Disclosure: How Much Is Enough? Or Too Much?
When I started blogging back in May of 2005, I used my real name. Which didn't strike me as odd because I figured that the only people who would ever see my written ramblings would be people I knew and sent the links to ... so blogging as "Kerri Morrone" seemed like a fine thing to do.
But things took a different sort of path, and suddenly Google had a solid grip on my name. Which, again, was okay with me because I'm making these personal disclosure choices on a case-by-case basis. So for anyone willing to give Google a go, it's easy to find my photo, some of my health conditions and treatment choices, and that I've married into a new, more challenging name. There's a lot of information out there that I have chosen to share, for better or for worse.
In some cases, it's "better" for me to use my real name and share my real experiences because blogging has not only helped me achieve better health, emotionally and physically, in regards to life with type 1 diabetes, but it's helped connect me with you guys, and that has been a game changer. Blogging has also given me some very special opportunities to help make a difference when it comes to diabetes advocacy, and that has been tremendous in fueling both my own health and my career. And honestly, having diabetes and talking about it doesn't make me feel shy. I like sharing my stories, and hearing yours, and connecting with people who really and truly "get it." I felt alone for way too long. The impact of blogging on my overall health is something I can't put a value on.
In other cases, it's "worse" for me to not blog anonymously, because now any potential employer can send a query into Google and see that I have type 1 diabetes. Would that make them less likely to hire me? More likely? No change at all? Either way, that information about my personal health is out there, and I can't take it back. And not just health information, but personal information. Real life information.
Disclosure on a blog isn't just about letting people know about free samples, or advertisements, or sponsorship opportunities. That stuff is important, on a level of maintaining integrity and letting people know they can trust you to tell the truth, the whole truth, and only add some crap about cats occasionally.
But I've been thinking about how disclosure will be handled, going forward, when it comes to my daughter. From the moment I found out she was blooming inside of me, I felt instantly protective of this little biscuit. Chris and I have talked extensively about how we want to handle our child's identity in regards to our respective projects, and we both agree that she hasn't decided to become part of the Google matrix yet. So we aren't going to put her there. This is a decision that we, as a family, have made, but it doesn't mean that it's the right choice for everyone. There is no "right choice," in my opinion - just varying perspectives and levels of comfort. (And who know how I'll feel once she's here and her little face is just too chubby-cute not to want to post a photo of.) It's a lot to think about.
If my daughter decides, when she's older, to have a Facebook page or a blog or whatever is the social networking "thing" to do by that time, she can make that decision for herself. But I don't want her to Google her own name and find more than she's comfortable with. (... That is the weirdest thought ever, picturing myself talking about blogging with my daughter over like coffee or something. The thought just made me grin.) Hopefully she won't object to being called BSparl.
How do you guys handle disclosure? Are you comfortable sharing your full name and occupation with people? What kind of information to you like to keep private, and what do you feel comfortable sharing 100% with anyone who asks? Have you ever had any regrets about how you've chosen to present yourself online? For those of you with kids, what helps you decide what to share, and when, and how much of it to share?
Sorry for all the questions, but as the baby grows daily, so does my protective nature. And so does my laundry list of questions.