Blogging Boundaries: This Part of My Life is Now Off-Limits

5 years ago

Heather and Jon Armstrong made a divorce announcement yesterday on the heels of their separation announcement last spring. The identical posts on their blogs, Dooce and Blurbomat, both had comments closed, and both clearly outlined how they hoped their news would be treated by their readers.

We know that due to the public nature of what we do that there will be speculation as to the details concerning this decision, we will not host any discussion of this matter on any of the sites we own. 

In other words, privacy please.

Photo Credit: Hyku via Flickr.

The desire for privacy -- especially to not have your relationship raked over the coals by people who know little about what actually goes on behind closed doors -- is understandable.  Bloggers should dictate what is shared online, not the reader. 

Where is can become confusing is when readers are shut out of areas that they were allowed to share in the past.  There are aspects of my life I never write about, so hopefully it would be understandable if I continued to not write about them down the road.  Whereas I have spoken about my marriage online and written six anniversary posts.  Would it be equally understandable if I shut the door on discussing my marriage if things started to fall apart when I invited the reader in while things were good? 

It's not a question with an easy answer.  Even Heather Armstrong struggled with it last spring.  She admitted on the Today Show that she felt she had to say something about her separation, the Huffington Post reported.

"I thought I had to talk about it because I felt inauthentic not revealing what was going on," Armstrong said. "I've been so open about my life for almost 11 years. I write about the day to day goings-on of my life and this was pretty much consuming me. It was hard to sort of write about anything else without revealing it." 

Similarly, Mayim Bialik's recent divorce announcement on Kveller brought up the same situation.  After writing extensively about her private life especially in regards to her home life and children, is it understandable to request privacy over something that was written about semi-openly in the past?

Our privacy has always been important and is even more so now, and we thank you in advance for respecting it as we negotiate this new terrain.

It's a problem somewhat felt by celebrities all the time -- the public consumption of their private life -- but the difference with bloggers is that the private life is mined for material, the private is what is presented vs. taken by the paparazzi. 

An actress attending an event with her husband doesn't mean she condones the world knowing about her marriage, and even if she shares bits of a marriage during interviews she does so as a response to a reporter's questions.  Whereas writing about the personal and the private is the focus of a general diarist.  What is presented is chosen by the blogger, and some bloggers make the choice to present their marriage online, to discuss it or dissect it.  And in those cases, the marriage becomes part of the art, not a side effect of curiosity.

From the point-of-view as a reader, do you mind when a blogger suddenly declares off-limits an aspect of their life you were once a part of?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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