Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Post About, Um, Posting: Drawing Boundaries

*I seem to have accidentally started an irregular series on things blogging & digital age; for more of my drivel on the same, go here and here

"Oh, the stories I could tell if I let myself. . . " I Tweeted this morning to a longtime Invisible Internet Friend, who had suggested I post a gem of an in-law story here. It's the dilemma we "lifestyle" bloggers face, every one of us - how to decide what's appropriate to share in our respective slices of the blogosphere pie? What's going to entertain, inform, or otherwise move a reader yet not violate your own standards of decency, safety, or otherwise land you in the Smug Married doghouse?

It got me thinking about the unspoken rules of writing I try to live by here - emphasis on "try", since that is an elusive a dream as fitting into my pre-baby Citizens as well as I did, uh, pre-baby - and how those evolve. As our lives change, so does our writing and so the the standards we hold ourselves to in that do as well.

Longtime readers will recall I never used to post personal photos; part of that was due to the conservative culture involved in practicing law, part was that it felt showy to put personal photos up (though I've never minded that with others), but it also enabled me to write more freely about family or situations I might not otherwise because I was "anonymous". Yes, "anonymous" is in quotes because nothing is truly that on the internet, but even the guise of it gave me comfort to write without much worry.

Since trading in that job for this stay-at-home one, it felt natural to drop the anonymous act - something I did only after consulting with the Anonymous Husband, I hasten to add. I wanted this space to reflect my reality now, umpty million baby photos definitely included. I hoped that in doing so, it also would give me a different connection with y'all; after all, it's tough to convince anyone I know what I'm talking about when it comes to Mom Hair, for example, if you can't judge for yourself what my own (non-Mom Hair, I pray) visage looks like. Though I'm not "out" to all of my friends and family, I wanted something more in my own voice, photos and all, that I could show them, though in my opinion outing myself necessarily limits some of the subject matter I use - if only because my friends and family are able to call me out on the outrageous lies I'd otherwise post here.

Given that loooooong background, then, I try to post using the following guidelines (emphasis on "try"):

- Be kind. I may jest at stuff - trendy life planner mom agenda schedules of doom, hello! - but never at the person buying the stuff. Ok, usually not. Only behind your back. Kidding - I'm really am trying here;

- Nothing I wouldn't want my boss, in-law, best friends, or husband stumbling across;

- No photos or names used of anyone whose express permission I haven't received, especially when it comes to kids (which is why you won't see playgroup photos here, for example, though I swear we do have friends)(this also raises a question of what you do with your own kids) (parentheses);

- Nothing that jeopardizes safety of my family. Of course this is something we all strive for . . . also, obviously this is a grey area, in which some would say that any personal details, names, or photos used at all are an issue. I don't know what exactly the right answer is here, but the question informs every post put up here.

- Post when I have something to say, not to keep on a schedule or keep up with the e-Joneses. There are weeks when I could happily log on here every day, like I have recently, and there are times when I'd rather do anything else, even m-a-t-h. Either way I usually try to keep weekends for family & my online time to a minimum then.

Do you have a set of guidelines you go by? Am I over-thinking things as usual? Do I need to log off here and just go buy those post-baby-size Citizens already?


Emily said...

No you're not over thinking!! When I first started a blog I was SUPER careful. I tried not to post photos etc...which lead me to deleting that blog all together. But then I tried it again. I knew I wanted to share some of my personal life... I didn't want my blog to be all material and such. So I opened up. People know my name and my boyfriends name...and random facts about me, but not where I'm from, go to college etc unless we are close blog friends (And i've determined they aren't a creepy 50 year old man!!)

Erin said...

You're border-line overthinking it lol. However, I think we all over-think this bloggy world of ours sometimes. I began my blog "anonymously" and I'm not "out" to friends and family (just the husband). But, I realized if I didn't get a little more personal it wasn't going to be worth it. I too, work in the legal field which has made me very wary of what I post, how I post and who I connect with online.

But in the end, this blog is for you so post what makes you happy and keep them coming because I love coming by here to see what you and Master P are up to!

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

Oh, I struggle with this alot. I have not posted our last name anywhere on my blog, since as a former law professor I don't really want to make it too easy for former students to stumble across the blog. But then why am I blogging at all, if I don't want strangers/former students reading, right?

My entire family and inlaws read my blog, so although I have some FABULOUS stories about them, I won't share them. I also try to not tell stories about my kids that would hurt their feelings if they read them 20 years from now. That one is hard, because there is some funny shit born out of exasperation there.

I generally follow the same rules you've laid out. The internet is a lasting medium, so its hard to deny if you do something dumb. I just try to play nice, for the most part.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

When I first started blogging, I didn't give a ton of thought to being "anonymous" and such. Now? I'm glad I never started using our names and while most people know them, I still try to keep them off the written pages. I don't post where we live (although I've gotten more lenient with that) and I don't post pictures of people that haven't given permission. I guess I still have some rules of my own.

Sandra said...

I ask permission. My family know that I blog about life in my home. I tell them my idea. They either yay or nay it. Most of the time, since nobody even reads, they're like, "Whatever..." Fools...~cue to evil laughter~

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

1. I've decided there are way too many states between GA & TX. I want to be in your smug-mommy circle.

2. Again, this is so hard. I started as "semi-anonymous" and gave the address to friends that requested it after I did a post about starting a new blog on our "family blog" (that is very much on the back burner after starting F29) Then it was just hard for me to not share fun, personal details. I'm not one for self control. Ever. Because I now have blog cards and tell random people I have just met that I blog.

As long as we still get sweet pics of Master P I'm happy ;-) Oh, and shoes. Need shoe pics too.

Becky said...
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Kelysuperficial said...

Hey! I hear ya on this one. I struggle with this too. Many of the posts I WANT to do are very personal and I WANT to out people ;-) But I can't. I try to keep names out of it (I use pseudonyms for my friends who are "in on it" so they know they've been included)...I have mentioned where we've from and that freaks the Frug OUT. I try not to talk about vacation stil after we get back JIC some crazy person is out there waiting til we leave to rob the house, kwim? No family photos. No last names.

The "Be Kind" is something I can't condone tho. Where's the fun in that??

Natalie said...

I think you are being reasonable with your guidelines.

I struggle with the snark (especially when it comes to all the "twitter" fads). More on Twitter than my actual blog (which is strictly how I keep myself accountable from not wearing the same black pants all the darn time). It's hard to not want to make fun, but I'm working on an experiment to not be snarky or spew haterade this week. I need luck!!

Tippy said...

Oh no! I hope I didn't upset the apple cart with the in-law comment. I just meant that you are so very clever and witty in your writing, an in-law story would be funny. However, if you're more "out" than you used to be (I remember when you never posted personal photos), then definitely do not. That wouldn't fall under the 'be kind' rule.

I deleted my "preppy blog" because I was finding it difficult to be authentic without being personal. You've struck such a good balance with your blog, even after you came out a little more with photos of you and Master P.

Now I have my "real life" blog but of course its scope is limited. I only started it FOR family so it would be a really crappy move to make fun of them on it. It is merely to keep the grandparents and family/friends up on our travels while we're here.

I will probably delete that blog when we move back to the States. Did you know you can make books of your blog? I think this is such a genius idea. I've decided I will make a yearly book of my blog so I have a written record of our time here. Because even on the internet, information doesn't last forever.

I think your blog is perfect as is. The bottom line is if you're happy with it and AH is happy with it, who cares what we think!?

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