As bloggers we write about our lives, weight loss, families, fitness and everything in between! Some share EVERYTHING, others not so much. Where do you fall in?
In real life, we keep weigh-ins, diet slip-ups, family drama and your cat’s bowel movements to our close inner circle, but blogging has blurred the lines of what is acceptable to share. Let’s chat about reality blogging and how social media makes you feel. (see the full session overview here).
Intro: this is a discussion forum, so please feel free to share if you have anything to say.
Cynthia: I’m Cynthia from ItAllChanges.com. We’re talking about what brings you anxiety in blogging, things you do or don’t post because it makes you anxious. Monica’s main portion is about what is too much to post about. We’re excited for what you guys have to say and where you draw the line if you have anxieties about blogging.
Monica: I’m from RunEatRepeat. I think some people think there is a right or wrong way, or that we should share the way others do. How do you define what to share, and does that change if you have to factor in someone else: relationships, kids as they get older. How do you stay flexible? We were brought together because we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum. We want to talk about what you’re comfortable sharing and how you define it. If you have anxiety about talking, we should address it.
Sana: I come from a very conservative culture and my family/community read my blog. I don’t talk about anything that would show me going against cultural or religious beliefs. It is really hard because I have different views. I think it takes away from people getting to know me. I have friends who prefer not to be on the blog for the same reason. It’s really interesting for me to read about that stuff on other blogs.
Cynthia: Did you know that when you started the blog?
Sana: Absolutely. I respect my culture and religion. It’s really interesting. I prefer to keep it all private.
Cynthia: When you’re out with your friends, do you ask if it’s alright to blog things?
Sana: The good thing about my friends is that they know I blog and will suggest things for me to blog about.
Taylor: I go by a pseudonym. It’s interesting here because people say they know me, but sometimes I feel like I’m hiding behind my pseudonym. Sometimes I feel like she is a completely different person.
Cynthia: Why did you choose a pseudonym?
Taylor: I didn’t start my blog first. I started with an online community, and at the time I was just getting into SEO and design. I thought it would be awesome to have a pseudonym. I’ve thought about switching, but after talking to clients they told me that for safety I should keep the pseudonym.
Monica: Does anyone else not use their real name?
Lyn: I don’t use my full name, just my first name. I do use pseudonyms for my kids.
Cynthia: Does it make you anxious that people can find out anything about you even if you don’t share?
Alicia: It didn’t until it happened to me. I was getting companies following me on Twitter, and nothing crazy, then a week later a box of their product showed up on my doorstep without them ever asking for my address. It was evident that they started digging. Around the same time we had a member of our blogger group who was stalked at the gym. It became a big concern for me with bringing people together in this blog community… I had to be a responsible leader, so I play Mama Bear and make sure no one is walking to their car alone. I feel a responsibility in bringing people together that they are safe.
Sana: If you’re self-hosted, your full name, address, and cell phone number are publicly available, and you can pay $10 to cover it up. It takes two seconds to Google search it.
Participant: When FourSquare became popular, I loved it, but then I started feeling uncomfortable with people knowing where I was. Even as an online community manager, I am a very private person, so I started just checking OUT instead of in. It also bugs me that my Instagram account started geotagging. People have different levels of what is comfortable and good for them.
Lyn: You should be able to turn that off.
Monica: I remember when FourSquare first came out. My friends would always check in at the gym and I thought it was a bad idea.
Does anyone share where they work?
Participant: People could guess. I’ve never mentioned it directly, but people could guess based on where I go. I don’t like to get into it because it is polarizing, but I talk about where I go, and if somebody just Googled they’d see my company has headquarters there.
Sana: And your LinkedIn, your last name is on there.
Tara: I work for the state, but I don’t say where.
Alicia: My work asked me to share because it gets them more publicity, but it’s a concern for me. I’m an over-sharer as well. Questions start to arise. I had to personally step back and not put as much of myself out, which is hard for me because I want to nurture relationships.
Cynthia: For those who share where they work, are there things your employer doesn’t want you to share or things you won’t share? For instance, I work for the Salvation Army, so I won’t share certain things because of my job. Are there things that you feel are restricted because of your job?
Sana: I work as a personal trainer. I would never blog about my clients. I think I do a good job of hiding the details, but essentially I guess you could find me.
