Should You Self-Censor Your Personal Blog?

Should you self-censor your personal blog?

It’s common knowledge that employers will check social media pages during an interview process and things that are deemed inappropriate can have a potentially damaging impact on a candidates success when applying for a job. Similarly, there are endless stories of people who have had their employment terminated after posting something online. Social media has now become a part of our daily lives, to the point where are now teaching students in the education system about how to manage social media accounts appropriately.

It seems logical for me that blogs that are solely for the purpose of business should be handled in a professional, efficient and eloquent manner, in the same way you would expect someone in any profession to behave in person within the workplace.

But what about personal blogs?

With approximately 2.75 MILLION blog posts published every single day, blogging is an immensely popular hobby with an enormous community and has now even become a viable career option for many. For me, it’s been a life-changing experience and the best thing I have ever done, but it hasn’t been without it’s issues.

The problem with posting online is the false sense of security that is created from hiding behind a screen. For many, a blog can be seen as a form of therapy, a safe space to discuss issues that they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about within their immediate circle of family and friends. However, the fact that there is usually no face-to-face interaction with others often leads many to forget that ANYONE from anywhere in the world can read a public post, including people from both our personal and professional lives.

I started this blog when I was employed as a full-time teacher and used it as a way of easing the depression and anxiety that I was struggling with. At first, I told virtually nobody, but after a few years I indeed became lulled into a false belief that what I was doing was safe. I developed my social media accounts, occasionally posted things from my blog on my personal Facebook page so my friends and family could read it, and even TOLD people about it, particularly when one of my posts about teaching went viral on Facebook. Some of my family, friends and colleagues followed my blog and social media accounts.

Inevitably, this caused problems. I’ve upset family members and friends by posting about things without telling them first, or voicing an opinion on something that they have disagreed with and I had an issue in my former workplace which was mortifying. Consequently, I’ve been left with no choice but to self-censor – I’m now extremely careful with the topics that I discuss and how I phrase things. It’s frustrating and defeats the object of why I started the blog in the first place, but it’s entirely my own fault.

To Self-Censor, or Not?

As owner of your own personal blog, it SHOULD mean that you can post about what you deem appropriate and for many the purpose of a blog is self-expression. While I always want to applaud anyone who is confident and self-assured enough to blog with nonchalance, it’s a sad fact that your words could eventually come back and bite you where it hurts at a later date. If you choose not to self-censor (for whatever reason), you should be prepared to deal with potential consequences.

Here’s a few ideas and thoughts when self-censoring on a personal blog

Blog anonymously or use a pseudonym. I’ve known many bloggers through their pseudonyms over the years, and this has been an effective way for them to remain anonymous. However, if you truly want to be known by the pseudonym, then be consistent – I’ve known some bloggers who have revealed their true identities and then gone on to regret it.

Create separate social media accounts (this is an effective way of building a brand too). I’m grateful that I did that right from the beginning – all of my social media accounts are different to my personal Facebook page. I ruined it by telling everyone in my personal life what they were, but the premise was initially there at least.

Be diplomatic and fair when writing about controversial topics and avoid ranting from a one-sided perspective – the beauty of this is that you still get to voice your opinion, but the fact that you have included an alternative argument within your post leaves it open to discussion, rather than criticism.

Remember that you don’t have to publish more personal posts on your own blog – talk to a trusted blog friend about posting on their blog anonymously. You get to write what you want, they get the views. Everybody wins.

Be careful when using inappropriate language. I don’t read blogs that use homophobic, racist or sexist language, but I do enjoy numerous blogs that use quite graphic language and swear words – this is a part of their personalities and, for me at least, enhances their posts. However, the use of any of this language is never looked upon favourably in a professional environment. (And as a side note, if you’re using the blog to preach hate in any form in 2017 then you’ve only got yourself to blame if it affects you negatively).

NEVER include names, details or photographs of anyone without their permission first and NEVER discuss your workplace. Do you hate your job, think your boss is awful or detest your lazy colleague? Tell a friend, don’t put it online.

Avoid personally attacking anyone. You’re asking for trouble.

And, while it may seem obvious…

Don’t actually tell anyone about your blog. It doesn’t guarantee that someone in your personal life won’t discover it at some point, but it reduces the chance of someone seeing it at least.

 

What do you guys think? Do you censor your personal blogs?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

 

210 thoughts on “Should You Self-Censor Your Personal Blog?

  1. Sensible advice and I can quite understand where you are coming from, Suzie. I have read many posts from bloggers whom I admire and respect on a personal level, that might have made me think twice about hiring them when I was in senior management.

    I started writing online in closed forums under an avatar, but when I started blogging, I chose to go public as myself… no hiding behind a pseudonym.I write from who I am and, although I will always express my thoughts with due respect and empathy for other people and their opinions and beliefs, I do express my own. I also accept that I may be wrong and stand open to correction.

    I will, I hope, be looking for a new job soon… and my employer knows I’ll be glad to leave my current position. I’ll even pack his bags for him and wave him on his way … but as my employer is currently my son, that is a very different ball-game. 🙂

    I will gladly tell prospective employers about my online presence. I would rather they knew who I am, warts and all…and then neither of us are in for any surprises!

  2. I have told people but I’ve also censored myself from the beginning! It wasn’t on a blog, but a close friend posted about me on a forum and it destroyed me. (Its tough to trust anything when someone says one thing to your face and another on the web 😥 ) I always ask and keep it pretty light on the personal front!

  3. Great advice! My two blogs are very different in that one is a book/writing blog and the other about personal development/self-help. I notice more of an interaction when I post something more personal (special birthday, exciting family news, or if I’m struggling with something) but I still censor how much I share. It’s a fine line but if you’re careful, responsible, and conscientious then blogging can be a wonderful hobby/career. 😊

  4. Great post Suzie!
    I know exactly what you mean and as I know a lot of people who read my blog I am careful. Also with the teaching profession in mind I have to be careful! I won’t mention my school name, and student names or pictures with visible faces. Equally I don’t share my children’s photos or names.
    And blog pals who are on my personal FB are those who have become trusted friends rather than just names via the Ethernet cable!
    But I have access to a different blog which, if I ever felt the need, I can rant on, in the knowledge that my real life friends don’t read! However… I try to stay positive so hope I haven’t done any lasting damage!

  5. Very thought provoking post. I self-censor my blog at times mostly I always think that I shouldn’t post anything about others that I wouldn’t want to come across about myself on the internett. And I don’t post about others unless I ask them ( with the exception of my other half’s elbows and arms that seem to be sneaking into my photos)

    • I always ask permission to include pics of others and I never get personal when discussing individual issues, but I’ve found that even doing that has sometimes upset people!

  6. Another tip is to take advantage of the scheduling tools or at least delay hitting the publish button by a few hours. I typically write in advance so I have time to mull on what I’ve written and decide if it truly is how I want to be represented.

  7. If I had a job outside of the home I really don’t think I could do this blog. I have a complete inability to rein myself in. I would invariably say or write something that would get me sacked. I have a friend who quit all social media for the years he was going to medical school solely because he didn’t ever want anything he’d written or shared to be viewed by his school or potential employers.

  8. I’ve always avoided talking about other people, especially my family without permission, and even with permission I’ve trodden carefully. I’ve been more candid about myself, and that has hurt me. It wasn’t the start of the attack against me, but it was used to “fill in” their argument. I’ve been less forthcoming since then, and I even blog more sparingly. I refuse to take down the posts in question though. It must be some sort of pride or stubbornness thing…

    • Oh no! That must have been awful – I understand how that feels to a point… I’m the same – I’m not taking any posts down, but I’ve been more thoughtful since.

  9. 100% agree great post and useful. There is some where in the internet something about blogging etiquette that i read and it touches on these points. Love this post of your.

    Coulfd i reblog/ pingback to this post. I think i would like to add this to my july round up /favourites blog post as it is so useful.

    Regards bella

  10. This is really interesting, and something that occasionally concerns me. My blog is mainly about education, and I make a point of avoiding anything controversial or upsetting. However, I do include my son on my blog, which is where my inner demons sometimes rear their ugly heads! I don’t want to write anything that may have a negative impact on his online footprint… I have a few rules for myself, which I will adapt as he gets older, but it’s such a minefield! Thanks for highlighting the importance of self-censoring x

    • There’s an entirely new post in your comment alone! I see lots of conflicting posts about writing about children being in blogs etc… Will you always include him in your blog or do you think that you’ll stop when he gets older?

  11. Wow. Food for thought, and then some. As a proud proponent of “lutheran lying”, I couldn’t agree more about the need for sensitivity. My own personal rule is this: if a person would feel hurt if they overheard what you just said, then you shouldn’t say it”. This applies to what I write in my blog too. It’s actually quite and interesting challenge, too, to say what you really think, but in a way that won’t hurt the reader. It’s like I say when defining “lutheran lying” — you say what’s true, but leave out the parts that hurt. See an ugly baby? Don’t say he’s “cute” (because he’s not); instead, say something like “he looks so smart!”, or if the mom is not your favorite person: “Oh my, he looks just like you!”

  12. I don’t tell anyone about my blog. And, until recently, I didn’t actually add friends and family to Facebook either. I upset a lot of people by ignoring their requests. I’ve started adding more now and already it’s causing problems… and I don’t even post that much.

  13. Really interesting post and to be honest not many people in my personal life know about my blog. Not because I write of controversial topics or want to remain solely anonymous more that it’s my space and I like writing knowing that it I can be purely me. It’s my place for creativity and expression.

  14. At first, I told only family about my blog. And after that a few friends. I’ve only used my first name and no pictures because I wanted to be able to speak freely. The thing that revealed my actions unknowingly was Facebook, it shows when you post to certain pages and groups so now I feel less anonymous and I’ve noticed people who I want nothing to do with have coincidentally found my fan page. So now I’m kind of screwed because I have made connections with other bloggers and accounts that I can’t change anything now.

  15. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of family, friends, and co workers that read my blog. As we meet more and more of my daughter’s classmate’s parents, some of them have become readers also. Its made me very cognizant of the fact that there are actual people I know reading. I try and approach it as I would speak if any of these people were in front of me.

  16. You make some really good points, Suzie. I worry sometimes that I don’t self-censor enough, but at the same time, one of the things I love most about blogging is sharing my writing, my stories, and my experiences with not only my blogging audience, but the people in my life as well. Additionally, I do worry about potential employers (especially after posting about why I quit my job), but I also don’t want to not be honest and share my experiences. Who knows, I may look back later and smack myself in the forehead, but I hope, rather, that I look back fondly on something that brings me such great joy.

    • I did an ‘I Quit My Job’ post too and I had to edit it about 50 million times before I pressed the publish button because I was afraid of how it would be perceived in my workplace. I totally agree about the wanting to look back fondly too!

  17. I do censor somewhat but I would also censor myself if I were talking directly to someone and that is how I view my blog. Would I say this to you or about you if you were standing in front of me? How would I say it to you so that I could make my point and still tell my side of the story? When I write I try to picture everyone reading it and what they may take away from it.

    • That’s a fabulous suggestion! I certainly discuss things that I wouldn’t talk about in person to certain people, but have also not discussed things because I know that it would mean I would be forced to have a conversation with someone about it later… If that makes sense?

  18. I’ve run into this before when blogging certain things. When my sister got married and I blogged about some of my experience planning her shower and bachelorette, I let her read them first. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable with everything. So far so good though. I’ve never had to majorly change anything.

  19. I do feel concern for the younger generation and their need to “share” nearly all aspects of their personal lives, especially nocturnal activities!. All I can say is thank goodness the social media was NOT around in the 1970’s!

  20. I do censor my blog, but I have still run into trouble with family. I do keep my blog separate from FB and I have separate FB for my blog but I still don’t feel safe. I agree with everything you say… If you get it wrong things will come back and bite you. Thanks for an interesting post! 💜 Hope you are well. 😉

  21. I think it depends what you blog about as well. My friends with blogs about restaurants or food tell everyone about their blogs, people that blog about more personal subjects seem to be a little quieter about it.

    Before I started work at my old job, I googled my new assistant and found her blog. It was actually quite strange to know a little more about her before I met her. Her blog was about goths and goth culture so I found it all fascinating. It just shows…it’s not just employers that google people! Employees can use it too!!

