The thing about a personal blog, is that it’s personal by definition.
That makes our blogs precious, I think.
For me, my personal blog has always been a bit of an escape. For a long time, my job involved mostly writing very grown-up, serious articles about ERP and service-oriented architectures and calculating ROI and TCO. As you can imagine, those kind of articles don’t have much space for humour, or opinion, or feelings. It’s all facts, figures, quotes, technical accuracy and hitting word counts. Today my job’s a bit different but there’s still a requirement to be balanced, to incorporate the right information, to meet the client’s expectations, to be professional.
During all of that having a personal blog provides balance.
If I have to be very serious in my journalism, blogging allows me to have a bit of fun. If I can’t express a strong opinion on a client website, I can do that on my blog. I can laugh, I can be snarky, I can express the full range of human emotions, insofar as they’re available to someone as Northern as me.
Or can I?
Twice in recent months, I’ve had awkward conversations with people who have taken exception to something on my personal blog.
Recently, someone was genuinely very upset by it, and I got a bit of a dressing down, which is never fun. I don’t think they were right to get so upset, but you can’t argue with feelings. And I’ve definitely hurt someone’s feelings.
That’s never a good thing.
Of course, you can apologise, and you can remove posts, but it leaves an awkward aftertaste, and has the potential to make the school run a bit painful for the next few years.
A series of unfortunate coincidences mean my personal blog is now being read by people I see out there in the real world. And I’ll be honest – I hate it.
I feel watched, and judged, and self-conscious, and guilty about even thinking about writing about X or Y, in case someone, somewhere thinks it’s about them. And – to be fair – it might be about them.
My blog is about my life and the people in it, and just because I might take care not to identify someone, or to criticise them, it doesn’t mean they won’t still be hurt. Perhaps they see criticism where it wasn’t intended, or the comments below a post might hurt their feelings. And that’s a horrible thing to feel responsible for.
What I’m learning is that having a bolshy MY BLOG MY RULES philosophy is all well and good, but it’s little comfort when you’ve made someone cry. Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t make it right for you to say it.
So what do you do?
I’m feeling upset and frustrated and disillusioned. My blog has always been carefully separate from my ‘real’ life and without the division, I’m not sure it’s fun any more. I’m toying with the idea of taking it down, of starting afresh. I don’t feel I can write honestly about my life on there, but I don’t want to write half a blog, about half a life. But perhaps I just need to grow a thicker skin and accept that, if you blog, this comes with the territory.
It’s an issue I think we all need to think about, as bloggers. What do you do when real life and virtual life collide?