The short answer is yes. In many ways I don’t mind putting my thoughts out on the no man’s land we call the internet. I’m sure Foucault would have all kinds of things to say about the kind of surveillance we submit ourselves to as bloggers, but as an aspiring writer it’s unrealistic for me to remain entirely private if I want to build up my writing experience.
That being said, everything we put online is going to follow us for the rest of our lives. Yes, most of the time people just don’t care what my (or your) opinions are, so we can slather them all over any social media site with little to no consequences, but, then again, sometimes those opinions may come back to haunt us. This past month I started several blog posts only to put them aside for a variety of reasons. I hope to come back to them again at some point, but for this post I thought I would share a few of those reasons and why they make me think twice about what I share.
My Work (Current and Future)
I’m sure we have all heard about someone who got fired because of a poorly thought-through Facebook complaint. For me, being careful extends beyond just stopping myself before I say something too stupid. It also requires that I honour any confidentiality forms I may have signed. I also need to respect the patent on any intellectual property I have access to through work. This can actually be a lot harder than it sounds. I love my work (as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working in the Special Education field for several years now). When you work with kids (and families) it can sometimes become hard to keep the line between your professional relationships and personal friendships. Here on the blog I often share about my personal experiences. Often, I am tempted to share anecdotes from my professional experiences too, but no matter how anonymous I try to keep a story I feel concerned that it could be traced back to the original source.
We all have some kind of opinion on what truth is. For most of us, these opinions evolve. Recently, I shared a little bit about how my views on the purity movement have changed, for example. There are a lot of other aspects of my faith that I have reevaluated in recent years too.
Sometimes it can be hard for me to discuss these changes in such a public way. Partially, this is because there are a lot of people in my life who I respect that hold different views than me. For some of those people, disagreeing with certain things is very threatening, or can come across as an attack on them personally. In these kind of situations I’d like to challenge myself to discuss disagreements in person, rather than hide behind a computer screen.
There is also that thing I mentioned before, about beliefs evolving. While I still want to wrestle with the issues that are important to me, sometimes I think back on my old views on life and realize how terribly embarrassed I’d be if all those thoughts had been recorded and posted on the internet. So there certainly is a possibility that in a few years I will look back, embarrassed about the views that are contemporary to me now.
I don’t always get to spend as long on a blog post as I would like. Sometimes that means I don’t get to spend as long studying my featured topic as long as I would prefer. As mentioned above, I would consider myself an “aspiring writer”. That means that whatever I write acts as a reflection of my skill (or lack thereof). It sucks to go back and find grammar issues, or even worse, information that was poorly researched. That being said, blogging is also a different kind of writing. It is personal, and much more casual. We often remind readers that we all hold our own biases, here on the blog, and obviously we are writing about things that we feel strongly about, especially on Fame or Shame Days. We work to give readers as much background information as we are able, but we just cannot dedicate the same level of time and energy to a weekly post that we might spend on a masters thesis, for example.
My Social Life
I’m a very social person, so for me, all my other reasons come back to this one in the end. I would be devastated if I ever found out one of my bosses had found me to be unprofessional because of something I had shared online. And as much as I love that Culture War Reporters is a place where we can be open about our beliefs and opinions, it is sometimes impossible to do so without offending somebody. Then again, freedom of speech does not mean saying what you want without consequences. And sharing your opinion in a very public way can be a risk. But sometimes you can find that the risk is worth it. I’ve been contributing to Culture War Reporters for about a year now and I’ve loved (pretty well) every minute of it. Yeah, I had to build a thicker skin along the way, but it taught me a lot of practical skills (like meeting a weekly deadline). It’s also allowed me to do what I love, and prompted some great real life conversations. So will blogging come back to haunt me? Well, I think it already has. And for the most part, it’s been pretty great.