When does blogging become too personal?

Image from We Heart It

I’ve talked about blogging vs. real life before and it made me wonder about where bloggers, especially those who have niche blogs, draw the line at talking about personal stuff online? This is a book blog so as a rule, most of the things that I talk about are book-related but I can’t help but bring up other topics when I feel like it. I love that the golden rule in blogging is it’s your blog so you can post whatever you want. I love my blog and I can definitely say that it’s a huge part of my life. However, I try not to reveal too much about my personal life here. You get hints and glimpses when I review books because most of what I say reflects how I feel so it’s not surprising that some details about my life will pop up. If you also follow me on Twitter then you’re bound to know more about me than those who just follow me here on the blog. Although most of the time, I just tweet about the food I eat and how it’s so hard to get up in the mornings to go to work, especially now that it’s so cold.

In general though, I don’t mention details like my job and what is it exactly that I do (mostly because we’re highly discouraged to do that), what I do when I hang out with my family and friends and even things like where I live and my whole name. Chachic is my nickname and that’s what I’m usually called but I use my given name for work. When I do mention family and friends here on the blog, I seldom use their names to protect their identity. Also, I don’t think what I do outside of reading and blogging is relevant and it might bore some of you if I talk too much about things like those. I believe that this way of thinking applies to most book bloggers out there – we do tend to mention personal things on our blog but not too often and not enough to make us uncomfortable. The boundaries blur though when I get to meet people in person, like with the Filipino Book Bloggers, because then they tend to become part of both my blogging and real life.

What do you think, do you agree with me about bloggers not posting too much about their personal life on their book blogs? Do you ever experience problems in trying to decide whether you should post about a personal aspect of your life or not?

27 thoughts on “When does blogging become too personal?

  1. I’ve been blogging for so long that sometimes it’s hard to draw the line when it becomes too personal. I used to blog about EVERYTHING all the time, even names and stuff I do, but now I’ve stopped. I try to be more conscious of what I post about. Like you, I try not to post about the actual work that I do. The only people I really post about the most are my friends but that’s only when we go out and do stuff that made me realize things about myself. My personal blog is really more for reflections and thoughts but not really about my entire life. I don’t really have a list of unbloggable things, but there are just certain things that you know you just don’t need to blog about. I think the years of blogging has taught me that pretty well.

    When I do book reviews though, I can’t help but share a bit of my life in the review. I think that’s unavoidable seeing that we review books the way we relate to them and all. I do try to give mine a little personal touch every now and then. That makes my reviews longer than usual, but it gives me a sort of comfort that it’s really mine. πŸ™‚

    • Back when I had a personal blog on LJ, I used to blog about everything too. But then my LJ friends were people that I really knew in real life so it was okay to talk about personal stuff.

      Me too, I don’t exactly have a list things that I don’t blog about but I try to stay away from mentioning something that would make me uncomfortable. It’s ironic actually because sometimes, I feel like I reveal more of myself when I write reviews because I talk about my feelings and thoughts rather than details in my daily life.

  2. I generally am not comfortable putting too much personal detail into my blog, whether its a book blog or another type of blog. Like you I do mention personal things in relation to maybe a book review. I might say i got this book when i went to some trip with my sister, but that’s how personal i’m going to get.
    I think when it comes niche blogging, the followers of a particular blog are there to read what you have to say about that particular niche topic. I am personally not comfortable putting my personal life in the internet. Truthfully this is the first i’ve place my real name on the blog, just because GB has a particular objective that requires those behind it to be known as real people.

    Anyway, great post.

    • Oh I always mention why I decided to read a certain book and if there’s an interesting tale about it, how I was able to get a copy. I also mention why I was able to relate to the characters and why I liked/disliked certain aspects of the book.

      Yes, you’re right about niche blogging. In the case of book blogs, followers tune in because they’re interested in book-related stuff. Most book bloggers use their real names when they blog. I think the same goes for other niche blogs out there.

  3. I think it can go either way. Your blog is focused on the books, so a certain level of privacy works for you. But I have seen success stories about sharing your life on the internet. A friend of mine got a job in New York City because her sister dedicated a blog post to her: http://bit.ly/h4GQtR
    So, I guess what I’m trying to say is if you feel comfortable sharing personal things, go for it. If that’s not your thing, then keep it private, and keep blogging!

