Thursday, April 15, 2010

Too Much Information?

Well, I'm back in my small Southern college town after spending time in the big city of Austin, TX. I say "big city" because honestly, compared to my tiny town (and I do live in a town rather than a city) Austin has a discernible skyline, multiple neighborhoods, and a large population (which really is, demographically, what distinguishes cities versus towns). I have to say that beyond thinking that the conference was really like a homecoming for me, I also liked the city. It is a great eating city, wonderful music, and a fairly large and visible Asian American population, unlike where I currently live.

But back to the topic of this post, what exactly is too much information to share on this particular blog? It is a question I've wrestled with from the first months of writing this blog. It really came to a head when I found myself embroiled in a lot blogosphere drama that took a nasty turn when commenters and readers of another blog actually contacted me through my university email and on my cell phone to vent their vitriol at me.

So I took the blog off-line for a few months as a reader-invite-only blog and then went public, again, after I thought that the drama had died down, but in the meantime I had taken off all identifying markers of who I am, where I live, the people I'm close to, and the university I work at.

However, while I think these were all practical things to mask my identity (rather imperfectly I should say. While I don't want to encourage anyone to do this, it doesn't take a detective to figure out who I am--just a few key google terms), I've also wondered how much I should disclose of a more personal nature--or rather, how much of me I should discuss that isn't related to the topic of this blog--mixed race America.

I also know that some of you who are reading this are folks who know me quite well, some are colleagues and acquaintances, and others I've grown to know through the blogs that you write and that I've commented on.

I know I return to this topic from time to time, but I suppose I'm mentioning this again because there are things of a personal nature happening to me--things that could and are, in fact, bloggable in terms of what they say about my racialized and gendered identity or that deal with issues of race/racism/white privilege. But I'm just not sure how much I should disclose--how much would be considered "too much information" either on my part or yours.

So I'm soliciting feedback from readers, especially those of you who blog yourselves. Where do you draw the line about what you share on your blogs. And readers, how much do you really want to know about the blogger if you are coming to a blog to read very specific information or perspectives?

And don't worry--I have some blog posts in mind once I'm able to get underneath the mountain of work and email. And I do think that I'd like to post some information about future conferences that those of you who are in academia--or even those of you who aren't but who may be interested in the topic--would like to attend. And I've been wanting to do a long post about Tiger and about golf--or perhaps several posts, because there is that ad--which warrants much discussion--and the way in which Tiger's return to professional golf and his damage control has been perceived by the general public and by the institution of golf itself. So much to blog about, so little time!


Anonymous said...

Ack. I'm really sorry you endured such a shitstorm. I've only ever dealt with blogdrama, and the worst troll I've ever had was connected with the whole /b/-Anonymous thing from 4chan. (Moderation policies ahoy!) Either way, I feel for you - it sucks when people out you, and can be downright scary when they come gunning for you, and while there's a whole comment waiting about the amount of privilege tied into that kind of behaviour, I'm sure you don't need me to preach it to you.

So, to your topic: frankly, I think that anything is fair game on your own blog. I blog about my kid, my kitchen, my thoughts on race, gender, sexuality, other people's posts - I'm not really a niche writer because I write primarily as a way to work out my own thoughts on a matter, and to (hopefully) entice other people to have a conversation about whatever it is I'm thinking about too. Of course, your comfort level about posting personal-ish stuff will probably be way different from mine - i.e., I've never had random-ass strangers hunt me down based on my blog identity, although I don't pretend that I'm immune from it either - but there's no sense in pretending that my relative past safety has affected the degree to which I am comfortable writing about personal shit.

Personally, I'd love to read more about what goes on in your life. I know that might sound kinda creepy (I don't know how to make it sound less creepy?) but I primarily read other blogs and other bloggers for the sense of community that I feel in having conversations with like-minded folk. At the same time, there's the privacy thing, and you're right to put your safety first and foremost when deciding what kind of information to blog about.

This is why I keep thinking about switching to a blogging service like dreamwidth - I really, really like the concept of friends-locked posts, because like you, I get the idea that people could care less about me as a person, unless they know me in meatspace already, and honestly there's just stuff I'd rather not share with the general public but that I'd like to have a conversation about anyway. Maybe it's something to consider? /shrug.

david said...

I've been thinking about starting my own blog but could never do it because 1) I couldn't, and still can't, get my ideas down; and 2) I'm not entirely sure about the security of online blogs. Anyone of people can hack into a blog and it's also way too easy, with effort, to track someone down with search engines.

That being said, I think I would like to know some kind of vague personal information to orient us on where you're coming from. Not too vague for us to be lost but enough to get an idea of what's going on.