I've moved to JenFul.com

Not sure what to say

Have you ever been out at a restaurant with friends when you unexpectedly run into a coworker? Let’s make it even more awkward and say you run into your mom too. And let’s say the waiter is from a highly, specified Internet niche you belong to, like “people who knit Smurf clothes in the style of Revolutionary War heroes.” Suddenly, your head begins to explode as your try to draw a mental Venn diagram determining what shades of your personality you’ve shown to each group. Then you realize there is utterly no overlap between all the groups. You have absolutely no idea how to act. Should you be the amusing office serf? The dutiful daughter? Or should you start a conversation about the gender dynamics in Smurf society caused by Smurfette being the only female Smurf?

This is how I’ve felt lately about social media, be it my blog, Twitter or Facebook. I’ve got people from my work sphere, friend sphere, casual-acquaintance sphere, weight-loss sphere, headache sphere and lots of other spheres watching me in all these places. I’ll start composing a Tweet in my head and then I’ll remember a potential client might be reading, so I really shouldn’t say that. Then I’ll log into Facebook to post it, because I can limit my friends’ access, but then I’ll remember that Facebook privacy settings are more confusing then that Venn diagram I tried to draw in my head. So, it’s not really safe to post it there since the wrong person might see a part of my personality that it’s best they don’t see. I’ll think about writing a blog entry about it, but then I start anticipating all the comments the post might get and the numerous ways people might misunderstand what I say, so I don’t even bother. Which leads me to wonder, where can I share all this stuff I want to say? My best answer—a password-protected Word file. That or a padlocked diary.

When I first started blogging, my site was pseudo-anonymous, which was rather freeing. I felt like I could write anything at all and share ideas and feelings I never shared anywhere else. I felt like my blog was a place where I was understood. Now…I feel like my blog is a place where I’m misunderstood. I don’t feel like I can share much at all. What used to feel like freedom feels more like a cage, one that I built myself. One of the appeals of the Internet is that it allows people to share lots of information, but what I’ve found is that I don’t necessarily want to share all my information. Once, way back when, the Internet seemed to be a magical fairyland where we could all be our authentic selves, unhindered by race or gender. But I’ve come to realize the Internet is just like any other place, and the old social conventions that are at play in the real world rule the cyberworld too.

I’m not blaming anyone for this and it’s not my intent to complain about it either. It is what it is. (Tautology, for the win!) I’ve certainly benefited in many ways from my social media connections, and even though there is overlap, there are some things I can still say to everyone. I just think our online social networks have become as complex as our offline social networks. They’re intermingled, actually. So, just like I wouldn’t tell my old coworkers intimate details about my menstrual cramps, I have to remind myself not to share too much in certain online spheres either. Except, all my online spheres seem to have blended into one, big, lopsided ball, and I don’t feel like I can share much that is personal and overwhelmingly “me,” since the wrong person might see it. I’m left to rather bland observations or mundane comments. I’m left to second-guessing and overthinking. I’m left to wonder if it’s even worth it to post an entry like this, which will probably be misunderstood in some way I haven’t even anticipated yet.

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68 Comments

Carbzilla • May 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

I totally know what your saying. I have that issue a bit even in my own obscurity. It started when I would run into FB “friends,” and it would quickly become clear that I had hidden them because they’d refer to all this stuff they were assuming I knew (like Hey, they’d lost their job – didn’t I read that week’s worth of ranting?). Somehow I would play it off because it’s understandably hard to keep up on everything, right?

Then when I went back to school I didn’t want to mention that in certain circles, and I wasn’t even sure if co-workers had found my blog. Twitter turned out to be the only safe-haven UNTIL I applied for a Social Media job and then potential employers started following me.

I think eventually there’s nowhere to hide and you just gotta break out the Hello Kitty journal.

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Jen • May 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

That’s why my blog is pseudo-anonymous. On Facebook and Twitter, I am my regular self but edit out a lot of the silly things I might say if no one knew who I was. I wonder if there’s a slightly edited version of you that could still be witty and insightful and funny without being professionally damaging. You did build your business from your blog, so I am not sure your clients would be all that surprised or upset if you started sharing a little more of the real you.

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PastaQueen • May 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

I can see the appeal of maintaining other, more private sites and the like, but when you start bringing out anonymous blogs or password protected LiveJournals, I start to wonder if it gets more complicated than it’s worth. How many versions of Jennette can I reasonably keep track of?

