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Boundaries.

March 14, 2008

Ever since Kerri posted about the play that she, Nicole, Shannon and Julia went to a couple weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of Internet privacy and boundaries and how they play a role – if any – in how I blog. Anyone who reads my Twitter feed has probably seen a couple of casual mentions about starting a new and different blog. It isn’t the first time that I have attempted to step away from the diabetes spotlight since I started blogging about it almost three years ago. My ill-fated attempt at creating an comprehensive blog for myself did not go as well as planned. The reason I think that happened is because I had already established a rather diabetes-heavy audience and switching to an entirely new topic (my life in college) didn’t gel very well because most of the people who read my blog were not in college and I often felt a bit boring.

So an audience disconnect was one problem.

Another problem that I’m mulling over is the fact that there are things that I want to write about that I’m not necessarily sure I want the entire world to know that I’m writing. I became “Internet famous” at a rather young age. I was sixteen years old when I started my first website, I was seventeen when I started hosting Teen Talk, I was nineteen when I started this blog and I was twenty when I started Diabetes Teen Talk.

I went to prom, graduated from high school, started college, met new friends, dealt with deadlines, had my first job, traveled the country, took finals, met new people, got interviewed, graduated from college, found my first real job and moved across the country all on the Internet.

That’s a lot of my life, and not even including all the conferences, meet-ups and magazine appearances I’ve had.

I’m not exactly an unknown person.
But there are things that I wish I could talk about without having to worry about my parents, my boss, my co-workers, my grandparents and cousins and friends (all of whom read this blog ::waves::).

I feel stuck, in a way. I don’t want to stop writing about diabetes. I love having this outlet and I love hearing that this has helped others, like the mother who wrote me this week, “Your blog gives me hope.”

I mean, how can you stop writing a blog after that?

On one hand I want to write more about my life and I want to write about things without worrying about offending anyone’s sensibilities or having it brought up in real-life conversations or held against me in the future. I have been reading some blogs written by other twentysomethings who talk about boys and sex and work and living on their own and fashion. I want to write about the ten million other things going on in my head because right now, I need a “twentysomething support group” much more than I need a “diabetes support group.” Handling a disease is easy compared to starting a life practically from scratch. I know that I haven’t written very much about my move across the country, but damn is it hard.

On the other hand, however, I don’t necessarily want any of the aforementioned groups to know every last detail about what I’m thinking about or what I did last Saturday night (not that I did anything last Saturday night – this is purely hypothetical…).

Sandra also posted today with concerns about privacy for her son and how to maintain a balance without embarrassing him. With this blog, I’ve always been pretty strict that I don’t talk about anything that could potentially embarrass the person I’m writing about. I don’t write about arguments with my parents, I don’t write about the stupid things my friends do and I pretty much avoid the topic of work at all costs (except for that one post about the holiday party, but that was somewhat diabetes related so I feel that can be excused). Everything is in the context of what we do, not what is said, and I feel that is a pretty safe avenue to go down.

I don’t even know how to end this post because I’m still unresolved. There’s no magical resolution sentence saying, “But I’m going to do this and live happily ever after… the end!”

How do you break out of your shell without anyone knowing?

6 Comments
  1. March 14, 2008 2:55 PM

    Hi Allison- I understand what you mean. I’m hesitant to talk about some things (like my job and stuff about my family) and I try and mix in other “non D” things too. I think it would be worth it to start a “Twentysomething” blog- that may be anonymous or something or even a shared one with multiple authors. I just joined the 20something blogger group on Ning to find new blogs to read.

    A Twentysomething support group would be really cool.

    :o) The other Allison B

  2. Lili permalink
    March 14, 2008 3:27 PM

    By having a nonpublic blog, like Livejournal.

  3. March 14, 2008 7:15 PM

    Well I blog somewhat anonymously, only you and a few others know my name and location. Everything else is just whatever I choose to tell. I have a pretty boring day to day life, but I include whatever I feel is relevant or makes a good post. I usually use initials for friends names, but sometimes I’m lazy and use their names. Thankfully the only two people who know me in real life that read are my mom and sister, so I just think would they want to read this/am I okay with the fact that they might? When I started my blog I never realized how pigeon holed I would be as a diabetes blogger. It can be difficult, I often contemplate whether I should start an anonymous blog to talk about anything I want to without the possible repercussions I have now.
    If you find a way to strike the balance let us all know! Have a good weekend.

  4. March 15, 2008 5:39 PM

    It is possible to be anonymous on different levels, but certainly takes thought and care.

    On my diabetes blog, I’m semi-anonymous in that I never, ever use my surname, and searching for my surname will not link to that blog. However, I’m open enough that anyone who knows me can (and have) clearly recognise me as they read (especially since I added pictures of me, but I’d been at it almost 2 years before I did that). I’ve formed relationships with readers through that blog, who do know more about me – you’re an example!

    However, I also have a second completely anonymous blog. I don’t use names, or write about anything much that could identify me easily (diabetes and dentistry are banned subjects, for example). I don’t have a registered domain name (domain names can be tricky because of whois.net, although you can get around it). I started that blog after my diabetes blog and, so far, no one has crossed between the two, nor have any real-life friends identified my anonymous blog – unsurprisingly! The downside to very anonymous blogs is that they are harder to build relationships through. In fact, much of what I write there I write for me, much as I wrote in paper journals as a teenager. Just because we can publish our writing to the world so easily these days, doesn’t mean we have to!

    For me, the problem with my diabetes blog is that anything that doesn’t address diabetes feels a little out of place there. That is part of the reason that I have, funnily enough, recently been planning on starting a third blog. Since my relationship ended and diabetes has moved away from my central radar, I’ve been using my anonymous blog to get out lots of stuff unrelated to diabetes. I’ve been thinking of sharing some of this stuff on a blog where the level of anonymity is the same as that on my diabetes blog. For me this is easy, I can even link the two together, and keep the anon blog for things I really don’t feel like sharing openly.

    For you, it may be more tricky because up until now you’ve always been so open about yourself on the internet. If you don’t want to go the totally anonymous route, my only suggestion would be to create another online persona – come up with a pseudoname, (I didn’t use a pseudoname when I started Diabetes-wise, since I wasn’t coming from a place where people already knew me) decide on things you absolutely will not mention (diabetes perhaps) and then blog away without ever allowing “Allison” to mention the other you, and vice versa.

    Wow… that turned into a mega-comment. I really need to stop being so wordy!

  5. Abbey permalink
    March 16, 2008 5:42 PM

    Hmmm, I for one who just started reading your blog would love to hear about more than just the diabetes part of your life. It’s good to know that even with everything you do w/ diabetes you are a person who has other interests and needs. I think your readers would feel the same, after all don’t they also have other interests? Especially moms w/ small children w/ diabetes. I mean look at how successful you are, you got there b/c of what a smart and wonderful person you are. I would love to hear about you!!

  6. March 17, 2008 12:43 AM

    Allison,
    I hear you. I’ve become very guarded about posting anything personal, because too many dern people read my blog nowadays — which is happy and sad. I sometimes wish I could just lay it all out there. But no way now!

    Having “grown up on the Internet” as you say, it may just be time for you to discover (and savour) your offline life a bit more.
    🙂 Best,
    Amy

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