  22. While being annoymous I accidentally posted a post on my personal Facebook account. I caught it after 5 min but during those 5 minutes, my husband’s friends wife clicked on my link. The story was about New Years and how they come over late, never help clean up and how the kids are a snoty mess. I was mortified and deleted it. I then went through and re-read over 400 posts, either changing the bad ones to private or deleting some content. I now write like anyone will read. It sucks but it is what it is.

  23. I haven’t thought of it as censoring, but I am conscious that anyone can read what I put out in a public forum. I use my pen name, not my own name, and I don’t get too personal or political. No one wants a bland blog, but expressing your personality without the personal is a bit of a challenge. One I’m still working on 🙂

  24. Like you, I started out completely anonymously and then I told a few people. Then I shared a post or two on FB and now I’m completely out of the closet. Sometimes I wish I could go back in, so I can gripe freely.

    But there’s also something to be said for being always mindful – and therefore more diplomatic – of those who might read it.

    I could start a second, completely anonymous, blog, I suppose, for those times when I need to scream or I could just continue to bend my poor hub’s ear.

  25. Pingback: Bring it on home to me. | Light & life

  26. I try to stay away from politics, religion and animal care especially the latter. I also have in the back of mind anything I say is legal. I try to us only my photographs for two reason. I own them and the other many blogs with their flashing videos hurt my eyes so I don’t read them.

  27. This goes for truth here in the states. I think employers want to feel good about the people they are hiring and sometimes that means if the candidates will fit in.

  28. I do not censor my blog because truth be known that I do not write anything on there that needs to be censored. Apart from which, my dogs can’t read anyway :o)

  29. I agree with your thoughts here Suzie. We can all forget at times where our words will be seen and how they may affect others. Thanks for this timely reminder.

    • Thanks lovely! You’re naturally a very positive person anyway, but do you censor anything because your daughter is a blogger too, or do you find that it helps?

      • I find it actually helps that’s he’s a blogger, (and my sister and her husband) as I know they get what I’m doing whereas others in the family tend to just ‘roll their eyes’ at me and laugh it off as a ‘Debbie thing’. My husband is more concerned about privacy and safety issues, especially if I’m about to meet a blogging friend in person for the first time. I think my personality has to shine through somehow in my blog and so far I haven’t hit any snags but I do think it out and talk about a post if it’s about someone else, which is probably a good example of self censoring.

  30. I stay anonymous on my blog, but, like you, share my blog with family and friends. From the beginning I’ve tried to think about whether I minded if a topic was out there for anyone to read. The danger for me is that as I get more comfortable I share more. No regrets yet, but…

  31. I used to blog openly and dropped my pseudonym for a while, but now that I work for a school I have to be very careful about what I put online. It’s sad that it has to be that way, but all it takes is for one person find something I posted that upsets them and then stuff hits the fan.

  32. I feel like you wrote this to me. Thank you. I used to have my blog link on my CV. While it was personal even then, I hoped that the travel experiences and access issues I was writing about were somehow universal to the people I wanted to reach. I went to an interview and the office had read me before I got there. I got the job, LOVED the job, but didn’t write about my actual work. I’ve gotten other work because of my blog, but my blog writing and work writing has been separate. Now, not so much. Now that I’m thinking of working again, we shall see. And the conversations I’ve had with family about my blog would be another post, if my family didn’t read my blog, ha!

    • I’m not sure whether I would include the blog on my CV – I suppose that it depends on the type of job that I’m applying for. It’s brilliant that the blog has helped you to obtain jobs though! What sort of job was it?

  33. I do sensor mine somewhat, and I don’t have my full name anywhere on my blog… my related social media accounts are the name of my blog. I don’t have a FB page for my website either, which makes marketing harder. But, I’m a full time teacher, and I didn’t want my parents digging in to what I’m about when I’m not at school (even though my material is completely G Rated and fine – maybe a bit woo woo!). I also have a separate Twitter account and Pinterest account for work and personal stuff. It’s hard!!! I did have a parent one time who Googled me before I taught their child in the next year, and came up with questions they wanted to ask me about online links they found. You never know what people might do or see!