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Curvy Jones • May 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

Yeah. I have been going through this a lot. Like, I blog to be real but I can’t be real because people I know and don’t know and absolute strangers all read my blog. My Facebook is full of friends and acquaintance and my twitter is just….

This whole exercise of blogging/writing to get things out that I need to get out have isolated me even more than before.

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Bullwinkle • May 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

And when you figure this out – please please please blog it. (I refuse to do Facebook (privacy issues) and fear I’ll miss it in Twitter.)

Thanks!

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Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy • May 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

I just started my own blog recently, and I know what you mean. I don’t even have a stable readership built yet, but it’s scary putting yourself out there knowing your parents, your friends, or your co-workers might read it. I struggle with how much to put out there because the most popular blogs are those that DO put it all out there. But maybe they can do that since they are also typically blogging for their full-time job? It’s a hard balance, and I can’t even imagine dealing with your internet “fame”.

As for Facebook, I’ve considered getting rid of all my acquaintances and just having my “real” friends and family. But even that causes drama. It’s hard!

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Dawn • May 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

I’m always worried about my little worlds colliding (TOPS, family, co-workers, blog, etc) but I really need to just be myself and talk about what I want to. I can’t let what other people think bother me. Of course it still does and one little off comment can make me second guess myself for days but I’m still hoping with time I will start to not give a crap lol. It seemed to me you’ve always just told people what you think so why stop now I say. Just be you where ever the heck you want to be *smile*.

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shauna/dg • May 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

@PastaQueen – totally agree with you on this one! the last thing you need is another persona to maintain!

all this stuff makes my brain hurt! the urge to express is there but mentally pre-empting the reactions of a wide range of people is exhausting :)

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Brandi • May 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Just be you, that’s what drew so many people here anyway. Not just your comedy, but your honesty. Besides, if people don’t like you for who you really authentically are … then what’s the point anyway? Sure you might shock a few people, and sure you might turn a few people away. Some people just “can’t handle the truth” … but you shouldn’t have to be twenty different people in order to satisfy the masses. That’s not fair to who you are.

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Lyn • May 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Oh man, I live in this fear. My blog is ABSOLUTELY anonymous, no face, no name, no city. I don’t share my kids names or anything lest someone ‘recognise’ me. It is the ONLY way I have been able to blog completely transparently.

But I think sometimes how little it would take for it to become public. And how horrified/mortified I’d be if my coworkers, my neighbors, my relatives, my KIDS for crying out loud, ever read the stuff I have written. I mean, good lord! Some of my stuff is super candid!

So yeah. Maybe you can create a new social media that solves this issue. That would be my vote, since I can’t figure it out myself…

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RNegade • May 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

This is why I don’t blog, twitter, etc.

I prefer writing in a paper journal with teeny tiny script that requires a microscope to read.

My writing looks like this:

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Amy • May 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I have two separate blogs. I have the one that is linked to my name here, and I have a friends-locked, filtered LiveJournal. Only three of my real life friends have access to my LJ, where I pretty much let it all hang out, and there are filters for when I don’t want my real-life friends to know things about me.

It’s complicated, but it helps me feel more at ease at to what parts of myself are being broadcast. I don’t link either of my blogs to my Twitter (which is locked) or my Facebook (which is super filtered and private and unsearchable–thus far–and etc.)

You should do whatever makes you most comfortable. Being a published author now and somewhat famous in the blogosphere, I can see where you might feel uncomfortable airing all of your business for the world to see.

I appreciate your blogs, especially your sense of humor and honesty that comes out, but I understand the need for boundaries. It gets weird when you meet people you’ve never met before, and they ask you about your family because you’ve written about them in your blog.

I became LJ friends with a guy who went to my high school but whom I never met when we were in high school, and we talked via MSN and Yahoo, but I figured we probably wouldn’t ever meet in person. When my grandmother died, he came to the funeral!! Totally freaked me out at the time, but, oddly enough, he became one of my best friends. It is still weird though to have people who don’t know you in real life know so much about you though.

Okay, enough rambling from me. Best of luck to you deciding how to go forth with your blogging!

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scone • May 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I sometimes worry about toxic boyfriends from 1982 finding me, or crazy relatives. The rule I’ve made for myself is “never write anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want read aloud in a courtroom full of reporters.” Not that I think I’ll ever be that famous, but it’s a weird world, you never know what’s going to happen to you.

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chris • May 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

wow– I have been thinking for the past few months that the tone of your blog has changed. The change makes sense when I read this post.

I could be wrong, but I feel as though you started blogging when you were still emotionally growing up– I have recently felt as though I’m going through the same experience, finishing my undergrad and applying to grad schools. as we become the people we are meant to be, we change and have to leave some behaviors and beliefs behind. for me it’s a painful process sometimes.

I have so much admiration for you as a woman who is supporting herself, making career decisions and life decisions so wisely and with so much care– it’s a big inspiration to me. I’m grateful for what you do share.

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Sara • May 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

whatever you do, don’t retreat into a cave with a paper journal. Or worse, go into a password protected cave. Your blog is fun and interesting… it resonates with your readers, as annoying as we may be at times! :-)

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SG • May 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

i cant even imagine what that must feel like. all i can say is that i’ve read your blog for years and i am constantly amazed that (by my standards at least) you always have something interesting to say. you are unique and have a personality that jumps off the screen. i guess that’s because you’re a great writer? it boggles my mind. that you always have something interesting to say!

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Kara • May 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I’ve experienced similar feelings lately. I started a very personal blog for my friends and family from afar to keep up with me and my family. Lately, I’ve realized that a coworker\friend told other coworkers about the blog site. It made me realize that really anyone can read anything about me. I’m not all that private a person, but I feel like strangers can\will judge me about this information. I designed the information to be seen by people that love me and have my best interest at heart…not people that could judge me by posting about my life.

It’s disappointing because, though not really a writer, I was enjoying having an outlet to write through blogging. I guess I never realized that writing could be so honest\raw\revealing and you can’t control the people that read it (outside the hello kitty locked diary approach). Makes me have a lot more respect for bloggers\authors\etc. Now I’m left with the dilemma of being free and open and letting go of the consequences of that or feeling restricted with the information and openness I offer. Hmmm…I think you’ve inspired me to write a post sharing my thoughts on this.

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Caro • May 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I totally feel your pain. It used to be that my biggest social media site was livejournal and privacy there was a lot more clear than facebook. But now that I have facebook I have family members, co-workers, clients, people from high school, college and grad school. And the one time I tried to trim back my list a bit, well, the high school classmates had high school like “why don’t you like me” fits. So I post about my kids and my life in the most general terms. I have not been able to come up with a solution that is more work than it is worth.

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Deanna - The Unnatural Mother • May 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Wow , great post! I agree, I do feel that FB for me is the bigger culprit. Don’t ever second guess yourself, I have faith that you’ll figure out what works best for you, and I hope you continue letting it hang out here, cause I love reading your shiz!

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Danielle • May 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Great post – got me thinking about Facebook. Should I quit? Sometimes I like it, other times, it can annoying.

One good FB day recently, a friend posted this link which sums it up nicely: What if facebook was real?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrlSkU0TFLs

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Debbi Does Dinner Healthy • May 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I am fairly new to the blogging world, at least the part about me HAVING a blog. I have chose not to post too many personal things. For some people, a blog is all about being personal and it’s like their public diary. While I find some interesting to read, I don’t chose to do this. I also don’t choose to do Twitter or Facebook. I guess I don’t get the whole point of needing to let everyone know every random thought in my head. I prefer to be with people and have real conversations. I am not judging anyone who does differently. That is their choice but I do think that if you have made the choice, then you kinda have to just lie in the bed you’ve created or choose differently. That isn’t supposed to sound nasty or mean or judgemental. Your situation is a bit different as your business depends on your communicating with these mediums. I read your blog because I find many things very thought provoking and interesting, other times I just get a much needed laugh.

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Lily Fluffbottom • May 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I worry about things like that as well. I often stop in the middle of a tweet, or have my face book on lock down, plus now, my own blog to write about my weight loss journey in that I don’t want anyone from my twitter or facebook to see.

I also have a live journal that was created years ago for the sole purpose of saying whatever I wanted to say, no holding back, no pretense. I am brutally honest, I talk about things there that I can’t talk about anywhere else. Its the place I go to be exactly who I am, in all space and time. For a really long time, the only thing I didn’t mention on my livejournal, was my name.

