Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ethics of Blogging

I started this blog for me. It was a place I could explore through writing some of the issues that were affecting me on a day to day basis. A place where I could examine the past with a view to trying to understand the present. I never believed in the whole midlife crisis thing until it started to happen to me and for a long time I had no idea what it was. Ultimately I have learnt that the end result of it is change - you change as a person, your circumstances change, relationships change, the way you deal with things changes. People judge those changes whether you want them to or not.

I wasn't an anonymous blogger as such, my photo was up, but I didn't really expect that there would be much interest in what I wrote and I certainly never really thought that people who know me would read it. So the blog began with a few people who dipped in and probably decided not to come back, gradually it started to get some regular readers who cared enough to comment, then at some stage people who know me found it.

I don't know exactly when the latter happened, nor how many of you who read this do know me nor do I know what you think of me. I have said often that I don't have a group of friends who I can talk face to face with about the things I discuss here. I do know that in becoming aware of the fact that I am writing stuff that people who know me read, that I have had to temper some of the things I have said and the way I have said them. I have certainly not tried to be dishonest at any time, but there are things I have written that have remained private and that I would now never share on this forum. But there are probably some things I have written that would have been better left to an anonymous blog rather than posting here where I can be criticised.

I have been accused of being disrespectful, of writing out of self interest and attempting to influence people's opinions of me with what I write and the way I write it. I think the people who have said that have missed the motivation I have in writing. Of course this is about me, of course that is my side of a story that has many sides, and of course I see things differently to the way other people see them. I have not pretended to be perfect, I have not sought to blame anyone for the situation I am in other than myself. I don't believe that I have made myself out to be a martyr and I am certainly not a hero - just a flawed human being who is trying to understand a bit more about himself. That's all I am, nothing more nor less.

I have even been accused of attempting to manipulate my kids by writing some of what I write and I never thought that was something that I was trying to do.

I don't get why some people see fit to continue reading here if they don't like what I say. I don't get why some of you [who do know me] discuss what I write with other people. I don't get why there seems to be slants put on what I say that are at odds with what I say, that gossip takes on a life of it's own and that what I write has been used to hurt people. How does that happen - do you read things and get straight on the phone to talk to people about it? Do you wait to bring it up in conversation? What possible motivation can you have in gossiping about what I write? And who are you? How many of you who know me talk about what I write? Am I being paranoid and overestimating the worth of what I write? Do you all truly think that I am being egotistical, that I write without any concern about whether I hurt other people or not?

I know in putting stuff publicly on a blog and inviting comment that I should be prepared for the negative as well as the positive responses. So what do I do - stop posting here and start an anonymous one somewhere else, keep doing what I have been doing and to hell with what other people think, or just stop altogether? I suppose that at the end of the day, you my dear audience, can choose whether or not to visit and read. If I start censoring what I write then the blog changes, it becomes something I never wanted it to be. It does become dishonest.

29 comments:

Worldman said...

Just recently I mentionned censonring on my blog. What you say in your post is of very deep sense. And I am not the only one who feels this, seeing the huge amount of comments you get. Which means that your readers feel your blog to be worthwhile. And so, just continue the way you have been writing and don't worry about it. If some persons feels that you have been disrespectful, tant pis, as we say in French. They probably have deserved it. And don't forget, you have a community in this blogger world. They are your friends, no matter what you say and write. And will not only feel that you are honest but also a great guy.

Have a nice weekend.

Peter

JaniceNW said...

I enjoy reading what you write. Makes me think. I have no sense of you being manipulative or selfish or being full of self pity. Ignore the trolls. But if you ever move you better let me know!!!!!!!

Loz said...

Thank you Peter - I don't blog with the intent of hurting anyone. If I've done that then I am sorry for it. I have deleted the post that caused the issue for that reason.

Janice - thank you too. I don't think these people are trolls, I'm not even sure they deliberately set out to cause problems for me. I think it might be something as simple as them having a sense of duty towards others

Josie Two Shoes said...

