Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blogging: Personal or Personality?

Something that has always been a concern for me since I started blogging, is the question of how personal I should get. I could talk about the events of my life in great detail, using the blog as a journal to divulge my innermost thoughts. Is this a good thing to do? Probably not.

Leroy Brown at Blogging Blog has a post (that also refers to another post) asking this question about personal blogs. This is, however, a good question to ask about any blog or web page.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've gotten some of my personal thoughts and feelings. I've even posted a few pictures and thoughts on my family. Yet, I have to admit to hesitating before doing this. I asked myself, who's going to be reading this?

The truth is that it could be anyone. All of us who blog or have a web presence of any kind have to be aware of this fact. Once we let fly with that post button, we are giving away whatever information contained to potentially anyone, friend, enemy, or complete stranger.

So, what's an appropriate level of personal information to include in a blog or web page? One major factor is the purpose of the site. If your site is geared entirely toward revealing your own thoughts and feelings, go for it. Just be prepared for the consequences.

Those who read your blog, especially those close to you who may even be mentioned in the blog, might not care for how they have been characterized. Also, they may not want to be posted about at all, good or bad. Other people's privacy is something you should consider before posting.

On the other hand, if your blog is about business or some other niche, perhaps the personal information should be kept out of it. Your readers may not be interested in reading about your life. They may only be there for the information you're presenting. With the deluge of information available today and the typically hectic pace of people's lives, this is always a factor. If there's too much noise and too little signal, your readers will no longer be readers.

Of course, there is some information that is never appropriate to post on the web. This includes personally damaging details about another person or intimate information that you know will hurt someone or make them vulnerable to attack. This is a moral consideration that must necessarily be subjective.

Some of the consequences of revealing personal information have already been discussed in great detail. There are many references in the news recently about people who've gotten into trouble because of what they've posted on the web. Employers, for instance, are more and more googling the names of job candidates to find if there is anything out there on the web that might make them a liability for the company.

Although it's marketed more toward younger people, MySpace is a great example of personal blogging gone out of control. People of all ages post just about anything about themselves, including pictures, that they might not want an employer or their neighbors or pastor to read or see. They seem to forget that the internet is pretty much wide open to everyone. If you've posted something connected to yourself and someone wants information on you badly enough, they'll find it.

With all of this said, how much, then is the right amount of personal information? Consider this: human interaction is all about stories. Each of us has many to tell. It's what makes us human and real. This is what defines our personalities and what interests people and what, ultimately, keeps them within our circle of interaction.

To be truly engaging, anything that is written needs to have a personal touch. It doesn't have to be personal per se; it just has to have your own personal mark on it, your brand, if you will. If who you really are comes across in your communication, it has a much greater chance of success.

This isn't a guarantee, but, think about it: who likes reading a dry textbook? Info dumps are great for just getting information, but without a personality behind it, who's going to keep coming back? Your writing will be best received if it's honest and from the heart (although, those of us who write fiction might be quick to point out that all of it is lies).

When you click that button to post your thoughts or feelings or informative article, consider this: have you put a little bit of yourself into it?



Anonymous Chris said...

Great post, I have thought about this as well. When I started blogging my posts were very dry with no personal touch. Now, I don't really write about things personal, but do try to had some personality and humor.

8/26/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Thanks, Chris. I think that's something that comes with experience. I really wasn't sure what I wanted to say or how to say it when I started blogging. I just knew I wanted to say something. After a while, ideas just started flowing. We all just have to find our footing as we go along.

8/26/2006 02:59:00 PM  

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