Those crazy blogger kids

Will Q. points to a New York Times Magazine article, "Your Blog or Mine?," by Jeffrey Rosen.

At least one of the bloggers quoted in the article (Deb of Smitten) has said that she was misquoted in the article (so I wouldn't put too much credence in quotes from the article), and—as one of her readers noted—a fair bit of the article has a sort of "those darn kids with their blogs, what will they think of next?" kind of tone. But there are two bits I thought were worth quoting:

In the blogging community itself, there is a general consensus that dating fellow bloggers is crazy. "Dating a blogger: quite frankly, I wouldn't do it," wrote Jessica on the Blog of Chloe and Pete. "Dating writers is hard enough," she continued, noting that Tolstoy's marriage almost broke up after he shared with his virgin bride his diaristic accounts of liaisons with servant girls. "And that was a private drama. Imagine enacting such a dysfunctional ritual online."

If bloggers shouldn't be involved with other bloggers, half the people I know online are in trouble. Including me—yikes. And if that's worse than being involved with a writer, what about being involved with a writer who blogs? I guess we're all doomed.

I do think the general point is one that could use more consideration than it often gets, though: a lot of people don't think enough about where and whether to draw the privacy line until after they get in trouble for saying something a friend or lover gets upset about. (Um, I'm not talking about anyone in particular, and I'm definitely not chiding anyone. This is a very general observation.) It's a hard balance to strike; I tend to err on the side of caution, just not talking at all (in my journal) about a lot of stuff that goes on in my life. But I think it's quite possible to draw the line further away from the privacy side than I do and still avoid hurting anyone.

Here's another interesting bit from the article:

Like other journalists, bloggers can be sued for disclosing true details of someone else's private life, as long as the disclosures "would be highly offensive to a reasonable person" and "not of legitimate concern to the public." ... Still, anyone [whose private information had been disclosed] would have to weigh the benefits of a lawsuit against its costs. A lawsuit would only bring [them] more unwanted publicity.

The article also talks about the likelihood of things being blogged that you didn't expect would be. For more about similar topics, see David Brin's articles about privacy and transparency. IIrc, Brin's general argument (drastically oversimplified, so please don't try to argue with my version of it) is that privacy will become impossible (due to high-tech surveillance systems) in the relatively near future, and that we'll be better off if we put the surveillance systems in the hands of the public rather than in the hands of the government. I'm not sure to what extent I agree with him, but I think it's an interesting discussion.

5 Responses to “Those crazy blogger kids”

  1. irilyth

    I thought the article got a little fuzzy with what they mean by “blogger”, i.e. anyone with an LJ account, or someone who updates a diary once or twice a day, or someone who essentially blogs full-time (either for a living or as their main hobby). In that quote you mention, she compares dating a blogger to dating “a writer”, which sounds more like that second definition… I write all the time, but I wouldn’t call myself “a writer”. (Nor would I call myself “a blogger”.)

  2. Anonymous

    Jessica was blogging back before the rules and etiquette of blogging had been developed (and back before the world blog had been developed!), which may explain some of her attitude.

  3. Shmuel

    Y’know, I didn’t follow the Washingtonienne thing all that closely, and even I noticed that the writer of this article got his facts wrong in the first few sentences. (“Wonkette identified her as Jessica Cutler, a 26-year-old mail sorter for Senator Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, who promptly fired her from her $25,000-a-year job.” No, Wonkette gave the blog a much wider audience, and Cutler got fired. But Wonkette didn’t publically identify until her until she interviewed her after the fact.)

    But it’s nice to know that professional journalists have editors and hold their reputations dear. [wry smile]

  4. David Moles

    I’m not sure I’d date someone whose primary self-identification was as a blogger. 🙂

  5. David Moles

    (Okay, who am I kidding. If she was cute…)


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