Seaside Contemplations

Seaside Contemplations: Public vs. Private

"Ariel" by lolita_art

Seaside Contemplations is a new feature here on the blog, through which aspects of blogging, reading and the world of books will be discussed every week. Have a suggestion for a future contemplation? Leave it in the comments!

Eleven months into my first year of book blogging, I’ve been introduced to a variety of new challenges. As I’d only ever blogged on a friends-only LiveJournal, the public dimension that book blogs bring to the reading experience is something I’ve had to learn how to deal with day-by-day. A day doesn’t go by without at least one moment where my Twitter follower count stuns me, and not always in a good way. Having a little corner of the internet to call one’s own can be terrifying.

I believe that’s a healthy fear, though, and one that can help to keep my ego from growing so big, it’ll tip me right over. After all, it’s easy to form connections with fellow bloggers–but keeping them? That’s the difficult part. As bloggers, we share many of the same interests and attitudes. We follow the same agents, editors, authors and publishers on social media sites, we get ARCs at the same time…sometimes it feels like we can finish each other’s sentences. But with that fun connection comes a challenge that makes itself known in the most obvious way: where do you draw the line between your private life and your public one?

I’ve been on LiveJournal for about eight years now, Facebook for six and Twitter for four years (on another account). LJ was responsible for introducing me to some of my closest friends, people who’ve been around for the ups and downs of real life. Twitter’s helped us keep in touch. But starting this book blog has forced me to figure out how much I’m really willing to share with people online. As a teen, the consequences of oversharing aren’t too deadly. High school drama tends to turn over quickly. But when you’re dealing with hundreds of people every day, tweeting about every minute of your life might give you more than you bargained for.

There have been moments when my fingers were too trigger-happy and typed out things I later regretted. There were times that made me wish I’d just clammed up and not rocked the boat. The internet gives us an invisibility cloak of sorts–behind the avatar, no one can really see your face. But while it’s great to have a place where you can shout all your thoughts as loudly as you want, it won’t be fun to deal with the reactions afterwards. People you never thought would find your rants do, and they react badly. Family and friends you tweet about may discover your words. (I speak from a TINY bit of experience, but not with these two examples.)

With every month that passes, it’s become more and more important to me to keep my blogging life and real life separate. My thoughts on books may reflect my personal attitude and beliefs, but they shouldn’t have anything to do with what I particularly favour for lunch. While I like sharing titles of my favourite TV shows and movies, I’m not as free with the things that frustrate me in my life. The internet can cheer me up and distract me–it can’t solve my problems for me. I’ll always be painfully honest when it comes to constructive criticism, but I’ve learned the proper place for it, and I quite like the happy (separate) bubbles I’ve created for each part of my life.

How do you deal with oversharing? Do you like keeping your blogging separate from real life? Where should we draw the line?

Don’t forget to suggest future Contemplation topics in the comments!

2 replies »

  1. I’ll probably have to learn the hard way to keep my private Internet life separate from my public Internet life, but that hasn’t really happened yet. Though I think I usually separate by Twitter/Livejournal. So Twitter is for public stuff, livejournal is for private stuff, and if there’s something super private, I’ll just skype chat with someone or keep it inside XD

  2. Great post! I’ve been thinking a LOT about this topic – for myself, for the generation after me, for my peers, and for the generations before.

    I keep my life very public, but often filter myself. I do this very much in my personal life, so it’s not very hard with my internet persona. I also use social media quite regularly (possibly because my friends and family span a large area, roughly 150 miles which we all traverse regularly). So social media has given us an ease with communication, and we’ve become comfortable with it.

    Now, I’m trying to reach out and get a following (for my films and for my future books). So I struggle with hiding behind a screenname, and often give out my real name easily.

    With facebook growing in popularity, hiding behind a false name seems outdated, and people freely give out information as a norm (often incriminating). Then as a cosumer, we demand from the press that celebrities and figures of authory also divulge everything (often incriminating).

    But I’m on a cusp of a generation, and many of my friends are “weirded out” by how open everyone is. Part of me feels that there is a public and private life; part of me wonders with the shift in culture if will remains true. Maybe that distiction is something as simple as a personal and professional side. When I share details of my life, I make sure that it’s something I wouldn’t mind one of my nosy coworkers, or my boss, discovering.

    But for me, I’m probably walking a dangerous line. So far, it’s been really working out.

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