OFFICIAL LIVEBLOG - Room of Your Own #1: Realllly Personal Blogging - How much info is TMI?

Session Description: If you've ever found yourself cringing as you hit "Publish," asking for another's input before posting, or experiencing backlash from something you've written online, you're in good company. Whether you blog about your family, your friends, your co-workers, your health, your relationships or your children, at some point most of us have dealt with issues related to privacy and censorship. Join Miss Britt, Genie Alisa and Terra Atrill in discussing how to define boundaries for your blog, and how your online writing affects you In Real Life. We'll talk about online honesty, oversharing and how to balance the two.

Miss Brit: She is a personal blogger and made this panel because she talks about her relationships, marriage, kids, depression and talks frankly about things like losing a tampon. People ask her why she writes such personal stuff, and she will get into the pros and cons.

Terra: Started 5 years ago becasue she was having a nervous breakdown, post partum depression, colicky baby and she blogs about a lot of her baggage dealing with an ex and a child. She does it because she lost the ability to keep anything in when she had a nervous breakdown and everything goes on the blog. It is a different platform for her to communicate.

Genie: Has been blogging since 2001 when she missed her friends after she moved across state. From the very beginning, she has written about anything. She is here because the boss's wife reads the blog. A lot of people with her work read her blog and she has dissolved the line between work and personal life. Online she has split those things out and has nothing but positive experience from blogging. She is a diabetic and having her first child and she writes about everything like dealing with diabetes and crying at work. She started a new project called Living Out Loud - write things that you would normally not have done. The first thing she did was write a letter to her husband and posted it online. It is some of the best writing that people have done. The line has gotten fuzzy between personal and work life.

First question - Do you use your own name?

Brit - Brit is her real name and she has a link to her Facebook page which has her real name. She uses her husband's real name and kids' real names. At first she did not, but her Mom found her and they didn't speak for about 4 months after her Mom read a post about her. She doesn't like reading names like "oldest" or "DH" because she doesn't connect to the as real people. She thinks the readers are alot more invested because they feel like readers think they are real people. People feel like they know you and are genuine and sincere.

Terra: She just came out with her real name, she was going as Zoe Jane previously. She wanted to protect her identity and her daughter's identity. She now has to use her real name for professional blogging purposes. She felt more secure that she was using a fake name, but it didn't work.

Genie: She has a lot of names. She uses her first and middle name now. When she got married the second time, she uses her maiden name at work, but her married name at home. She does not use her last name because her husband was concerned. He was concerned that people would find her and him. She doesn't think that it would take alot for someone to find out where she lived, or more information about her. She thinks it is more personal and friendly to use real names.

Brit - She thinks so what that she uses her real information online. She doesn't think it makes her more or less safe. There are scary people out there whether she blogs or not with or without her real name. She doesn't feel more or less safe.

Terra: She thinks it would be weird if someone would yell out Zoe Jane, when that isn't her name.

Genie: She doesn't want to get published as some weird name, so using her real name makes sense. It makes her more accountable to use her real name and forces her to have a perspective of if someone would google her name, what would they think of her. She thinks this is empowering and would not be embarrassed for anything she has written about.

Brit - She gets asked about how her husband feels about her blog. When she blogged anonymously, she wrote a horrible post about her mother. The problem was that her Mother read the post and realized that it was a person she was talking about. When you make yourself a faceless person, you make who you write about a faceless person. You need to be accountable for your thoughts and what you write about someone.

Question from the audience: What do you tell your kids about safety on the internet, their kids are told in school not to use their real names on the internet in sixth grade?

Brit - She tells her son that there are people that know you that you don't know. She tells her son not to talk or go with someone who talks like they know you. She thinks names on the vans with kids' stickers is way more dangerous that names on a blog site. But it was good to teach their son about safety.

Question from the audience: She writes a Stepmom blog and her husband asks her not to put names on the blog. Her stepdaughter was admitted to the hospital for anorexia this year while the Dad has been somewhere esle. She has been told she should write about it, but her husband doesn't want her to. He thinks that if she writes about it, because her stepdaughter would find it.

Genie - She thinks that at 13 she is old enough to ask her if she could write about her.

Terra - She says if she writes about it, it will kill her. She talks from experience with eating disorders. She recommends starting a journal.

Question from the audience: At what age do you respect your children's wishes to keep them off the blog?

Brit - She remembers being pissed at her Mom for telling her Mom's friends stories about her. She keeps stuff off her site about her 9 year old that she knows that she wouldn't tell it in person. What she does or does not do in real life, she follows the same on the blog.

Question from the audience: Do you have some policy with your spouse for boundaries for writing about your spouse?

Genie - She runs stories about her husband by her husband first.

Brit - She does not run stories about her husband by her husband first.

Genie - She writes her post, and then reads the post to her husband, and he says if it sounds fine or not, mainly just if it is a personal thing. She doesn't have specific rules, like you can talk about sex, but not about his penis size.

Brit - She will ask only if the post is about her husband's family. She uses her blog to communicate to her husband, and she specifically writes posts to her husband.

Terra - She does not have a significant other, but does have an ex. He doesn't read because he doesn't want to read what she has to say. She does not think of the future.

Brit - She does not post where she works for Google purposes.

Question from the audience: She read a blog post about her feelings about her friend's abortion. She thinks that was wrong. How much does your visibility rub off on other people?

Brit - She thinks this is okay, and it is about the writer's feelings. 

Genie - She has personally stopped reading blogs where the writer would write negatively about their husband. 

Question from the audience: Do you talk about money?

Brit - I was raised in the midwest, I don't talk about money.

Genie - She wrote about the sale price of her house, things you can find out online. 

Brit - She says ask her how much she weighs, not how much money she makes. 

Question from the audience: Do you honor requests to take posts down about a person?

Brit - She took the post about her Mom down, but she hasn't had that happen. 

Terra - Everyone who knows her knows about her blog. She would not take something down if her ex asked her to.

Question from audience: She has talked about dealing with a child with disabilities and writing about how she dislikes being a parent to this child, and what would her son think if he read it later in life?

Terra - She wrote a post about it recently, bringing up what if their kid read their blog. She wrote about disliking her child for the first 6 months of her child's life. What came from writing those posts is that her blog has been an evolution. She has written the bad and is coming around to the good. She wants her child to know her Mom. Her daughter can go back and read about who her Mom was. This though, got her in trouble. A person that read her blog called child protective services on her. 

Genie - She thinks as an adult, she would love to have a record of how her parents felt about her as a kid. 

Question from the audience - Brit said she doesn't feel as connected to those who don't use real names, she wants Brit to expand on that. 

Brit - For her as a writer, it is hard for her to use fake names.  

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