Transparency and candor, public and private

I enjoyed all your reactions to yesterday’s post about being a bitchy old crone. Marvin said “Love your transparency and candor. Be yourself.” That brings up an interesting issue – exactly how much of ourselves should we share online?

I recently blogged about attending a training on leadership and community organizing given by Greg Golluzzo, who trained Barack Obama. Among other things, he focuses on the difference between our public and private relationships. The latter include our immediate family and a very few friends. These are intimate relationships where we can truly be ourselves, transparent and spontaneous. Public relationships, in contrast, are more objective and goal-oriented. We enter into them voluntarily, for our own self-interest, and they involve our donning a mask and/or uniform, such as the “dress for success” outfits we wear for work, conferences, etc. For Golluzzo, “self-interest” is a good thing, not to be confused with the “selfishness” our culture tends to condemn.

For writers, and especially writers blogging online, I believe these distinctions get blurry. How much should we disclose, and to whom? There’s a kind of instant intimacy that arises in groups like Blog Book Tours, and frankness makes blogs more interesting. But this is a public forum, after all. Where are the limits?

Yesterday I posted about pouring myself a glass of red wine as my five o’clock therapy. That struck a chord with a lot of folks, who commented on their own love of wine as a stress reducer. (Chocolate came in a close second.) That seems fine in the context of this group, and helps create a cheerful sense of community. But if we all started posting about the exact extent of  our alcohol consumption, and whether we or our significant others think it’s problematic, that would be way too much information. (Disclaimer: I don’t have a problem.)

For those who’d like to learn more about Greg Golluzzo and his organization the Gamaliel Foundation, here is the website: www.gamaliel.org. I tried to insert the link using Marvin’s tutorial instructions, but I got befuddled, so this one will probably take you away from my site. I’ll try to do better next time.

Any thoughts on the transparency issue? When it comes to sharing, where do we draw the line?

Advertisements

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephen Tremp
    May 05, 2009 @ 21:14:42

    Hi Julie,

    I came to the conclusion that I’m going to bare it all. Life’s too short and I’m to the point that if someone doesn’t like me because of something I reveal about myself, then that’s okay. There are plenty of people who do like me, such as my family.

    I think I mentioned in a comment on some one ek=lse’s blog that I reveal a lot about myself in my main character as well as the antagonist. I found that I was better able to develop both characters this way and give them much more depth. This way, I can reveal myself in an indirect manner.

    Love your Web site. Its very calming to come to.

    Stephen Tremp
    Author – Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan
    http://stephentremp.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  2. Stephen Tremp
    May 05, 2009 @ 21:15:37

    I came to the conclusion that I’m going to bare it all. Life’s too short and I’m to the point that if someone doesn’t like me because of something I reveal about myself, then that’s okay. There are plenty of people who do like me, such as my family.

    I think I mentioned in a comment on some one ek=lse’s blog that I reveal a lot about myself in my main character as well as the antagonist. I found that I was better able to develop both characters this way and give them much more depth. This way, I can reveal myself in an indirect manner.

    Love your Web site. Its very calming to come to

    Reply

  3. Karen Walker
    May 05, 2009 @ 22:43:30

    Hi Julie,
    Since I’m a memoir writer, I have become used to baring my soul in public. There is very little that I left out of my book. Still, it is different putting things out on the web for all to see. I think I’m going to reveal what I feel necessary or pertinent to what I am talking about. AS Steve said, some will like it and some won’t. I can’t worry about that. I am working too hard on being true to myself and being myself with others. I spent too many years pretending to feel things I didn’t feel and trying to change to please others.

    Karen
    http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

    Reply

  4. Patricia Stoltey
    May 06, 2009 @ 03:55:35

    Good point, Julie. I would like everyone to know that I do not have a chocolate problem. Really…

    As far as how much to share, I have a writer friend who has dealt with her private life in her blog and has a huge following (Midlife Crisis Queen), but her blog’s subject matter is related specifically to her books and articles.

    I suspect I’ll mostly share thoughts and opinions, but not too much personal information. I’d hate to bore my readers. I’d rather they believe I’m mysterious….

    Patricia
    http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com

    Reply

  5. Marvin D Wilson
    May 06, 2009 @ 13:05:05

    Good post, and a subject that warrants discussion. Also smart of you to ask the question at the end, eliciting comments. Me, I’m with Stephen – out with it. All of it. In today’s “put on your smiley face” and “have a nice day!” world of pretend to be all happy happy and isn’t everything just wonderful when it most definitely is NOT always, I feel honesty is refreshing to our readers. My debut book, I Romanced the Stone, was a memoir of my midlife crisis during which I fell into the hellish depths of crack cocaine addiction. I have 3 books pub’d now and that book still outsells the other two. So my readers KNOW I’m no “never have sinned” kind of perfect angel. 🙂

    Oh a quick gentle bit of advice. When you mention another blogger in your post (and thank you very much, btw), hyperlink their name or blog – you’ll make lots of friends that way. Also, the more your blog is internally linked to other blogs the more your post gets hooked up with moresearch engines and the more unique visitors you will find logging onto your blog. Just a littl tip from the Old Silly.

    That’ll be $5, please (wink & 🙂

    Marvin D Wilson
    http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
    http://tiedyedtirades.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  6. Jane Kennedy Sutton
    May 06, 2009 @ 15:39:25

    I thought this was an interesting post and question. I guess I’m willing to share bits and pieces of myself but not yet ready to put all my ‘laundry’ out on the line.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton
    http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  7. Alexis Grant
    May 06, 2009 @ 16:52:48

    Nice post. I share a lot about myself. A whole lot. Because an online presence, whether it’s through blogging or Twitter or some other network, is boring unless you share!

    Here’s how I draw the line: I ask myself, If a future employer saw this when they Googled me, would he still hire me? Would he be impressed by my online presence, or would this content make him throw out my resume?

    Reply

  8. K. A. Laity
    May 06, 2009 @ 16:54:10

    Although it’s unlikely, given the make-up of the committee, I write everything with the thought in mind that my tenure committee may read it. I’m willing to be myself, but I am being my “on best behaviour” self.

    Reply

  9. Karen Brees
    May 06, 2009 @ 17:43:01

    Writing is the ultimate exposure. You turn your very thoughts out to the world, knowing you may face rejection, criticism, and all other sort of verbal slings and arrows. However, writers write about the human experience. Sometimes we write about our own, and I believe it is in those moments we are able to touch hearts and minds.

    What do I hold back? Anything that might be hurtful. I make fun of myself but not others. There’s a rather famous quote that sums it up nicely:

    “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others thought, if you realized how seldom they do.”

    Karen K. Brees, Ph.D.
    http://www.karenkbrees.com
    http://www.practicalpreserving.blogspot.com

    Reply

  10. alan chin
    May 06, 2009 @ 23:08:09

    You raise a hard question that each of us writers have to face every day, because I think the answser changes every day, and it also changes with different audiences. I like to think that I have nothing to hide from anyone, but that, of course, is not true.

    The rule of thumb I use is that I try not to show anything my husband would be embarrassed to show his family.

    Alan Chin

    Island Song – an exotic romance
    http://AlanChin.net

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: