You've probably noticed that the anecdotes that appear on this blog include quite a bit of self-deprecation (or self-congratulation, as the case may be) but hardly any personal detail. For example, I've posted about nasty clients I encountered at my last Chilean job but refused to indicate what type of job I had. I even deleted comments that alluded to it (sorry). I wrote a fair amount about my neighborhood in Santiago but didn't say which one it was. (What up, Estación Central?) And, of course, it's not a coincidence that nearly all the photos I post of myself don't include a full frontal view of my face. I'm not just being emo.
People might wonder -- with good reason -- why I'm so paranoid. It's not like I'm a celebrity or anything. Why would anyone want to waste their time stalking me online?
I'd like to ask the person who tried. I don't want to get into the sordid details, but a few years ago, a person contacted my employer in Chile seeking information about me and claiming we'd had a class together when I'd studied abroad. To make a long story short, I corresponded with this person for a few days online, all the while feeling guilty that I didn't remember her. The reason for this soon became obvious: I'd never met her at all. I realized this person had found sufficient information about me online to track me down and was now posing as someone she wasn't in order to achieve who knows what.
So I became paranoid. I wasn't that I was particularly afraid of this person, who dropped off the radar -- except for a minor Facebook incident -- when I cut off communication. The experience, however, made me aware of how easy it is for strangers to use the internet to both investigate and deceive you. The truth is that if anyone truly wanted to stalk me online, he or she could almost certainly find a way to do so; I decided, though, that I wasn't going to give potential stalkers any extra help by posting personal details on my blog.
This has made it impossible for me to share things about my life that I really would have liked to. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to blog about the outrageous experiences I had at my last Chilean job. Every time, though, I had to hold back: Even if I hadn't given the name of my company (which, needless to say, one should never do on a personal blog), the rubric I worked in was small enough that it would have been easy to guess where to find me from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. The same goes now for the Ph.D. program I'm about to start. Although it will probably become pretty obvious what I'm studying and where, I'm not comfortable publishing that information just yet.
Honestly, I wish I were, because -- call me voyeuristic -- I think learning details about other people's lives is part of what's so fun about reading blogs. Still, I think it's necessary to maintain a filter. I've seen blogs in which people have written things like, "Hey, friends and family! I got to India last night and spent today getting all my stuff organized in my new apartment. Here's the address so you can write me." I probably should have posted a comment along the lines of, "Are you insane?! Get your home address OFF THE INTERNET!" I've also read posts by people who identify their companies by name and proceed to bitch about their jobs. Bad move, amigos.
What do you think? Where should bloggers draw the line when it comes to sharing personal information? Is there any aspect of your life you would never consider making public?