Today is my nine-year anniversary of blogging, and I’m here to splash cold water on the face of anyone thinking of taking it up: Blogging is publishing, and publishing is the public dissemination of content. In choosing to do it, you make yourself a public figure.
What do I mean by that? I mean that you will be known by people that you do not know. 54,000 people read this blog; I may know 50 of them. These people will say everything about you that can possibly be said, and the more popular you become the dirtier it will get. That’s the price of fame, even for a mere Internet microcelebrity. Imagine what it’s like being Tom Cruise, President Obama, or Muffy Aldrich.
Enjoy things in the dining room where you can partake of the web dishes you like. But don’t be in the kitchen — it’s going to be too hot for you.
“Richard” of WASP 101 had no business blogging. Not only was he incompetent in all of the qualities required to be a publisher, he stubbornly insisted on maintaining the blog despite an endless flow of nasty comments (only a fraction of which surely ever saw the light of day), an entire blog — WASP 101 Sucks — devoted to showing what a jerk and buffoon he was, and ridicule from all parts of the web.
These things should have been a wake-up call.
If “Richard” in fact turns out to be Representative Holloway, you can imagine other ways in which he could have played his love of clothing. Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco, is a notorious clotheshorse, but people accepted it as one of his personal quirks. A politician with a clothes fetish and who wanted to share it with the world could have made a lighthearted website about what he was wearing each day at the state capitol, taken a gentle ribbing for it, and ultimately probably been accepted for it. This is far different from donning the mask of anonymity in order to share not only a love of clothes, but lurid tales as well. In other words, things you’re not willing to say under your own name. Save it that kind of talk for beers with your buddies; don’t disseminate it publicly and think you’re absolved of responsibility simply because you choose to say it anonymously.
Given that scandal attaches itself to politicians like flies to shit, if you’ll excuse the simile, this was foolish arrogance on the part of the blog’s author, and if it is indeed Holloway, then he has no one to blame but himself for his terrible judgment. He had no business blogging not only because he had no talent for it, but because it was jaw-droppingly stupid for a man in public office to operate such a blog, with all the criticism it received, and think he would not be found out.
Blogging is no different than publishing pamphlets has been for the past 500 years. Only the medium is different. Opening a Blogspot account is a public act, and in taking this action you forgo all claims to be left alone because you mistakenly think you can disseminate your thoughts and opinions and not be accountable for them because you choose not to sign your name.
How many more different ways can I say this? You cannot choose to publish then claim to be a victim when someone finds out who’s been writing that stuff. Imagine if it had turned out that a politician was operating not a faux upper-class clothing blog, but a white supremacist blog. How sympathetic would you be then to his belief that he should be able to say whatever he wants through a public medium and not be accountable?
From what I’ve observed, much of the freakout around the web by people who feel an innocent man was unfairly robbed of his privacy is from people who think they should be able to do anything they want on the Internet. But there’s a huge difference between making a purchase or subscribing to a kinky porn site and becoming a member of an online community, racking up thousands of public comments under a username, or starting a blog, and thinking you ought to be able to give voice to your deepest thoughts — you know, the kind you would never say publicly in person — without consequence.
Here’s my advice: Not only should you not start a hobby blog until you’ve taken a cold, hard look at what you’re getting yourself into, don’t say things on the Internet you’re not willing to sign your name to. It’s just good personal policy.
An amateur blogger called “Yankee Whiskey Papa” has written a piece claiming that my outing of “Richard” has made him want to quit his blog, which he believes he should be able to write anonymously with no fear of being found out. I’m happy to have provided this splash of cold water, YWP, because clearly you’ve not been aware of exactly what it is you’re doing. “I suppose that I have been naive,” you write.
Yes, you have. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD