When I was 10, I got my first computer with Internet access. It was 1998 and I found a website called Open Diary. Being a lover of writing and keeping journals, I was thrilled. Open Diary was the first incarnation of blogging sites as they’re known today and I’ve been blogging (albeit elsewhere) ever since.
So, I’ve had almost 13 years of blogging experience. With experience comes a sense of caution: your mum has Internet access. Your boss has Internet access. Your landlord, your ex-partners, your friends, your enemies, your family, your professors. And don’t dare assume for a second that they don’t care enough about you to look you up. These days, it’s probably one of the first things they do. If you’re smart about things, it can work in your favour. When people are wanting to get some insight into your life, isn’t it a good thing to have some control over your online presence and what they see or read? The important keyword here is control. Even so much as dropping the F-bomb in a public tweet could ruin a future job opportunity.
Questions that come up time and time again on my Formspring are related to blogging and if I have any advice for future bloggers. My biggest piece of advice is to never write anything online that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of Time (or, you know, your local newspaper. Whatever). And I’m deadly serious, because even if you think you’re not really that interesting, you just never know. I was 17 and found a full page about myself in our local newspaper. I was on 60 Minutes and I was on Sunrise. Not me “in person” – but the videos that I had uploaded to the Internet. Who’d expect that, being a teenage girl just chatting vapidly about herself and her pet guinea pigs?
So, I’m more cautious these days. I no longer blog about my life directly – these days I discuss topics and opinions, sometimes my experiences…but not my job, not my marriage, not my sex life, not anything particularly personal. Because although I have a lot of readers that I enjoy interacting with…and although I’d love to share with them the ins-and-outs of my life…it’s just not the entire world’s business, so why would I broadcast it on a worldwide platform?
Funnily enough, I’ve still had people try to use my blog against me like it’s some sort of weapon. In the process of trying to cut ties with someone, I had that person tell me that she “had friends who inform her of my blogs” as if my blog is some sort of secret diary that I keep under lock and key. Newsflash…it’s not. It’s on the Internet, genius. If I’m writing something here, I obviously intend for it to be read.
My biggest challenge with this blog has been finding my niche. Am I a “mummy blogger”? Despite discussing parenting issues and sharing things like the birth stories of my kids, I don’t feel that I can rightfully call myself one because there’s so much that goes on in my life as a parent that I’m not comfortable discussing online. Something that I love about other mummy bloggers is their openness and raw honesty when it comes to blogging about their lives and unfortunately that’s something I just can’t offer – because again, I feel that it’s not the world’s business. Sometimes I feel that my blog can be a little disjointed; there are so many things in life that I love and want to share with you guys, but it’s so hard to distance it from myself personally, if you know what I mean. Like I said, I’d rather discuss topics and opinions than discuss myself directly. It’s hard to find a balance that will allow the people who have followed me for years to still feel like they know me.
I want to try to blog more often. I feel like I’m reading blog updates in my reader a lot more than I’m writing my own. Must change that! I’m interested in hearing your opinions on this, though. If you blog, where do you draw the line as to what you share online? Is finding a balance something you struggle with too?