Earlier in the year, when I was attempting to get a blog consulting business off the ground, I entered into a contract with a gentleman who was at the very beginning stages of building a blog. After some conversation, I figured I could help him, he figured I could help him, and he paid me for a few months of work up front. Everyone was happy.
The contract ended and we informally kept in touch, mainly due to some side projects this gentleman was working on. He wanted to bring me on board for a very large scale project, one that I was extremely excited for because of both the scope of work and, yes, the potential paycheck. And, despite the fact that details were fuzzy and progress was slow, I maintained enthusiasm for project. I couldn’t wait to get started.
I was fired. Before I was even officially hired.
According to this gentleman, I am not transparent enough. Which is not something I have ever claimed or even attempted to be. There are certain parts of my financial and personal life–and this was true, even when I had a purely personal finance site–that I never shared (and never will share). That was a conscious decision, made out of a number reasons, including a respect for my husband’s wishes and the fact that too much transparency can wind up hurting rather than helping.
I don’t know where the expectation for complete and total transparency happened. As bloggers, we do share a certain amount of information. That’s our choice. But to expect that we share everything is asinine. There is no law or rule that states we are required to put each intimate detail of our lives online or in our blog. It’s our content, our rules, our lives. We get to decide what to do with it and how much of it to share. And where, with whom, and in what context that information is shared.
To tell us otherwise is ridiculous. No one has any right to dictate or bully us into divulging any more than we are comfortable with. There are reasons that people don’t share everything, and guess what? We don’t have to share those reasons either. If someone says “I’m not comfortable sharing that”, then their choice deserves respect. You can choose to move on to another person who will be more transparent if that’s what you like to read. That’s fine. We understand. But if you’re going to continue to read our sites, then you need to behave, act like a grown up, and show some respect for our decision not to share every intimate detail.
Bloggers have to take ownership of the situation, too. If we choose to make any part of our lives available for public consumption then we must be prepared for readers to criticize, disagree, or dislike those choices. We need to be prepared for people wanting or insisting on having more. Hell, we even need to be prepared for virtual strangers to dislike us as people. And we need to let them. Because while they might not have the right to force us share, we can’t stop them from trying. It’s how all of this works. Announcing your life to the world–and in part, that’s what blogging is–opens us up to that. If you can’t handle it, don’t blog in a public manner. It’s not for the thin skinned and easily offended.
Also, bloggers, if you choose to be transparent in every way possible, please consider the effects on your:
- Personal life, particularly family and friends. Speaking from experience, you can unintentionally hurt people you care about even if what you write has the best intentions.
- Job, and everything that goes with it including promotion potential, earning potential, raises and the like. There have been people who have been fired as a result of what they write on their blogs.
- Legal issues. I couldn’t think of another way to describe this. But if you have anything like pending mortgage information, child support, or other income based proceedings happening, full transparency can hurt you.
If you think, even for a second, that something you say can harm you, your career, your family, or whatever in any way, don’t use it in a post. And if you do, accept the consequences. Don’t place all the blame on the reader. You put it out there. Deal with what happens. Even if you don’t like it.
That said, if you’re okay with the consequences, share away. Disclose everything if you choose. You have mad respect from me for doing it. But I won’t be jumping on that train. I still need to keep some cards close to my chest.
>>>Steps off soapbox
P.S. For those wondering, I don’t mind that I lost the job. Yes, I was pissed at the time but compromising my standards and my promises wasn’t going to happen. It makes me sad that this gentleman couldn’t understand that but I wish him luck in finding someone who gives him what he needs. I hope his project goes well. I hope it succeeds. And I also hope he realizes that, just as we don’t accept bullying on the playground, we don’t accept bullying in the workplace either.