How Open Are You on Your Blog?

40YROLD.COVER3An interview I recently did with writer and TV producer Joel Schwartzberg got me thinking, how open should my blog be?

Schwartzberg recently wrote the book The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad, which contains a series of essays he wrote on the topics of divorce and fatherhood and how divorce made him a better dad. The book also includes a controversial Newsweek article he’d written earlier this year, in which he said he suffered from male postpartum depression after the birth of his son several years ago. To be certain this is a topic you don’t hear much about, or maybe never heard of. His honest recollection of panic and crying on the floor with his son earned him derision among some. At both Newsweek and the conservative site,, many readers had harsh words for Schwartzberg.

Really harsh words – questioning everything from his sexuality to his fitness as a father. He was also propped up as a poster child for what’s wrong with liberal men.

With so many people on the web quick to eviscerate a stranger in such a vicious manner, it makes you wonder why anybody would share their deepest thoughts and fears with the public. Perhaps there’s some wisdom in keeping some things personal.

Where do you draw the line between public and private?

In some cases, if not most, bloggers blog for attention (myself included). However, sometimes they blog for other reasons – from making people aware of issues (as was Schwartzberg’s case, though his medium was in a news magazine, not a blog, but you get the idea) and other times, people are simply looking to connect with others going through similar situations.

But with so many angry people looking to inflict their misery unto others, it makes you wonder – why bother?

Maybe we’re better off playing it safe, not writing anything that makes us look weak, shows us in a bad light or invites criticism.

While I have written several extremely honest and revealing things in both this blog and in a newspaper column I had, there is a line I draw. I don’t write anything that makes people in my life look bad and I don’t thrust anybody into the public spotlight that didn’t ask to be there. And I try not to write anything which might prevent me from future employment (bad news if I look for a job at Target, eh?)

But perhaps I should censor myself further? Maybe I should read my blog through the lens of someone who is my exact polar opposite and try to avoid saying anything which will invite scorn, ridicule or hate?

Hell, maybe this post is too introspective and just another horrifying example of what’s wrong with liberal men?!

Maybe I should censor myself a bit more. But I won’t.

Truth is, people will always find a reason to hate that which they fear, don’t understand, or secretly loathe within themselves.

True, people can’t hurl stones at you if you don’t put yourself out there. But living your life in fear of their stones only gives them more power over your life.

So, how open are you in your blog? What sorts of things do you feel people should keep personal?

(Notes: For a somewhat related story about someone dealing with haters, check out Writer Dad’s most recent post about his wife’s PTA problems. And the Thomas the Train post I keep teasing will appear on Wed.)

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13 Responses to How Open Are You on Your Blog?

  1. Tracy says:

    Funny, that interview sparked the same questions in me. I was a little afraid that my comment might seem like I was criticizing people for writing about their families by saying it’s not the choice I made but that’s not how I feel at all.

    I don’t feel like I’m censoring myself, more that I have boundaries I’m comfortable for myself. It’s subtle difference. I have no idea where to draw the line for other people but I think that children’s privacy and dignity is something that should be given consideration especially as the child gets older. When I wrote a post about my oldest son’s Asperger’s I gave him the right to veto the post if he felt uncomfortable with it.

    Basically I think that holding back because of personal boundaries and good taste is a fine thing and everyone’s definition is different. Holding back on something you really want to say because you are afraid of what people might think is fine, too and I won’t fault anyone for it, but sometimes it’s important enough to pushy past the fear and give the world a great piece of writing.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Friday Photo Fun =-.

  2. Scott says:

    I’m a relatively young blogger (6 months) and still trying to find my voice a bit, but I definitely have a line, especially after seeing what companies search for during their hiring process. At this point I also draw the line at issues my wife and I (or other people in my life) are dealing with unless she’s okay with it. So I pretty much agree with where you draw your line.
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..Is Your Child A Golden Calf? =-.

  3. Carolyn Bahm says:

    I blog erratically but am on Twitter/Facebook a LOT. I’ve written about everything from hemorrhoids to how my husband hates my haircut to my devastation when my 19-year-old abruptly left home last summer. Also about the many funny stupid things I’ve done (that’s mostly what I blog about, actually). I think I do it to connect, not to seek approval or affirmation like I might have done as a younger woman. I just like to tell my stories and observations. Be authentic, warts and all. When I do that, I tend to really like the people who DO choose to connect with me anyway.

    My boundaries online are pretty basic: to not trash-talk someone in my life (particularly if it’s out of momentary pique), not burn my career bridges, not endanger my children, and not deliberately encourage someone else to do something harmful. Other than those fenceposts, I’d probably write about it. Middle age cures ya of a lot of self-consciousness, you know? ;o) At least for me!

    And the trolls? They can #suckit.

  4. jan geronimo says:

    That’s a hard question to answer. I deal with this concern from time to time myself, knowing there are really haters out there. Lots of things I keep from the public view, but I occasionally test the waters. What good is blogging as a form of self-expression if one lives in fear of ridicule and nasty criticisms, right?
    .-= jan geronimo´s last blog ..Giving Good Loving To My Top Follow Friday People =-.

