Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Blogging about your life

As I was recently cited by SUWT as a bastion of privacy on the internet, I think I should link to this perfect example of one of the risks of blogging about your life: Ixobelle blogs about some recent changes he made in his life, gets an anonymous comment on why his choices are bad and how he should do better, and promptly explodes with understandable anger about people telling him how to live his life.

The demographic of MMO players, and MMO blog readers, has a high concentration of young adults. By nature this is a time in life where consciously or not you make a lot of choices which have a huge impact on the rest of your life. These choices are often complicated, and depend on many factors, so describing your complete life situation on half a page of a blog entry is nearly impossible. So even if you want to blog about your life, the picture other people get from your life is necessarily incomplete and fragmented. And then you get some anonymous troll making a snarky comment. Great!

I do sometimes mention some of the life choices I made. For example that my wife and me are dinks (dual income, no kids), which explains where I find the time to play so many games, and the money to pay for them. But I certainly don't want to preach the advantages of more disposable time and income versus the advantages of parenthood. There are many different and totally valid life choices you can make. Games were not the reason why I made my choices, and I'm not going to discuss all the details of how I arrived at my choices and my current situation with a bunch of strangers, some of them hostile. I already get enough flak from people who think that having children is the only way to live. And then I'm still lucky that many of the choices I made in life were rather conventional (9 to 5 job, opposite sex marriage). You imagine what a blogger with more unconventional life choices would have to endure for comments if he blogged about his life!

So in spite of some people expressing a desire to get to know the person behind the blog better, I think it is preferable to not blog about your life. Unless of course you *want* to discuss the details of your choices with a bunch of strangers. But this is the internet, a place where you can get death threats for a bad game review. Do you really think this is a good place to discuss your private life?
You probably already heard that the DINK is the death of society.

You know what to do.

Sorry, you said it... :>
And now I cannot edit the first posting...

I wanted to add, it is not a good idea to blog about anything personal.

You will get comments like the one above, advice you do not need, or people disagreeing with the way you live.
one of the risks of blogging about your life... gets an anonymous comment... and promptly explodes with understandable anger
So, an anonymous comment and blowing up in anger constitute a "perfect example" of the risks of blogging about your life? I beg to differ :)

I agree in general that blogging about your life carries some risk. But there are much better examples out there- e.g. people who lost their job after blogging about something.
It takes some skill to be able to be personal and not just private.
Actually I think Ixobelle HAS that skill. The things he shares about his life are definitely interesting and relevant to more than his closest friends. I don't think you could blame him for beeing "too private" and therefore likely to get troll comments.

Anyway: I'm a fan of blogs that show your personality. You don't have to share details that make it possible to identify you. But if you always shield yourself in your postings, never opening up a glitch, they become rather impersonal and will leave at least me indifferent reading it. I want to be somehow touched by a blogger and feel that there's a real person behind it. A voice that I can recognize. And not an AI voice but a real one.
But there are much better examples out there

I should have said "a risk", not "the risks". But then, losing your job about blogging is relatively rare. Saying something personal and getting attacked for it is relatively common.

But if you always shield yourself in your postings, never opening up a glitch, they become rather impersonal and will leave at least me indifferent reading it. I want to be somehow touched by a blogger and feel that there's a real person behind it. A voice that I can recognize. And not an AI voice but a real one.

Do you think of me as just an AI voice? I think I've been making my personal preferences on MMO game design pretty clear over the years. And that is all that matters, personal opinions on the subject. Details about a blogger's private life are more likely to distract from the subject matter than to add to it.

Imagine some MMO blogger made a blog entry that he just came to realize that he was gay, and was now considering living with another guy. Don't you think that this would completely change the way people view that blogger, and he would get a lot of aggro, in spite of his life choices not being relevant at all for the discussion of MMOs?
@Tobold: no, you're far from unpersonal! I guess I'm rather referring to the "useful blogs" you know... just tons of theorycrafting and how-to-do-lists that could as well have been posted on Wowwiki. Those blogs leave me cold.

If you tell or don't tell details about your family depends much on what you want to blog about. A "gay" perspective COULD be interesting if that's what you want to write about. Do you hide it or don't you in the game? How do you think and feel about the gender sterotypes... ? It's a very different perspective to mine (not being gay) but I wouldn't mind reading about it. But of course, as you say, such a blog is likely to attract trolls. Personally I've given a few details about myself... My constant conflicts with my family, my struggles to balance real life and game life... that's real issues to me and I guess I use the blog a bit like therapy, pondering upon it, trying to cope with it, figuring out ways to come through. Sharing it and discussing it with my readers helps me to carry it and deaql with it.

What I'm trying to say is that there are different kinds of blogs. Some blogs are more personal oriented and I actually like to read them since I'm hopelessly curious about other people. But of course you shouldn't be naïve and leave out details about yourself that may explode in your face in the future.
Once you've published something on the net, there's no way to make it undone...
/me resists urge to offer advice to Tobold on having kids and not being a 'DINK'. (Just kidding, wife and I are the same.)

Seriously though, the guy offering advice on Ix's site is a complete and utter douche. I would probably have had the same reaction, and Ixobelle's response was fairly entertaining anyway.

