Being Truthful And Open Without Telling It All

I’ve been blogging for 12 years now, almost 10 on this blog. Truth be told though, I’ve been writing online for more than 20 years.

Handmade paper album
Borislav Dimitrov via Compfight

I started back in 1996 on a site called My Dear Diary. You could use it for journaling or “diary-ing” (not a real word lol) and write pretty much anything. You got to decide what went public and what didn’t, and you didn’t have to use your real name. Since I’d been journaling since high school I thought it was the coolest place to be.

Until it went away; sigh… then I started writing on a site whose name I can’t remember, then it shut down and I went to another site; then it also shut down. The last site I tried was around the time I’d created my first blog, before creating this one, but it just wasn’t the same anymore.

After the diary site I decided I didn’t want to put any of my personal information online anymore because I learned that others could break into the sites and learn who and where I was. I learned it because I did it a couple of times… accidentally of course… (cough)… Instead, I started sharing my opinion on things like politics, religion, and a lot of other things that either irked or elated me. It was a great way to get things off my chest, and it was a thrill to see that most of the people reading what I had to write agreed with me.

Of course you never get full agreement from everyone, and a few people not only disagreed with me but went further than I’d have ever thought a person would go online. This was before today’s internet where people say a lot of vile things without a second thought… when I still thought there was mainly goodness in the world (I’m a bit more cynical these days…).

A few of those people are the ones I “accidentally” found more information on (cough; gotta do something about this…) and contacted them on the sly… instead of outing them in public. Strangely enough, the people I contacted not only never commented on my posts again, but all of them left… or maybe just changed their hidden names while leaving me alone.

When I started blogging, I decided on a couple of changes in my overall approach.


Me & Jameson

The first is that, even when I was writing about something that angered me, I was going to temper my language to try to get my point across without inflaming anyone. I did that because I was going to hold people commenting to a standard that I felt would be hypocritical if I didn’t follow it myself.

The second is I was going to tell the truth as I saw it and be as open about things that I did wrong as much as the things I did right… but I wasn’t going to tell people everything about myself or my life.

An example of this type of thing was a short article I wrote in 2012 titled 100 Things About Me, which includes a link to the 100 things I listed about my life at the time. The very first thing I mentioned in the list is that my middle and last name were made up by my grandfather when he ran away from home at age 13.

I never said what his full name was, and I didn’t divulge the middle name. Very few people know my actual first name and those that do spell it wrong. You’d need to know my first name before you’d even have a chance to find the middle name, and almost no one is going to want to go through all that grief just to find out (though someone might now lol).

As I said, I’ve been writing this blog for almost 10 years; I’ve been married 20. Out of 20 years I’ve only mentioned my wife’s name 6 times, and now I don’t have any posts live with her name in them. She’s social media shy, which is funny because offline she’s everyone’s friend. I never mention her name on social media, so the only time people learn her name is through other people who mention it. Luckily for her they also all spell it wrong (it’s a black people thing, not spelling names the way people think they should be spelled lol) so she’s hard to find online… and that makes her happy. 🙂

Years ago I wrote a post titled Social Media And Your Familial Obligations where I talked about the responsibility all of us have in protecting our family and their rights of anonymity when it’s requested. Whenever I post a picture of a relative online the first time I always let them tag themselves into the picture before I’ll do it in later pictures. I know a couple of my cousins are a big social media shy, even if they’re online, so I like to test the waters first to see how they’ll react; it seems to be the courteous thing to do.

I’m going into all these things about myself to get to this educational point; you can be open about things that your life is about and things in your life without giving it all away. That might sound like a contradiction but it’s not; it’s the smart thing to do.

First, you never know who might be looking for you or someone you know. If they have any real skills all they’ll need is a nugget somewhere and they’ll probably figure out the rest.

College Mitch
college freshman

Second, you never know when someone might think about using something you’ve said, shared or written about against you. Most people probably don’t remember the name Amy Palumbo, a beauty queen from New Jersey in 2007 who almost lost her crown because “a friend” copied a picture from her Facebook page, that she only shared with “close friends”, decided to copy some pictures and send them to the press. That same type of thing still happens because people trust their “friends” without actually being great friends with those same people. The only person you can truly trust in life is yourself (some of you are thinking you can trust your parents but think about it; how many of you have had your parents tell an embarrassing story about you when you were younger lol).

