Posted by Amy.
One night I was sitting at my computer, entranced by the glow of the monitor, deciding what to post. It was an important decision because one of my favorite bloggers was linking to me the very next morning, and I wanted to give her venerable readers something really worth their time should they decide to "click over," which I hoped they would.
I chose a story that I'd published on a well-read website under a pseudonym, because it was somewhat adult content. I realized that it would be very different from what my friend wrote on her blog because some of the language was raw and the subject matter was sexual. It was also unlike anything I'd ever published on my own blog. But -- it was not off-handed or trite. It was – and is -- one of the most introspective things I've written, and by many strangers and a couple of friends, it has been read with interest and acclaim.
I had it all set up and ready to publish the next morning; and then I decided to click on my Site Meter. You know, my little blogging report card. After coming back to blogging full-throttle just a bit ago, I'm not hung up on comments, but I am curious as to how my traffic ebbs and flows. I'm not trying or vying to be a rock-star blogger. But, I am a published writer, as well as a blogger, and I want to be read.
But by my parents?
That's right, after 18 months of blogging under the radar, my family found my blog – as revealed by the details of my site meter and those tracking URLs. I felt like I was kicked in the chest. Like I was sixteen and my diary was read. Had I left it on the bed by accident? No. Was it under the mattress and easy to find? No. It was in my sock drawer, upside down, in the back, under the array of mismatched socks wrapped in an old tee-shirt.
Which brings up the question – can anything we bestow upon the World Wide Web really be private?
My answer initially was, well, I f-ing thought so.
And then I was just really, really glad I hadn't already published that post. It was not right choice for a general readership, and it certainly fell under the category of TMI for parents.
Before this happened, I had seven friends in real life who read my blog. The rest of my readers are internet friends, acquaintance and strangers. Half of the seven (yes, 3.5) live far away from me.
So it's ok to have some friends and any strangers reading about my life but not my family?
I do write some things publicly – things everyone reads – and I carefully compose those pieces with psyches and egos and temperaments and readerships in mind. And although as a writer I do some of that with my blog, as I don't believe its purpose (for me) is that of a diary.
I got a lot of different words of wisdom when I told my chosen few about being discovered. Everything from: "it's the world wide web, you can't put anything on it you don't want someone to find" to "look at your blog as a marketing opportunity for potential editors and publishers, and don't publish anything you wouldn't want them to read" to "abandon the blog and start a new one" to "tell them it's 'read at your own risk' and don't censor yourself."
It's all valid advice. I don't know what to do. Is there such a thing as privacy on the internet? Is it fair game if it's got a URL? Will my blogging change? Should I adopt a policy of 'read at your own risk'?
There are things on the blog that are not fodder for publication for one or a dozen reasons. The blog gives me an outlet to be creative and expressive and with myself as the only editor and publisher. My readers choose to read or not, comment or more likely to not.
I don't write about my parents, so what's the difference? I'm not sure. If it's now open to my family members, do I make it really public and start telling everyone about it? I don't think so. Because, even with the writing and the blogging and the swirling thoughts and opinions and my hours-long detailed conversations with friends about life details --- I'm a very private person (a statement which sent one of my closest friends into a hysterical fit of laughter and left her gasping for breath). There are only a couple of friends who really know everything about me. Everyone else, online and in real life, knows bits and pieces - what I want them to know, what they can understand, and at times, what they can handle.
As an adult, I get to pick and choose who knows what about me, my life, my kids, my thoughts, my feelings. I have a right to ultimate privacy and the parameters are determined by me and me alone. But obviously that's not the case on the internet.
So, in order preserve my privacy I may have to go back to a diary in the sock drawer. Oh, but snoop at your own risk. There are condoms in there too.