Earlier today -- a few hours ago, in fact -- I published a post here about confrontation, conversation, and a problem that I was having with a friend. I've deleted it because, upon reflection, I felt that it violated a promise that I made with that person not to air our dirty laundry online. When I wrote the post, I tried to avoid that, and focus on the bigger issues of confrontation in conversation, and on the potential loss of a close friend; but, really, I was bitching about him. I was taking our disagreement to a forum in which he isn't an equal participant. On a second look, I was embarassed at myself for being so childish and for violating that promise.
Usually, I'm pretty bloodthirsty when it comes to mining my life for stories. "My life, my stories," I say. "Get your own damn blog if you object, or don't act the fool." I use my pseudonymity to protect the innocent, which is not me.
My understanding of secrets and privacy has always been almost sociopathically absent. Private and public were always blurred in my life because, growing up, everything in our house seemed to be on display. I did not have a real sense of "private," although I did know about secrets. Secrets are different from privacy, and if you wanted them kept, you kept them. You didn't tell anyone because they would tell someone else; and, then, no more secret. It's kind of perverse. (Secrets themselves are another story for another time.)
Blogging has made me aware of privacy. Privacy still blurs into public, but I'm learning that, the more public I make myself -- pseudonym or not -- the more responsibility I have toward those who did not agree to the publicity. My brothers were probably my first awareness of this. I have told a lot of their stories here, and they will never know about this blog because of that. This is pretty unethical on my part in regard to them, and demonstrated a lot of disrespect toward their own privacy and secrets.
Fortunately, I learned from others before I violated any students' privacy. Our classroom may be a semi-public forum, but, after reading some comments on Tenured Radical's blog, I became aware that students consider it a semi-private forum. They have agreed to a certain measure of publicity among a group of peers, not the whole world. So, I respect their individual privacy and their specific behaviors in the classroom, although I do comment on them in general.
I still wonder about where the line is between what information is mine to post in whatever way I would like, and what information is more commonly held. I'm still working out how I can separate out my information from others', or how I can discuss my information around others'. How do I tell my life and my stories, without violating someone else's privacy? Is that even completely possible?<
In regard to this friend, I fucked up. I broke a promise for more petty reasons than I care to examine right now, and I violated his privacy. I crossed that line, and I'm beginning to understand where. So, I took the post down.