Blogger’s Block

I would like to apologise for the scarcity of posts lately. To borrow & quote a comment by Lori, I’ve got ‘an immense backlog of draft posts’. Most of these plain simply are not finished, but a good deal are stuck indefinitely in drafts mode due to the ever-present privacy dilemma that is the natural shadow side of blogging.

Written words are empowering but also sort of irreversible; not as perishable as unrecorded spoken words (although they are not perishable either). My blog has increasingly become personal, and the posts always almost end up much more personal than planned, so I always worry about possible over-exposure. I wish there was an app for determining that question!

I also have a huge mind-backlog. I fantasise about ideas when I drive in my car or eat dinner or perform other activities where I don’t have the chance to write. Once I do commence the thoughts-to-words conversion process, however, the ideas don’t seem as audience-ready as expected. The biggest barrier is potential unintended privacy consequences.

Even though this blog is totally anonymous, there are so many descriptions here now that smart people who know me would be able to piece the puzzle together. I don’t really mind when it is about myself, actually (it wouldn’t be a bad thing if people knew me better), but I worry that people close to me could feel exposed here on the wide open Internet, even if just based on their presumptions and imagination about blogging coupled with a few actual details.

 
Questions to readers who write personal blogs:

  • Do you worry about privacy in regard to your posts, and does it hamper your ability to write and publish?
  • What are your main privacy concerns?
  • Do you have a rule-of-thumb that helps you determine if publishing a post will make you feel over-exposed later on?

 
 
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25 thoughts on “Blogger’s Block

  1. A Quiet Week

    Hullo! Forgive me, I had comment block. A form of excrutiating anxiety over not being able to say the right things at the right time to people I respect and adore.

    This is so timely. I am sitting on two big posts now that I have already written up. One, about Tyom’a trip to the emergency room (he’s fine now) and another on Tyoma’s recent co-morbids to Asperger’s: Tourette’s and OCD.

    I can’t publish because of my husband, who does not want to alarm his family until he has had time to talk to them about the issues. I don’t think I he feels comfortable with me writing “Tourette’s” so I might just say, “Tic disorder” when I do post.

    When I first took my blog public, I had some concerns about privacy. My concerns were more, “a maniac will stalk me” and less “people will judge me.” I had such a nasty time in public school that I doubt even the internet could dish up such meaness.

    Rats. I have a very hyper boy home from school. I’ll be back…

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    1. Mados

      Thanks for your comment! I always enjoy reading your inputs. And sure you’re forgiven for whatever it is needed for! (although I can’t see the need for it:-)

      I’ve got a comment-backlog too… due to trying to spend less time on the Internet & more time on being offline-social lately*. Now I would like to catch up and as a minimum, reply to people’s replies to me, but I don’t know where to start (I mean, this is a start but I’m not sure what to prioritise next because it is already late in the day and I only have one hour).

      I enjoyed to read your two last posts and look forward to read the ones you’re sitting on as well, but I can see why your husband would want to tell his family in a context he can control before they read it on the blog, if he thinks the new information may alarm them.

      As for unwanted** stalkers on the Internet, I guess the Internet is by nature a paradise for stalkers… but: since you are neither a celebrity nor writing about provocative topics, and are mostly at home, I think you are quite safe. I imagine stalking typically begins with someone developing an obsession with a person offline, and then using the Internet to stalk the person because it is easy.

      My situation is different because I am writing under a pen name, and apart from my husband*** and one additional person, I don’t share the blog with people I know offline, such as my family. My primary reason for the ‘secrecy’ is to enable me to write freely and focus on writing and not so much on worries about privacy, or so I thought… but it doesn’t seem to work that way (well enough).

      ——-
      *due to onging pressure

      **definition of unwanted vs wanted stalkers on the Internet: many people with blogs and social media accounts (probably the majority) want stalkers (~ ‘followers’) and actively encourage stalking/following with various apps that make it easier to stalk. So I guess the unwanted stalkers would be those who stalk any online content by a certain person (not even sure about that), or who may take the stalking offline, or who just lacks respect for boundaries or is malicious in some other way.