That's a tough situtation, Loz. The one and only person who gave me a hard time on my blog (and in reference to me on other blogs) continues to stalk my blog - she reads it daily. It makes me very uncomfortable to know that because her motives are anything but good. I did choose to go semi-anonymous with mine, using a pen name, simply to keep my family and coworkers from finding me. I had blogged a bit previously at My Space and when coworkers found my page there were adamant about being allowed access to my blog. Obviously, I write about things of a very personal nature, as you do, and I don't care to share that side of myself with everyone who knows me in daily life, nor with my family. Not even my two kids have or have asked for my blog address, I've told them they can read what I've written when I pass on, much as they wouldn't want me reading their personal journal or diary. They easily understood. Everyone needs a place where they can take off the working face and be themselves. Like you, I had little personal access to people to share my ups and downs with so my blog has been a lifesafer, truly, and I have met many wonderful and sincere friends thru it, as I know you have on your blog. If I were you, I would recommend going anonymous, because I know you will forever be thinking of the person over your shoulder when you write, now that you know you have stalkers eager to cause you more problems and stress. Thew world is full of people who have nothing better to do than see what kind of drama they can stir up. You don't need that! Since you have two blogs already, you could continue to maintain one as a public blog that has things everyone can read, and then switch this one to an anonymous ID and address that would be a little harder to find. If you post your email on this page with a note that says something like "Looking for me? Send me a note" you could then redirect people you want to read your blog to the new location. That isn't a failproof method of security, but is maybe nicer than having to "lock it up" and require password access. I was tempted to do that with mine, but it would end the fun of new people stopping by and staying. I agree with Peter that you should ignore the troublemakers, but sometimes that can be very hard to do - especially if they are causing problems with family or work. It is sad that there are so many stupid jerks in the world. SIGH I would really hate to see you stop writing with the candor I have found here, that's what has kept me reading - that you aren't afraid to be real with us.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I just read your reply to Janice. I have to disagree about people reading your blog out of a sense of duty to inform the necessary parties. It is NOT necessary, and trust me, it is not so much out of a sense of duty as it is a sense of "lets get Loz". Nothing you write here needs to be shared outside of the blogsphere, unless you write that you are intending to blow something up! :-) EVERYONE needs a trusted outlet for sharing. The people who do this to you should be ashamed. Their motives are highly suspect.

Loz said...

I really do appreciate your comments Josie. I haven't decided what I'll do yet. I have written a bit of a rant in my Journal about what happened but that will stay where it is. It's inevitable that family and sometimes friends get hurt in a marriage break up - but there is absolutely nothing I can do about that other than try and be honest about things - something I haven't been good at in the past for all sorts of reasons.

Jod{i} said...

I think many bloggers have similar thoughts as this post...I came to the conclusion, so be it. I have found many who dwell inside my thoughts do so for reasons of their own volition and really has nothing to do with me as a person. Many have nothing going on, or find a way to avoid all that which dwells within their glass house...
If people were that concerned of my welfare, my state of mind and what ticks in the brain for the 15 minutes out of the 24 hour day...then maybe if they were engaged enough to speak to me on a face to face basis. Do people stop to think that maybe I(or we) do not for "fear" of the said consquences? Or that they wouldnt listen and pick and choose words to fit an agenda, an opinion...?
Again I babbled...you have the great ability to pull that out of me :D

M said...

My dear Loz, Write what is in your heart. It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It's your heart. As you know I have been having a bit of my own midlife crisis on the other side of the world and I have found that this creative outlet, this blogging, has been good for my mind and soul.

If anyone believes that your truth does not agree with their own, then let them write that down.

This is YOUR midlife journey and you have found an outlet for expession and creativity. Hold on tight to what belongs to you. You deserve this forum and if you stopped those of us around the world in our own midlife crisis would miss you.

wornoutwoman said...

