I was just at The Bumbles blog reading a post about privacy online. How much transparency should we have? Should we be concerned that one of our followers will turn into a cyber bully, indeed a stalker? As always, the Bumbles hosted quite a lively discussion so you may want to pop over there and get their take on the topic.
As a published author who wants to connect with my readers, it's a difficult line I walk. I feel like I'm doing a fancy routine on a balance beam or worse, walking a tight rope. I want to share interesting tidbits about me, the person behind the stories, so I can make a personal connection to readers.
I've also made blogging friends from blogs I visit and from bloggers who visit me. Most are fellow writers with whom I have a lot in common. Others are readers or moms like myself. We talk shop. We talk about our families, how they affect our writing, how our writing affects them, and how our writing mixes with the rest of our daily lives. A few times I've forgotten other people are privy to the conversation because they lurk. They read the posts, perhaps read the comments, but don't leave comments of their own. I know because I check my daily stats and many more people visit than leave comments.
To date, I've not been part of a flame war online and I hope never to be. I've witnessed a few and don't wish to be involved. I like to leave conflict to my fictional characters. It's fun to read, even fun to create in a fictional setting, but I hate it in real life. How I became a customer service rep much less manager of a customer service department I'll never understand. It's a mystery as I run from conflict.
Perhaps admitting what I do in my day job is giving out too much information. However, I don't give out my employer's name or city, so hopefully, that protects my privacy while still sharing what makes me tick.
Some of the commenters on The Bumbles post about this topic are even leery of using Facebook. Again, as an author trying to get my name out to the reading public, I have accounts on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Up to now, I've not had a problem except for finding time to visit all my accounts and still find time to write, blog, be a mom and wife, work a full time job... This week, I chose to write and thus I didn't blog as much. But what is a writer who doesn't write? That's food for another blog post.
As for lurking, I'll admit it. I lurk on some blogs. On some I comment a lot. Others I comment sometimes. It depends on whether I can leave a relevant, intelligent response. I don't want to leave an inane comment just to show my name. One of my favorite blogs to read is Copyblogger. It's intelligent and provides a lot of useful blogging and promotion advice. I'm a huge fan and read it daily. Yet I've never left a comment. Why? I'm afraid my addition to the conversation wouldn't be helfpful. Also, it's more like a magazine or newspaper than a friend.
What about you?
Do you lurk and if so, why? How much information do you share on your blog or in your emails with the online community?
If you're on Facebook, MySpace, or another social medium, do you post pictures of yourself and even your family?