Monday, July 25, 2005

A Blogging Discussion (A Rant)

Several blogs I read regularly are gearing up for Blogher conference this weekend. There has been some discussion of what we blog and how we blog and why we blog. And now I feel compelled to speak up (because I am normally so shy).

I began blogging because I am working on a project about empowering birth with a few friends long distance. They both have blogs and I decided that this would be a great place for me to get down my ideas and thoughts about the project and the articles and workshops and what not that will get the project really moving.

My blog began as a professional place with a little personal flair. And then I started writing every day. I could feel the words getting pent up inside of me as the stories and thoughts and ideas that usually are just jumbled about in my head are trying to escape and find expression. (Hubby is so grateful that he no longer has to hear every one of these painstakingly repetitious ideas as well.)

I have always *kept* a journal, in that I am always buying cute and colorful journals with every intention of actually maintaining a running narrative of my thoughts (blah dee blah). And now I am the proud owner of approximately 13 cute as pie little crafty journals each with about 4 handwritten pages. What a fantastic testament to my writing skills! About the only thing that actually moved me to get off my ass and write (in a journal) was being really pissed off, usually at poor beleaguered Hubby.

But blogging! Now that's a horse of a different colour! I've realized that I enjoy writing for an audience. It helps me find my voice. Sometimes I have to write about something that I have been pondering and twisting about in my mind for days and weeks on end. Sometimes I just get to recount an amusing anecdote from daily life that would otherwise be lost forever. Sometimes I write about birth stuff or other work stuff. Sometimes I don't have any specific agenda and then I end up writing a manifesto. The words pour from me. I have finally developed the writing habit I have always dreamed I had in me.

How do I blog? I blog in spurts while at home. I am forever interrupted by screaming children and meals and phone calls. And then I glance up at the clock and realize I must finish it NOW so I can take a shower and run off to work or wherever. I blog with a cup of coffee or a FUZE beverage (my latest low-cal try-to-trick-myself-into-thinking-I'm-having-a-treat drink).

But there remains one oft-visited issue to ponder in the blogosphere. This issue has been brought up in several blogs I read, especially the so called "mommyblogs". The issue is privacy and safety. Some bloggers write about their children but remove all identifying information including names and ages and would never ever post a photo of their child on-line. Others tell all, including their child's fullname and birthdate. I read a comment on a blog saying that parents who post personal information about their children are taking such a huge and irresponsible risk. There are those who think that this can invite the attention of not just diaper perverts, but also that of pedophiles and stalkers. Within this thinking, one should volunteer no information about your children (and definitely no photographs) that could in any way identify them.

Here's where I rest: I name names. I divulge ages and general birth data (but not the actual date). I (obviously, see below) post photos. This is my life. I live all aspects of my life by these principles. I do not expect the worst. I do not go to great lengths to protect against what I consider to be long-shot dangers.

Pedophiles normally go after children to whom they have access. They are not likely to cross the country in search for my small child. My children are not communicating with anyone via the internet, so they cannot develop relationships with online freakos. I think my children have a much greater chance of being stalked by someone who sees them playing in my yard or at the pool than by someone online who goes to great lengths to find them.

I choose not to post nude or semi-nude photos to keep obvious creepiness risk down, but really even if someone was *doing something* while looking at am online image of my child, how does that harm them? Is it gross and creepy? Yes. But not harmful. And frankly, quite unlikely.

The bottom line is, any child, anywhere, could become a target. I don't feel I am substantially increasing my risk. It is important to me to post photos that express my life. When my kids get older, old enough to understand what blogging is all about, I will see how they feel about being blogged about. I will even delete old archives if it seems appropriate. But somehow, I doubt it will come to that.


Meghan said...

Hi Mar,

Good thoughts on blogging. Thanks for your comments. If you don't mind, I would like to use some of your ideas in our discussion at Blogher. I presume that's okay based on what you write. Please let me know if you would rather I didn't. Thanks!

Linda said...

I agree. I'm really not concerned about pervs or kidnappers. I have a different reason for not posting my kids' names or pictures -- because I consider those things semi-private, I just don't care to share them with strangers, and my kids (the little ones anyway) are not able to give me informed consent for making their info public. I also just personally hate the feeling of being exposed to the world, I don't get the celebrity mindset at all!

My thoughts are another matter. Although I want to take (and be given) credit for how they're presented, I feel that the ideas in themselves belong to the world, so I don't mind putting them out there.

Anna Banana said...


I get where you are coming from. I think I am more of an extrovert in general than you (and probably more so than the average person) so it just feels natural to me to let it all hang out.

I'll be interested to see what the kids think if I am still blogging after another 5-10 years.

Mar said...

Ooops! That last comment was really me. I forgot that my sis was logged into my computer. Hi Banana!

GraceD said...

I'm 'out there' with my identity, as well. My hubs gets a little jittery whenever I throw in a pic of him shirtless, but I can't help it - he's a 56 y/o hunk.

And you are absolutely positively correct in saying children are victimized most frequently by those in their circle of family and acquaintances.

As far as being 'exposed to the world', there are, what? 2.5 million blogs out there. My site is just a tiny drop in that vast ocean of websites.

Rock on with your badass self.