Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Online Life and Real Life

When I first started blogging, someone who had been doing it for awhile gave me some advice, which I ignored. The advice was that you should not let anyone in your real life world know that you had a blog. She had abandoned three previous blogs because people she knew had gotten annoyed by something she wrote. For the past few years she has been blogging her life without anyone in her real life world knowing that they are being discussed online. And she discusses them in very raw terms.

I am just not a person who can have that sort of secrecy in life. I'm not exactly an open book, but I'm not good with secrets either. I guess I'm just middle of the road when it comes to my own life. However, I try to be respectful of other people's privacy and try not to ever say anything that would be hurtful or harmful to anyone. This means, on occasion, that I have to edit myself from saying everything I'd like to say, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff. It's much the same as you would do if you were talking with someone in person - I don't publish anything online that I wouldn't say to someone in person. And it's not always negative - sometimes I can't say something really positive about someone specific because it would put them in an awkward position with someone else.

Of course, I rarely mention anyone here except in passing - we went here, we did that, we talked about this, etc. etc. etc. Photos that include other people are limited to happy things like tea and bridal showers and afternoon walks and such. Whenever I talk about anything negative I do so in generic terms unless it's a situation that's long past like an old boss from my college days who was more humorous than horrible - at least in retrospect - and even then I don't mention names. College days would certainly fall into the category of "long past" in my life, and in this case I'm sure he's long dead by now, anyway. But, I digress...

I was thinking about all of this in the last few days when FaceBook retreated from its position on Beacon, which published what purchases members made online. MoveOn mobilized to get them to stop, and FaceBook did immediately, for which I give them credit. In the meantime, some people's Christmas gift surprises were spoiled, which is a pity. But, it made me think about the whole issue of our online lives and how they intersect our real world lives.

I see more and more opportunities for those lives to intersect and think that's where this whole thing is moving. In many ways I like that. There are a few people I've met in real life who know me only from the blog. It's interesting. My blog also keeps friends and family involved in my life, even though we don't see each other regularly. I think using the online world to enhance real life is one of the great values of it. 

I'm not a personality type that could keep a blog private, anyway, but I'm not sure why you'd even want to bother. These are all things that are being negotiated on a daily basis by people around the world. We live in interesting times.

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