Want to see something scary? Here’s my web site as it appeared back in 1999. At the time, I had sold only a handful of short stories, and was pretty much an unknown. The site was a blend of writing and personal, as you can see by the Photo Album link. (Only about half the pages on the archived site are still live.) Later on, I added more photos for friends and family, including pics of my daughter.
As my writing career progressed, the site shifted more toward the writing, but I still talked openly about family and kept the pictures. Then, when my daughter was around five years old or so, I got an e-mail telling me how hot she was.
I pulled the pics that same day.
These days, I rarely even mention the names of my children. There’s a LJ icon I use that has them, and truly determined friends on Facebook can probably find some pictures, but that’s about it.
I’m revisiting that decision. I know most people don’t come to my blog to read about how awesome my wife and kids are. On the other hand, my family is a very big and very important part of my life. I love them, and I’m proud of them. I look at folks like John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell — both are successful, professional authors, but both talk openly about their families as well. It gives a fuller, more honest picture of them, and I enjoy that. And looking back at the guy who thought my daughter was hot, do I really want to let some creep control what I post?
Some things I’m considering:
- Nothing gets posted without talking to my wife about it.
- If I’m going to share stories or pictures of the kids, I check with them as well. They’re only 9 and 5, but they should still have the right to control what goes onto the Internet about them.
- To the best of my ability, nothing gets posted that the kids’ friends might tease them about if they found it.
That still leaves a lot for me to think about. I’ve spoken very openly about my diabetes, for example, and people seem to appreciate those posts. In that same vein, do I talk about the health issues my son has been struggling with pretty much since he was born? Some of them, absolutely not — see rule three. But other aspects I’m not sure about.
How do you make the decision about what to share and what to keep off the Internet? What about when you’re reading other people’s blogs? I know I appreciate those glimpses into the personal side of authors I admire, but there are also times I cringe because it feels like the author is perhaps sharing more than he or she should.
Discussion is very much welcome.