Do not censor what your blog! This is a great site. There will always be people, in life, who criticize. Take them with a grain of salt. Maybe something you say will stick with them and it will mean something to them in a different light some day. Those who judge are obviously not in a place to learn from life, only point fingers at people who do. Write on my blogging friend!!!

paisley said...

i am sure you know what i am going to say even before i form the words....however,, i would strongly suggest you not change a thing... to do so would initiate a feeling of winning on the part of the oppressors... and god knows what little minds do with a feeling like that...
they will expect you to cow tow in other areas of life,, until one day you will realize that all of this has been for not,, as you have become the worlds bitch...

i think you are a better person for haven taken the time to articulate who and what you are,, have been, and seek to become...and i think my friend.. you share that sentiment....

Dave J. said...

Well my friend. Whatever these folks say or do, they have you at a distinct disadvantage. Unlike you, they do not share of themselves in such an honest and at times self-effacing manner as we bloggers do. On the other hand, when what they are referring to is here in concrete text for all to see, it's a bit hard for them to put words in your mouth, and this is to your advantage.

You keep being you, and the truth will shine through. Anyone who wants to give you grief has problems of their own too, and they are just hoping to drag you down.

Blogging, the way that you do it, is freeing. It is humble growth. Keep up the journey brother. Never mind the bullocks.

The Angry Barcode said...

I respect your blog and I am thankful that you decide to share your thoughts and experiences with an audience. I am a true believer that mankind can really benefit from a community of collective consciousness.

I'm not advocating a hive mind, what I mean is the benefit of different perspectives on the common experience of life. All blogging is "selfish" in one respect or another, but the only learning tool we have access to as human beings is our personal viewpoint.

While I do believe that this is your space and you have free domain here, I would like to suggest that perhaps receiving criticism is more of a boon than you would expect. Of course, it should be done with respect with constructive usefulness in mind. Granted most people lack this finesse. Despite the inappropriate spirit of the accusations you received I have to play devil's advocate and say you're still fortunate to receive it.

After all, for a learning tool, what makes you take a longer, harder look at yourself than being misunderstood. Sometimes when we take a step back, negative reaction can serve as motivation. Either you look at the situation and conclude that you are indeed living up to your own values and are empowered by opposition, or you realize that there may be truth in the criticism and you become a better person.

To steal an example from young who poses an Indian aphoristic question: "Who takes longer to reach perfection, the man who loves god, or the man who hates him?" To paraphrase, the answer is the man who hates god--because he spends more time thinking about god.

In a way, the people who test you the most will probably bring you closer to enlightenment, because they keep you thinking.

Much affection to you my friend.

Beth said...

Laurie;

I say screw them all!(Sorry to be so blunt but it is exactly how I feel.) People will take what you say and take what you write and twist and turn it until they have translated it into whatever their agenda is. YOU are a great writer and you have a great community behind you - please know that. People can be so petty and small...

HollyGL said...

As you know, Loz, I have deleted a post or two because of possible repercussions in my life. Different people have different life situations, and they make their decisions based on that fact.

I love your writing. I always feel I have a comrade in the blogosphere after I've read any given post. Selfishly, of course I want you to keep doing what you're doing, but only you understand the various layers of cause and effect in your life, and only you can ultimately arrive at the decision that is best for YOU. If you do eventually go "anonymous" you'd better email me with the new site!! :)

Pen and the Sword said...

That is one of the harder things about blogging. For me my blog is something of an interactive journal of sorts. Therapy for my mind and retrospect for others with like thoughts and issues to offer prospective on what is going on. I think that many blogs are just that way. You want to share a piece of yourself and see how many people identify with it.

I come here to read, Loz, because you are a superb writer. I don't know from adam, and yet I feel like I do because of your openness and honesty. If someone you might know is reading the blog, then I can see how that would make your feel reserved. I had something similar happen to me and had to be much more annonymous and even change my URL for blogger. It can be frustrating.

