As a blogger, do you ever feel sort of odd that anyone and everyone from your past and present can find you, learn all about your current life, and figure out how to contact you easily, with just a click of their mouse?
I do a little. My phone number really is unlisted. I have one family member who I’d like to avoid, so I’m unlisted. I’d rather she not know how to contact me, and I especially don’t want her knowing where I live. However, recently, someone from my past did contact me, and it made me realize that as a blogger, an unlisted phone number is small change; I’m just not that hard to find.
The person who contacted me was not some good pal I had back in the day either, or some cute story like a cool ex boyfriend looking me up, it was someone I hadn’t seen since the age of maybe 12, and I could have gone the rest of my life with it that way.
The person who contacted me knew a lot about me, which is not that hard a task if you know how to use Google. At this point, I’ve been blogging and doing web copy for so long, that I’m running pages and pages long on search engines. Obviously I’m not as popular a search as some folks are, but I’m around enough that you can learn a lot about me with one search. It felt weird to know this person knew all about me, but that I knew nothing about her.
So, how do you deal with being all over the web? Here’s what I will and won’t do online:
- Use my full name.
- Say the state I live in.
- Share pictures or videos of my world – so long as they don’t give away my street sign or the front of my house or something.
- Talk about my life pretty honestly (see below for what I won’t discuss).
- Share my opinions, even if I think others might not agree. That’s blogging folks; also, I’m like that in the real offline world too so…
- Give my phone number anywhere online.
- Give my address.
- Give random personal info – bank accounts, social security, etc.
- Name exact places I’m going – i.e. I’ll say, “My son and I are taking off to the park” but not, “My son and I are taking off to Bush Park in downtown Salem, Oregon.”
- Use full names of other people I know in my offline world – either past or present. That’s not cool. For example, I might say, “I used to have this friend named Bob, he was awesome…” but not, “I have this friend Bob Brown in Albuquerque who works at…” That’s not my info to give. I know some bloggers do share info like this, but it makes me uncomfortable.
- Share everything: For example, I won’t blog major family issues. I’ll say, “I don’t like this person” or “I try to avoid so and so” but I’d never say, “My son’s dad cheated on me with ten girls and spent three years addicted to the sauce” – he didn’t, by the way, but you see what I mean. Why get so personal? Yeah, I get miffed with the ex, but being all vindictive online is sort of petty and lame in my opinion. Again, I know bloggers who will give everything away, but talking serious smack about people (ex evil mother-in-law excluded) is just not something I do.
What it all comes down to:
I don’t have many past demons. If I did, it’s very likely I wouldn’t be working online. I’ve been pretty lucky in that I don’t have a bunch of ex mates I parted badly with. Except for one early overly dramatic high school boyfriend, I always got along pretty well with an ex after a break up. I don’t have any weird old friend dramas to deal with or enemy co-workers from past jobs. All in all, I can only think of one or two people from my past who I’d rather not hear from, and there’s nothing I’m trying to keep hidden in my past (like say, illegal activity).
If you’re considering blogging full-time, it might be smart to consider your past and future contacts and behaviors. If your past is littered with oodles of people you’d rather not hear from, or you’ve done super shady stuff; stuff that you don’t want broadcast online, then blogging might not be for you. If you’re uncomfortable being easy to find, then blogging is absolutely not for you.
What do you think? Are you uncomfortable with the thought of being all over the Internet and easy to find? AND how do you keep your life somewhat your own, even if you have an online presence?