January 13, 2006

Boundaries: Online and Off

An open series of questions to any of you with blogs, we'll call this the last audience participation special of National De-Lurking Week:

Do you blog under your real name?
Do your family/ off-line friends know about the blog?
Is that a reason you don't use your real name?
If you blog anonymously, have your off-line friends who know about the blog ever outed you to someone you'd prefer to keep away from your blog?
Doesn't it piss you off when people cross your personal blog boundaries?
How do you go about handling something like that (which is really an invasion of your privacy)?

I ask this because dear Helen just experienced a major betrayal of her boundaries at an incredibly bad time, and I had a similar, though not nearly so devastating experience recently, and I know others who have (or are about to) run screaming from their old blogs because of trolls they knew in real life (you know who you are).

Your thoughts?  Any advice for Helen?  I really am interested to hear what you have to say. Email me if you don't feel all that comfortable leaving a comment....

Posted by caltechgirl at January 13, 2006 02:41 PM | TrackBack

Since I've started keeping my blog, I've used my real-life nickname to sign the posts. So, it doesn't appear on any official records that I'm aware of, but some people outside blogland could probably put things together if they ever stumbled across my blog.

That having been said, I worry sometimes about my professors finding my blog and what I've written about them. But, cest la vie.

I think Helen's in a difficult situation. She really can't -- I mean she doesn't have the ability -- to control what her family does. So, she should probably assume from this point forward that they are going to read her blog regardless of whether they tell her they won't. Therefore, she has to make a decision; either she should continue to blog and expect friction with her family, or she should stop blogging (and probably resent her family for forcing her to stop). Of course, another possibility is to discontinue her current blog, and start a new, anonymous one that she doesn't tell her family about. It's a bad deal, but I think that's it.

Posted by: Cardinal Martini at January 13, 2006 03:27 PM

I do not use my real name. I do tell my friends and family about my blog. I tell them not to use my real name. I have a blog for the purpose of letting my family, who is all over the world, know what is going on in my little piece of the world. It is also a scrapbook for my use in the future. That is also why my blog is fairly 'clean'. ;-)

Posted by: vw bug at January 13, 2006 03:56 PM

Okay, I'm channeling the sober side of my mind right now.

Obviously I use a handle, to protect my family and friends.

My friends and wife/kids know about my blog, but no one else in my family.

No, again I'm protecting my family. I have a relatively common name, it would be hard to hunt me down, with out sorting through the various others that share my name.

My minions, er employees found my blog about 3 months ago. That kinda sucks, no more minion stories.

Depending on what you mean by that. I've had a couple of bloggers try to force more personal information about me through e-mails. But I've never been upset by anyone reading my blog. I've naturally censored myself. That's hard to believe isn't it?

I did something similar to this back in November, I wrote off the people and have decided not to continue my relationship with them.

As for Helen, I'm sorry that happened to her. Betrayel is something that I've never, ever been able to forgive. Hopefully she's a nicer person then I am. If that's the case, I'll wish them to the firey bowels of hell for her.

Posted by: Contagion at January 13, 2006 04:13 PM

Drunk brain says:

Get new url.

Posted by: Contagion at January 13, 2006 04:14 PM

I'm completely anonymous and it's for this very reason.

Not that there is anything on my blog (at least, this latest incarnation) that I would be upset about if my family found it, nor is there anything that would upset them.

I think. *knocks on wood*

But it would definitely change the way I blog and the freedom I feel when I want to vent or whatever on my blog.

I feel really bad for Helen. If I were her, I would have changed digs the first time I realized my family was reading me and then send out emails to all my bloggin' buds about my new address.

Because let's face it; nobody can stop reading someone they know. If anything, once they realize they *know* you in real life, the more they'll read your blog. They can't help it. Humans are far too curious.

I know of a husband and wife who were blogging on the same blog about their marriage and they went through some tough times. So he started his own blog to vent about the way their marriage was going, asked her not to go there and, incredibly, *believed* her when she promised she was not going to read it.

Well, guess what? She DID go over there and read it, of course, and then all hell broke loose.

Their shrink told them to take the blogs down altogether and rightfully so.

I don't know; I know nobody likes switching blog addresses. You always lose some readers and it's just a huge hassle, but if her family is going to haunt her...dunno. :-( It's just a damn shame.

Posted by: Amber at January 13, 2006 04:37 PM

New blog for sure. It's not that big of an undertaking, annoying as it may be. Heck, leave the old one there and write sanitary stuff it matters not who sees, and say what you really want elsewhere.

I have always used a real name based pseudonym/pen name that predates blogging and is close enough not to be hard to figure out. Eventually I have even stated my real surname, increasingly less circuitously, on my blog. Over the course of time family has come to read it, if they are online, if they care to bother, and that has been weird at times but overall not unwanted. None of them would have sought it out had I not flagged it, though having to explain about marrying another blogger made it harder to hide.

Anyway, blogging is cheap and anonymity is easy if you really want it.

Posted by: Jay at January 13, 2006 06:03 PM

1. No - but my nick-name is known by a lot of other people so I'm not real anonymous, and once you add in the signature line...vague but probably not real hard for a determined idiot to ferret out. I avoid my last name since it's uncommon and an immediate trackback - some anonymity is better than naked floundering IMO.
2. Some - My wife knows, it bores her. My family is grown up and don't give a shit, friends who might know don't care either and aren't into reading people's computer crap, spewed out onto the 'Net.
3. No - But I'm definitely not into exposing my inner soul -- or believe it's particularly interesting to anybody anyhow. I just do what I feel like and it doesn't happen to involve much internal turbidity revealed.
4. No - nobody really cares, and I don't have an intense emotional investment in it either, but if you need to keep *certain* people away it's probably better if you weren't bound up in the blog-thing and found other means of expression.
5. No - Not yet anyhow - What the hell are personal blog-boundaries? Any troll can post if you let them. IMO there's nothing confidential about a blog on the Internet - it's just everybody's warts and moles, or it's paint drying and what they had for lunch - or not, or worse.
6. Privacy? Keep a towel handy and shut the drapes. It's always a bad time for somebody somewhere, there's a relative in the Hospital dying every day - that's one reason why they park their cars so badly and drop garbage on the sidewalk.

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view at January 13, 2006 06:12 PM

1) Yes I do. Mostly, because I have little to hide, and partly to let people who've known me from way back when get in touch with me again. It's happened 4 times off the top of my head, when someone from my past found my site, and said hello. Usually it's good to reconnect.
2) My brother knows my blog exists, and my mom, at least one aunt, and several cousins read it on occasion. It's a little disconcerting, and since my mom found my blog, my entries have been a little bit more... restrained. Not that there was ever anything unseemly, but I'm less inclined to post about a rash wave of emotion (usually disgust or unpleasantness) than I was in the past.
3) N/A
4) Only if you count a cousin to her mom, to my mother.
5) (this question is a bit leading....could it be rephrased?) It's come very close to on a few occasions, but I can't think of any time in the past year and a half it's come close. Which probably means I'm lucky. Closest I came was someone leaching a picture of mine.
6) I redirected the picture link to lemonparty (I'm cruel that way, don't go to that site). He leached for 3 more days, then his background went white. Which is very funny, cause he was on myspace, which has a no nudity or offensive clause.

I have no advice for Helen that would do any good, and probably only make things worse. i try to avoid that, so I decline that invitation.

Posted by: Bill at January 13, 2006 08:43 PM

1. I blog under my real first name.
2. Yes, but I told them about it. I had a blog to help family keep up with my girls, but I got tired of maintaining two blogs. So I combined them.
3. NA
4. No one has crossed by personal blog boundaries, but I think they are very low to begin with.
5. I am struggling with answering this question and would have to say it depends on the situation. I do consider my blog MY space. It is for ME and I can do what I want with it, unlike so many other aspects of my life.

I feel for Helen. But I think her sister outing her is a symptom of bigger issues.

