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    How To Blog Without Losing Friends

    As much as it's an accepted fact that you can lose your job over things you write on your blog, you can also damage your personal relationships with friends or family.  This are tricky waters to navigate.

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    Scores of bloggers have been found red-handed:  blogging while emotional.  Confessing things they wouldn't ordinarily, and writing content they would later regret, though perhaps not regret as much as the topic of the post themselves.

    Popular blogger Heather Armstrong found this out the hard way early in her career, alienating her family when she posted her own personal views on religion, a religion in which she was raised, and a blog post which was then read by her parents, still ardent believer of the faith.  The post snowballed and ended up hurting her extended family and the larger community they all lived in - and no doubt, she received backlash from those outside her community too, who felt similarly spited.  Armstrong refers to who experiences as being a poster-child for what not to do on blogs, Armstrong having also been fired for writing about co-workers and her place of employment.  The entire process went on to result in the blog Dooce, one of the most well-known and profitable blogs around.

    In an interview with Rebecca Blood - herself something of a student in blogs - Armstrong cautioned anyone that while criticizing others makes for a great, popular post, chances are pretty high that they'll eventually read it too.

    "I started out thinking that I could say anything in my space and that everyone else needed to get over it, including my family and friends.  Of course, I ended up alienating my family and losing my job and pissing off my fiends and it took WAY TOO LONG for me to figure out that while there is great power in personal publishing, there is also great danger.  My supposed right to say anything I wanted got me into hot water in so many facets of my life that I finally realized that it wasn't worth it. 
    My boundaries are constantly changing as more people read my site, as my daughter gets older, as neighbours walk up to me and say, 'Saw you in the paper! Funny stuff!'.  Do I really want my neighbours to know how constipated I am?  I guess I really don't care, but I never thought I'd have to ask myself that question.  I would say that now I am much more conscious about how what I write is going to affect the people in my life."

    You an read the full interview with Armstrong on Rebecca Blood's web site here.

    Even in a situation where you don't directly criticize someone else, you may inadvertently reveal information about others you didn't mean to: conversations they thought were private, dates from last week, disappointing personal *ahem* encounters.  Your friends and family may find that all disturbing.

    In some circles, it's known as the 'Mom test': Will your writings get you in trouble with your Mother?  Of course, you are an adult, and so is she, but your mother is the most likely person to call you out on an inappropriate posting.  Co-workers may be stunned, appalled even.  Friends shocked when they read about your love life, but they may never tell you that your blog is causing problems.  Your mother will.

    If you wouldn't want your Mother to read it, don't publish it.

    Like in a great many things, it all boils down to common sense:

    • Don't write about topics that may hurt or offend other people.
    • Don't write about other people without their consent or permission, even about topics you think are inconsequential.  
    • Don't identify friends, family members, co-workers or lovers by names without their permission.
    • Remember, everything you write is archived, so whatever you write about today can be read later.  If you write about your horrible ex and the worst date you ever had, it may be read by the next person you start to see.
    Before you hit that beautiful, Pandora's publish button, stop for a second and consider the topic of your latest writing:  Are you writing for those reading, or are you writing for your own reasons?  If the answer is the latter, it may be safer to write a diary than a blog - that way, your innermost thoughts are not out there for the world to read.

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