Blogging is weird.
Theoretically, you can talk about your life, in whatever level of detail you're comfortable with. Except you don't live your life completely alone, so part of your story is invariably also part of someone else's story.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
How do you deal with that? Other people are entitled to whatever level of privacy they want to maintain online, right? But you are also entitled to talk about your own life from your own perspective, aren't you? (Side note: I hate the word "entitled." I hate it about equally as much as the word "deserve.") So do you make up names for people so that they're not as easily Googled? That stops random searches, sure, but if someone who knows you both stumbles upon your blog and reads the pertinent entries, I imagine they're going to see right through your "Great-Aunt Bertha" alias and realize you're talking about your great-aunt Greta. And when you're talking about people even closer to you, like your spouse, parents or children, well - there's no hiding who they are to anyone who knows you.
One solution is to only write about things that are specifically about you, as if you really are an island. Another is to only write about the most positive experiences in your life. Yet another is to write about other people only when you can say something that can't be interpreted even obliquely as negative. Finally, you can write about only people who can defend themselves (ie, who read the blog and are therefore free to comment with their side of the story), or perhaps only people who can't defend themselves (ie, who are dead or are unlikely to ever see the blog).
I have problems with all of those, but the one I really want to talk about is the second item on that list: writing only about the most positive experiences in your life. I can think of some compelling reasons to do this; a big one is that putting the best face on everything keeps everyone happy. Except possibly you, since you may spend a lot of time writing if not fiction, then at least half-truths.
I watched the first few episodes of Mad Men recently (I know, where have I been for the last 5 years?). The '50s and early '60s were a time when everyone thought everyone else's life was perfect. Your neighbor had beautifully behaved children, her house was always neat as a pin, she threw wonderful dinner parties. But you really had no idea what was going on behind the picket fence and therefore, you spent a lot of time comparing yourself to the illusion of your neighbor. And although there are complaints that now we know too much about everyone, and we see too far into people's lives through the various social networks, in a lot of ways, that illusion is still there.
|Blogging was harder when it was called "writing your memoirs."|
Now I'm about to sort of contradict myself, because I'm not saying anyone should post about every little frustration or argument on Facebook (we all have people like that on our lists, and it is cringe-worthy to read things you're pretty sure they'll regret saying soon). But I am saying that posting about things that you've gotten some perspective on, or things that happened in the past can be helpful to you, and helpful to others. It doesn't help anyone to look around and find either perfection or complete disarray to compare oneself to. I think it's important for people to be honest, although it's also important for readers to remember that they are always only reading one view on the story. It's easy to forget that we're all the stars of our own movies, and it may look different from the viewpoint of someone you think of as a minor character. (If you haven't seen it, you should check out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead for an illustration of that point.)
And since I don't want to end on a parenthetical statement, I'll just say that I appreciate and have been seeking out people who are brave enough to write about the full range of their experiences. It takes guts to do at all, and it takes sensitivity to do it fairly.