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Lifestyle vs. Anonymity



Just a little over a year ago I started this blog. Its purpose was to post film reviews and the occasional rant if I needed a place to vent opinions on “hot button” or topical issues but even beyond that, it was meant to feed my love of scribbling words and forming them into semi-coherent sentences. Prior to creating a Blogger account, I read one blog that was similar to the sort of blogging I had in mind, and it seemed to work well for her, so after some thought, I became interested in getting in on blogging. Little did I realize how rewarding it could be or how many people I’d “meet” in the process. Not long ago, one of my friends on Blogger advised to be careful you don’t become burnt out on blogging because eventually, well… you’ll blog about blogging! If I could beg your indulgence, that is the purpose of this post. In the recent months, I have been asked by readers about my inclination to never post personal photos or use a profile picture that is actually of me. After a year of blogging, it seemed appropriate to share some of my reservations. The reason being I am a bit Internet shy when it comes to pouring my heart out either on the page or through posting photographs of daily life. Here is why.

You may have noticed that my profile images are either “artistic” shots that can be found in a simple Google search or are a photo shoot image of a television show, celebrity, etc. Growing up, my parents were not sold on the craze that was the World Wide Web. I used the computer as a young teen but between school, I was allowed certain days to be on-line because of our dial-up costs and program – yes, at one time, you actually had to “dial” in your connection. They were nervous about on-line ordering and thought through everything prior to using the informative but sometimes misleading tool. As a result once the Facebook age rolled around, my family was not interested in plastering our private life or faces all over a social media site. My decision has carried through into blogging. I am not going to say that I’ll never post a photo on Twitter but I don't feel that is a necessity because from my perspective of those I've gotten to know, it makes little difference if I see a person for me to “know” them.

I read multiple “genres” of blogs. And those that I am most actively interactive with are some of the best around (no, there is not a hint of bias showing in that sentence). Some are very personal, almost journal blogging that displays the writer’s heart – both through their writing and in the photographs they post. Then there are those that I consider a mish-mash of both worlds and some bloggers who I connect with more because of their decision also not to post too much personal. I can remember thinking at the start that I’d never write anything personal because it wasn’t my “style.” Little did I realize just how much I could personalize this blog even without considering myself a “lifestyle blogger.” My motto is that you can still be an interesting blogger and writer without putting it all “out there.” I don’t have anything against bloggers who chose to do that because in my conviction not to blog in so personal a way, I firmly believe that is the choice of the blogger. Some of my favorite blogs do consist of lifestyle blogging – I love the humorous way the writer puts a spin on everyday life or the stories and recipes they share. You should be able to blog with your own unique style because ultimately a blog is a reflection of you, and your readers should be able to get to know you through that writing.

This has been not only good for me from a creative angle but quite a wonderful journey to have taken – and I owe it to the people who I have met and gotten to know, ironically because of the Internet. Sadly today, another of the motivating forces is also that this world is not one of “innocence” anymore and we are warned to be aware of the scary things that try to snag us on the Internet – being smart is the only control we have left. Blogging takes on many faces, forms and styles. I don’t have just one I prefer from a reader’s perspective but I do know what my writing preference is, and in being honest with myself that is why my decision remains intact.

What genres of blogs do you prefer? Do you have any reservations about putting your life on the Internet?  Share any thoughts in the comment sections, friends!
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Rissi
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24 comments:

  1. Good post! I prefer blogs about books, movies, and writing. :-)

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    1. I like your preferred genres, Rosie. ;D

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  2. Just to let you know, this post means so much to me. Now you have me thinking. Personally, I've been debating and struggling with myself as to which specific style I want for my blog and the reason behind my blogging. After two years of chasing after an elusive answer, my blog's about to go through a bit of changes again soon--in style, content, design...and I am even planning on sharing a few photos of myself (which I don't regularly do as you might have noticed).

