Internet Privacy: How Much of Yourself Should You Share With Your Community?



“It’s my birthday today. My real birthday, not my Internet birthday.”

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend, and I was surprised when he revealed that it was his birthday, because I had previously thought that his birthday had been months ago. Turns out, he has a “birthday” that he celebrates on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, but it’s not his actual birthday. He keeps the date of his real birthday private.

happy birthday cake with candles

Recently, I wrote about a session at TBEX Dublin about connecting with readers on a personal level, but the conversation about birthdays got me thinking about internet privacy: how much of your story should you actually share?

And while this is an important question to ask in any niche, I think it is especially important for travel bloggers. Do you want people knowing when you are traveling and away from home? Do you want to share where you are in the world? Do you want pictures of your family circulating online?

The Advantages of Sharing Online

While I do understand why some people choose to keep details of their lives private, I think it’s important for all bloggers to realize that sharing more helps you to better connect with your readers.

The truth is that most of us are voyeurs. That’s why even the most track-wreck reality shows out there end up being really popular. We’re all curious about how other people live, and we all like to feel that we’re not alone

Sharing details about your adventures allows people to experience the world through you eyes. Most people never get the opportunity to travel to all of the locations that you do, but on your blog, they get a taste of what it is like.

I think sharing the everyday details is even more important. Oh, you get nervous before flying even though you’re an experienced traveler? Me too! You love that feeling of your pet getting excited when you get home? Me too! Your favorite dessert is chocolate cake? Me too!

Those details may seem mundane to you, and even though you might like to thing you’re unique, we all also love that feeling of knowing that other people are just as weird as we are.

Why Internet Privacy Sometimes Makes Sense

Even though I think sharing details of your life can be beneficial for building your community, I also take Internet privacy very seriously. Sometimes, keeping details to yourself just makes sense.

As a travel blogger, here are a few things to consider:

  • If you write controversial content, you might not want to announce where you’ll be traveling until you’re on your way home. It’s great to meet fans, but if can ruin your trip if you run into trolls and people who just don’t like you.
  • Do you have a house sitter? If not, telling people when your house will be empty might not be a good idea.
  • It isn’t always good to share pictures of your kids online. For all family members, as soon as they are old enough, it’s good to talk to them about what THEY want to share online.
  • In some areas of the world, sharing your itinerary could make you a target.

Beyond safety, sometimes it just makes sense to keep details private because being out there in the public – yes, even if your community is small – can be emotionally exhausting. Sometimes, the whole “Internet privacy” issue is just about having certain things to yourself.

I choose to be more of a “sharer” than most, but I also respect the Internet privacy choices my friends make. There are also details that I just will not share online (and I imagine the number of those details will increase once I have kids).

What about you? Is Internet privacy a concern? Do you share a lot of personal details on your blog or do you choose to keep most details private?

Photo credit:  SXC

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Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks!
Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks!
November 6, 2013 1:31 pm

I’ve shared about my personal health matters on my blog because I feel that it can help others who are going through the same thing. Plus the support of others has been invaluable. When it comes to my kids, I always ask their permission if it’s OK to share something about them.

November 9, 2013 11:49 pm

I always share too much – at least that’s what people tell me. It’s always been the way I’ve written and when I started out in print, there was a huge controversy about using “I” too much – often directed at me. There. I just shared. See? It’s natural! That said, there have been a couple of things that I really wanted to write about, things that happened to me re getting involved with an bad character (with my writing, not so much personally) but I was warned against it for safety reasons. (Even the police were involved.) There again. Can’t you see how much I’m itching to share that story? Maybe in the future I will.

December 10, 2013 9:36 am

I haven’t shared much in writing, but I’ve made travel videos and gone on camera, which is embarrassing enough! Personal blogs are always more interesting though so I’m trying to shed my shyness and open up a bit more.

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