Thursday, August 26, 2010

Familiar Faces in the Crowd

This might be hard to believe, but it can be pretty difficult to keep a low profile while broadcasting your life experiences on the Internet. Shocking, I know. This is the kind of analysis you can't find any where else but here.

But I get that deer-in-the-headlight look every time someone says "I read in your blog..." Wait? You mean not only were you aware it exists but you wasted your time by reading it?

I've said it before, and it is worth repeating, but I like writing for a faceless audience much more than writing for my friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. In short, I like to write without really having any accountability.

Which creates some interesting scenarios now that I am living amidst some of my readers (I use that term loosely, more like, people who know I have a blog and have stopped by on occasions probably to make sure I didn't reveal too much about them). It also makes it a little harder to write some of theses postings, such as when I might have bemoaned a favorite topic of conversation, or when I advertised to anyone who would listen that my culture adaptation process finds me in the dumps on occasions. I mean, I don't need people looking at me like I'm broken or something.

I don't make it a point to tell people here that I blog - quite the opposite, actually. But alas, I know some people here do know, and I can only assume others have caught wind of it. It's my own personal policy to not include names or pictures of anyone else to let them enjoy their privacy, but I can't help but wonder if knowledge about my blog and fear that something might get said on it might cause some to behave slightly different when I'm around.

Many of you have been doing this longer than me: writing about your life in the foreign service. Do you let others know about it? What kind of reception do you get? Do you find yourselves holding back because you don't want to offend colleagues? I'd be very interested to here some of your tales about blogging about life abroad while the relatively small American communities we live in are both readers and players.


  1. As many people have told me ... you can't really have it both ways. So if you figure out a way to write w/o having any accountability, let me know.

    I never told anyone about my blog aside from friends and family - which is who I originally begin writing for. But over time people discovered it and after a few years, realized that I might as well go full court press now that it was no longer a secret.

    Really, I have no issue with anyone reading mine now - but I'll admit, it's awfully eerie having people reading it who are at the same post. I struggled with biting my tongue several times, as what I really wanted to write (like how awful our previous Mgt officer and GSO were ...)would cause a lot of hurt feelings... And despite it being your blog and your place to vent, with so many State Dept people reading, it's the 6 degrees of separation...

  2. Agree w Jill - it's so strange when people are reading it and living in my community. I've met people who say "oh, I know who you are, I read your blog," and I never quite know how to respond. I always get sorta embarrassed. But I keep at it anyway. I just try to think before I rant.

  3. It really depends on where you are and what is going on there. I was more careful in Iceland, as we were more out in the open there. Here I don't worry so biggest concern is remembering to ask family and friends if it's okay to post their pictures and/or names. More often than not, it is, and they always appreciate that I asked.

    As far as others knowing you from the blog...well, my husband actually had a really cool experience with that...not long after landing at his current post, he had someone mention that they knew about him from the blog long before they met him in a class. He/she also mentioned a recent post and commented on it. He was thrilled the person said something and I think it made his arrival more memorable and less stressful.

  4. Do you ever look at your analytics to see how far flung your readers are? I used to blog, and was always amazed when I got readers from India or Russia or somewhere like that. For members of the Foreign Service community, that might make sense, but I was just a public middle school teacher in rural South Texas.

    As for unexpected readers, you can count me in that group. I live mostly in Philly and have no link, other than aspirational, to the Foreign Service.

  5. I never really hold back unless its a security issue. There have been a few people who have come up to my husband at work and said "hey, I was reading another blog and happened to fall onto yours." Kinda funny, kinda weird. He makes sure to tell everyone that I write it, not him....

  6. I recently had someone say, "Hey, I know you, you're For Lack of Tacos! I read your blog. It was really helpful for us before we came to post." that kind of thing makes me feel good. Then, I had someone ask for the web address and then never say anything - perhaps she didn't read it, perhaps she hated it, perhaps she wants to remain quiet and read below the radar - I'll never know. I have a personal family blog that's password protected and I'm more candid there - I post photos of us, our kids and talk more openly about things in our life. I kept it long before I started FLT and have found having the two really nice. It helps to compartmentalize things a bit. And when I'm lazy I just link from it to FLT.

  7. I had a blog long before my connection to State and none of the people who read that are really interested in State Department, and I don't really want to have two blogs, so I just don't talk about it. I have generally avoided talking about my own work as well. (I learned that lesson from a blog post I put up as an intern - it didn't actually get me in trouble, but someone pointed out that if anyone at the place I was working saw it, it could look unprofessional.) But, I figure most people don't really want to hear about my work anyway, and most people in State aren't actually interested in gripes about the management/GSO/CLO/whoever - we've all got them, there's very little that's new, and I can vent somewhere else. I think giving myself these parameters has actually helped me write interesting, informative blog posts instead of just griping all the time, and when I do gripe, I try to keep things as anonymous as possible, or else I put a security lock on my blog.

  8. When I write, I imagine my audience to be my mom and a few friends from college. It still amazes me (and feeds my ego, to be honest) that other people read what I write!