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Where do we draw the line? (Blogging with responsibility)

I had received an email some time ago from a new blogger who wanted advice. He wanted to write freely about certain things, and yet he was not sure as to how far he should go. Also, he did not want to blog anonymously. Melodrama also writes about the problems that she’s run into as a result of some stuff she wrote on her blog.

We can write just about anything since there is absolutely no one who can really stop us. And especially since it is our ‘voice’ that is responsible for making the blog stand apart from the next one. That doesn’t, however, mean that we should.

I don’t personally feel it is possible to stay completely aloof or impersonal when you are blogging. (Unless, all you post are links to new items, maybe.)

On the other hand, I think that there comes a point of time, when we all wonder where we should say, “Okay this is where I will go, and no further”.

My wake-up call was last year when I had made some flippant remarks on my blog regarding another blogger(s). Unfortunately, it was taken in a completely different spirit to what it was intended. In fact, I had intended nothing, but made some passing remark just for fun. A rather serious allegation was made against me. I was stunned by the incident.

While, I can say it was through no fault of mine, the incident served as a reminder that while my blog is a form of ‘personal expression’, things can be miscontrued and misread, giving rise to rather uncomfortable (and unwarranted) situations.

And while we do make acquaintances and contacts through blogs, we cannot take them for granted. I also realised that while I had built a friendly relationship, I had a while to go before I could make comments of a flippant or fun nature, taking it for granted that he/she would take it in the same spirit.

It made me more careful while blogging. I would call it blogging with a ‘sense of responsibility’. From my experience (please note that these are hardly rules, but more observations that you can choose to take note of) here are 11 tips for you. Take whatever is helpful and discard what is not.

  1. It’s your journal. And it’s your private space. But since it is online (and a part of a public space) – be frank, but don’t be rude.
  2. While you make many ‘friends’ while blogging, remember that it takes a while to build deeper, lasting friendships. A few blog postings and emails exchanged doesn’t mean you have gained a best friend. It might take a little longer than that. And don’t take anyone for granted. Or assume you know blogger ‘A’ as well as anyone else just because you read his/her blog everyday.
  3. Don’t post when you are very angry or ‘pissed’ off; it doesn’t solve anything. Your blog might be your place to rave and rant, but even that can be done with a sense of fairness.
  4. Don’t make references to people you don’t know well and who might take offence at what you say.
  5. Try and avoid blogging about work, your boss, your workmates. Especially if you have only bad or negative things to say about them. Making references like “I was really angry with fat and ugly K at work today”, “I am really frustrated, my work sucks”, is bound to get you into trouble. I don’t think it would take long for ‘K’ to figure out who you are referring to or your boss to find out you hate your work. There’s the all powerful Google for one thing! And in case, you do decide to blog about work, then remember that you will be responsible for the consequences. Don’t cry about it later.
  6. If you do want to get personal about work, people, girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses do be prepared for them finding out. You can’t rant about them, and then complain that they didn’t like it.
  7. If you are unsure about a post (should I, shouldn’t I?) it is best to wait till the next day. Then read it again. If you’re sure, post it. While there is a ‘delete’ button, why risk someone reading it even for the short while it is online, especially if you are unsure about it.
  8. Remember that while posting, you are carrying on a conversation. With the person who is reading your post. Don’t say things that make you uncomfortable and that you might regret later.
  9. Don’t write about people who don’t like being written about and who tell you so. I have someone who specifically said that he does not like his name mentioned. I respect that.
  10. Don’t publish personal emails on your blog. Do ask the sender if he/she is okay with it too.
  11. You’re the editor of your blog. So be a responsible one!

I am sure you will have your own, learnt through your own experiences. And if you’re wondering if these ‘rules’ will make it very hard for you to blog, ‘whatever comes to your mind’, I would beg to disagree. These will only help you become a better and more responsible blogger. And at least you won’t live in regret. Or lose your job, for that matter!


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