Sunday, February 07, 2010

Is Blogging Safe?

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?


Unknown said...

I wouldn't consider myself a lurker. I like to check out people's interests and how their book searching is going. I write on my blog only about my writing, or the experiences I have on my path to writing.

On facebook I only have family and friends that I know, so any information I devulge I hope that no one uses it against me.

Thanks for unofficially following me by the way :)

Dawn said...

I do lurk from time to time. I leave a comment when I have something to say, but other times I just like to read what they wrote.

I love facebook! Maybe too much. I know everyone on my page well enough to feel comfortable giving them my address and home number, so I am not too concerned on there.

I have, from time to time, been concerned about how much info I put out there on my blog, but then I realized that I just have to relax. Someone could probably find me, but I just pray that it never comes to that. I can't stop doing something that I enjoy. Well, I suppose I could if someone started one of those flame wars with me. I'm not into all that.

Unknown said...

I was spending a lot of time on Facebook a few months ago. The reason I stopped going is that I was spending so much tiem there I wasn't writing. I played way too much Farm Town.

I do need to go back and connect with my friends there.

The Bumbles said...

I enjoyed your thoughts here - and on our post. I think your statement about leaving conflict to your characters is wonderful! You do have a tricky line to walk - drawing new fans in vs. keeping your personal life safe. I enjoy what you share and how you do so. A writer writes. Keep up the good work Ashley!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

I probably lurk without intending to. Like you, if I don't have anything to say that would add to the blog, or if it's a topic I can't relate to, then I don't comment.

I try to support friends when they're out promoting, but it feels a bit trite to constantly say "great excerpt!" or "great interview!" LOL, but in those cases I feel obligated to say something.

I notice the same on my blog--more people stopping by than commenting. But a lot of times I talk about mom issues when I have nothing else to blog about and I know not everyone is able to relate.

I don't worry much about online stalking, but I try to be cautious about how much I reveal.

And I gave up on Facebook a long time ago, LOL.

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