My Recommended Training for Corporate Bloggers: Live with a Mommy Blogger
If you're starting a corporate blog, you'd be well off with a little mommy blogger training to break you in. After living with a mommy blogger, you'll more naturally embrace transparency, skip any attempts at censorship, and become accustomed to the occasional distorted portrayal of what you say and do. These are all principles I've honestly learned to love from Shannon.
Jane is the mommy blogger who has trained me. In case you're unfamiliar with this term -- "mommy blogger" -- it refers to mothers who blog, with a focus sometimes including family, feminine topics, or simply anything really. Jane's blog is http://whataboutmomblog.com. By following it you can discover a lot of personal details about my life.
This idea scares my brother-in-law, who doesn't want his wife exposing personal details about him online. I used to be that way, too. I remember at one point asking Shannon (notice that I call her Shannon rather than "my wife"; Shannon is a respectful name for a person, whereas "my wife" contextualizes her identity only in reference to me) to remove a paragraph from one of her posts that went over the privacy edge, in my opinion. She altered the paragraph a bit, but then added a footnote twice the size of the original paragraph. The footnote enlarged the issue even further.
Asking her to edit her writing with the purpose of protecting my privacy equated to censorship in Jane's mind and only inflamed her more. After this experience, I learned to stop trying to change what others write about me, even if I disagree with them or if it embarrasses me.
For example, last week I made a stupid comment about not thinking I should have to change a diaper. As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew they were fodder for Jane's blog, and that I could not take them back, no matter how hard I tried. I could have reacted with a long comment below her post, explaining the circumstances of the situation, the emotionally driven build-up, my side of the story, but instead I did nothing. I've learned that going as silent as a lamb to the slaughter is the best way to handle these situations.
Corporate bloggers, listen up. When you embrace transparency and write with an honest voice, at times people will take jabs at you. They will quote you -- sometimes out of context. They may portray you in ways that make you cringe. Don't go ballistic. Allow people to have the views they do, without letting your stomach twist into knots. It all passes like water under a bridge anyway.
Sometimes my in-laws take pity on me and say, in reference to Jane's latest post, "Poor Tom ..." They feel sorry that I often catch the sharp end of the narrative. But I don't feel sorry. I feel lucky. How many husbands out there get a glimpse inside the inner thoughts and emotions of their companion? Our communication has increased ten-fold because of Jane's mommy blog.
I also think blogging is a smart move for full-time mothers. Blogs provide an escape from the emotional stresses of full-time parenting. They allow mothers to express themselves in articulate ways, to interact with other adults, to use their intellectual faculties. In a way, blogs are a coping mechanism for what might otherwise be a limiting home life.
One detail I appreciate with Jane's blog is her use of pseudonyms. The pseudonym adds a slight fictional construct between what I read and the real me. On her blog I read about Dick and Jane and Sally and Susan and Spot. I remember that her perspective may not always match reality -- protagonist Dick or heroine Jane are mental representations of people and events seen from Jane's point of view.
I've mostly been exploring the negative side of privacy. Actually, most of Jane's posts put me in a positive light. I assume this is why she stays married to me. To think that I occupy such a prominent position in her life that I would appear regularly in her posts is flattering to me. It makes me feel important. Whether I'm the hero or the villain in her posts, or even just a quiet bystander, the fact that I'm present (or that Dick is present) has the same good effect on me.
Overall, if your wife ever turns to mommy blogging, or if your husband becomes a "daddy blogger" (I assume there's such a thing), embrace transparency, enjoy the glimpse into your spouse's world. Whatever you do, never suggest an edit that changes her perception. Remember that you're one of the lucky ones.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.