Third, when you want to share an opinion and decide you don’t want to choose your words carefully (aka, be politically correct, which some people think is a bad idea until they get in trouble…) you never know how your thoughts are going to be taken (and misinterpreted, intentionally or not) and spread out to the masses showing how bad a person you are.

No one likes fake, no matter whether it’s in a blog, an article, Twitter, Facebook, or in real life. That’s why I always tell people to write honestly and be open about things, such as I was when I talked about my loss of focus due to years of being diabetic. In that article I gave a lot of information about myself as I talked about diabetes and health, but there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t mention because… it’s no one’s business. That was a post where I was trying to be helpful long term; you can’t help anyone if you’re not open, but you only hurt yourself if you tell everything.

There’s always a fine balance between truth and too much truth. As an example, I could say my wife and I have never had kids and leave it at that instead of saying my wife and I tried to have kids but she had 3 miscarriages (that didn’t happen; it’s just an example). If it was true, the 2nd part could hurt my wife and embarrass her if any of her friends read it but didn’t know about it previously (reiterating that this isn’t true! lol). You understand what I’m saying, right? Right?!?!?

Great! Now I can end with this video I did going into a bit more detail on that 100 Things list; enjoy!

5 Things About Me Out Of 100
https://youtu.be/BRRy7s–FRc

 

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20 comments on “Being Truthful And Open Without Telling It All

  • Ha-ha. I bet one of those sites was WritingUp (John Jonas and the AdSense sharing scheme that caught on in 2005-2007). That’s where I met you and then we both followed the collapse of WritingUp by going to Ryze.com.

    It has been a long, rambling journey. You still have a lot to say, though! Keep writing!

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Social TouchstoneMy Profile

    Reply
    • LOL! I always forget about WritingUp; I wonder why… I actually enjoyed Ryze for a while until the owner basically disappeared; sigh… Yeah, I always have more to say; I’m still waiting for it to either make me rich or get me in trouble lol

      Reply
  • Rahul Bedi says:

    People always wanted to see the true picture of everything. The one who deliberately tried to create a fancy picture is the one who fails in everything they do.
    I actually enjoyed the read.
    Thanks Mitch for sharing it

    Reply
    • Thanks Rahul. I’ve read lots of stuff over the years where I knew the writer was lying or at least stretching the truth. I still see things like that but these days I know I don’t have to finish reading it; makes life go easier.

      Reply
  • Mitch,
    I can’t believe you have been writing online for that long. So many have given up after just one year.
    I’m like that too on giving out too much personal information online. I don’t mention my husband often either or my kids.
    The same for Facebook, I like to know people don’t mind their picture being out there first.
    I guess we are getting a little old Mitch.
    I think the truth always comes out somehow, someday so best to just be truthful. Less to forget too!
    Have a great 4th of July Mitch.
    Lisa Sicard recently posted…How to write a blog post that your readers will LOVE to read?My Profile

    Reply
    • Yeah, we’re getting older Lisa, but luckily it doesn’t mean we’re losing ours minds or our sense of right and wrong. Sometimes I reflect on all the writing I’ve done in my life and I either get impressed with myself or want to slap myself for wasting all that time! lol I hope I keep a nice balance between sharing and keeping things to myself, even when I use my own pictures. I think I’m good on that front, but one never knows do they?

      Reply
  • I started to blog on my own domain nine years and some days ago. Before that I too wrote on a group blog which was an unsatisfactory experience though I met some delightful bloggers there. That blog still exists and is doing quite well financially having monetised it very successfully.

    To the best of my recollection, I have not ever written anything but the truth. I may not have written at all about some things but never sugar quoted unpleasant truths.

    Your blog, this one has fascinated me and I have regularly been reading all your posts and have also commented where I can. I like what you write and admire your persistence.
    Rummuser recently posted…Polite And Quick.My Profile

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    • Thanks Rummuser; I do the same with your blog. I’ve learned lots about you over the years, from having your dad living with you to your relationship with your wife, kids and I believe nephews here and there. In a country as large as yours, sharing only first names would make it hard to track any of them, but I’m sure none of them have done anything worth tracking them or you for. 🙂 If I can’t tell the truth or give my true opinion then what’s the point of writing?