    Anyway, I truly understand your decisions when it comes to blogging as well as the internet in particular. Sharing too much personal information, too much personal life can be, well, too much. But I also recognize that people have their own unique ways of expressing themselves. And its result in blogging is the different "genres" and styles. What I've learned, though, is that you cannot "please" everyone. While some will show profound support, definitely others will not have any taste in what you, generally speaking, blog about. That's why it's very important to stay authentic to who you are as a blogger and a person.

    Sorry for the long comment! I just had to let those incoherent thoughts out, which have been long plaguing my brain. By the way, I like what you said, "My motto is that you can still be an interesting blogger and writer without putting it all 'out there.'" Because I've just come to realize how true that is. And you, even without the face and all those details of personal living, are one of the best writers/bloggers out there. I've always thought your blog to be a very interesting place.

    All in all, wonderful post, Rissi!

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    1. Yikes! Now I see how long the whole comment became. Maybe I should have written a blog post instead. Hey, I just might.

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    2. First up: Never feel like you need to apologize for lengthy comments, Jemimah - those are the most fun. :)

      Well put comment! I agree with all you had to say. Deciding which directions your own blog should go in isn't always easy - I know my vision has changed in just a year and who knows where I will be in a year from now. Right now, what/how I blog is where I am comfortable and in being honest with myself I haven't stepped outside that comfort zone. I respect people who haven't "given in" to the pressure to be a blogger with a "face" IF it's something they are uncomfortable with but I also enjoy blogs that are more "personal" and share about daily life. In the end, I believe the decision is up to the blogger - as it should be.

      Sharing too much can be scary because, sadly, there are "bad" things out there. I know that control is not something we have over what is posted on the Internet but on my social media sites, I have control and I use it. :D

      Thank you for your kind comments - I appreciate them and goodness, no! I am glad you didn't decide to *instead* write a blog post... only you should write one in addition to this comment - loved it! Your voice is a very unique one, Jemimah and while I hope that doesn't change too much, I am excited about the upcoming changes you referenced - will be on the look-out for those! Your input was greatly appreciated! :)

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  3. I completely respect and understand those who wish to remain anonymous on the internet. I guess for me, being a missionary meant that my life was very public before I ever began blogging, and it seemed pointless to try. I don't post my last name on my blog or the city where I live...but it doesn't take much to find old links on my old blog and find out - there are several websites with our name and address if people really want to know. So for me it wasn't really that much of a decision to be public, because our face is plastered on churches' websites all ready. :) But as I said, I completely understand. :)

    I started out Trims and Frills as a sewing blog, which morphed into a costume drama blog, which then morphed into "everything" since I had built a group of followers that I really enjoyed on that blog and I frankly wasn't too proud of some of my early posts on my other blog. :)

    And I always love reading your blog. :)

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    1. I understand where you are coming from completely, Alexandra. If I was more in the "spotlight" of social media or Internet in similar ways as your family has been, I probably wouldn't care one way or another but I haven't had to deal with any kind of public image such as missionary work so I chose not to plaster my face over the Internet. It "bothers" me to see some of the photos you find when doing a simple Google search (some should never be posted) and the idea that once you post something on-line is ALWAYS there, no matter if you delete it from your blog is... annoying. There is no "protection" and for now, that leaves me too nervous to be a part of a social public scene that is too "loose."

      Creating a blog that is a reflection of *you* should be what "creative license" in part is all about on Blogger and as a result, my blog has changed. Visits to your blog are always fun and I love reading your comments, Alexandra so (as always!) thank you for sharing! :)

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  4. For some reason, it says my comment was published....and I don't think I already commented. Der lol. So if I actually posted something random just...ignore it. OKAY here is my real comment.

    I don't post photos of myself online either. I have a few on my Facebook, and a few kind of cropped artistic ones on my blog. It's not really a choice - I probably WOULD post photos if my parents hadn't been/weren't against it, but I think it's probably safer in the long run because it keeps me some anonymity and keeps people from like, using my photos for something I don't want them to. :)

    http://eternal-simplicity.blogspot.com

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  5. OH and I tagged you at my blog. :D

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    1. Well... it showed up here, so the comment must have published! Don't you hate it when Blogger acts up like that, and you're not sure if it went through or not!? That's one of my pet peeves, minor as it is. :D

      I don't think there is anything wrong with your parent's preference and your decision to respect that.