I do hope that you will keep posting your thoughts here. My morning coffee (or midnight bottled water... whatever works) wouldn't be the same without you! :o)

Loz said...

Jodi - one of the things I have never been good at is talking about my feelings. I dare say that is one reason my marriage failed. Writing here is very much about learning to express what I feel.

M - I have found a form of kinship amongst midlifers that I haven't been able to tap into anywhere other than through my blogging.

W - I try hard not to write things about people that will hurt them, this is very much an introspective place for me, so the criticism can hurt sometimes particularly when it is an accusation of me attempting to manipulate my kids.

Paisley - you are right, this is my space and I write for me, no one else.

Dave J - you know I have tried to be as honest as I possibly can be here.

Angry - I do take your point and I will try and look at the positives of criticism, it is not something I have been very good at. I've said that I've been a loner and an introvert in lots of ways and I don't cope well with critics. Tends to make me want to block myself off more than I should.

Beth - I really am grateful for this community and for all of you who care enough to take an interest and comment. It blows me away.

Steph - you are one of my earliest friends and I thankyou for your companionship. If I go anywhere I will of course ask you to come along for the ride.

Pen - thankyou for your generous comments. I am flattered and I hope that people will continue to read. The comments have become as important to me now as the actual writing itself and I never thought I would say that back when I used to get no comments at all :)

Greg said...

What you write should come from your purpose. My advice to every blogger is to figure out what your purpose is and stick to it. Figure out where your boundaries are and stick to them.

If you are writing with the intent of affecting a person's or persons' attitude then you have to accept that you are selling something. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure you write to your market. If you don't have that intent, then no matter how difficult, you can't let people's responses get to you. Never excuse yourself for just being you.

You'll always have to live with the consequences of what you write, but if you are being true to yourself, avoiding the subject only delays the consequence or makes you unhappy.

Random Magus said...

I was reading and kept thinking how well you encapsulated this conflict.. to write or not to write. But as long as you are okay with it, who cares what others say. The people who matter know what you're about and for the rest...who cares. No matter what you do or say there will be some people who will put a negative slant to it. Like you had said in one of your posts, it's not about you it's about them.

Blur Ting said...

You know Loz, when it comes to splitting up of a family and where kids are concerned, there are always different sides of the story. It happened to me in the beginning. Each side want to tell his own story and 'fight' for the kids' affection. It was so important at that time to know who's right or wrong and why all these things happen. But you know what, after a few years, all these will pass because they don't matter any more.

You're at this stage where you may not see the light but believe me, I have been through that stage and used to be filled with so much anger and hurt when I start talking about my previous marriage. But we're all sober now and just get on with our lives. We can even talk face to face without wanting to kill each other and the kids... well, they feel better now that their mum and dad don't hate each other so much anymore.

It's a phase.

OMYWORD! said...

Hey Loz - it's been a while since I stopped by. I am always struck by your direct and honest approach to issues. You are an evolving human being so your blog, your writing and your subject matter and how you handle it - all will evolve over time. I have similar issues. I blog about my past - which could have an impact on future employment. :-)) Luckily, I did all the wild stuff 30 years ago. But I also blog about my family - and not always in a good way. I wait for the time that one of my siblings tells my mother to go read my blog. Who would be cruel then, the sibling or me? Believe me, I ponder these things often.

I have hidden or quieted down my true self from my family for many years. It's time for me to live out loud. There will be both negative and positive consequences, as with all decisions we make.

By the way, I gossip about you every night, in the bars in Paris. hehe Just joshin' ya.

Jeff said...

As you know, this very thing is why the people in my life do not know about my blogs. I have written about it at length in my blogs. Most agree with me, others don't. However, this post only confirms my stance.

Lisa said...

Loz, I wonder some of the very same things -- how do we, as bloggers, stay honest with ourselves when we're aware that we have an audience? I find that I edit certain things ALL THE TIME when I think so-and-so might read it, and then I get sad, because I'm acting in the interests of others, not of myself. It's a tough situation.