Julie: If people really tried to find out, they could find my gym in a second because I live in a small town.
Caroline: Has anyone ever seen a study about how likely you are to be stalked online versus off?
Monica: I went to school for journalism, and they taught that morning newscasters are the most stalked. They are local. You see them every day. They are predictable and familiar. With blogging, it’s the same way. People are convinced that they know you.
Cynthia: You also have Twitter. A friend was stalked through Twitter because someone thought they “knew” her. Someone could, of course, stalk you in your day-to-day life too.
Monica: So you should have no friends…
Participant: Related to running, it’s very known on Twitter or my blog that I run early in the morning and that freaks me out a lot. I run in my apartment complex, but it’s disconnected from my actual apartment. No one else is in there when I go.
Cynthia: Do you let other people know you’re there?
Participant: That might be good, but I don’t tweet it.
Monica: I try to be super cautious. In the morning when I’m running, I try to tell people hi so that people might remember me more if something happens to me. It’s so sad, but I try to make sure there’s a familiar face. Little things like that, just being aware, and if you can change up your route.
Taylor: This is bad, but if you have your GPS on and the worst happens, I take comfort in knowing someone could track where I went.
Monica: There’s an app if you’re running outside that sends out messages to certain people whenever you want. You set a timer, and if you don’t stop it by a set time it sends a message to pre-chosen contacts to have them check on you.
Julie: I think there’s an app where you can always be connected to someone.
Sana: I joined a running group because I feel safer running with 100 other women. There are local running groups wherever you live. I found people within the group to run with on our own.
Participant: I’ve only been blogging six months, and my husband is so freaked out over it all. He doesn’t want me to tell people when we’re on vacation.
Lyn: Part of it is personal, but everyone needs to be on board, so if your husband isn’t comfortable maybe you need to back off until he is.
Cynthia: Do you take a break from blogging during vacation, or do you keep posting?
Lyn: Guest posts or reposts. I do things like, I’ll do preposts, I’ll sometimes blog when I’m gone. I try to be careful not to post when we’ll all be gone.
Monica: It’s just about doing your best with safe, smart choices.
Participant: My bigger fear is not people I don’t know, but people I DO know finding me because no one in real life knows about it.
Julie: When I quit my full time job to blog, I found out my company all knew about my blog. I just always try to think, if my work did find my blog, just don’t put anything out there they would be upset to see.
Participant: It’s weird what I’m willing to share with people I DON’T know.
Jack: I didn’t tell my wife about my blog for the first year. I think it changes the way you blog. The kids already knew. For a long time it changed my approach to it. When I felt like no one was reading, it was a lot easier. When you know someone close to you is reading, you feel like you can’t share.
Tara: I have four kids and am a single mom who works full time. I can’t blog at work. My kids have issues that they come home with, and I want to blog about it, but out of respect for him I’ve learned to not share all of the details. Instead of talking about specific problems, I’ll just speak generally about what I’m dealing with while respecting their privacy.
Caroline: I do the same thing with my kids. One wants to always be on the blog while the other wants nothing to do with it.
Lyn: I try not to say other kids’ names, and I’ll ask other parents if they mind their kids’ pictures being on the blog. The family we are with the most specifically asked for no pictures shared of their kids.
Caroline: If I haven’t asked them, I’ll blur faces.
Tara: Also, when you’re discussing issues from the past, I want to be honest with myself but I don’t want to destroy the people that are involved. These things are such an intimate part of the journey…
Julie: I try to leave any personal story like that out. I don’t think sabotaging personal relationships is ever worth putting something on your blog. I do think it makes you seem more real when you have these problems other people have…
Tara: Especially when that relationship is good now.
Julie: Can you share it as a friend’s story?
Sana: Would it be a good place to start a conversation with someone?
Tara: In general, it’s something so personal to my story that I want to share, but other people could have seen it differently and it could crush them.
Cynthia: That has happened to me in my past, so I’ve gone to the people involved and told them that it was something I wanted to deal with and write about because it effects how I’m dealing with something, and I ask if they mind. If they do, I’ll find a way to write about it without including them. As long as you ask the person and use “I” statements (this is how I viewed it, this is what I felt…) then you can move forward.
Caroline: My son will say “you better not put this on the blog.” I use it as leverage. I tell him to behave in a way that you would be proud for other people to know, and I try to do the same.
