Seeing the looming end of the personal disclosure

Ruskoff’s written about this, but there’s this weird line in public space, where you can either live your life pretty much entirely in public or say nothing at all that isn’t directly book-related.

I see a lot of this related to USSM stuff, and it’s always a little shocking. I drove down to see my parents this morning, and ended up cooking breakfast. When I got back, the game had started, so I tossed up a game thread with a quick note on my lateness… and that became “I live with my mother

Really? I don’t understand how ticked at me you have to be to say that. But it’s like the flat tire thing – explaining that it took me forever to figure out how to winch down the spare tire on a Grand Caravan became “can’t change a flat” lol ha ha ha.

I’d say that it’s a symptom of internet discourse, but it came out in the Cheater’s Guide book reviews, too, when my acknowledgment to my agent —

Thanks are due to my agent, Sydelle Kramer, who was willing to help me figure out which book idea I could do well with, whip up a good proposal, and find it a home.

was quoted to sound like a three-year project was a get-rich scheme, and then was quoted by people who hadn’t read the book to support that. I mean, the alternative is

I’d like to thank my agent, Sydelle Kramer, for a number of things. First, discussing with me several book concepts, including possible markets for each, which ones suited my interests and strengths, and then …

I don’t write a thank you like that, though.

I guess the larger question is: does being open about this stuff do enough good that it outweighs the annoying stuff, the intentional misreading, all that good stuff? How do you measure that? How long before I get called ‘whiny’ for wondering this in public?

Or am I, like Rushkoff, going to eventually swap HLWT into something blander and work-only?

5 thoughts on “Seeing the looming end of the personal disclosure

  1. Nick

    Well I personally think that anyone looking to pick a fight over the internet will do it one way or the other. If you post any personal information, they’ll use that against you, or if you choose not to, then they’ll just focus on professional things, like your book for example.

    I would hate to see you or any other successful blogger get bland or uninteresting because of a few rotten apples.

  2. Evan

    Here’s the problem. You can choose to make your writings correct and accurate, or you can choose to make them persuasive. You can’t do both.

    Being right requires a lot of fine distinctions people simply seem unable to comprehend. I don’t think you’re seeing intentional misreading – I think you’re seeing a dumb public misunderstanding their own native language.

    So, you can avoid that by making your points in much simpler and thus more persuasive terms (politicians do this all the time), but that means you’ll never actually describe anything accurately, because the world isn’t as straightforward as would be necessary for the public to understand them.

    People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals. This shouldn’t surprise you.

  3. eponymous coward

    Then there’s the well know effect of people being much more willing to be a jerk to someone when they are hiding behind a pseudonym online as opposed to being a jerk to someone’s face- which is what I think you are seeing w/r/t the “lives with moter” and “can’t change flat tire” or “why were you on Highway 51 trying to get to Peoria?” comments

  4. DEO

    For what it’s worth, I think there are many more lurkers (or near-lurkers, like me) than jerks. More often than not, the majority admire and respect you and find your writing more interesting and compelling when you share personal anecdotes.

  5. Gomez

    It’s been some time since you wrote this but I’m gonna comment, since I practically make my life an open-book on my blog.

    People who don’t like you are always gonna take every word you write out of context whenever they can, to damage your character. They hate you for irrational reasons and so they resort to irrational attacks, like misquoting you. Certainly, people sometimes genuinely misunderstand what you’ve written and it’s simply human error, but with attacks like ‘Derek lives with his mother’, it’s pretty clear whoever wrote that had an axe to grind in the first place.

    People do this to me all the time in discussions outside the Mariner blogosphere, and eventually, you learn to filter the genuine misunderstandings apart from the targeted character attacks.

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