    • Hey, that’s a really nice story about your friend! It’s a good thing she got that job because of her sister. I guess it really depends on the person and whether you feel comfortable in sharing that kind of information. Maybe if there’s really a need for it like if I was asking for help, I’d post about something really personal.

  4. Hi Chachic, I suppose a lot of it has to depend on your boundaries as an individual and what you wish to accomplish through your blog. In GatheringBooks, for instance, the entire idea of the website is predicated upon my being a Teacher Educator and our desire to use the site as a useful resource for teacher-students, parents, and other bibliophiles who share our love for reading. Thus, I essentially bring myself and who I am as I blog. The institutions that are affiliated with me likewise follow what I do as an academic which I likewise bring into my blogposts (e.g. attendance during conferences, etc) either related to book blogging or my interest in the arts, the academe, et al. So I suppose, that blurs the boundaries somewhat. The thing is, the book blogging is also brought into my academic/professional life (ie, when I blog about using picture books as a useful tool to my graduate students – teachers taking their masters in gifted ed). I agree with what Catherine said above – it varies across individuals, whatever makes you an effective blogger – and what aids you as a person to blog with integrity. =)

    • Yes, exactly, it depends on your own boundaries and what you’re comfortable with. I think there are a lot of book bloggers out there who are also teachers and that’s when the boundaries blur, because they bring their job to their blog and vice versa (just like you).

  5. I have to be careful considering my husband’s line of work. I did slip a couple of times from being excited about my kids and ended up posting a picture of them though leaving out their names and blurring out part of the picture that might identify the place. It was pretty private but having their picture out there just worried me, so I eventually I pulled it out.

    • What is your husband’s line of work? Does he do something that requires security clearance or something? I post pictures of my bookshelves and pictures of my friends and I when we go out but I don’t mention locations and things like that. I’ve posted my godson’s picture here on the blog and his mom didn’t seem to mind.

  6. I keep my blog pretty private and it’s only after having it a couple of years did I actually post pictures of myself and people I know. I think not saying too much information about where you live and what your job is is common sense.

    Posting things like the death of a loved one or other big event sometimes happens (I think I posted when I was getting married), and I’m inclined to say that’s up to the blogger and how much they want to tell readers. I tend to not go into life drama/devastation because frankly, it’s too painful and my blog is where I escape from that stuff. I’d rather keep that private, but I’ve seen book bloggers who are very open about depression or other problems and this community being what it is, they get very positive responses.

    • Yep, I think it’s okay to post about big events. I’ve even posted about my friend’s wedding. Me too! I try to be positive in my blog posts because I don’t want drag life’s problems here. Our blogs are our safe and happy places. πŸ™‚

      I’ve seen those posts about depression and things like that and the comments are really great. Maybe if I feel like I need encouragement or cheering up, I might post something personal but thankfully, that hasn’t happened recently.

  7. I use my real name in blogging but if I mention personal stuff it usually has to do with the books I’m reading. My “job” tends to come up because I am a homeschool mom and was a teacher before that so many of the books I read are with my kids in mind and I mention them occasionally. My daughter contributes when I’m reviewing a book we’ve read together but I don’t use her real name.

    • Well, Chachic is my real name too but it’s a nickname so it’s not the one that I use for work. Most book blogger who are teachers mention their jobs on the blog from time to time. And I think all moms are concerned with what they can let their kids read.

  8. I try not to mention specifics of my personal life, although if someone really wanted to stalk me they could find enough clues to do so! Although I’m very glad I kept my own last name, so my children can’t be traced as easily!

    I think it is different when the book side of life and the professional are the same, but my work life is irrelevant to my book life, and it would make me feel odd to talk much about it. And it’s not stuff I’d feel comfortable sharing for legal and ethical reasons.

    But that being said, I like to know a little bit about the “real” life of the people whose blogs I read–I liked seeing your vacation pictures, for instance! It’s like salt in soup, I guess- a pinch is excellent, too much is too much!

    • I love your salt analogy! I like seeing a little bit of people’s lives in their blogs as well but yes, not too much. I think we enjoy seeing things that prove how unique a certain blogger is.

      I agree with what you said that if the book life and professional life are the same, then it’s okay to talk about the latter on your blog. But since our jobs aren’t relevant to the book industry, we don’t mention it as much.

