Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Blog?

Recently there have been a couple of threads in a private Yahoo! Group about what kind of information should or should not be included in a blog about life as an FSO (either a Frightened and Suspicious Oversea'er or Fearlessly Serving Overseas, depending on the FSO) or spouse.

Obviously, I lean toward including everything, including first names, with one exception. That is, I will not include the names of any other FSOs, EFMs, MOHs or another government acronym without getting permission. Everyone is entitled to privacy, until they start blogging in public.

There also were comments made about being discrete about what the government provides its foreign service employees and families courtesy of tax payers.

Once again, obviously I don't agree with this advice. American citizens ought to know how their tax dollars are being spent. I cannot see a single downside to sharing information about use of tax dollars, and I welcome anyone to dissuade me otherwise.

But at the heart of many of the postings in these threads was why people post blogs anyway.

Many indicated they were doing so in lieu of filling friends' and family mailboxes with e-mail updates. Because it was for their eyes only, they would slap a password on the blog to keep it out of the public's hands.

I did send my link to my friends and family with a similar message that I will not being doing the mass e-mail thing and if they really want to know what is going on, then stop by my blog.

But instead of limiting my drivel to people I know, I decided to open my experiences to others. And so far, I'm glad that I have.

For one, I've been able to interact (on a limited basis) with others in a similar position as myself. It is nice to know others have gone through this already and turned out somewhat normal.

Also, I know that some readers have been directed to this blog by searching for terms related to being an eligible family member. I can't imagine they walked away with much at this point, but I hope potential or recent EFMs will find this blog once I'm able to start sharing overseas experiences.

Pretty much the only EFM the uninitiated have to relate to, especially since there has been a recent movie, is Julia Child. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that many EFMs do not have a similar experience of becoming a wildly successful chef and live in Paris.

So the reason I blog, other than for vanity, is to try to be helpful. And I imagine that is why others blog publicly as well. Yes, we need to take some precautions when we are living abroad to not share too much personal information about where we live, and using a little tact (not that I do) doesn't hurt, but otherwise, type away bloggers!


  1. For me, it's sometimes difficult and there's such a very fine line, you know?

    I've learned SO MUCH from the State blogs that I read. They are beyond helpful. And I love so much that I can connect with other people via the internet who are in my same position.

    I often think of State spouses twenty years ago and beyond -before this amazing tool called the internet - who were so limited in their communications capabilities (compared to us). It must have been so very lonely and isolating. I mean, good grief - John and Abigail Adams while he was in France! So, I am so very grateful that I live in such a communications age, and I am THRILLED that I can participate in it.

    But I do worry that someday, something I say inadvertently will reflect badly on my wonderful husband. He's such a wonderful person and such a hard worker that the last thing he deserves is a loudmouth wife being indiscreet or causing him difficulty at work.

    So, for me, I try really hard to walk that fine line between being helpful and informative and being a drag on my husband.

  2. As you know, I have no problem writing about whatever strikes my fancy... with a few very small exceptions.

    I don't mention anything specific that my husband does. I don't mention names of the people he works with. And I never bash him.

    Everything else is fair game. Including photos. With captions.

    Write on. It's your blog.

  3. I agree whole heartedly with Jill. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

  4. I think I have mentioned at times something about taxpayers footing the bill (perhaps a post about R&R?), but followed it with a huge "thank you", as I am very grateful for the trip home. I totally agree with Jill, it doesn't hurt to have a few guidelines, but it's YOUR blog, do with it as you please!

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  6. Glad to see this post.

    As long as we're conscientious about what we're posting, my personal opinion is that blogging isn't a security threat. However, it's recently become clear to me that others feel very strongly otherwise. What I worry about more than security concerns is the "corridor reputation" you hear so much about. Being an FSO myself, I'd hate to step on the toes of any superiors simply by having a blog. I assume spouses are given a bit more leeway in this respect than FSOs.

    Anyone else have thoughts about this?

  7. I would have to say it really depends on who you ask. I know folks who wouldn't touch a blog with a 10 foot pole, others list their home address (not necessarily FSOs/spouses).

    Spouses, from my understanding (and from being one for 12 years), have more leeway. One still wants to be careful, but I personally simply limit myself to what *we* do as a family...especially since we are back in the States. I have found some people here are far more nervous about blogging than folks I met overseas.

    I also ask folks (other than friends & family whose permission I have), if they mind if I include their pictures, etc. Most people love it, and if they don't, I just work around it.

    As an aside, if you are toying with the notion, I tried the password protect feature for a while...worked fine for me, drove my friends and family nuts. Half of them could never get in, so I just let it go.

  8. Love your purpose, to try to be helpful, since that is mine also. I also see our blogs as a recruiting tool, since a large majority of readers are in the process of joining or considering bidding on your current post. Keep up the great writing!

  9. I think the security threat also depends on where you are. In certain countries, you can be sure your actions are being monitored and if a quick google search brings up your blog with lots of personal information or State information, there could be an issue. (I say this as the wife of an RSO.)

    Personally, I'm kind of sick of EFM "complaint" pieces. For me, I'd rather focus on the fun, or at least differences, of living overseas. And what I loved about Julia Child's "My Life in France" memoir (couldn't stand the movie) was that FS took as much of a backseat as it could and she focused on living and loving overseas.

    And I'm open to anyone who finds my blog to email me privately to discuss the EFM parts of life, once they find out that's what I am. I don't want EFM to be my label though.