      ***and I don’t think he reads it

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  2. gavinpandion

    My blog’s been updated infrequently lately too, and likewise my problem is juggling too many drafts that I’m not ready to let go of just yet. But I’m happy to say that many of them are approaching completion to my satisfaction. And I appreciate the freedom not to push “send” on a deadline that comes with blogging. Right now I’m not too focused on improving the blog’s visibility, which I know depends in part on keeping it active so that newcomers who like what they find know they can expect a regular stream of content and are more likely to return early and often.

    I worry about how much to disclose about my research work as well, there are definitely some drafts and outlines of posts in my backlog waiting in part for me to decide how diplomatic I can or should be about the other people I know in the small field of injection safety where I have the most expertise. Commenting on the science would entail crossing people I have gotten to know no matter what, because I don’t fully agree with any of them and I’ve found it’s typical of scientists to take their hypotheses very personally. Fortunately I have eclectic interests that keep me writing without having to touch on those topics until I’ve made up my mind how to do it.

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    1. Mados

      I think your blog is very active compared to many other blogs! I can’t always keep up with it;-) but true, a bit more quiet lately.

      How are you working to improve your blog’s visibility? (apart from keeping it active).

      I worry about how much to disclose about my research work as well, there are definitely some drafts and outlines of posts in my backlog waiting in part for me to decide how diplomatic I can or should be about the other people I know in the small field of injection safety where I have the most expertise.

      I’ve found it’s typical of scientists to take their hypotheses very personally.

      That is an interesting problem… Aren’t you in the same situation as E from The Third Glance: your field of expertise is so narrow that if you write about it then you will automatically give away who you are, and your blog will no longer be a personal little sphere where you can rant and reflect in any way you like, but become more like a public interface.

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  3. catastraspie

    – Do you worry about privacy in regard to your posts, and does it hamper your ability to write and publish?

    Yes very much so. I don’t write under my actual name because I want to have a choice in who I tell about my blog, and I want to receive honest feedback from people.

    – What are your main privacy concerns?

    People disapproving of what I write or being otherwise negatively impacted. Accidentally identifying other people in my life who might not want to be ‘exposed’.

    – Do you have a rule-of-thumb that helps you determine if publishing a post will make you feel over-exposed later on?

    I think ultimately if it was something I wouldn’t tell my mother, I don’t put it on the internet, that’s my rule of thumb and applies to all social media.

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    1. Mados

      Thank you very much for your replies… It sounds like good blogging common sense.

      Everybody’s privacy boundaries are different of course, but I wonder if it would be a helpful to formulate a ‘typical privacy guideline’ for personal blogging, a sort of flowchart to help clear the moments of doubt about whether to hit the ‘Publish’ button or not.

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        1. Mados

          Oi, that is a good idea! I imagine a folder with laminated flowcharts to help decide what to share in different types of situations. Simple visual ‘if… then’ scripts as general guidelines to compare one’s own decisions to.

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          1. Mados

            I bought a second hand laminator on Ebay for $20 (incl. 100 plastic sheets), and since then many of my ideas include laminated things! A laminator is great fun.

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          2. Mados

            (Aha, here was the comment! 🙂

            That is an awesome idea! I think “Do you blog under your own name – No” should have an option too. Otherwise all the anonymous bloggers (like myself) end in a limbo… To Publish or Not Publish?

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          3. autisticook

            Yeah, making the flowchart was eating into my work time and I don’t want to get fired where it’s actually my fault for not doing my job. 😛

            So I’ll continue that when I have the time, just wanted to see if you liked it since it was your idea!