      Yes, me too! I keep thinking that if someone wanted to stalk me, there are enough clues here in my blog to do so. I hope it doesn’t happen though because that’s creepy!

  9. For some reason my head makes a very clear distinction on how much I should share based on the blogging platform I’m using. Like Tina, I also keep a Livejournal account and I’m generally much freer about the things I talk about there. Mostly because it has a friends-only function and it makes me more comfortable to share about RL things.

    When it comes to blogging in wordpress or any other platform, I find it best to keep my personal life largely off the page. The anxiety of revealing too much doesn’t keep my awake at night and I like it that way. πŸ˜€

    • Yes, the friends-only setting of LJ is perfect for personal posts. I think WordPress has something similar but what happens is a post becomes password-protected. For a public blog like this, I think my followers would find it weird if I ever made a post like that.

      It really depends on what a certain person is comfortable with. I’ve seen so many blogs out there that share personal things and they don’t seem worried by the number of people who can read posts about them.

  10. I mostly try to keep my personal life personal, but I have made some very good blogging friends that I have spilled beans to. I’ve never openly done it on my blog (although I did say that I had to take a blogging break due to personal issues) I think, but I do divulge more on Twitter than on my blog. For instance, everyone knows I’m looking for a job.

    I do understand why people spill the beans on their blogs and Twitter now due to recent events in my own life. I have to resist saying too much openly because there is such a thing as “too much information”. Still, I think it can be therapeutic to be open about the trials of life. I definitely have been in IM chats with some bloggers and they have just been amazing so I definitely understand when a blogger spills the beans now. I used to not be quite as tolerant.

    I’m with you though. I’d like to avoid as much public drama as possible and people knowing too much about me unless I feel like I can tell them myself.

    • Yes, we’re the same, I think. We share more information over Twitter and when we feel like it’s too personal, we share through direct messages instead of public tweets. I really hope you find a job soon! I know how stressful it is not to have a job. I didn’t have a job for a couple of months in 2009.

      It really is therapeutic to rant and rave either on Twitter or on your blog. If I feel strongly about something, I always talk about it. I can’t help myself.

  11. I’m actually very guilty of sharing personal stuff on my reviews! I guess I just got used to it. When I started blogging, I had LJ for personal stuff and different Blogger sites for other interests. Very few people/friends read my book blog so it became sort of an extension of my other blogs, until it was the only blog that was left! πŸ˜›

    My book review posts tend to be very personal. I feel that sometimes I have to explain myself (by sharing personal details) when I make comments for/against something so whoever is reading my blog will get a clearer idea of where I am coming from. It’s like people will believe you more if you talk about physics and you tell them you have a PhD from CalTech.

    • Chris, I also share personal stuff on my reviews because I mostly share how I feel about the books that I read. Like you, I feel like I have to explain why I liked/disliked a certain book and how I could relate to the characters. Otherwise, I’d feel like the review would be too bland. It’s just that even if I share my experiences, I don’t give too many details or I don’t go as in depth as I would when talking to my friends in person. I share just enough to let the others understand how I felt while reading.

  12. I think it can be a bit of a tightrope walk. Reveal too little, and people have trouble identifying with you as a writer. Reveal too much and you risk alienating people, not to mention the safety implications.

    I’m fighting this battle myself right now with a post I’m working on. I feel like the personal details will make the post more relatable – but I need to pay attention to not letting the personal detail cross into over-sharing.

    Some good thoughts here. Thanks!

    • Exactly! People won’t be able to identify with you if you don’t liven up your posts with hints about your personal life and when you reveal too much, it might make them uncomfortable.

      Thanks for dropping by and good luck with the post that you’re working on! I hope you find the right balance.

  13. Hmm. I’ve never thought about this before since I usually see my blogs as something that’s already personal. Then again, I’m nearly nearing a decade on Livejournal–so I really do have a hard time separating my self on my blogs.

    I think the most sharing I’ve done over at Taking a Break is to mention my work a few times though. Aside from that, I don’t remember sharing any personal information–mostly insights.

    • Yep, blogs are already personal but with niche blogs, you tend to talk about just one topic (books for us) instead of sharing daily activities.

      I think I’ve mentioned my job position in an interview but that’s it. I don’t talk about the details of my job although I do mention some tidbits on Twitter.

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