Guest Post: “Innocence can be redefined and called stupidity. Honesty can be called gullibility. Candor becomes lack of common sense.”

15 Jan

I offered to write this guest post because I, too, have had some of the people who follow me on-line (albeit through my blog, not Twitter) insert themselves into my Real Life.  As a result, like Thordora, I know how bizarre and surreal that experience can be.
I had the horrendous misfortune of living in a neighborhood full of oddities, from the drunks next door with their ill-mannered offspring to the people who couldn’t step foot outside of their house without blasting their stereos to the people who let their children ride ATVs and dirt bikes in the streets.  The more the neighbors did, the more I wanted to write about it.  That was one of the reasons I started my blog.  However, while I’ll never deny that I can register pretty high on the bitchometer at times, I’m not so cold-hearted as to use my neighbors’ real names or addresses when I write about them.  Additionally, because I knew I would be writing about my neighbors when I started my blog, I chose to use a pseudonym for myself, as well, thus giving the characters in my story yet another layer of anonymity.  And, believe me, that was much more consideration than they deserved.
But, because I didn’t anticipate many people reading my blog and/or didn’t think those who read it would turn out to be batshit crazy, I didn’t take precautions to insure that my real identity couldn’t be found. * 
When I read about someone sending the cops to Thordora’s house because of her tweet (which tweet I happened to have read right after she posted it and thought nothing of it**), I was appalled.  What an incredible invasion of privacy.  Yes, privacy. 
There are too many people who think bloggers, tweeters, or users of other other on-line venues have willingly given up any expectation of privacy because we’re putting our lives out there for everyone to read, but I vehemently disagree.  We’re inviting people to read what we publish on-line.  Period.  End of story.  Our on-line presence isn’t an open invitation for our readers to drop by for tea, call us on the phone to chat, stalk us, contact our employers to complain about what we’ve written, or call the cops, simply because they take issue with something we’ve written. 
While the onus is on the writer not to write anything libelous, the reader also has some responsibility – to understand the voice of the writer.  If you don’t understand or don’t care for the writer’s style, don’t call the sarcasm police… just move on to something that’s more your speed. 
Would readers be justified in harassing people who publish autobiographies or other works of nonfiction in a more mainstream fashion (books or magazines)?  Is everyone who’s ever been mentioned in the newspaper, whether in a feature story, a wedding announcement, or by virtue of having a letter to the editor published, fair game for these miscreants who apparently have so woefully little excitement in their own lives that they need to interject themselves into the Real Lives of complete strangers?
The normal way for someone to respond to something posted on-line is, surprise! on-line.   Post a comment to a blog entry, send an e-mail, respond to a tweet – these are normal and acceptable ways to express your opinion/concern/agreement/ire. 
*If you’re interested in my personal experience, snippets of my stalker saga can be found on my blog:
**I thought nothing of the tweet in question precisely because I’d been reading Thordora’s blog and tweets for quite a while and was familiar with her style.   And if you don’t read someone’s blog or know him/her in person, why would you follow him/her on Twitter in the first place?


7 Responses to “Guest Post: “Innocence can be redefined and called stupidity. Honesty can be called gullibility. Candor becomes lack of common sense.””

  1. Eden January 15, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    “Our on-line presence isn’t an open invitation for our readers to drop by for tea, call us on the phone to chat, stalk us, contact our employers to complain about what we’ve written, or call the cops, simply because they take issue with something we’ve written.”


  2. Kathyp January 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    I’ve blogged many a post about my neighbors, aka the “serial partiers,” and although I take all the necessary precautions, I always wonder “what if someone reads this and recognizes himself in it?” I’ve had that happen already — almost. Purely a misunderstanding that was easily cleared up, but still, I’ve become more careful, almost too careful, when it comes to what I write online.

  3. Cee January 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    I have an internet stalker – who inserted herself into my real life and when I was trying to reconnect with my estranged daughter – that I blogged about, this stalker began e-mailing my grown daughter and worse came to worse – it was a horrible experience – then she jumped to my sister ‘s blog as a way of communicating with me since I had stopped responding to her post replies. So I just delete my blogs as she keeps showing up and have decided I won’t have one. Just do something private in a different way.

    But I enjoy this blog and the writing. Some of it is sad but that’s okay, I do sad too. Best to you all.

  4. mamatried January 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    I had an issue where I was on a local mom’s forum and during the election this guy joined and he was a crazy fundamentalist who kept posting all this crap about Obama being a terrorist, etc. Anyway, I decided to leave the forum for a while because I was getting all riled up and wrote about it on my blog which I assumed no one local read because I am paranoid being in education so don’t have any photos of me or any names. Long story short, I had been talking about my VBAC experience on the forum and also wrote about it on the blog and one of the local moms had done a search ‘successful VBACs’ or something and found me and put it together. I had a zillion (for me at least since I usually only get like 20) hits that day before I figured it out and now I am getting the cold shoulder on the forum. Kind of sucks but oh well.

    I wish I could be free like Thordora is honestly.

    Now my supervisor who determines whether I get classes or not ‘friended’ me on FB. She is kind of conservative so I am freaking out. Uggh.

    But enough about me. I think this is a great post and totally agree.

  5. Cee January 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Just a side note, my “ex” in an attorney and was talking to me about what happened to Thor – and others too I assume – and he said there is a new law about “Terrorist Threats” – it used to be two guys could fight and say “I’m going to kill you, you @@##***, but not anymore, they can be arrested for making a terrorist threat – the I’m going to kill you part of the speech.

    Wish that law existed many years ago, when my first “ex”, not this “ex” but another one, threatened me with death. So my attorney “ex” tells me that now, one either does nothing because it is none of their business or they tell the police etc. because they overhear a Terrorist Threat – and I guess the internet is becoming just like that – since we don’t know people personally – can’t hear their tone of voice – and maybe even saying – just kidding isn’t enough of a disclaimer.

    I try to stay away from venting – except in some mild form – as no one really cares about my trials etc….. but I’m going to my a server and setting up a different blog so I can block out my stalker and any others that are too bothersome.

    It’s these silly new laws that motivate people maybe some of these laws might save lives – if one is unlucky enough to have a stalker.


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