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        2. Mados

          Only you can of course tell what is oversharing because what matters is how exposed you feel. but I think, from reading your blog, that the information you share there is always with a good reason / the kind of insight that can help other too, so from my perspective as an outsider that isn’t oversharing / too much information. (but I do understand that you mean in general, not just online)

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          1. catastraspie

            Thanks for the feedback, that’s good to know 🙂 I think I’m pretty consistent, so hopefully the same applies in real life too! There’s a face I’ve learned to spot in others now which means I should probably wind it up (or wind my neck in!).

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          2. Mados

            You are welcome:-) I had the most hilarious imagination of the ‘wind your neck in’ face;-)

            I came to think about the fact that blog writing and real life conversations are fundamentally different contexts for sharing, with blogging being the ‘less dangerous’ one.

            Blogging: people who read a blog tend to know what to expect and be there on purpose (= want to read the type of content they associate with your blog’s theme). They may have similar perspectives since most blog visitors are not random: they come via related networks such as via clicks on backlinks in comments and likes, links to posts, blogrolls, keyword searches, and tag searches. They often write a blog themselves too, so they know the dilemmas. And in writing you can set up the context for what you are sharing so it conveys it precisely the way you want (or as close as you can get).

            Real life conversations: people may have a myriad of reasons for talking to you, incl. that they feel they ought to (talk to everybody or a certain amount of people), they are bored, they just randomly eye you and it suits their image to be talking to someone right there et.c. They may not even be in the situation to communicate (eg work, school), so they may not REALLY be interested in what you want to share. They also don’t know your motives, like you don’t know theirs. You can’t control the context (the conversation) because people may interrupt you before you get to the point, highjack your point, say gamey things just to expose you, and then there are all the interruptions & noises from the surroundings as well.

            Personally I think the best strategy for real time conversations is to share as little as possible and listen as much as possible. For below reasons (and more):

            1. To avoid overexposure in a situation where it is difficult to quickly determine how people are reacting (although it may become clear in hindsight)

            2. To let others lead the conversation because they are typically better at it. It is still possible to influence the conversation’s direction & interestingness by asking into details of what is being said

            3. It is typically more valuable to listen and learn new perspectives than to express something you* already know. That way you can take new insights home to reflect about, instead of mostly having repeated your existing views.

            4. Most people need ‘warm up time’ before they start to say something interesting, and the best way to give them that is to keep listening through some of their boring stuff, and not interrupt & highjack the conversation with your own associated experiences and opinions.

            5. People love to be listened to, it makes them feel seen & respected and productive, and it bridges differences. So listening is often the best you can give to people socially, rather than talking (contra-intuitively).

            6. Listening can camouflage social deficiencies, although of course questions need to be sensitive, so listening does require strong social effort and does cause exhaustion too.

            7. If people are not worth listening to (after giving them the benefit of the doubt for a little while), then the conversation is just a waste of time anyway.

             
            *I use ‘you’ generally; I am as much talking to myself when I say ‘you’.

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          3. catastraspie

            I like your thinking, and you’re right about blog followers knowing what to expect and being there on purpose, unlike potentially random conversations with work colleagues or acquaintances. There’s less obligation to read someone’s blog for reasons other than you like it. Your strategy for real time conversations is very good, I will have to study this and internally digest! 🙂

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  4. mindretrofit8

    I worry very much for several reasons. My family in some ways, and I filter things at times based on, if they ever were to read it I would not want them to find out on my blog. I do have a bad filtering system though so I have said many things to them already, or it ends up coming out somehow in my conversations to them.

    My main concern is with my husband working in a highly public media type of job. I have limited any mention of him on my blog because I do not want his co-workers to “discover” my blog, or anyone else to figure it out. There are other personal reasons as well, but we are currently in a standstill on certain things.

    I also have concerns about people from my past finding me because I had several abusive relationships, one who stalked me for over seven years and it was scary.

    However, I have gotten more comfortable with sharing photos of me and the kids.

