentive to not be a dick if you know you’re accountable for it. I mean “project gayway” is a good example. Because it’s funny, but you wouldn’t necessarily want it taken out of context and credited to you, ya know?

me: I thought the worst thing about that wasn’t that it could be seen as homophobic, but that it was a terrible pun in the first place. But I’m off on a tangent. What you’re saying is wise. Very Idealist of you.

M: I’m not totally resolved on it though. I mean – a lot of the best stuff around is not PC. Our sense of humors are our most endearing qualities and i would like license to tell jokes that a future employer can’t see but…

me: I’m not worried about being PC or not. I do think about my company, though. You may have noticed I don’t name it or talk about details in my blog. Because even though I don’t plan on being the “face” of the business, that’s Nancy’s job, I’m still a partner.
So I do think about that. And I censor that.

M: It’s definitely a balancing act. but better to be conscious of it. I think its scary for kids and teenagers.

me: Srsly. Even when I was officially an “adult” but a terrible alcoholic, I could have caused some major irreparable damage if I’d had access to the internet. I mean, I had access, but I didn’t blog or have Facebook.

M: When you were in school did they try to scare you by saying stuff was going on your “permanent record”?

me: I remember that phrase mostly from “The Wonder Years”.

M: Well – that was all a crock of shit THEN, but now EVERYTHING is on your permanent record and it’s real!

me: How true.

M: Mothers Against Drinking and Blogging.

me: But I also think of (and now this is reminding me of an awesome episode of Mad Men) how as our world changes with the internet, people may become more forgiving or more accepting of ourselves as fallible.

M: Yeah I think so. Especially with teens. I think anything you did before you were 18 doesn’t matter.

me: Like post-Monica Lewinsky, we’re not so quick to judge?

M: Just like criminal stuff.

me: But if you were on trial for something, say especially a crime you didn’t commit, and they find stuff about you on the internet as use it against you…that would be horrible.

M: Think about political campaigns in the future though

me: Actually, that’s happening right now to this girl in Italy. I don’t know if she’s guilty or not, but she’s an American girl in an Italian prison awaiting trial for murder. And the Italian press went CRAZY with her MySpace page. She’s college-age.
The story was on Dateline or 20/20 or one of those silly shows.

M: Yeah – you notice MySpace is the first place they look now when a new person becomes news-worthy? Like the Eliot Spitzer prostitute…

me: I’m going to blog this conversation, by the way.

M: Oh no you didn’t!

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2 Responses to “Sharing and Oversharing”

  1. Tony Says:

    Back in December ’07 I consolidated everything I was writing “out there” into one blog.  I was tired of blogging in no less than four places – “safe” personal stuff on my own blog, political stuff pseudonymously at a progressive activism blog, and other stuff semi-anonymously at a couple of writing-related places and one film geekery site.  It just took too much time and effort to “segment” for different audiences like that, so I began putting all of my blogging on my own site and linking outward when and where appropriate. I put my full name on my Twitter account, and began linking to Flickr and other places where I used to “hide” parts of myself.
    To be completely honest, putting yourself out there like that is a risky proposition for many reasons like you and M said, and is largely why I avoided it for so long.  My own site serves as a hub for me both personally and professionally; it’s read by friends, family, editors, colleagues, producers, and complete strangers.  Once you start really putting yourself out there and attaching your name to everything, you run the risk of surprising, shocking, or even alienating part of your readership with any given post.  The more diverse the content (and audience), the greater that risk becomes.  I know I bristle some people with my perspectives and commentary on various non-writing-related topics, but I’m entitled to be who I am, and that’s how I approach all of my content.  If I believe in what I say, no matter how “personal” it may get, then I should have no worries about what someone else may think of it down the line. If I try getting a gig as a staff writer for TV and a producer doesn’t agree with something I wrote on my site, he is either going to just respect my right to public speech or not hire me, and if I’m not hired for that reason, it’s probably an environment I wouldn’t have enjoyed working in anyway.
    A writer spends his entire career honing a voice, and that voice is informed by the gestalt of that writer’s life; experiences, fears, desires, dreams, failures, opinions, and overall worldview.  I think it’s a disservice to yourself and your readers—any of them—to hold any of that back the way I used to.

  2. Melissa Says:

    As a quazi mommy blogger (shudder) I have thought about this a lot. I try to avoid using my baby’s real name and I feel that her blog has a finite lifespan. I also try to frame it in such a way that it’s more about babies in general, just illustrated with pictures of her.

    This generation that grows up being blogged from birth will definitely have a different set of issues, I’m sure. I do hope that it will make people more forgiving of personal foibles in general, as it becomes crystal clear that we all have our skeletons.

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