When should you blog about work and how much?
Meredith Farkas suggests that we need to know about each others’ failures and difficulties as well as successes, Sharing the bad stuff as well as the failures. All isn’t “Happy Valley” in every library, or every library blogger’s professional life. If we share these moments, then we feel less alone or stupid when they happen to us – and learn from each others’ wisdom or forbearance.
I agree in principle. In practice, I’m a lot more cautious. It’s a personal line that is different for everyone, but I thought I’d share mine.
Considering that this is a blog mainly about being a librarian and I do mention my job in it, my personal hierarchy of respect/ obligation / duty goes :
- my family
- my real life friends and relations
- my workmates
- online friends and contacts
- my profession
- audience of my blog
Sorry folks, but I won’t be telling you about what happens in my job if it’s likely to offend or even make my workmates uncomfortable – even though I’ve had some corkers that I’d LOVE to share with you.
My yardstick is not about individuals, but about the group to which they belong. When I want to mention what someone else said or did, I think:
“If I write about workmate x, will my other workmates think I am looking at them as blog fodder too?. If I mention the cute action by one of my kids’ friends, even with the parents’ permission, what does that do to the trust relationship with other parents ?”
Here’s some instances of where I’ve drawn the line.
1. I wrote a post about a fantastic library-based initiative that is unique and involves a lot of clever hard slog by my sons’ school librarians. I ended up not posting it because I didn’t want to identify my sons’ school.
2. One of my sons has a disability which can be hard for our family to handle from day to day. I mention it on twitter sometimes, and I’ve blogged about it here a couple of times. But the specific details of his day to day behaviour is his stuff, not mine to share. It’s not about hiding or denying his disability (which is basically EDIT: I removed this 4 yr later (2011) when as a teen I was concerned that he would have problems with this information being here and findable by his schoolfriends. ) . I’m not comfortable about sharing my frustrations with his behaviour here with a group of people he doesn’t know. When he’s older, I’ll happily share that with him, but until then I don’t want to write stuff that his friends, teachers and others could read.
3. Several months ago, when I asked for feedback at work about where we should go with our Emerging Technologies Group, a colleague sent me a wonderful, straightforward email about why she found it difficult to find time to learn new stuff. It was so well expressed, and it made so many things clear to me that I asked her whether she’d mind me publishing it on my blog. I emailed a copy of my draft post to my work colleague and to my supervisor, and they were both just fine with it.
Just before I pushed “publish”, I thought about the implications. If my work colleagues read it, how would they feel next time I asked for feedback? Even if it was clear that I had permission, would they think I was scrutinising everything they did to find blog fodder? I changed it enough to make it more general – substantially weakening the impact of the post.
I’m not always consistent with my own guidelines and don’t always get it right. Sometimes I think I do err on the side of blandness as a result. Sometimes it can be a convenient excuse for not facing my own shortcomings or not speaking out when I should. Still, I’d rather live with those mistakes on my blog and shortchange my subscribers than diminish my Real Life relationships. I love writing my blog and get a lot of my professional and personal lift and engagement from the blogging community – and I do want this space to be one of honesty, courage and sharing.