I was wandering the CBC website, as is my wont most mornings, when I happened upon Robyn Holukoff's Viewpoint article entitled "Bloggers must be careful what they write". It got me thinking once again about the potential hazards of putting thought into type and broadcasting it to millions of unsuspecting strangers.
Every once in a while you read about someone like Heather Armstrong, who blogged herself out of a job because her employer read her less-than-positive remarks about her work environment. (Incidentally, she has also blogged herself back into a job, as her writing and blog advertising now make enough money to support her family. But blog ads are another story, hmm?) There are dozens of others who, through indiscretion, have lost the ability to feed themselves. Whenever I run across such a situation, it always gives me cause to stop and think.
No amount of anonymity can protect you from someone finding out who you really are. At some point, something will slip and some high-school classmate will recognise something you've said and will just happen to be married to the cousin of the CEO of the company that you work for. Things get around. That's precisely why blogging is so popular – the Internet is a vast and busy place. It's also what makes it dangerous,as you really have little idea of who exactly is reading what you write.
My husband is, as I have mentioned before, a lawyer. In his blog you will find absolutely no mention of his work. In my writings, I have deliberately avoided all and any mention of any feelings he might have about his employment, employers, career, salary, benefits or whathaveyou. Having seen enough people get burned, we decided to eschew the topic of his employment entirely, on the off chance that a casual, innocuous remark about "having a long day" might be misconstrued as employee discontent.
Believe me, you can be fired for even being unhappy with your employer. In fact, you can be fired for more or less anything. Wrongful dismissal also doesn't usually cover people who launch careless insults over the 'Net.
The veil of anonymity behind which we hide on the Internet is a thin one and one that's all too easily swept aside. Sure, use a pseudonym if it helps you to write less self-consciously, but don't rely on it. I guess what I'm saying is that David Potts, as quoted by Holukoff has it right when he says, "Write as though you're writing for the newspaper." (In the sense of your writing being public that is.) I'll take it one step further; write as though your mother is reading. I know mine is….