I’ve noticed that on BlogJob and other pay-per-post websites, many people choose a diary entry-syle niche. Similar to a diary entry, these bloggers write about their day, their goals for the future, people they met, and whatever else comes to their mind that they can opine on. These aren’t the award-winning, hard-hitting current event blogs that could one day influence change in the world, but they offer us readers the chance to live someone else’s life as long as we’re following their story. Because diary entry-style blogs are popular, one commonly-asked question among bloggers is “If I do this, how personal do I get?” The easy answer is “As personal as you want” but once you start writing your own diary entry-style blog post you’ll likely realize it’s not as easy as that. When does “personal” become too much information?
I was talking to my dad about this subject today. He framed it in the context of “Someone from my generation…”, such as “Someone from my generation would say you need to be careful what you post online because it stays there forever.” He’s not wrong; the internet has a long memory and screenshots make it even longer. On the other hand, is long-lasting content always a negative? Someone from my dad’s generation may have written or created something that would add to future generations’ understanding of human creativity and current events of the time, but if it wasn’t published by a mainstream publishing company, displayed in a museum, or filmed/photographed extensively, we future generations may never know about it. With today’s social media and blogging platforms (both paid and otherwise), we see snapshots of daily life all the time. Sometimes breaking news comes first from Twitter and other social media. Photo-sharing websites allow us to see immediate trending news, both good and bad. Bloggers are increasingly gaining credibility as journalists when they cover hot topics in a shorter time span than the press. My dad is concerned that all personal posts are negative and/or incriminating, but in fact you can learn so much about the world even if it’s told by a “present” non-journalist person.
This doesn’t fully answer the question “How personal should I get?” Sometimes we write about topics that aren’t based on the news of the day and that are more a stream of consciousness than anything. Our goal may not be to change the world; we just need to get something off our chests. Even so, the long memory of the internet means that whatever we post is there even when we’ve moved on. Think about it this way: If you are going to be immortal on the internet, can you stand by everything you’ve written? Even if you are no longer in that place you were when you wrote that blog, could you say “Yes, that was my state of mind then” if you were asked about it? Your answer will help you decide how personal you should get.