My Mum discovered my blog this week. It has been the first time a real-world person has visited my blog! Yes, after all this time! It did prompt an interesting discussion. My Mum seemed to think that I am “particularly modest” by posting my customary headless photos. Modesty, however, isn’t actually the reason why I’m headless. My primary concern is privacy and I thought I would write a post exploring this. What are your opinions about privacy in the blogging world?
I think my cautious attitude about my online presence relates to a couple of work-related incidents where the real and virtual worlds collided. A former colleague, who was an avid Facebooker (is that a real term?) called in sick one morning. He then updated his Facebook wall with a humorous “I’m taking a sickie from work” post. This colleague was sacked at a later date. I suspect that the Facebook incident may have been a contributing factor, although there were other reasons too. The other occasion that springs to mind involved another colleague of mine. She used to recruit staff on a fairly regular basis as she was the head of a large team and she used Facebook as a tool to aid her selection of prospective new employees. She would view their Facebook entry and made snap judgements on the person, based on their looks, content of their Facebook page etc. She particularly liked it if their page was public and she could see all their drunken exploits. If the page was private, she could still search for the person and get their profile, a name and picture. I guess, unless you decide to keep the “blank head”, your profile picture is still out there.
Now, I don’t think there are many red-faced, inebriated shots of myself in existence, thank goodness, and I’m not such an idiot that I would write something publicly, that would jeopardise my employment. But I still feel that whatever I do outside work in my free time is my own business and nobody else’s concern. Likewise, I would like the skills and experience in my CV only to be used by a prospective employer and not to be to judged on my looks, as that isn’t relevant at all to my profession.
Then there are other people who you may not wish to see your online presence, what about an ex, you acrimoniously split from? Or anyone else that might use your personal information in a malicious way? There are many examples of “revenge porn”, where ex partners have shared intimate photos of a former partner online. In the case of Malin Sahlén, a model. Her photo was used, without her permission, by the Sunday Mirror as bait for a Conservative MP. Jack Monroe, who writes about on budget cooking, has been documenting her ongoing problems with that most spiteful of publications, the Daily Mail. Everyone has a write to a private life and not have the press or the virtual world speculate about their relationships, sexuality, health etc.
Actually, I’m not writing this to alarm anyone, just in case, this is worrying anyone. These cases are, thankfully, few and far between. If you’re happy with your online life and the data / images you post, that is fine. The web is a fantastic resource to connect with people and share experiences, particularly ones that your immediate network of family or friends might not be able to relate to. I truly applaud the bloggers out there that share quite private aspects of their life, you are braver than me!
Sometimes I feel like posting a full-length photo of myself on line, I think my sewing creations would look so much better without my brutal cropping. It would also prove that I do, in fact, have a head; regular viewers may have been wondering about this…. But, after nearly two years, I’ve become comfortable with my headless blog. It’s anonymous and I can keep my virtual life at arm’s length from the real world. I write only with those who share my passions in mind, after all. I don’t really relish the casual observer from the real world commenting on what I happen to be wearing at work.
So how do you feel about privacy on the web? How does this fit with your blog? Do you make any privacy concessions? Does headless-ness put you off reading?