Sometimes I do regret making my blog known to my family. What I can't blog I would not blog anyway. I have less sexual inuendos, but I don't need a blog for that kind of outlet!

Posted by: Amy at January 13, 2006 09:01 PM

1. I blog under my real last name, after having started out using my full name. I've been owning up to my opinions in public since junior-high school, why stop now?

2. Most of my friends who know about my blog found it by way of my website, a few others because I told them about it. One, I think a mutual acquaintance found it and told him, at a time when he and I weren't friends -- but something I posted helped patch it up.

3 & 4: N/A

5 & 6: I have a stated policy that I'll refer people to if I think they need to know what they'll be going up against, and it boils down to, "Your only shelter here is my goodwill -- squander it at your peril." My boundaries are rarely transgressed.

Posted by: McGehee at January 14, 2006 05:41 AM

As for Helen's predicament, the blogging platform I use has some really cool tools that can block people from even viewing my site, if I have the necessary information about how they're getting there.

Posted by: McGehee at January 14, 2006 05:51 AM

I blog under one of my middle names. My husband knows about my blog,and no-one else.

I never understood why Helen didn't change her address the first time this issue came up. I realize she has issues about 'moving house' but I would rather move the blog than worry about trusting this person not to look again. Human nature being what it is.

Posted by: Jocelyn at January 14, 2006 10:59 AM

1) Nope. Further, Owlish was never a nickname. I think someone in the real world, who knew that I blogged, could probably find my blog, but it would be difficult.
2) No family knows. Some friends know, but not ones I'm closest too.
3) Partially. My name is common enough that hunting me down through Googling my name is difficult, and my family probably wouldn't make the effort.

The other part is, being gay. It might or might not make my profession more difficult. I suspect it would make my parents' life more difficult, if people in their small town knew.
4) Nope. And, yeah, it would suck.

Posted by: owlish at January 14, 2006 05:58 PM

1. No, I don't. I used to, until I had problems similar to Helen's. I also moved my blog, but the asshats found me anyway, by reading other's links.

2. My immediate family knows, and some cousins; they don't care, much. Don't read terribly often, either. They aren't much for the computer.

3. Nope. I do it mostly for professional reasons now (work for DoD). And because of a stalker (a BAD one) from my distant past.

4. The Asshat Clan crossed my personal boundaries, but I never told them about my blog. They just found it. Pissed me off. Twice, heh.

5. I honestly think that curiosity being what it is, and human nature being what it is, that some folks will go to pretty great lengths to find you, even if you do move your blog. They can look at some of the blogrolls of Helen's best blog friends, and figure it out from there. I mean, unless she totally changes how she writes, and that's pretty difficult. Again, I say this from direct experience.

My suggestion is that she track her visitors carefully, block IPs like there's no tomorrow, or password-protect her site. Or she can harrass the hell out of the offenders. Which I did, and while I don't know if that's what eventually got them to stop, I do know it brought me great satisfaction.

Posted by: liv at January 14, 2006 08:43 PM

Howinhell did I miss this???

My Answers (as if you didn't know):

1. Yes, I blog under my real name. Damn stupid idea if you ask me.

2. Yes. Family knows and all of the friends I have know.

3. N/A

4. N/A

5. I think it's very much like Steve said: there is a subset of scummy people who live for drama, controversy and to read things/watch things from people they don't like. I think they're twisted. As for my personal situation? There is one ex-friend of mine whom I wish would quit reading but that's not going to happen. So I just don't think about her. My hubby's ex-wife and demon spawn read my blog. Every day. And that's the one that squicks me out. I usually don't hear from her, though, until she's out of medication.

6. So far, placing them on "ignore" helps. But when it comes to the baby, I'm done. I'm closing margilowry.com for good. I have started an anonymous blog on a free site and maybe I'll use it. There are a few of you that I've met through blogging that I love and with whom I will keep in touch -- if only to send baby pictures -- but I will not post pictures of my baby on a blog. I just can't do it.

I won't give them the satisfaction.

Posted by: Margi at January 15, 2006 01:35 PM