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Quanny • May 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Wow, what an interesting post. This has really made me think. And de-lurk for the first time.
I’d love to have something useful to say, but the only thing I can come up with is an anonymous twitter, or a paper diary which have already been suggested. It would be a shame if your blog became self-censored, because your openness and honesty is what makes it so readable, but on the other hand, I can understand how hard it must be to have so many spheres overlap.
Within the blogosphere you are a bit of a celeb, and there are parallels with celebrity inthe real world. At least you don’t have to worry about being papped mid-sneeze and seeing the evidence in every tabloid the following week I suppose. That doesn’t really help you much though.
This post comes at an interesting time for me in real life. On Monday I am going to the theatre with a co-worker, a friend from my old work, a school friend and my Mum. With the exception of the school friend and my Mum, who last met about 25 years ago, none of them have met. Since I set it up I’ve been worried about how different I am in those different spheres – how will I know who to be on Monday?
I am trying to calm myself down by thinking that perhaps I am not so different with different people as I think. While I hope that’s true, I know there are things I’ve discussed with some of them that I would never broach with others, some I am more free to express opinions with than others. If they had a conversation without me there, would they recognise the person the others were talking about?
Sorry – way too long for a comment. I guess I should be debating this on my own blog. Which, by the way, I would *hate* to be found by anyone I know in the real world.
Take care.

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Laura Pugh • May 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

The whole internet relationship thing amazes me. I have 112 friends on FB, 61 blog followers and 140-something fans of my fan page. But tonight, if I decided to hand the kids over to my husband and go out on the town, it would be difficult for me to find even one person who could/would join me.

I really like your blog and appreciate your honesty. However, I know it’s not my “right” to get to hear what’s on your mind. I’ll take whatever you decide you want to share.

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Amy • May 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I understand this. I am constatly filtering my Facebook status updates because I don’t want to offend/share too much/annoy/shock anyone that I am friends with. Luckily my blog is free from people I know and I was actually debating today whether to tell people that I know about it but this post has convinced me to keep it the way it is.

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Ella • May 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Yep, this is exactly what’s stopped me from blogging. I enjoy other people’s blogs so much (especially yours), and I love the idea of putting something out there that others might enjoy, but then I try to think of what I’m comfortable posting online, and I come up with pretty much nothing. I’m on Facebook, but never post comments because even that feels too public, so I just read “friends” comments, meaning that I know quite a bit about the lives of people that I haven’t actually had any personal communication with for years, which feels kind of creepy and voyeuristic.

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Rachel • May 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

I totally understand where you’re coming from. I am constantly second guess my facebook status and most time just end up not posting anything. I hate that I can’t be myself but my mom is on facebook, my husband’s family reads my blog to see the kids, and my oldest dad has access to both of those as well so I don’t feel like there is anywhere I can be myself. So I did what you’re thinking about…a password protected file on my laptop. I don’t write in it every day or even every month but just when I feel like things are piling up and I need a safe place to vent. I hope you don’t disappear completely! I love your blog and so far I haven’t been ‘offended’ by anything. It’s who you are and if others are offended they can stop following your blog. :) Hope you have a good day.

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Jenny • May 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Hmm, very interesting. I’ve recently actually started meeting twitter friends and other friends from message boards and been pleasantly surprised at how well it went. I also found it easier to meet people I dont know this way since we already have something to talk about.

I take it as a reminder to make sure to try to be truly myself always, then no-one will be shocked that I’m not the version they know…

I recently joined a new forum and got into quite a heated argument with someone by unintentionally offending someone with a comment that they took personally and it was a good reminder that I need to be careful what I say online, even if I think it is a closed forum.

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Kyle • May 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Feel free to vent about this in Nashville. I feel you.

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Kara • May 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Oh dear Lord I can so totally relate to this post. I own my own business – one that is so based on building personal and friendly relationships with my clients. So I blog for them. Then I blog for myself at a food blog. Then I have a diet and weight loss forum and blog. Then I have a twitter account for each “persona” (cause quite honestly my clients don’t care what I ate for dinner and my food blogger friends don’t care about the piles of editing I’m doing and neither of them care about the fact that I lost 2 lbs last week). Then I have FB account that’s my personal account … but clients and blogger friends find me there. Then I have different pages on FB for each of my business/blog venture.

Then … then .. then.

So the whole Venn diagram analogy is so apt. I have to stop and think every time I post/tweet something how appropriate it is for the “other” parts of my life.

Gah. It’s enough to make you insane.

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Debby • May 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I don’t have multiple versions of me all over the Internet or in my life at all. As a lesbian woman, I spent way too many years being forced to hide myself and I won’t do that again. Also, my sister died in October 2007 and my mom died 10 months later in August 2008. I learned then the hard way that life is way too short to spend any time at all worrying about what people think and trying to be all things to all people. I put myself, the real and only me, out there and folks can respond to that as they will. Jennette, you are so cool. Don’t waste time and energy censoring yourself. Just be your true, authentic self and let the chips fall where they may. You’ll be a lot happier.

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BridgetJones • May 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I can’t believe you said that!!!!

No, really, I’m only teasing because you thought you might be misunderstood. I totally agree — I feel very inhibited posting online, for all those reasons you mentioned.

Still, I hope you find the reason to say what you feel because your observations — when they are down to the nitty gritty — are really great, and I’m a huge fan. Can’t wait to read your new book.

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anji • May 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Oi, I’ve been there, done that. Back in 1998, my dad found my blog. “Have 54 000 people really read it?” Um. Yea. Oops. Delete.

Then, facebook. I have de-activated my account this past week because of people getting in a tizzy about what I write. So, essentially, I’ve told them to screw off… if you don’t like what I write, then you have no rights to be nosying around my profile.

So, I have my two webpages now. One is password protected (and I barely write in there anymore anyways) and the other is “open”. I watch what I write there for sure!

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Debbi • May 21, 2010 at 9:43 pm

All I can say is, Amen! Been there, started a second blog and didn’t let certain members of one of my spheres know about it. It’s worked out well so far.

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Phebe • May 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I understand completely. I am a preacher’s wife, and I totally feel stifled in 95% of the situations in which I find myself, even the ones at actual church services. I really really hate the way my life has become. I encourage you to find out your solution. Could it be that you just forget the whole blogging or tweeting or whatever it is that’s causing the crisis, and I realize it’s beyond just what you write on the Internet? Just surround yourself, in your new environs, with people who really know and accept you, and be yourself around them, and forget the trying to accommodate all the rest of us out here who might have preconceptions, misunderstandings, or false expectations, or anything else, about you? Just put it on hold for a while. It’s really not worth the stress, and much as we do enjoy your observations and such. Concentrate on developing your new, real relationships where you’re going, and keep the old, real relationships that mean something to you, from where you’ve been.

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Deb • May 21, 2010 at 11:33 pm

I don’t think anyone can blame you for wanting some privacy. That said, I truly would miss your blog. I was looking forward to hearing your new adventures in moving to N. Carolina.

Whatever you decide to do, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and your book. I admire your accomplishments in weight loss, weight maintenance, starting your own business, and now setting out to start a live in a new city.

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Cheryl • May 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I am soooo with you on this one. I’ve really stepped back from my internet involvement in general because it is too hard trying to keep from slipping up.

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Carole • May 22, 2010 at 12:04 am

A local blogger here in DC was actually fired because of something she said in her blog. Apparently she’s getting a lawyer, but the problem is, she was fired by lawyers. Hell of a bind.

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The Merry • May 22, 2010 at 12:28 am

I remember in your book* when you wrote about the moment a family member mentioned to you that they’d read your blog. If that had happened to me, I’d probably have deleted every blog post and gone to hide in a cave for a couple decades.

*Note to fellow commenters: if you haven’t ready Jennette’s book, may I recommend it? Great plot, nice kung fu action sequences, steamy romantic scenes. Or at least an entertaining read.

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The Merry • May 22, 2010 at 12:31 am

p.s. Just in case you were wondering?
I was kidding about the great kung fu action sequences.

They were actually rubbish.

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weightlossguru • May 22, 2010 at 12:59 am

Your blog inspires people just look at how many comments you get time after time.

I can understand how you feel about privacy and I think we all want that from time to time but on the other hand sharing our journey in life, including how we think and feel is a wonderful thing to do with others. In fact it might sound a little corny but in life that’s all we can do…..share.

I have always like your blog because you are honest, real and funny.

Take care

Pete

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fd • May 22, 2010 at 4:57 am

I read this article on the guardian online yesterday. Your dilemma reminded me of it.

I can see how this would be difficult for you, I cant even commit to writing a blog for the same reason but you have so much out there already and your living is all mixed up in it. I struggle already with former employers and teachers being facebook friends and have to self-edit more and more. Have resorted to the old-fashioned thing of e-mailing friends or calling friends directly if I have an odd-ball thought that needs to be aired.

Also to say, that as a reader, I do appreciate how much you share already.

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Maris (In Good Taste) • May 22, 2010 at 10:59 am

I hear you, but to play devil’s advocate, what makes you think that strangers on the internet want to hear about your menstrual cramps any more than your coworkers do?

I think the internet/social networking sites are a great opportunity to provide a well-rounded microcosm of who you are. You’re at the keyboard, it’s (mostly) in your control what you post, so you are in charge of the perception anyone has of you on your social networking sites. Those who aren’t interested can hide, unfollow etc.

All of the different spheres: work, weightloss, headache, they are all part of YOU and even if people are seeing a different side of you than they come across in real life, I would try to embrace that and let it strengthen your relationships rather than try to hide it. Of course, you have to watch what you say, but I think that goes for any place/time and any portal, whether it be real life or online.

I’m not saying I don’t get anxious when a client friends me on Facebook :) but Just my two cents! I

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TJ • May 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

Yeah, I really agree with a lot of this. I know that I pretty much abandoned my Twitter because I usually had nothing useful to say with it that I willing to share with strangers. I have my facebook which is where most of my family and friends are. There are a few co-workers but not many. I do notice myself muzzling myself, to a degree anyway, on there because it is people that I work with and/ or family members. I will not rant when the wrong person can read it.
Even with my blogs, I have two at Live Journal. I have one that is mine, I am pretty open on that one and say pretty much whatever floats over my brain. The other one is for my thoughts regarding the writing I am doing. That one is private until I get a few more entries up then I will start going public. With that, it is for people that purely want to follow for info/ thoughts on writing and so that my personal circle doesn’t have to hear me going on non-stop about writing.
I guess what I am *trying* to get at is that I understand. With that being said, remember that you can write whatever you want since it’s yours!

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RG • May 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I think it’s a difficult balance even in real life, between letting it all hang out and being a repressed, insecure loon. I have trusted friends with a level of privacy which has come back to bite me, less due to revenge than a codependent need to fix me. But if a potential client misunderstands your blog and therefore doesn’t give you work – you probably got saved a major headache of a client. There might be stuff about you that’s not particularly interesting to me (smurfs, really?) but so I skip those entries, that’s part of being a grown-up. If a coworker were to talk about her menstrual cramps on her blog (I actually had a woman tell me this at work and I filtered it for the men, but it was a big whatev), it’s kind of my issue for reading it, isn’t it?

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adrienne • May 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

You may be out of Indiana, but you’re still (apparently) in my head.

I had a huge rush of these feelings a couple weeks ago when something really critical happened to a family member. The events were too raw and medical privacy interests prevented me from putting the actual details on my blog, so I turned to Facebook.

When I logged in, I realized other family members didn’t know and would start inundating the suffering family with unanswerable questions and numerous phone calls. Things were fragile, and I ended up writing nothing on Facebook.

Later I posted a sort of PSA on my blog about how smoking is especially dangerous for younger women and increases risk of stroke. It was the best I could do, but I was really disappointed that my “private” forum allowed no room to discuss it. The whole event convinced me that Facebook is simply a big black hole into which I throw time.

The eternal Easter egg hunt for important tidbits among all the cruft of the news feed and wall posts suddenly seemed to have little upside. I deleted my Facebook account earlier this week and feel a new lightness of being.

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MB • May 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

How many faces do we have to have for all the different people in our lives? I’ve been thinking of starting a new blog so I can be totally anoynmous and not have to worry about who is going to find it and what they may say or think. I think only the extremely brave person who is comfortable in their own skin and decisions to be completely open with the world and not give a second thought to what anyone may think.

I hope if you do go underground you will let some of us know how to find you. Your blog was one of the first I started reading and it wouldn’t be the same out here without Pasta Queen.

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Lurker • May 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I am old, and use social networking sites only to consume–and never to provide–information. So maybe I just don’t “get it” and you should ignore me, delete me, close comments, whatever. But, in case you’re still reading… I suggest you think about trying to integrate all the characters, be one, authentic Jennette, true to yourself and whomever is important to you in a face-to-face way, even if that means conducting your personal life offline (or in the most protected parts of facebook). I’d miss reading your blog, but it would be worth the price if it meant you got back in touch with your true self.

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Lurker • May 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm

p.s. Sorry if I’ve misunderstood you!

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Kat • May 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I used have the same predicament with social groups.

Then I (eventually) realised that what was causing the predicament was that my personality was being determined by what other people wanted of me.

Not fun. And tiring.

Now I make a concious effort to do what feels authentic.

And I have way more friends now than I ever did.
:-)

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Marshmallow • May 23, 2010 at 1:24 am

Jeanette, I am SO. FREAKING. GLAD you wrote this post, as I’ve been feeling exactly the same way too. There’s so much stuff I want to write about, but remains unexpressed since I can’t be certain that it won’t be misinterpreted or completely unambiguous, etc. It’s tiring, and I totally hear you on it.

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Melinda • May 23, 2010 at 8:23 am

I’ve been reading your blog for three years. I have noticed a change–I think I like the “firey” early entries better; they seem more honest. And I totally get why you can’t be “yourself” anymore online, I’m just missing the “old you” (if that makes ANY SENSE–and hopefully doesn’t make me sound like a creepy Smurf Stalker).

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Kate • May 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

I totallly understand. I do not like or want my worlds to collide. I like my freaksishly albeit neuortic compartmentalized life…..which is why I don’t have a face book or twitter account and as much as I would love a blog…..don’t have one. I have started many a blog and then freak out and let it die. I admire people who able to manage all of this. Me, nope….need and want my seperate worlds!

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Cynthia • May 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Boy, I think my little blog has all of 10 readers, maybe. And probably some are family members. I don’t know, I never look at the stats or what the readership actually is. It’s just my little outlet and accountability blog. I don’t always blog about weigh loss and I doubt most of my posts are even interesting at all. I’m no writer.

I’m on Twitter too, only I don’t tweet that much, and not much really personal stuff. But I totally get what you are saying. I finally gave way and joined Facebook and now I’m definitely feeling a bit “out there”, even though I think I’ve hidden myself well enough on Facebook for now that only family will find me at present. I’d kind of hoped not all the family would find me, actually! But that’s not how Facebook works. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing. I like seeing updates from my brothers and sisters, we are not always so good with email or phone calls. But there is certainly stuff that I’m not entirely comfortable about having my family read, like weigh-in posts. I got enough grief about my weight growing up, thank you! And then there is the religion bit… some of my family being “born again” while I am not religious at all.

Still, hubby reads it, and possibly some of his co-workers. So I really don’t know just WHO is going to end up reading what I write. Some days it worries me, some days I just feel like I am going to not care what anyone thinks. If writing the blog helps me, then that’s the point of it all.

So that’s what you have to ask yourself, is doing it, is being out there helping or hurting you? And if the answer isn’t that it is helping, then maybe it’s time for changes. I know that I do think about whatever I’m posting before I post. Sometimes stuff is just too personal and it’s better to just not post it. But it can be hard to figure where the best line is for me.

Maybe you just need to consolidate the various Jeanette’s a bit… be you and not worry so much about what people might think. Though I am far from famous, there are certainly versions of me. I don’t think one can prevent that anyhow, because folks will always take a different piece of you as *their* version. So you have to be the you that you are happy with and take it from there. That might mean blogging, tweeting, connecting or it might not.

I find that a lot of things I need to rant about simply go to trusted friends or the ever-patient hubby and not the blog.

Anyway, just be yourself and try not to worry too much over other people’s opinions. YOU know if you are a good person or not and what others think does not matter. Some will get offended and if so, well, you don’t need them. I love reading your blog, whether it’s funny, or ranting, or whatever.

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emi s. • May 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I have been reading this website for years, I think since 2006 or so. What initially drew me to it was your honesty and candor. I can tell that you’ve been holding back lately, and your blog is the poorer for it. It does feel like it’s less “you” and more like it could be written by anyone, and I find myself skipping over it in my reader rather than rushing to read every entry the second I see it.

I know this comment probably sounds harsh; I’m not saying it to be mean, but rather to offer hopefully-constructive criticism that the lack of “you” and and candor in your posts has a negative impact on your blog, at least for me. I can tell from this entry that you really struggle over this, and that you both want a place to be honest and express yourself, but don’t want those actually in your life to know inappropriate detail. I hope you are able to find a way to make that work for you – and I do think that making it work for you is 1000x more important than what I (or other readers) happen to think.

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Christie • May 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm

This is why I’m not such a big fan of FB. I like being able to stay in contact with people but I have high school friends who I haven’t talked to in years, co workers who I have to see every day in a professional manner, family members who are likely to post an embarrasing picture that said co workers will see, etc. Then eventually, I just feel like I can’t say ANYTHING on FB. I haven’t updated my status in forever but one of my last ones was “Do you ever wish you could delete some friends so you can say what you really think?” For a blogger/book writer/freelance worker I can imagine it must get really crazy. Good luck sorting it out.

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Michelle • May 23, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Yeah, screw them all. But please don’t stop blogging!

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Lauren • May 24, 2010 at 11:38 am

You’d hate to have a blog on Spark People. The most random and stupid people comment on my posts. I have received so much unsolicited advice on there. If I don’t like them, I delete them.

I finally moved all my posts to Word Press. That sucks that you’re feeling this way but your feelings are completely warranted.

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Shh • May 24, 2010 at 3:29 pm

(have not read previous responses… this is a direct response to the post)

Which is why I have stopped my one blog, and started another, anonymous, one. I wanted a place I could blog all my secrets, where people do not know me, and the ones that follow it don’t matter. Well, I mean, yes, in the large scheme of life they matter, but do their opinions of me? Not likely. They are not part of my “real life” so have no bearing on my whatsoever. I do not defend myself or my actions. I journal what I feel, what I need, what I want. It’s what I needed to do. I needed an outlet. I had blogged myself into a corner with my old one and it was no longer the safe journal I needed it to be. So I quit it and it was SO freeing!

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Jane • May 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I know exactly how you feel – I have a blog where I’m anonymous and I want to keep it that way.

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Ali • May 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Okay, seriously someone (you) should write a book on this whole issues! I think social mediums were designed to bring us all closer and bring better communication and while sometimes they do sometimes they make our lives more complicated and our relationships less deep and vulnerable!

Seriously, please write a book about all this! It would be so interesting to read! Start gathering interviews and horror stories of revealing the wrong thing on the wrong social medium! It would be funny and painful all at the same time!

Very insightful writing! Deep stuff!

~ Ali

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Sonya • May 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

The “real” you that started this blog is who so many of us came to know and love – to feel the need to censor that aspect of yourself is a travesty and I’m sorry, but I totally understand how you feel.

Easier said than done but one of my real good friends always reminds me of this Dr. Suess quote (at least I think it’s from him):

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

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Quix • May 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I know what you’re saying. I used to lament that my blog wasn’t very popular, but now I realize that I haven’t tried to do anything about it because it’s freeing to be able to kinda say personal stuff without really worrying about it. I refrain from anything specific about work because I know my employer wouldn’t like that. At all. Which is a shame because ooooh the stories I could tell…

However, I feel like my thoughts, emotions, things I do in my free time, and sporting conquests are all about ME and not my professional self, so I post away. I can see it would be different being a freelancer where someone could not hire you simply because they didn’t like that you had cats or something arbitrary, but being gainfully employed, I feel ok letting my freak flag fly about half mast. :)

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Blue • May 29, 2010 at 10:08 am

Smurfette is not the only female Smurf. :)

Sassette FTW!

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Emil • May 30, 2010 at 7:10 am

I stumbled upon your article late and by sheer chance, but it struck a chord so I felt I had to reply.

You were bang on about how facebook and other social networking sites hem us in. I actually quit facebook several years ago when I realised I didn’t like the path it was taking. I even tracked down a url that let me delete my account permanently instead of “deactivating” it. Of course, that didn’t make a difference, as I’m now tagged in any pictures that friends or acquaintances have posted. I am now in the uncomfortable position of having to rejoin facebook if I want to have any control as to how I am presented. It sucks not to have control over how the outside world sees oneself. The internet used to be an incredible place for anonymous self expression where anything goes. Instead, blogs are increasingly becoming superficial as people feel the need to present a facade to the online world, similiar to that in real life.

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Pam • August 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I totally understand. I am blogging right now at Sparkpeople. I am anonymous there, like you used to be here. But now that you’ve written a book, been on TV, etc. you are no longer anonymous. You have to be careful what you share and say. Very tough situation. But I also find myself becoming very depressed when I realize I am almost caught up to current time, and will have to be satisfied with reading a post from you once a week or so, instead of several every day. I am completely hooked on your blog, think you are a wonderful writer, and hope that even though you are somewhat constrained by your fame now, you will continue to blog, so that we addicts can get our “fix.”

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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