Participant: There is also the issue of people who you don’t know getting offended and telling you that you share too much.
Participant: I gauge my success with a post by how many reactions I get from it.
Participant: I wrote a guest post on sex once, and I got so many comments about that and about how I was judging people, which I never did.
Monica: A lot of times, those comments are about the perspective of the people reading, not about what you wrote.
Cynthia: They’re coming at it from their emotions and experiences. It’s your blog and your writing. I can choose not to read it. Anything will push anyone’s buttons.
Tara: I put disclaimers about things I feel like might get to people.
Cynthia: What do you feel like you need to put a disclaimer on? Tina wrote about a pig roast, and people lambasted her in the comments about how offended they were as vegetarians. I took no offense as a vegetarian.
Alicia: Someone else commented about putting a carcass on the blog. The whole perception idea… some people were mad because they were vegetarians, others because they saw an actual pig. You are eating meat products. That’s what it is. The things I put disclaimers on… my blog is generally light. If things are going to get heavy, when there’s a shift in the normal programming, that’s when I’ll put a warning.
Sana: I’ve been lucky that the worst comment I get is that my blog is boring. So the thing, and I realize everyone has a public blog and a comments section. Not every comment is going to be good. You need to realize how much negative comments are going to effect your daily life. The point is to have a conversation. We all enjoy posts with people reacting to things. I think that’s the point of blogging.
Monica: I’ve never deleted a negative post. You have to know that if you’re going to bring up something controversial, you might get backlash. If you’re going to write a sassy post, you have to be ready for someone to disagree and try to keep it adult.
Julie: I struggle with people saying I don’t need to have disclaimers. I had one post where I wrote a disclaimer because someone had already contacted me about being offended, and in the end I wrote the post and then had people tell me I didn’t need the disclaimer in the first place. I feel like disclaimers can cause controversy in themselves.
Jack: Sometimes negative comments make a good point.
Participant: It is a discussion and you don’t want people to be always positive and supportive.
Cynthia: You want people to get something out of your blog and to get something out of your readers.
Sana: For Monica – you blog so fearlessly. Where does it come from?
Monica: I’ve never asked permission, it’s just not my style. I’ve gotten in fights about it. My family knows me and never reads anything they find shocking. My friends say my blog is a toned down, cleaned up version of who I am. People used to say they couldn’t read the blog because I cussed, so I cleaned it up. I’m willing to fight. I like a good fight. I don’t have a problem writing something that might start a fight. It just comes from who I am. I try to write to people I don’t know without considering that other people might read it because it’s the easier way to express myself.
Tara: I want to put a disclaimer that says “no, I am not thinking of you when I wrote this.” I have people reading in to everything I write. You have a lot of vanity to think I spend all my time trying to write secret messages to you.
Julie: People get upset over little things because they are always reading from a “me” standpoint.
Caroline: I am an over-sharer, but I don’t blog about things where my friends really disagree. I choose not to talk about things that will make my friends fight.
Cynthia: Are there things that, before you hit publish, made you really anxious?
Participant: I am a slow runner, not a personal trainer, and a terrible writer, and sometimes I think I’m just going to look stupid. I wrote about that, and got comments that I was motivating people.
Monica: There’s already a Jillian Michaels. Someone has that base covered. I can’t relate, that’s not who I am. She’s doing her thing, I’m going to do my thing, and there’s an audience for everyone.
Caroline: People are reading your blog because they can relate to you.
Participant: I don’t want to blog because I feel like a failure. When you’re not upholding your end of the deal, when people are looking for certain things from your blog, it makes me not want to blog.
Monica: You define the deal. You’re holding up your end of being who you are. You get to define how you want to lose your weight or run your race. If you’re documenting your own journey, you want to be able to share those things. You don’t have to answer to anyone, you don’t owe anyone anything.
Cynthia: Some people will relate to that part of your struggle. If there’s a two-month gap where you didn’t blog, people will wonder why. People will relate to the realness of plateaus, injuries, health issues, and weight loss stalls.
Tara: I hate Weigh In Wednesdays when I’ve had a stall or gain, but when you read those posts where people are honest, then I find my community and people I can identify with. People want to know that you struggle.
Cynthia: You want to read about the funny things, but also the bad days. You want to see the good and the bad. We’re human beings, not characters. Do you ever take a non-vacation blogging break?
Participant: Life gets busy. I have kids, and they’re way more important. I always take weekends off as family time.
Monica: Does anyone feel obligated to blog?
Participant: I feel like if I go longer than two days people will be upset.
Cynthia: Has anyone changed their posting schedule and had that cause anxiety?
Taylor: I used to blog in the mornings, and I’m just now starting to write the blogs the night before and post in the mornings. It’s a little stressful because I’m still trying to post as though I’m writing it the next morning.
Participant: I used to blog twice a day, but I realized I didn’t have enough to say.
Participant: I think it’s different when blogging is your job. I couldn’t imagine having enough to say, unless you were a food blog, to post more than once a day. I feel like it’s quality over quantity.
Caroline & Sana: I don’t worry about it if I don’t blog.
Participant: If you’re not posting, you’re out living.
Sana: I worry if my regular commenters stop commenting.
Participant: Do the majority of people start blogging to be self-accountable?
Participant: I just like documenting my life, and then it became more inspirational.
Cynthia: I was blackmailed into starting a blog. I was with a group of friends and we all started a blog together to keep each other accountable. I did it for a month for the challenge, and then I missed it so I went back and started writing again.
Monica: Did anyone start a blog for a reason other than a web diary?
Sana: I don’t know anyone who started blogging for the money.
Cynthia: If your blog grows, like you see a big spike in readership, does it make you anxious?
Caroline: It does.
Participant: I had a shirt from SkinnyRunner, and she posted a picture. When I checked my stats the day she posted the picture, they were crazy.
Cynthia: Does it make you anxious about what you posted on a day when someone links to you?
Participant: I didn’t think about it that much. I think I was more excited.
Participant: I get really shy. I love to blog and I’m putting it all out there. I have a couple big blogs that link to me. I’ve also taken huge breaks, and a lot of times I’ll change the blogs to private, but I never stay that way.
Participant: I used to not advertise my blog to anyone in real life. I’m very open and just myself on the blog. Slowly I’ve let some people know about it. My friends don’t understand why I put it all out there.
Cynthia: Do you feel like you have to go do things just to create blog content?
Tara: I’m always trying to have less to do. I’m so busy, I wish I could blog even once a week. I’m living my life, I don’t have time to sit and write about it. I’m trying to find that balance and blog when I can.
Monica: You could do it on the weekend and schedule it for other days.
Gail: I try and do something after I come back from anything that generates a lot of blog fodder, like emotional issues. I wouldn’t do something only to create content. I don’t seek out opportunities that would make blog fodder. Right now I’m not blogging as often as I would like.
Caroline: I’m always looking for something fun to do anyway, and I do think about what’s good for the blog, but it’s also good for me. If you’re going out just to have something to write about, that’s sad.
Participant: I write about things I’m excited about. There are times now that I’m conscious of pitching to local vendors. If I can create a partnership, then I create content based on that.
Participant: It’s difficult sometimes. I was blogging regularly, but I have so much now that I don’t even know what to do with it.
Taylor: It’s the opposite with me. My husband always wants to grab the camera to post things for my blog. Sometimes I just want it to be about me and keep it personal.
Participant: I get that from my friends.
Monica: I took my blog on my honeymoon.
Taylor: I did too. My husband encouraged it.
Sana: I think I would too. When I see other people blogging about their families… I think it would be great to have that kind of documentation of my childhood.
Caroline: I pretty much share everything. The mundane stuff gets lost in your memory, but if it’s on the internet it’s there forever.
Cynthia: I saw something once about taking a candid photo of your kid every hour for one day, not posed.
Caroline: I worry about it with the older one, with him not wanting me to share stuff. Sometimes he’ll encourage me to share things, so I don’t know if he really doesn’t want to be on the blog or just wants to complain.
Participant: My kids are all in their twenties, and now I have more time for myself. They’re so proud of me, and that’s exciting. It’s much easier for me since my kids are so much older.
Caroline: I never put anything on there that my kids don’t want me to.
Leah: We are entering a world where everything is permanent. As mothers, everything we put out there could really come back to haunt us. Sometimes I wonder if a tweet or post will come back to get me. The permanence of it worries me.