Saturday, January 31, 2009

On Blogging

Last week I went to lunch with my neighbor Kathie.
We were sitting in Blackbird Buvette (one of my favorite eateries) on Central in downtown Albuquerque and she said, "You're a writer. Why don't you blog?"

I told her that I had a blog but that I only used it for pieces of mine that had come in print but weren't on the web. I finished by saying, "Blogging is self-indulgent."

She rolled her eyes.

I said what I always say: Anyone can blog. At least when somebody accepts your piece in a lit journal—even if they pay little or nothing—at least there's agreement that you're worth the ink and paper, which in lit journal land really says something. "If you blog, you don't get taken seriously as a writer," I said.

"Famous writers blog," she replied.

"I'm not famous."

"You never know what might come of it."

I wasn't sure what could possibly come of it, but I suppose I had at least set the blog up with a "who knows?" attitude. Some years after I discovered I was actually Googleable, I figured I might as well "promote" myself in a way that took little effort. But I still couldn't fathom why anyone would want to read my unedited musings, despite the fact that people (eBayers) have sent me hundreds of e-mails over the years about how funny my Terms of Service (TOS) essay was and how they loved all the Eddie-Small-Devil-Kitty cat updates at the end.

Still, I have resisted. Until now. But I'm resistant even as I'm writing this. And here's one good reason: A couple of days ago I was telling someone that if you have a Myspace or Facebook page, (I don't) employers can find you. Even if your profile is perfectly respectable, what about your million "friends," half of whom you may not even know? What if a potential employer clicks on said friend and is taken to a profile that is offensive? (I found an ex's profile the day after we broke up and was mortified by his supposed "friends"—all women over the age of fifty with little education and a penchant for posting what bordered on cartoon porn. What did that say about him? Or me—that I had associated with this tacky person?)

Fast forward to that afternoon. I was on phone interview number two with a place in Chicago (God, I hope I get that job) and the man interviewing me said, "Do you have a blog?" The question came out of the blue, but at least I'm quick on my feet and told him what I used the blog for. "Because I'm Googling you now," he said.

I don't know if he later read what's posted here or not or whether it will have any impact on whether or not I get the face-to-face interview in Chicago. But in a way, it made me want to delete the whole damn blog because I write memoir and essay and what I write about is something that would probably never come up in years of working for a particular employer.

It didn't at my last job. Nobody ever said they Googled me (which doesn't mean they didn't) and in six years, I only ever went beyond saying, "Yeah, I've been published" to more than a couple people. And I didn't think anyone at work would be curious enough to type in my name to Google's search bar.

That has changed. Recently a casual friend of mine made a comment about something I had never mentioned. When I asked him how he knew such an odd fact, he said he had Googled me (and read Family Stories.) He worried that Googling me might be strange, but it isn't. Not anymore. I just hope the ramifications of my being Googleable are positive rather than negative, especially when it comes to getting a job.

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