Thursday, November 15, 2007

What CAN You Really Blog About, Anyway?

It's been a rough month. Work has been up and down (mostly down in October, up this month, thank Deus). I've had several challenges with both of the committees I'm on within NSS. And yet, as a polite and private individual, I'm self-restrained from airing my dirty laundry about either of these circumstances.

After all, if you have personality conflicts or professional challenges, is it appropriate to vent your spleen into cyberspace? Given some of the articles I've seen, the only way to do this is anonymously or using a pseudonym. A friend recommended Wordpress, though it looks like I need a few more toys and some quality reading time to get it all done right. A pseudonym sounds about right. Otherwise, I'll just keep my inner thoughts--good, bad, or ugly--in my journal, where they probably belong. I've tried to keep this blog on a more-or-less high tone: intellectual or cultural matters, political or philosophical opinions, and the occasional food, drink, or book review. Nevertheless, there are other things I could say about what I do (with appropriate vagueness). I can't control, however, if people find my next blog at random and recognize the writing style or the players, however carefully masked. Hm. I guess this is why I don't write tell-all books. I (usually) want people to think the same or better of me after they read something I write.

It's not even as if I'm planning to write smut, dish gossip, or whatever. There are technical, cultural, and management issues that bear examining. However, the First Amendment is on shaky ground on the Internet. A boss reads your opinion of him or her, or find you're sharing "trade secrets" or internal issues, and fires you. It happens. Does this mean that I'm subject to censorship? Hardly. The government is not going to come after me (okay, they might in my case because I work for them), but on the whole there are no government laws about what I say in the blogosphere. There are, instead, personal and political consequences.

Which leads me to ask another question. There are many other folks on the 'net that are much less cautious than I am. Do they not consider the implications of their opinions or actions? I read an article recently about drunk/licentious women on YouTube getting spotted by their current or future employers. There are others with serious smut or silliness on their MySpace or Facebook pages--personal information, "too much information," or pictures that really aren't appropriate for an R-rated audience. I heard recently that Generation Y has no expectation of personal privacy. I'm beginning to believe it.

It's not like I'm innocent of stupid commentary or behavior on the Internet, and Deus knows I've done my best to backtrack when necessary. I remember being young and stupid. It scares me to think what sorts of damage I could have done to myself if I'd had Internet access at a younger age.

Anyhow, this is a cautionary note, to myself and others: be sensible out there. You never know who's reading.

No comments: