Something unexpected happened this week. A friend from the “real world” let slip that she had been reading my blog. While I shouldn’t be at all surprised that people are stumbling upon it (it’s linked to from my public facing profile on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), it does make me pause for thought about the things I write. Where you might write all manner of soul searching words in a paper diary that nobody else will ever see, publishing your thoughts on a public platform on the internet is another proposition entirely.
I’m not worried about anybody in particular reading my blog – certainly not the friend mentioned above, because she’s lovely, wonderful, and I think the world of her – but I do wonder about people that hide their writing online. Nothing on the internet is really hidden. I have lost count of the number of times friends have been “outed” that used obscurity as a primary means of securing the thoughts they have published online.
Inventing an obscure username doesn’t work, because anybody determined enough – and believe me, some people are – will expend inordinate amounts of time connecting the dots through the friendships, likes, and comments you might post to find you. Even worse, those you befriend online could out you at a moment’s notice. I’ve seen it happen – quite famously in a few cases. Who remembers Petite Anglaise, Dooce, or Belle du Jour ?Some might argue that walled gardens are the answer, because then you can choose who you let in. But then how do you know who somebody is on the internet? Who do you trust? Do you trust anybody?I guess if you write anything controversial, you start to play a poker game of sorts. It seems that fame, attention, and reputation are only ever applied to female bloggers with something to lose though – and that has to be down to the nature of modern journalism. Even in these supposedly equal times, nothing seems to sell words quite so quickly as a fallen woman – and the greater the height to fall, the greater the potential amount of money to make.
I suppose I’ll never have to worry about fame, or reputation – given that I tend to write about the mundane, rather than any illicit goings on in a secret life. While I do hear occasional stories about others that I know would make wonderful reading, I dare not share them. I learned long ago about such idiocy.
It’s interesting though, isn’t it – say we see somebody in a public place behaving deplorably, does that make their actions fair game for the rest of the world to find out about? Is that what separates a journalist from somebody that writes a journal? Perhaps the journalist is willing to deal with the repercussions of their words, whereas the author of a journal is not.
While you think about that, I’ll be sitting here in my dark corner of the internet, writing my words, and occasionally sharing them with the world at large. Very often the world at large will wander straight past, but now and again somebody will become distracted by the nonsense I have written, and stay for a few moments. That’s enough for me.Â