      Reply
  • It’s an interesting puzzle. My particular blog is set up to be an emotionally authentic expression of my feelings. Still, there is a fine line between digging around to find my deepest feelings about things and exposing my family to the public and, sometimes, each other. I dance around that constantly and sometimes sit a round out because I don’t like the music that would be created by the notes available. (Did I take that too far?)

    Anyway, I find it much harder to sacrifice a good line in order to be authentic. And, my goal is authentic.

    I write in a totally different genre than you, but I always admire your ability to share bits of yourself in the bits of information your give to us.

    But about me. LOL! My original purpose was to let my family know who I really am if they want to know, and to make sure they know how much I love them. I have found in the meantime that other people need a little help expressing themselves now and then, too.

    Back to my blog. I made a decision at the beginning to not share my family names. I rarely use anyone’s name, in fact. However, I have given up the idea that I am not traceable to those who care. I just don’t want the casual reader to know that the son I am discussing or writing to happens to be …, who is in the public eye already. And, although I don’t really believe in family secrets, there are stories that are mine to tell and those that are not. So I either forgo writing the story or depersonalize it in some way – hoping to get my point across without “outing” those I love (or hate).

    I think I didn’t know you in 2012 and so perhaps I’ll go back and learn 100 things about you.
    Mother recently posted…Father’s Day is Here AgainMy Profile

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    • You’ve definitely done a good job of protecting the identity of your family members while still telling tales about your family. I’m not sure I made a conscious decision as much as remember the time we grew up in and my background as a military kid. It makes one think more about privacy than what most of today’s young people ever had to deal with.

      Of course, they never had to go through that stupid drill of getting under our desks at school to protect ourselves from bombs; think about that one when looking back in time lol

      Reply
  • I was going to mention Writing up but Mitchell beat me to it.

    It’s really amazing how most of those site died out over time. While the community aspect of those sites were pretty good nothing really beats having your own blog.

    I’ve also been blogging for some twelve years and luckily for me I’ve known you for nearly that long. 🙂
    Peter recently posted…AFL Round 16 2017 TipsMy Profile

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    • Pete, I think we were on one of those sites. I have Blogger Party in my mind but I think there were at least two others… though I’m not sure which order they went in. I can’t even remember the types of things you wrote about that back then; I certainly remember my gripes about life and politics lol

      Reply
  • Hi Mitch,

    First of all, congrats on writing online for 20 plus years. That’s amazing, I am sure that you’ve seen a lot of changes in the Internet.

    I have been writing online for a little while, with many different blogs. Like you, I don’t really feel comfortable sharing a bunch of personal things.

    I am amazed at how some people don’t mind sharing everything. I am a private person and don’t really feel comfortable sharing.

    I think it all comes down to the person. If they don’t mind sharing that’s cool. I know that most millennials don’t mind sharing everything in their personal life.

    Can’t wait to read your 100 things list. Thanks for sharing, have a great day 🙂

    Susan

    Reply
    • Thanks Susan; I hope the list of 100 didn’t bore you too much. lol It is amazing how much some people share online these days. I certainly share but I have my limits… which my wife greatly appreciates. 🙂 I grew up in a time where we “really” didn’t trust the Russians so we kept our mouths shut.

      Reply
  • Lucian Hodoboc says:

    I agree with you. It’s always advisable to not tag people in photos without asking for their consent in advance. It’s better to let them tag themselves if they want to. The issue of anonymity gets worse with YouTube vloggers who film themselves on the streets or in stores, capture random strangers on camera and upload the videos to their channels without blurring their faces.

    Reply
    • Lucian, I don’t even know how to blur out other people’s images so that would be me, though not on purpose. At least in those circumstances it’s legal because there’s no presumption of privacy out in the open (in a store or elsewhere the laws are kind of murky). Still, it’s just an important (if not more) to keep a bit of ourselves private because if we share something with a person in it we don’t know, they’re still going to be anonymous whereas we’re not or our family members aren’t since it’ll come from our accounts.

      Reply
  • People become so obsessed with the details that they miss out on great content. Knowing everything isn’t everything!!

    Reply
    • I don’t always have that feeling but there are times when people say things where I’m thinking “that’s too much information”. When it starts involving others and those folks are basically innocent then that’s when I think they need to step it back a bit.

      Reply

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