I suppose we could always go back to journaling...

Gypsy said...

Greetings from a fellow Aussie!! This is my first visit and I hope you won't mind me putting my 2 cents worth in.

This exact same thing happened to me and I handled it very badly. I deleted my blog, an action I later regretted. I figured if they couldn't find me, somehow I would be the winner in the end. After all, you can't hassle someone who is no longer there.

People say just be true to yourself and don't worry about what anyone thinks. That is good advice if you have the type of nature that doesn't let it get to you. I'm afraid I don't. I did learn some lessons though. I now don't use my real name and I have a decoy blog I comment from when I visit mutual friends blogs and so far I seem to be steering clear of trouble.

It would be a real shame if these few people spoiled your blogging experience for you and for all your obviously loyal readers. I think it's quite possible I will be back to read some more....make that definitely :) Good luck!

Josie Two Shoes said...

Life is all about risks, putting yourself out there. If it's not here in blogland, it's somewhere else. Yes, we could all return to our private journals, but obviously we find the interactive nature of blogging fulfilling. After a fun week experiencing some outside hostility of my own, I still say "Damn the torpedos and full speed ahead!!!"

Loz said...

Greg - if I had to define a purpose it is to explore who and what I am...sometimes that is in conflict with who and what people think I am and sometimes I guess that may hurt some people.

Amber - there are sometimes when I can't help but care unfortunately.

Blur - in the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" the author says we should ask ourselves whether what is said or done will really matter in a year's time. That is one way of putting things into perspective.

Ohmyworld - I can't believe all the bad stuff was done 30 years ago and I would be extremely flattered to find I'd been discussed anywhere other than my home town let alone Paris.

Jeff - I won't say your belief is wrong at all.

Lisa - I do still journal some stuff that will never appear here.

Gypsy - welcome and I hope you do come back. Whilst I haven't deleted the blog I have deleted some posts, but I have saved them in my journal so maybe one day my kids can read all of the truth.

Josie - a major reason for me blogging now is that I enjoy the feedback and comments from those who dip in here.

Dorothy said...

I hope you choose not to censor..So far this place saves money for counselors who I find have bigger problems then the patient.. I remember being criticized a few years ago and I was deeply hurt and angered. My friend looked at me and said, when your on a pedestal, there will always be someone who wants to knock you off. Believe in what you say and who you are and move forward..be proud, live life.. added to this, my thought, there are no reruns in life..what you make is what you get.
If someone is unhappy with what you write, they shouldn't read it..they have that choice.

To read or not read....? It sounds like this is not only my opinion, most of your readers agree, this is the place you should be..

Good luck Dorothy from grammology
http://grammology.com

Sueblimely said...

This is my first visit to your blog and what attracts me most is the honesty and depth of feeling that is being expressed. One result of this is that I have felt free enough to post a comment and say what I feel too. That is unusual for me when I come across a blog with so many followers - I tend to feel like a bit of an outsider and only tentatively dip my toes in at first.

On the other side of the coin this means you are bound to get comments from others that are not so supportive of what you say. Maybe you are touching on some sore spots in their lives which they have not resolved and are not comfortable thinking about. Also some people choose to see the negative in everything.

We all have a need to feel wanted and validated in what we do but, as with many things in life, we have to accept compromise. Your positive comments certainly seem to outweigh the negative by a large margin. Perhaps try to focus on that and view the negative as being a positive sign of your blog being thought provoking.

Loz said...

Dorothy - thank you. I have chosen not to post some things which is not really the same as censoring but doesn't make me totally happy about the situation. Still for the moment anyway, it seems to be the right thing to do.

Loz said...

Sublimely - welcome and I am glad you have dipped the toe in. You will find kindred souls here amongst those who regularly comment and I am sure will find that they too are worth reading in their own write;)

I am learning to take criticism - I don't like it and have tended to run from it in the past, but it is a weakness I recognise and that I am trying to do something about.