Today, I was paid a visit by The Overshare Fairy: a very close, otherwise anonymous friend of mine whose opinion I respect deeply and cherish beyond measure. The Fairy is not the most technologically-adept person in the world (part of the reason why we’re kindred spirits– long live cassette tapes!). That said, this Fairy occasionally stumbles into the blogosphere and catches up on my life by reading through posts at random.
Unfortunately, after a long period of not reading a solitary word of my online writing, my Overshare Fairy happened upon the post which chronicled the Wave Pool Incident of 1993. Yes. Of all the well-written, insightful, and thought-provoking posts to possibly stumble upon, my Fairy landed on the single most embarrassing and potentially incriminating one in the history of both my blogs. Ain’t that some luck?
My Fairy, being a kindred spirit with some legitimate concerns (and some other, overblown ones) about the Dark Underbelly of the Internet, felt compelled to say something about this post to me. So we ended up having an awkward and painful conversation today, in which the differences between ‘being honest’ in my writing and ‘setting reasonable boundaries’ were gently discussed. Although (believe it or not), I actually do have clear lines established re: what I will/will not write about on the internet, I realized with a heavy heart that my Fairy’s qualms about The Post With The Wave Pool Incident were altogether valid. In other words, even though I didn’t lie about The Incident in my post– it actually happened and it was honestly reported– the internet still would have survived (nay, thrived) without me necessarily bringing it up in the first place.
I’ve had an aching soul and a scattered brain ever since our conversation. My Overshare Fairy didn’t get angry or make accusations when we talked, so my typical knee-jerk reactions (e.g. crying Censorship!, Muzzling!, or Don’t Tell Me How To Write My Own Blog!!!!) were totally out of place and completely without merit. I couldn’t even argue that my Fairy was wrong or misguided about the issues, because I get it. Fully. Completely. The Wave Pool Incident was uncalled for. (In my defense, though, it was pretty funny at the time, and I can also (easily) rattle off at least 10 posts/photos from the other blogs that could put The Wave Pool post to shame. Alas, my Fairy doesn’t make it around the internet very much so doesn’t have that same understanding of relativity.)
The issue isn’t necessarily about me posting The Wave Pool Incident on the internet. Rather, my Overshare Fairy’s main concerns focused on the potentially negative consequences that my words could have if they were ever taken out of context or used against me (or my dear husband!) I certainly wouldn’t want The Wave Pool Incident to come back and haunt me on the eve of my Pulitzer Prize win, and I also shudder to think about one of Marty’s respectful, conservative clients stumbling upon that particular post when searching for information about his artwork. [dramatic pause for an extended shudder]
I’ll admit that it’s taken me the whole day to separate out my Overshare Fairy’s words about that one, specific post from a global feeling of failing/disappointing/shaming the people I care about the most. (I tried to be mature and not take it personally, but that lasted for about one second. Then the sloppy tears started falling and I started wailing incoherently about how silly and/or stupid I was to ever (over)share anything on the internet, possibly to the peril of my/Marty’s reputation. Poor Marty had a hot mess to console after that… all. afternoon.) Thankfully, I’ve recovered, and I’ve come to accept that being humorous and sarcastic in my posts doesn’t have to involve sharing something really, hilariously personal. Also: I can still write in my own voice and honour my personal experiences without crossing that line between sharing and oversharing.
To remedy the situation and to prevent Marty’s good name from being dragged into the mud by my more flamboyant posts, I’ve gone ahead and edited any previous posts that specifically referenced him on his behalf. (He can thank my Overshare Fairy for that.) I’ve also done the unthinkable and completely erased the parts about The Wave Pool Incident. (It will now be like the Area 51 or Bermuda Triangle of my blog… the place where certain things go to disappear.) I feel OK about this, despite my initial reservations and reluctance to drastically edit my writing after the fact. It also must be said that I’m really grateful to my Overshare Fairy for having the guts to tell me something s/he knew would get me all defensive and ugly. Only a true friend would prize honesty over saving (my) face (from salty streaks of tears). It all worked out in the end.
How do you deal with the issues of honesty and integrity on your own blog? Have any of you deleted entire posts after they’ve been published? Does censorship have a place on your blog? Who censors you?