    I have published a few times and had to take it down because it caused me to go into panic attacks because of vulnerability and feeling overexposed. I have learned to write whatever rushes out of me then, try to get a feel of the emotions I am feeling at the moment. If I feel anxious I wait so I can discern if it is because of the post or for other reasons. I also try to filter through my reasons for wanting to publish.

    Why do I want to share?
    Do I really want to or did I only need to get the words out?
    Will it truly help me by sharing it with others?

    I ask myself those types of questions. For some reason, I tend to push down things and ignore them if I do not share them with others. I do not have close friends other than online and they are all tremendously busy as well dealing with their own issues. I cannot share many of my thoughts with my husband, I do not have family members I can turn to to talk with about much of this stuff, and I do not want to wait to discuss with a professional when I know that if I hit publish I will help myself progress.

    Wow! I will stop, I got really wordy! I hope it was helpful and not a bunch of babble. 🙂

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    1. Mados

      Thank you very much for your long and thoughtful reply. I can see that you have a range of reasons to be concerned about privacy, they sound very rational to me.

      There are several aspects of what you write that I recognise, such as poor filtering and delayed feelings of overexposure.

      I have published a few times and had to take it down because it caused me to go into panic attacks because of vulnerability and feeling overexposed.

      Same here… Actually I find it can be hard to predict whether content will cause a sense of overexposure until I hit the ‘Publish’ button, and sometimes later than that. I have sometimes removed content more than a week after posting it, and sometimes edited old posts to remove content I was OK with when I posted it, but not in the long run.

      I have learned to write whatever rushes out of me then, try to get a feel of the emotions I am feeling at the moment. If I feel anxious I wait so I can discern if it is because of the post or for other reasons. I also try to filter through my reasons for wanting to publish.

      Why do I want to share?
      Do I really want to or did I only need to get the words out?
      Will it truly help me by sharing it with others?

      Very good questions. Writing is therapeutic in itself, and sharing can add an extra, valuable dimension – but determining whether something is suitable for sharing on the Internet requires filtering skills, as you say.

      I try to ask myself similar questions before posting, but the answers tend to come with some delay:-) I guess my filtering isn’t that great either.

      I come to think about a recent post by Catastraphie: Social media ≠ Social Skills? Think again… about how the use of social media requires many of the same skills as social communication in general. She focuses on the networking aspects; how to establish interest and keep conversations alive (‘what to do’). I would like to emphasise the strategic social filtering aspect (‘what not to do’), especially in relation to blogging. Manage privacy = social filtering. That might be why it is so hard…

      and I do not want to wait to discuss with a professional when I know that if I hit publish I will help myself progress

      That remark made me think a lot…

      No doubt that blogging, together with the related feedback, interaction and online relationship building, serves an important role for many as a therapeutic self-development and social development tool (and more).

      It could be very interesting to investigate the extend to which blogging/online communication complements or even replaces professional therapy. What therapeutic results are achieved that way, what the most helpful factors are et.c., and if there are ways professional therapy could take those tools/communication channels into consideration and perhaps integrate some aspects.

      I think I have made strong progress using my blog to define objectives, analyse obstacles, learn about others’ experiences and perspectives et.c.

      Wow! I will stop, I got really wordy! I hope it was helpful and not a bunch of babble.

      Your comment is very helpful and inspiring, and I like to read long in-depth comments.

      Also, I think I pretty much have the record in unstoppably long comments, so I would be the last person to judge anyone else for lengthiness:-)

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  5. autisticook

    There’s lots of interesting stuff here. I would love to see you rework some of your thoughts from the comments into a new post! It seems a shame that just because they’re comments, they don’t get the exposure they ought to have.

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    1. Mados

      Thank you very much! That is a good idea.

      Actually, I often would like to rework comment discussions into posts including my own thoughts and quoting others’ – from comments on my own blog and interesting discussions on others’ blogs too. My posts tend to expand wildly and then tend to get stuck like a frozen progress bar… The ending/conclusion/point is the most difficult. So I have quite a lot of stuff sitting that I would like to finish.

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