Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Much Is Too Much Information On A Blog?

The other day I read something that someone posted about their child that made me feel awkward.  She'd written something deeply personal about her son, something quite humiliating and it got me to wondering, how much is too much information on a blog?

I've followed a blogger named Heather Armstrong for many years now.  She's the mother of all mommy bloggers and while she wasn't my inspiration to start this blog, she sure has inspired me to keep going.  She's often been criticized for how much information she shares about her family and because she's one of the first,  people have looked to her as a sort of litmus test of how that would all work out.

As it turns out, not so well.  She's in the midst of a divorce and is struggling a great deal personally.  It might be a leap to say that it's because of how much she's written about her family but even if it wasn't the reason, she's now put in a situation where she feels exposed and understandably wants privacy.  That's something hard to come by when you've basically set up shop in a fish bowl.

I believe that the reason people read blogs (myself included) is for the honesty.  I don't want to hear about someone's perfection.  Want to really alienate a reader? Tell them how your floors are always sparkling clean!  I want to know that I'm not alone. I want to say, "YES! I'm so glad it's not just me."  That plus some good writing, a little humor and a good dose of wisdom goes a long way.  But how much honesty do you expect from your bloggers in terms of revealing their personal lives?  That's a fine line we all have to walk.

I've recently chosen to keep my kids mostly off of my blog.  Everyone knows I'm a mom and I feel free to express my experiences as a mom but I don't think it's appropriate to use my kids as blog fodder.  This is mostly because my kids are getting to an age where they are getting embarrassed and I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable. When they were younger, I knew they couldn't read it but now that they are all capable, I find it a bit slanderous to talk about them unless I've asked for their permission.  My almost 10 year old is going through some serious growing up right now and you have no idea how much I want to talk about that but her experience is not mine to tell.

I can share how I feel about my baby becoming a tween.  I can explain how I felt when I showed her how to wash her face with acne scrub for the first time and how I imagined that moment to be how my husband will feel when he teaches our son how to shave.  It is a strange mix of pride, angst and sadness when you realize how incredibly fast this whole parenting thing flies by.

I used to post a ton of cute pictures of them and I'm still cool with a few pics from time to time but I'm really trying to be careful with what I say about them so as not to invade their privacy.  I have plenty to talk about without resorting to divulging their secrets.  Here's my question to you?

What is too much information on a personal blog? Have you ever read something on a blog that made you say, "TMI!"



11 comments:

  1. The only thing I cannot STAND to see on a blog is naked pictures of the person's kid. I know a couple people who post bath pictures, and you can see the little girl's bits, right out there in the open. It's awful. I think, "Did you seriously just post your daughter's private parts on the internet?" Now that's TMI, in a scary way.

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    1. Yowza, that is over the top. And not to mention dangerous!

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  2. I saw Heather Armstrong from Dooce, on TV promoting her new book - a journal to her child that she's written for years. I wondered why. It's original intent was for her daughter (or was it?); now she's trying to profit from it. Maybe she needs the money. I did not follow her, so I can't judge - but, is she anything like Kate (from Kate plus 8)?

    People put a lot of stuff out there; many because they think they are anonymous. Ha! I base what I say by asking myself if there is anyone (in the world) who should not see this. If the answer is yes, then I don't say it.

    Like you, I'd love to talk more about my kids, but it's not right for me or my family. Others live differently, so it's their choice.

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    1. In the way that so many people judge and hate her...yes she is a LOT like Kate. I don't know her personally so I can't say definitively but during my years of reading her, I think that she's been really honest, and in a good way. She helped countless people with her story about postpartum depression. People loved her back then because she was so transparent. But over time, she's begun to hide behind a persona and has become less and less relatable. I'm not sure why that happened. To many of her readers, it seems like a sell out. After all, the woman makes over $40,000 a month on her blog. For that, they expect that she'd put effort, real feelings into what she's writing. As for me, I think it's got to be hard to forge new ground. And since she's the first, she's having to blaze the trails for all of us. It's wise to watch her and pay attention, to learn from her mistakes.

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    2. Somehow I missed this reply back in April! It's interesting and informative. Thanks. :)

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  3. I treat my blog as if I was writing a column for my local newspaper. While I'm willing to be honest about myself (to a point) I try to make sure what I write is about ME and My story rather than anyone else's story (including my family).
    My oldest is 8 and she's interested in occasionally writing a blog post, so I set up a seperate blog for her and any other children who want to write. I don't publicise that blog so much (mostly just to family), but I make sure they understand it's out there in public too.
    Interestingly enough, there was a permission slip from school about a dancing event, and wanting permission to video the children. Miss Eight decided she didn't want to be videoed if it was going to be on the Internet (The school wanted to put the video on the school website). While I wouldn't have had a problem with it, I respected her wishes, and filled in the form accordingly.

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    1. Yes! I totally applaud your taking your daughter's feelings into consideration. You're a good mama! When they get to the age when they need their privacy, it becomes off limits!

      I think the mommy blogs that have the staying power are the ones that talk about the fundamentals of motherhood from the moms perspective. Sure, pictures are cute and anecdotes makes us smile from time to time but what we really want to know is that we're not alone in our experiences. We can easily do that without violating our children's privacy.

      I have to say, this is a new lesson to me. I always wrote about my kids when they were younger and when they are babies, stories about projective vomiting seem kind of funny but if I were to post something like that about my 10 year old, she wouldn't speak to me for a week and no blog is worth that.

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  4. When I had the luxury of anonymity and wrote under a pen name I shared WAY more than I do now. At this stage in the game, anything I put "out there" must pass my litmus test of "Would I be comfortable if this was on the front page of the newspaper with my byline under it?" If it would, I will post it, if not it gets filed.

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    1. I do that too! Although sometimes I hate it because I feel like I'm holding back too much and it feels like I'm lying by omission.

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  5. I've tried to protect the identity of my kids with nicknames. Sure some people who know me, know my kids. They say some pretty outrageous stuff, but most of the time I try not to post things that are about them.

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    1. Everything of mine used to be pen name. My kids all had them, my husband had one, even my name was a nickname although it wasn't made up. My first experience with using my real name was when I started writing for Patch. They didn't allow a pen name so that by the time Acuff told thousands of people my real name I was like, "meh, my superhero identity was bound to be public sometime!" :)

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