Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Private Goes Public

This week's Mama Kat's Writing Assignment that I chose to write about is Why are you burned out?

How personal is too personal for a blog? Where is that invisible line that shows us when we've divulged too much information? What exactly is off limits? Should our blogs be solely about our own lives or can we talk about other people? Our friends, our families and our co-workers? Do we have to ask permission from these people in our lives? Don't we have to care how other people are going to be affected by what we discuss on our blogs? And what about free speech? Is that really all that this is about?

Since starting my blog back in January, I have struggled with all of these questions. I think I have done my best to make sure that I am never revealing too much about anyone other than myself. I've made sure that each posting that talks about my friends or family is kind-hearted and doesn't rub anyone the wrong way. Most importantly, I have vowed to never paint anyone in a negative light on my blog. Simply put, this blog about ME and my life. Sure, there have been some rough days where I wanted to talk about how mad I was at this person or how annoying this other person was being. However, I stopped myself from going through with it. I knew those words could have potentially been hurtful to those people.
On 3 separate occasions, my roommate has asked me to remove a line or two from a post because she thought it revealed too much about our home address. She is particularly careful about stuff like that. Despite the fact that sometimes I disagree with her, I still immediately delete those sentences she was unhappy with. This was not a problem at all for me. I would NEVER put my blog before the people in my life. Sorry to say but my blog will never take priority in my life.

Another issue to deal with is the fact that many of my close friends and family read this blog. How awful would one of them feel if they had to read on my blog how I felt about them. Personally, I would hate that. Not only is it TMI but it's also none of the blogging communities business. Am I right? Putting something like the inner-workings or the problems in your relationships for all the world to see just seems so detached and juvenile. Why not reach out to that person instead and work it out between the two of you face to face? There is definitely no need to publically slander them or your relationship with them.

Perhaps it comes down to why we all started our personal blogs in the first place. We are sharing makeup tips, college help, mothering advice, daily humorous anecdotes, diet tips, amazing shopping finds or in my case my adventures here in LA. I know for certain that we have all struggled to find the perfect balance of too much information and just enough to interest our readers. When too much information starts to hurt and really negatively affect other people, it's just not worth it.

I'm burnt out from all this.

Something that recently struck me is how we take for granted people's wishes when it comes to our blogs. Everything SHOULD NOT be up for grabs. If I tell you not to disclose something and you do it anyway, knowing full well I'm not going to be happy, what does this say about you? It's a complete lack of respect and a full dismissal of someone's feelings. Why do that? Sure, you may feel strongly about something but this does not give you the right to publicize it. There are other ways.

When did our blogs become our platform to tell the world how we feel about each other? We need to step down from our soapboxes and really understand how our actions or in this case, our words, affect other people. We should remember that a blog is public knowledge on the internet. I really think we all need to be more self-aware and sensitive to other people's feelings. It's time to put our egos aside and truly focus on what's important and good in the world instead of putting others down.

So, if you ever see something on my blog that makes you feel embarrassed, hurt or angry, please tell me. I'll respect you enough to remove it. Free speech means nothing when you are hurting people you care about.

Alright, I'll stop this long-winded rant but I really do believe all this and felt that I needed to get it off my chest. In the end, blogging is all about sharing our lives with friends, family and our new blogging world. With this comes the moral responsibility to be cautious and aware of how we express ourselves. I think that this balance can most definitely be achieved.

Here's to more future self-aware bloggers out there.


  1. I totally agree we you. My blog is primarily about my son who is too young to know I'm writing about him. While I take precautions on what I write about those in my life. I often talk about my son way more than I'm sure he'll appreciate in 10 years.

    Great blog. No one needs to get their feelings hurt through passive aggressive blogging.

  2. So well-written, Leah! Despite being bone-tired I want to get up and pump my fist and yell, "Yeah! Hear Hear!" I hope people take to heart what you wrote...and I think it applies to facebook posts too. TMI people, TMI! If it's none of my business, I don't wanna know!

  3. There's a fine line to tread when writing about other people on your blog. You have to be aware of how the person will feel.

  4. Something else I think people forget is that once it's on a blog, it's out there forEVER... archived somewhere, downloaded, whatvere. It's out there.
    I wonder, sometimes, about what I'm posting... my parents, in-laws and friends all read mine, and I worry a little when I'm putting it all out there, but I also figure it's better that they know what's really going on with me, instead of the false front I know I can put up sometimes...

  5. My first rule: do no harm. I love that you right this. I love that this is your center as a public writer. I hate internet bullies, and I think to use a blog to hurt others is bullying.
    I don't put up a false front. I just leave it off if it isn't MY story.

  6. I feel the same way - I try to be very respectful about my friends and family - my daughter doesn't even like me mentioning her name or anything about her, and I'm okay with that.