      "...but I think it's probably safer in the long run because it keeps me some anonymity and keeps people from like, using my photos for something I don't want them to."

      Love what you said in that sentence. No matter what, at least you can take this time to think about it and decide when the time comes if you want too post photos or not. In this world that is obsessed with social media, I think it's tempting to want to post a photo because the initial thought is, "what's the harm?" but it deserves thought.

      Lovely of you to stop in, Lydia - and I really appreciate that you took the time to share your opinions.

      Awesome! Thanks for the 'tag'!

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  6. Besides books, some on vintage upcycling decor, mamahood, and general sweet happy things. :) Great question!

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    1. Those styles all sound excellent to me, Juju! I enjoy "happy" blogs and I follow some excellent ones - yours included. :)

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  7. I absolutely love your blog's warm, friendly, yet totally appropriately private tone. I feel like I know you without knowing everything about you; I know your convictions and your talents, without knowing what you eat for breakfast and how you spend your Saturday afternoons. I think you have a pretty splendid balance going on here, Rissi. =) I know I don't comment often, but it's only because I don't read reviews of books/movies I haven't seen or read myself (for fear of spoilers). But your little spot on the web is one of my favourites, and I so appreciate your firm convictions and super-fun movie reviews, with some pretty amazing recipes thrown in there too. ;) And without you, I might never have given Taylor a chance.

    So yes. I happen to like this blog a lot, just so you know. =)

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    1. Loved what you said about not knowing what I do on Saturday afternoons or my other day-to-day activities - it made me smile because believe me, you wouldn't be interested. I lead a very quiet but satisfying existence. :D

      I don't read as many film reviews as I once did either. Part of that is because my most trusted "source" no longer formally reviews and part of it can be attributed to the fact that I don't want to subconsciously echo thoughts I read in a review if they are not my own. Usually, by the time I get around to writing one of my own, I've forgotten what the reviewer liked or disliked anyway. :D

      Though I have to admit, I enjoy your input, AnnaKate, know that whenever you are able to comment is great! Aw! Glad you like Taylor's songs okay - did I really "introduce" her to you!? That's ironic since I don't always adore her songs but this new record... yeah, for the most part I love it. Speaking of Taylor, your last (?) post was so sweet - I loved how you used Taylor's lyrics to mirror your life. Great job!

      Recipes: Think there will be one of those next week... unless I don't get it "on the schedule." ;)

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  8. i like to see profile pics of bloggers... especially those i connect with regularly on blogger and on twitter. this doesn't mean i need their blog to be about their lives; i quite enjoy blogs just centred on review. however, i love seeing what authors look like. when i love, love, LOVE an author of a book, i am inclined to seek out their website to learn a little more about them:such as where they live and what they look like. the same goes for bloggers. i certainly understand internet privacy; but i don't mind my twitter and blogger followers seeing a photo of me. i am such an effervescent and effusive person that how i look is a big part of my personality when i talk to people ( my facial expressions and hand gestures) so i find this one way that "Strangers" can connect with me without actually knowing me. in the same way, i am curious to see what my favourite bloggers look like. if i connect with them over a shared interest, i find it adds that little personal touch.

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    1. I look at authors (or anyone in the public eye) having photos posted on their sites or social media pages differently than us bloggers because, well... they have a very public image resulting from their professional work. I don't take issue with bloggers who chose to share their family life in a personal way (my cousin-in-law once blogged about daily life) but right now, it isn't for me and I stick by that. Like everyone else though, I will admit that sometimes when hearing a radio host or singer, it's nice to put a face with the voice, and if I enjoy a book it's fun to read the author's "about" page though I don't feel like their photo necessarily allows me to "know" them better. Still, those are just my opinions and I totally "get" where you are coming from also, Rachel.

      So glad you dropped by to share your "two cents." :D Do so anytime!

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  9. Rissi, I enjoyed this post so much as we are very much like-minded in this! I don't feel the need to show myself - because my blog isn't really about me - it's about Movies! We must be kindred spirits!