  34. Excellent piece Suzie. I just wrote an article concerning self-censorship for authors and whether or not airing your views (political, religious etc.) might affect your readership. I don’t like the idea that we always have to be ‘on alert’ and watching what we say, but at the same time, perhaps these are conversations we don’t necessarily wish to have with the world at large, for all to see. I think this will continue to be an issue for people on social media and already I have come across quite a few people who use pseudonyms so they feel at liberty to express themselves freely.

    • It’s certainly something I wish I’d have thought about more closely in the beginning… That’s the problem with social media – almost everybody has it and with that an opinion that they want to share…

  35. This is a great post and something I try very hard to be cognizant of when I blog. I do share personal info, but it’s usually about my TBR Pile or a vacation we took as a family. I do write about issues that concern me, but I don’t say anything that I wouldn’t say to my friends or family in public. I hardly ever say anything political on my blog or social media pages. I just don’t want to get into all of that. I hope I’m doing enough self censoring! 🙂

    • I certainly never get into discussions about politics – after all of the politica, posts that my friends put up I don’t want it to spill over into my blog. I like to write about what I’ve done that day but if I have been with my friends I always ask their permission first and never usually include names or details

  36. I definitely self-censor. I tiptoe around controversial subject matter and rarely cuss. I’ve often wondered if I would draw more readers if I didn’t filter myself.

  37. Thought-provoking points. I’m always aware of what I say, but am always just a little anxious. Your post reiterated the importance of being very concious and deliberate with our online lives. I think the respect for others is critical. If I’m willing to take the risk by speaking my own truth that’s one thing. But I want to be sure the others I write about also have the option to veto whatever I write before publishing. Thank you for your insight and sharing your experience!

  38. Balancing on that razor thin line between objectivity and broadcasted-introspection is a challenge for me. If I had a mission statement for my humble little blog, it would be: inspire, entertain, and/or educate an engaged community in the art of living outrageously despite the baggage we’ve picked up along the way.

    I’ve found some success through a willingness to be vulnerable (maybe too much?), even at the risk of jeopardizing my standing as a househusband with a travel fetish.

    You’ve found (created) a wildly successful community, so I’ll gladly take your advice, particularly the reminder not to personally attack anyone. Even to point out frustrating actions by an easy political target (I would hate it if my blog became a place where political strife took a front row seat over the important stuff).

    Thanks Susie!

    • Thanks so much Gabe! I try and avoid politics at all cost – after seeing the amount of political nonsense that my friends post on Facebook I certainly don’t want that to spill over into the blog!

  39. I can really relate to this, Suzie. Like you, I started off blogging because it was a way of getting through a particularly nasty bout of anxiety and depression. I was anonymous to start with but that felt kind of weird when people adressed me as Edwina.
    Now it is tricky as I really wanted to create continuity and have tried to brand my blog BUT I am stuck between my real name and Edwina’s Episodes so not really sure where to go with that!
    I also never told anyone about my blog at first but have done now and as I am starting this nursing degree I have been warned repeatedly to be careful about what I post! I am in a right old quandty now! 🙂

  40. When I was still finding my legs as a blogger 4 years ago I told some very personal things in my posts. But as a food blogger I don’t “need” to do that, so I never share anything too personal about my family or me anymore. I got way too much mean, hurtful trolls when I did.

    • I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had minimal troll interaction, but I’m aware of a number of bloggers who had to deal with a lot of it when writing personal posts… How sad!

  41. I only became involved with social media in the first place to raise my profile as an author. Since then I realised that Facebook is essentially for personal, not professional interaction, and have adapted to that. However, I remain baffled by the willingness of people to post extremely personal stuff online that would have been better left unsaid, or could have been dealt with in a private converstion with a close friend or family member. As a blogger, I have always been very conscious of the power of the internet, and that what you put out online is probably there ‘forever’ for anyone to access, anywhere. I have never posted online anything that I consider too personal, or which might hurt or offend individuals. I have always made my identity clear, and have many followers amongst friends and family, who post comments and enjoy my blog.

    • I think many of the bloggers who post extremely personal stuff online do so because it’s the best form of therapy for them – the beauty of blogging means that there is always someone who can relate to your experiences, and I know that many seek solace in that. However, it always has to be carefully considered first…

  42. I make a point of not discussing anything on my blog that I think might upset someone. It’s not worth the cost of losing a relationship or worse, ending in court! Thanks for this much-needed post.

Comments are closed.