When I first started blogging, I asked this question all the time. There were certain details of my life that I felt should be kept private. I was hesitant to use my own name, so I came up with the pseudonym Nessbow, which is a composite of my first and last names: Vanessa Bowen. After a while, I gave up the act and just started using my real name. It just seemed easier and made more sense.
There were other details that I didn’t talk about in my first few months of blogging. I had decided from the beginning that I wouldn’t give my boyfriend’s name. I was mostly worried about invading his privacy. Eventually though, his name slipped out. It wasn’t like a dramatic, Mr-Big-style reveal, I just typed it by accident one day. It turned out that Ross didn’t mind so I just kept using it.
For me, it’s easier to just be honest than to try to create mystique around the finer details of my life. I’m not good at hiding things so my general attitude has been to just let it all out.
But should you let it all out? Are there certain things that you should keep secret? Are there some things that shouldn’t be talked about online?
I think it depends on the individual. In my case, I’m pretty happy to talk about most aspects of my life. I’m a lot more discreet when it comes to talking about other people. I wouldn’t give out the personal details of my friends or family members. If I talk about them on my blog, I’ll either use just their first name, or a nickname, or else I’ll just refer to them as “my friend” or “my mum”.
There are some details that I think should be kept private. In general, I think it’s a bad idea to give out your address or phone number. I’m also of the opinion that you shouldn’t talk about your day-job (if you have one) in too much detail. I like to keep my work and my blogging separate.
There are also certain topics that I don’t discuss on my blog. It’s not because I think these topics are taboo or anything like that. Some of them are things that I just don’t think that anyone would be interested in. Some are things that are totally irrelevant to my blog. Others are topics that are private. For example, I don’t talk about my sex life, just because y’know, this isn’t really the place for that. It would be different if I were a sex blogger, but I’m not.
When I started writing my blog (almost four years ago!) my posts were pretty pedestrian. I wrote about fashion and beauty and not a lot else. Lately, I’ve expanded my posts to include musings about mental health, self esteem, emetophobia and relationships. A long time ago, I would have been scared to write about these things. I remember being very worried about publishing a post admitting that I’ve suffered from an eating disorder, or talking about my depression. I was terrified to write about my emetophobia. Mostly, I was worried that people would judge me for writing those things, or that they’d think I was nuts. I was concerned about getting negative comments. I also thought that these types of posts would bore my readers. But you know what? Not only have I not had a nasty backlash to these posts, but I’ve gotten loads of comments and emails from readers who are going through similar things and were grateful to hear about someone else’s experiences. So now I’m really glad I wrote about these things.
As I get older, I find that I get more open about talking about my life. I’ve become a lot more flexible about the things I’ll post on my blog and a lot braver about giving my own opinion.
As for the question about how much you should share online, my answer is this: share as much as you are comfortable with, but be careful. Don’t give away any vital or private personal details. Stay safe. Regularly re-evaluate what you’re putting out there. Don’t write about a certain topic just because you feel you ‘should’. If there’s something personal that you’d like to write about, but the thought of doing so scares you a bit, it might pay off to tiptoe outside your comfort zone a little.
How much do you think you should share online? If you’re a blogger, are there certain topics that you won’t write about?