  5. Orchid64 says:

    This may sound cynical, but the line between private and public is usually drawn at where money can be made. People reveal themselves more if they think they’ll profit from such exposure. There’s nothing better for selling a book than making enough people hate you to draw attention to yourself.

    This is the result of living in an age where talent (of any sort, including writing) comes a distant third to public humiliation and fame as a point of interest to people. People don’t care how well you can say something. They care about how good they feel about themselves after reading your intimate details. The more embarrassing the information, the more superior they feel so you get a lot more mileage if you’re despised (explains Paris Hilton, doesn’t it?).

    I used to be very open on my blogs, and with each successive new blog (I’m on two which are not personal now), I’ve dialed down the exposure. The problem isn’t that people necessarily will use it against you (though they will), but rather that I wasn’t getting anything but grief in repayment. If it sold books, I’d probably lay it all out there. Also, frankly, people want to be mad and will go out of their way to willfully misinterpret what you say to help them work up some feelings.

    The more intimate your revelations, the more deeply they can attack you. They love this. And the bottom line is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the real you or what you really said. It has to do with a need in many people to find someone to kick around so they can feel better. Beating up on people anonymously on the internet has replaced the classic “kick the dog” because you’re frustrated behavior of the past.

  6. elmot says:

    This is a difficult thing to answer, but at the end of the day only the blogger can answer this one. Sometimes it is indeed difficult to open fearing that maybe I would throwing my pearls to the swine.

    For me, I always think of the fact that if I open up myself to people, there will always be people out there who will it on a different light…then if one has chosen to open up his windows, be ready also to face those who will bug you.

    Therefore, just open up and share what you can only afford to lose.
    .-= elmot´s last blog ..Noynoy Aquino, People Power III and Coffee =-.

  7. I have to agree with Elmot (hi Elmot) every individual blogger will have different ‘lines’. I have read some blogs and thought ‘woh that’s a bit close to the bone’ but clearly they are comfortable writing about those things.
    I have a line. I not only don’t cross it, I don’t go near it just to be sure.
    .-= Tara@Sticky Fingers´s last blog ..Can you make real friends through blogging? =-.

  8. My blog is our family’s blog, and while for me it’s a way of recording our family history, I do sometimes get into the really personal side of things. But there are also issues that deal with our family that I NEVER discuss. Like the fact that I had a falling out with my mother-in-law before we moved overseas and didn’t speak to her for a year (which is a huge deal, considering she still Skype-d with the rest of my family every week). But not once did I mention anything of the sort on my blog, because like you said, I don’t write to point fingers at the people in my life. Unless it’s to make fun of my kids, but that’s my prerogative as their mother. Plus they can’t read yet.
    .-= Heather @critter chronicles´s last blog ..It’s All About How You Word It =-.

  9. Kyddryn says:

    There’s always someone who will poke the hurty place, try to deepen the wound. That someone is usually small in spirit and seeking to aggrandize themselves.

    The way I see it, if I connect with one person…just ONE…give them a light, help them see a way through what they’re suffereing/enduring/experiencing…if I can show them the humor or the survivability of our common situation…if I can give even one person a little look into what their loved-one may be thinking/feeling or put a smile on their face…well, it’s worth the potential trolls and misery-mongers.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    .-= Kyddryn´s last blog ..Word(s) =-.

  10. Davied says:

    I find the easier solution is if I’m blogging about a friend or family member, I just add an “e” into the middle of their name somewhere. And voila, privacy, upheld!

    That way my wife Jennifeer doesn’t mind is I spill all of our deep dark secrets. (I won’t disclose her real name)
    .-= Davied´s last blog ..FREE REFILLS =-.

  11. I’ve deluded myself into thinking my blog is perfectly anonymous and that no one will ever find out who I am. In reality, I know that it wouldn’t be too hard at all to trace the IP address from which I post and locate me. So I certainly won’t post anything that violates Blogspot’s Terms of Service. But I don’t mind writing about such things as “erectile dysfunction” or “man boobs.” Hypothetically, of course. ;)

    Anyway, I’m open to embarrassment, but not harassment.
    .-= Square Peg Guy´s last blog ..Good-Bye, Lucy =-.

  12. While I often discuss my marriage, I don’t really share much about my husband (other than the really general stuff). Just because I’ve decided to write about extremely personal experiences, doesn’t mean he ever made that choice.
    .-= Hayden Tompkins´s last blog ..The Awesome Post of Awesome =-.

  13. PJ Mullen says:

    “Truth is, people will always find a reason to hate that which they fear, don’t understand, or secretly loathe within themselves.”

    This says it all. You can’t care what someone might hate, because they might be predisposed to hate everything they don’t understand anyway. I’m very open on my blog – my life, how I feel I failed in my professional career, what I think I’m good at and what I think I’m bad at. Those that can relate are the ones I hope to reach. Anyone else can just stop reading my blog.

    The only thing I don’t ever write about is my wife in a negative light. We all have the occasional flare ups in our relationships, but as some will say what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook. What I’m mad about today will be a distant memory tomorrow. I see no use in memorializing the negative things in my relationship with my wife when they arise. But anything else is pretty much open season.