write of privacy

Disclaimer: All the characters and events portrayed in my life may as well be fictional, and any resemblance to real life, people or incidents would be less coincidental than just unusually lucky for a change.

There’s an interesting article in the “Fashion & Style” section of today’s New York Times about the issue I’d recently discussed here, the chance of someone you know–family, friends, lovers, co-workers, employers–discovering your blog and the things you’ve written about them therein. In addition to the perils of losing friends or scandalizing your parents–mine would probably be mortified by the sexual history implied by my purity score–one blogger interviewed suggests that she even was fired by an employer for having written about her job.

The most notable part of the article, though, from my perspective, was the description of a new social anxiety among non-bloggers: the fear of being “blogged.” One blogger interviewed describes it as “personal etiquette meets journalistic rules. If you have a friend who’s a blogger you have to say, ‘This is not for blogging.’ It’s the blogging equivalent of ‘This is off the record.'” Another uses pseudonyms for his friends in order to avoid crossing “the line between simple harmless betrayal of trust and nasty actionable libel.”

This brings up an intriguing dilemma, though. If your friends, family and co-workers don’t know that you blog, is it incumbent upon you to tell them, so that they have the opportunity to keep some things off the record? Do we all need to get the blog equivalent of press passes and credentials, or wear funny hats with BLOGGER on the front? And do pseudonyms really get you off the hook, or just add a mild level of security by obscurity by making it less likely that a friend will find themselves in your blog by googling their name? On occasion, I’ve used pseudonyms, but in general their use as a way to protect your friends seems a little ingenuous; while it might protect their privacy, to some degree, they’re still likely to recognize themselves, unless the hyperbole is so extreme that its really just fiction anyway.

And I hadn’t given much thought yet to what happens if I were to start dating someone now that I’m blogging. But then, I don’t regularly give much thought to other events on that end of the asymptotic curve, either.