    Anyway, you are so expressive and an active blogger and such a good friend to other bloggers! You are so great at reaching out and making comments to others! Whether or not I can see you- doesn't matter at all... through all your postings and comments... You have inspired me!

    God Bless You!


    (by the way... I love the embedded comments box! I tried to change mine to this look and after many frustrating hours later - I still have the pop-up comments box! Arghhh! Oh, well...)

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Net Movie Blogger! Writing this was actually more of a split decision but I've had some inquiries into my decision so I thought after over a year of blogging, it was time to share some of my reservations and thoughts. I've appreciated the feedback. It encourages me to "meet" so many bloggers who hold similar convictions as my parents raised me with and I myself now hold because so many of the young people that attend my church or that I've met don't feel the same way. Yours was a blog I read before I ever began this journey and I've enjoyed continuing to get the updates you share! Thank you for all that hard work!

      I agree what you say about not having to see the blogger: I think through the topics or prose style you can get to know a person - sometimes even better - though that. :) Glad you dropped by!

      Ahhh! Doesn't that drive you nuts when something doesn't work properly. Changing didn't give me any trouble; I'm sure you were on the "posts and comments" page under "settings"? That is where I switched out. (You do have to be sure to hit "save settings" after changing it - I only bring that up because I've forgotten one too many times! :D) Hope you can get it switched over - I appreciate the feedback. It seemed a more "direct" way of responding and so far, I like it just as well!

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  10. Hhmm...I don't think I'd even noticed that there aren't any pictures of you on your blog. :) You have huge respect in my eyes for making the decision to be visually anonymous. Safety IS a huge issue. I don't give my last night and I've never actually named the state that I live. Too dangerous. I have enough safety anxiety without laying awake at night knowing that some blog stalker might be creeping up! I have no issues whatsoever with your choice of anonymity, you've just earned more respect in my eyes. :) I love a wide variety of blogs, predominantly either photo blogs (having a hobby in photography lends towards looking for other's photos to be inspired by), some lifestyle (but not too lifestyle, and of course, I love movie blogs, hence my frequent visits to your blog. What you're doing is good - keep it all up! :)

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    1. Whether or not bloggers post personal profile pics is not really something I notice on other's blogs either, Kellie. A couple of bloggers have talked about my not ever posting personal photos and after a yearlong blogging journey, I thought that could make for an informative post (I didn't expect all this feedback - which BTW, I have enjoyed reading: It means a lot when my readers share their input, differing or not).

      I enjoy photography also but my inexpensive digital camera's prevent me from from exploring it seriously right now - I read a couple of blogs that are run by pro photographers and gosh, they are amazing! It's a profession in which you have to constantly be on top of the latest, coolest angles and shots. But... it's also a stunning art form.

      It is I who must thank you for reading my blog, Kellie! I appreciate all the encouragement from my readers! You girls are all so kind and it's been fun for me to get to know so many who share some of my same values because they sure are absent from my life. SO... thanks!

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  11. Great blog entry Rissi! It's an interesting topic and it seems these days that more and more about who we are--our photos, details about our lives--are coming up on the internet thanks to the advent of social media. Remember the days when we were told not to give away our location and send photos of ourselves on the internet? (I had a book about that way back in the late '90s, lol. I felt so cool for reading such things/having dial up *geek moment*)

    My LJ I guess is an example where a lot of my personal/day-to-day blogging came up but I guess the environment was different at time time; people who were my friends knew me for a long time from other places and I still keep in touch with them (albeit outside of LJ; I don't even use my LJ a lot these days, if at all)

    With rulethewaves.net, it's more about the things I love--books, photography, travel, movies/tv shows--and less about my day-to-day stuff (not that there's really anything interesting about me going on but I dunno, do you think I post a lot of personal stuff? Hard to tell as the blogger, lol!). I've gotten a little more hesitant these days about posting certain things up like details about what I'm writing about (like my NaNoWriMo post I just made is pretty cryptic on the details) because of the possibility of people lifting my ideas and whatnot but otherwise I've been perfectly contented with what I've been posting about these days.

