by Kristine Coblitz
As writers, we are constantly looking for ways to get our names out there and attract readers. We create websites, blogs and Myspace pages. (I have all three.)
There was an article recently published in Writer's Digest warning writers to be cautious about what they write and publish online. Some recent cases have proved it's easy to offend and make a negative impression of yourself based on what you write and who may be reading what you are writing. This also goes for e-mail.
When I started my personal blog, I mainly did so as a journal and as a way to make myself accountable for writing something on a regular basis. I also did it for my family and friends to keep up on my progress so I wouldn't have to answer the dreaded questions (Is your book done yet?) at family functions. I was shocked when I discovered that not only are my family and friends indeed reading my posts but also that my blog has gained attention from others on the web locally and internationally. Yikes!
As a result, I've become very careful about what I post online. Not too much personal information. I include nothing I wouldn't want complete strangers to know about me, and I'm not just talking about the color of my underwear. I've also tried to add valuable content to my posts and stay away from the mundane details of how I spend my day. I mean, who really cares what kind of tea I like to drink or what I had for breakfast? (If you MUST know, I drink wild sweet orange tea and eat Special K cereal. As for the color of my underwear...that's top secret.)
Evidence of the power of the Internet came this week in an article about a 22-year-old man who was shot to death by a co-worker due to jealousy over an Internet relationship both men were having with an 18-year-old woman. The twist? The 18-year-old woman was really a mother in her forties who was using her daughter's name to attract men over the Internet. The mother went so far as to send pictures of her daughter and sexually suggestive gifts to one of the men. The man's wife intercepted the packages, and well...you can imagine what happened next. You can read the whole article HERE.
Personally, I enjoy making connections with people over the Internet and think the information superway is a wonderful way to meet new friends and fellow readers. We need to tread carefully, however. When we publish anything (either in print or online), we expose ourselves to the world by what we write.
How much do you want the public to know about you? Are you comfortable with what information about you is currently online?