Monday, 13 April 2009

The ethics of blogging

My parents are rather conservative, pedantic. My husband's parents even more so, with religion thrown in. My husband, too (his needle inching further up over the 'middling' meter as the years go by. He was wackier when we met). Myself, on the other hand, I'm made like one of those old-fashioned ice-cream tubs: half plain traditional old vanilla, half some shocking pink or lurid brown. An old italian boyfriend nicknamed me "Pazza" (Mad/crazy woman). My mother says: "You're certainly unique"...

In another life, I could throw off my clothes, pole dance, throw paint against white walls and call it art, spy for my country (or perhaps not, who knows). In this life, I prefer to channel my "creative" side to good effect (I hope- with a pinch of opportunism and ambition thrown in, admittedly, at times). Not that I haven't had my day of blagging into launch parties in the company of arty Gay friends or spent a drunken weekend texting a crush so many times with off-the-cuff-come-ons that I autodistructed a budding relationship. Thrown a crystal china set. Had an affair with a married man plenty older (am I now kidding you or not?), sky-dived to cure my vertigo, forged an international rail ticket (and travelled across three countries with it), been hauled up before the powers-that-be at a "BIG" firm and accused of defamation...

Ahhh, the latter. I did a favour for a friend and 'helped' a journalist to shore up her numbers on a (supposedly...) tick-the-box questionnaire for a woman's rag weekend supp. I ended up with a big(-gish) photo in the middle pages of a major tabloid (pic not reduced to a postage stamp as promised) and a whole set of columns, half an article, to myself. Subject: "Why Women With A High I.Q. Can't Find A Man!" (...Today We Interview Two Foxy Vixens With, Yes, A Brain!...or some garbage to that effect). My (vital) statistics were mentioned (how had I ever thought that bra and dress sizes were kosher questions?), the number of languages I speak, and that a former boyfriend had been abusive out of jealousy (exaggeration, though he did resent women having a mind of our own).

Anyway. Shamed, named and allowed to keep my job - just. But made a laughing stock. "Unprofessional". I huddled, crying, at home for weeks as a boyfriend deserted me and colleagues sneered: "Ha ha brain bigger than her boobs or the other way round?" (I was too green to call sexual harrassment, as you might, nowadays. That was many, many years ago and I was fresh out of Uni). Reading about Catherine Sanderson, the 'French Bridget Jones', sacked only 3 or so years ago for a similar breach, I see things haven't changed much. Though she did win her tribunal for unfair dismissal!

My 70+ mother, with whom I am staying, views my blog with suspicion. She's very pixel-savvy (studied programming a couple of years ago, yay, patron saint of intellectual stimulation!) but still appears to expect slugs, bugs and slime to emanate from the screen (or the literary equivalent of them). "Why am I not your target audience?" she asked, when I suggested as such. "So it's all horrible things about me you're writing, then?" (Mum. I'm 40 soon. Christ.)

I've got free access to use her computer but I know she still thinks there's something distateful about her own daughter writing a blog.

So, I ask: is it really a "breach of trust" to document feeling, thoughts, beliefs? To sketch out friends and acquaintances, everyday details? If I believed so I wouldn't be here now. But there are areas where I draw the line (a nice red one!): I also blog a novel in diarised form (there's a prize for first guesses) where the wicked husband is not, I repeat, NOT, my current husband (sorry folks!!). Personally, I wouldn't risk a marriage, a relationship, to toss sordid details over the ether to strangers (but having said that, he DID exist. As does/did most of it. They do say: "you write what you know").

You write what you know. Really, that's my conclusion. Nothing wrong with it, in blogger format or dead trees or whatever. Personally, I don't want to hurt anyone currently dear to me in the process. Other than plain vanilla. Life's too short.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a question of separation perception - where does my life begin and end when it intersects with yours. I'm part of the school that thinks if it's my perspective, it's my experience and mine to tell. You may be involved, but are not the protagonist. I've grappled with this issue around blogging kid-related stuff. The position I take is the one arrived at above.