    Oh, but I guess still maintain a bit of a personal presence online (beyond my FB, LinkedIn accounts); if you look at my Discourse and YSN articles, there's a nice, clear, professional profile photo of myself in those pages =P

    It's an interesting/tricky thing but like you said, at the end of the day it's really up to the blogger and what he or she is into and is comfortable with. I'm not sure if I prefer one over the other though, lol, everyone I know has such wonderful and eclectic blogs! =)

    lol, sorry for the long comment =P But it's something to think about (and, if memory serves me correctly, it explains a comment you made on Twitter some time ago about making an artistic photo of yourself as your Twitter profile pic? I could be mixing it up, I am half-asleep on this end =P)

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    1. Never feel the need to apologize for long comments, Li - the longer, the better. :)

      I don't use Facebook or LJ so I don't feel the pull of separating Blogger and Facebook though I can see where a Internet savvy person may prefer to use one as more of a diary and the other for less-personal purposes. Everything you have to say here is well said and thoughtful and true. Each blogger has to decide what they prefer - how they want to go about their on-line "public" image. In your case or as Rachel pointed out, an author (who's a public figure), it is more second nature because of your work in the publishing field. Fortunately, I don't have that conflict making my choice "easy." I think your blog is more "professional" but your writing has nice humor and that is where your unique, more personal voice comes through.

      My parents were very skeptical about the Internet in my growing up years and though I am not embarrassed to say some of that probably rubbed off on me, I prefer to think of myself as cautious. (Today that is smart practice.) I don't ever want to share too much personal stuff - even though I know it's all "out there" somewhere (which is a scary thought!).

      Twitter: Yes, I probably did talk about personal photos on Twitter. :) Like I said, a few people have asked about it so after a year-long blogging stint, I thought it'd be informative to share this and the response has been very interesting and informative for me! Thank you for being a comment-er and sharing your input! :)

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  12. lol, thanks, sometimes I surprise myself when I realise I've typed too much =P

    Anyways it's totally makes sense to be cautious about what you post on the internet, it's kind of freaky these days how much is available online...I'm not sure if I had that conversation with you about it but I'm starting to get real annoyed how everything is connected to FB. Like, I have one and it was cool back during my undergrad days when it was still just a university social network, but the internet seems to be making a big heave towards putting yourself out there more and more. (slighty OT but growing up my parents' issue with the internet was the fact that I spent too much time on it--I guess at this point they gave up *blushes* Too many interesting things to read up on, lol)

    But going along the professional route and what Rachel said, it makes sense, part of the job is to dig a niche I suppose on the internet as a reference point for people ;) *is personally dreaming of the day when she becomes a famous author and designs her own shiny website*

    Btw thanks for the kind words re: my blog, I've never really thought about how I'm coming across with these entries (although book blogging is becoming more of a regular thing with me, I still tend to post and blah, leave it to the web to decide if I sound professional or just casual xP) =)

    Oh, also, feel free to disregard the question I asked you in that DM on Twitter if it makes you uncomfortable or whatnot! It's a thing I've been doing for the past few years around this time with the people I consider the closest to on the internet (and the closest thing to a Christmas gift to my online friends =)) so I thought to ask anyways =)

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    1. Too true, Li! Life is becoming much scarier with one's on-line footprint! I know that you can find the info. on the Internet but am not about to make it any easier. :)

      I think that the Internet has exploded even in the 10-15 some years I've used it and it's really insane. Now we don't chat face-to-face because we've already said everything on Facebook. *sigh* At least the people I chat with on-line are the ones I cannot in person. :)

      Rachel has an excellent point! I do not disagree... but I am not in that position (yet!) and so haven't felt that it's sort of a given that I post photos. For now, I am not bothered by it. Cannot wait to visit that site of yours. :)

      I love your loooong comments - they make the blogging experience so much more rewarding! Thank you for that.

      Twitter: I PROMISE I am not ignoring you! It's a long story why I've been absent but it all comes down to technology. I swear - sometimes it's more trouble than its worth!

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