Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blogging and self-censorship

Last week when I was at my friend Krag's birthday party, I got into a conversation about blogging with one of Krag's roommates. Being decidedly low-tech, I had to explain what blogging was, and why and how I was blogging Krag's photo from my cell phone. While he was intrigued by it all, he also seemed concerned about sharing one's thoughts with the world. "Can't everyone read it?"

I explained to him that yes, for some folks blogs can be limiting. I am very well aware that my mother, sister and Doug's mother all read the blog on a regular basis. There have been days when I've been upset, hurt or angry about something or have thought about posting something, thinking it could be sarcastic and funny, but then thought the better of it. There have been other times where I've thought about poking fun at one of my clients or talk about something related to client work, but realized that wasn't something I would want traced back to me. After all, folks have been fired for things they've written in their blogs. Doug gets horrified that I even mention the agency I'm working for this summer by name, but I figure I only mention it generally and in a positive light and that if anyone ever read it, they would know I work with a good group of people.

There are, however, a few blogs I've recently found where the self-censorship is subtle if non-existent. Waiter Rant tells funny stories of working in a restaurant. The entries gently poke fun of yuppie customers and it's no where near the tirade it could be. While the stories can border on the outrageous, he never mentions the restaurant or customers by name.

Opinionistas is written by an associate at a large Manhattan law firm. All names are hidden and the stories are funny yet sometimes depressing. You get the feeling that she really doesn't like her job and that's sad.

A blog that has very little self-censorship is 100 Reasons Why I Hate My Husband. This is truly venomous and you wonder why she stays married. Actually she's gotten a lot of hate email and as such has decided to quit posting, but the blog is still there.

So what are your thoughts about blogging and self-censorship. Are blogs better or worse if folks limit what they say?

1 comment:

Auntie M. said...

There's a reason most of these sites have a "Preview" option--so you can read what you've written and think twice...At the moment you're writing, you may have in mind a particular reader or type of reader--only later, you realize your rant is out there for your mom, your Sunday School teacher, your boss, potential dates or spouses, and John Ashcroft to pour over should they be in the mood.

Still, I think the best blogs find a middle way in all this. If you write only what's fit for everyone in the world to read, your blog is going to be pretty dull. You can get around this by assuming a nom de plume...for example, my daughter-in-law uses "Kris Kochanski" for her hilarious columns on epinions.com (for example, see http://www.epinions.com/content_105573355140) She writes about her own experiences and refers to people at work or in her family or circle of friends, and certainly evokes a wide range of responses, but she has a large, loyal following and is loved for her biting wit and offbeat humor.