Thing is, it totally doesn't matter, blog or not, those kinds of people will still exist and will continue to annoy the living daylights out of you, blog or not. It happens just as much face to face in social situations.

You get plenty of good advice in Blog comments along with the crap too.

I think whether to mention personal stuff or not is entirely up to the flavor of the blog. I read this blog, even though I no longer play WoW because of its insights into general gaming, not the insights into Tobold's life, and the fact that it's well written.

If however you wanted to mention personal stuff, the same rules apply as normal social interaction. If I'm a douchebag about it, you have every right to rip my head off on here.

On Ixobelle's blog, it wouldn't seem out of place, here, it would though.
When I read a blog, I have absolutely no preference if it's anonymous or not, I only care if the content is good. Yes, I enjoy finding out about the real people behind the blog but it's not a driving factor for me and I reckon most people feel the same. Of course, a lot of blogs sell themselves as a personality rather than on the content.

I accepted a long time ago that people on the internet are jerks. Any blogger needs to be slightly hardened to this fact.
You are right Tobold.
People should avoid blogging about something that they have no desire to discuss or that they would be to sensitive to hear comments from strangers about it.
Ultimately, you can always turn moderation on in a blog and just delete the inapropriate comments. And by "inapropriate" i mean "what i goddam say it's inapropriate".
While I am a almost fanatic proponent of free speech that doesn't equate with somebodin shooting his/her mouth of in another person personal space, being it a blog, a home, etc...
I think another aspect is that it's not usually that interesting.

I'm not especially private but I don't talk about real life on my games site because I don't think gamers read game blogs to hear about off-topic RL woes and triumphs.
>>Once you've published something on the net, there's no way to make it undone...

And this is the golden rule that every blogger needs to live by.

I mean, take the guy sitting on the street corner with a bible raised high in the air proclaming armageddon is right around the corner.

Or, take the same guy and give him a computer, an internet connection , a bible in .pdf format and a blog somewhere and you have the same thing, right?

No?...ahhhh it's a lot easier to ignore the idiot on the web, right?...then why dont we?

Thanks for all the fish!

The fact that most blogs have their comments sections enabled in the first place speaks volumes about the blogger and what they hope to achieve. Hint: It's called feedback.
I will agree that I enjoy the feedback aspect of blogging, but with it comes people that have nothing to offer in return, and are just out to make petty remarks.

For my *actual* readership (and not the trolls), I get some of my most positive feedback on articles that talk about what could otherwise be viewed as personal things. How I arrived at the decision to move to japan, what I do in my spare time (that isn't WoW), or how I feel about *whatever*.

I feel like there are a billion sites where I can find a good rotation, the ones that really get me excited are the ones where people invest themselves in their writing. When someone craps on that, it's just rude.

That said, I'll never turn off anonymous commenting, because I'd rather not have a genuine person with no account be locked into jumping through hoops to say hello.
I blog about my life, my WoW life. Why not real life? It doesn't translate well into text and no offense to them, but I don't want to be one of the people that talk endlessly about real life.

When we talk about WoW, we have shared knowledge to orient ourselves. We all have some general idea of how the game works and what a guild is. RL doesn't have that. Instead there are tons of cultures and values and expectations and standards and there's a very low chance that your RL decisions will make the slightest bit of sense to someone else. However we tend to be ethnocentric and so if you're doing something strangely, it's not interpreted as "I don't know his culture so I shouldn't criticize" instead it's a quick "I know how people are supposed to act and he's doing it wrong! BURN YOU BAD PERSON!!!!!"
Recently I had an inguinal hernia show up.
I wonder how I may perform in the bedroom now with such an issue...

Luckily, the wife is very forgiving, and....


Oh not commenting about my life...blogging...gotcha..

Moving this to my blog.

DINK? I like that, very clever! My wife and I also have no kids, though she does not currently work. Single income...?


No, surely we can do better. What's another word for "one"? Hey! How about "one"!

One income, no kids. OINK.

@Christopher said...

SINK??I think that is about right in today's economy..

(Looks at his rather large Tax Return check thanks to 1 child dependent...awesome)
"But this is the internet, a place where you can get death threats for a bad game review. Do you really think this is a good place to discuss your private life?"

I read your blog almost every day, and I think you're a fine writer, Tobold, but this particular quote is one of your finest. It's very true. As cliched as the idea of internet anonymity granting power is, the truth behind what you said is true. If you're willing to delve into personal matters, be prepared for the backlash from those too immature to practice any kind of self-restraint.
Reading that link makes me think the problem was more Ixobelle getting easily baited than the follies of personal blogging. Its one thing to get annoyed about a person in comments, quite another to perpetuate it by making a recap page detailing it in full. And by doing so Tobold is ensnared into it as well.

Not hating or agreeing with the poster at all, but you have the power to control your own reaction. Why get angry, or worse, be afraid to personal blog over something as laughable as "internet death threats?" So what if they disagree, they aren't the ones dealing with your family and your bills.

What's surprising to me in a way is that you haven't encountered worse on the net already in other venues, even MMOs. There's plenty of jerks and asshats out there no matter what you do.
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