I want to write a disclaimer before I start this post. What I am writing here is about ME and MY blogging experience. What I say here has no relevance to anyone else. If you choose to password protect your posts, that is totally fine. We each blog for our own reasons, in our own personal version of the blogosphere. Some of us blog anonymously and others under given names. Some of us blog for ourselves and some of us for our families and some for all manner of other reasons. I respect anyone who has found it helpful or necessary to password protect her posts; I’m glad that ability exists and that people can use it to improve their blogging experience.
During recent “events” on my blog, a few people suggested password protecting the posts that were close to my heart, posts like yesterday’s that I write with the expectation of receiving only support or silence, posts that really bare my soul to the world, so to speak.
I’ve never password protected my posts. And honestly, I doubt I ever will. Having said that I recognize that so far I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I haven’t needed to password protect my posts. I’ve never had people read me with the sole intent being to maliciously tear me down. I’ve never had friends or family continue reading my blog after I’ve expressly asked them not to. I’ve never been the target of extensive and hurtful trolling, and I’ve never been “outed” on my blog, despite some pretty lax attempts at keeping it anonymous (at least unsearchable by my name). I’m sure if any of those things were to happen, I’d feel differently about password protected posts. But I still doubt I would use them. If I were having real issues with people I didn’t want reading or commenting on my blog I’d just shut it down and set up shop elsewhere, only telling a handful of people my new URL.
There are a few reasons why I’m not interested in password protecting my posts. For one, almost everything I write would have to be password protected. I mean, I put very personal shit out there and I rarely look back. Again, I’m lucky I haven’t had to deal with any long lasting negative effects of what I share here and maybe some day, my luck will run out.
Another reason I doubt I’ll password protect a post is because I’m lazy. I have no idea how many people would actually request the password but responding to even a few dozen emails sounds like way too much work for me. I’d rather spend that time writing.
And finally, I don’t really see the point, for me personally. Again, I write for my own reasons and in my own way. For me, the idea of password protecting my posts flies in the face of what I’m trying to do, which is record and share a (brutally, unforgivingly) honest account of my life and my struggles, and use that expression to foster a cohesive community.
And, if I’m being (brutally, unforgivingly) honestly, I feel like having password protected posts, ones that only a select few are allowed to read, fosters an atmosphere of exclusivity, not inclusivity. I don’t want people to feel excluded here.
And how would I even decide who should be allowed access to my posts? If I’m not trying to keep a specific person from gaining access, how do I determine who can? I guess I can’t fathom the answer to that because I don’t really have any inclination to limit access to my posts, because I don’t (currently) feel the need to protect myself or my writing.
Now here is the part where I admit that one of the reasons I’m writing this is because I was recently refused when I requested the password to a post on a blog I’d subscribed to months before. And here is also the part where I say that I absolutely understand and respect the blogger’s need to deny my request. I have nothing against her or her decision not to give me the password. I absolutely believe that people should do what is necessary to ensure their blog remains a safe haven and if that includes only selectively sharing the password for protected posts, that is what should happen. That is why they are password protected! So that only those friends or family a blogger feels comfortable sharing her thoughts with will actually read those thoughts. I truly hope, if said blogger reads this post she is not offended by what I’m saying and that she understands that any thing I express here is about ME and my experience and is not about her or her choices.
I have to admit, I haven’t had a lot of experience with password protected posts. A few that I do follow started password protecting more recently and I will say, it kind of turned me off. I didn’t like the idea of having to ask for the password and most of the time I refrained. I stopped following a couple of those blogs because I just got sick of not having access to so many of the posts. I will also concede that when I finally did ask for a password and was politely denied, I felt a little hurt. While I totally understood and respected the blogger’s reasons, it felt hurtful to be excluded. I mean, I had been reading regularly, and commenting from time to time, for a couple of months. I was trying to invest in this blogger and her story and when a post was written that shared more, I was told I could no longer participate. I have to admit, I don’t know if I can keep following a blogger that I know isn’t prepared to share certain posts with me. Do I really want to invest in someone who isn’t prepared to invest in me? (And please believe, I absolutely understand and respect that someone would not feel comfortable “investing” in me.)
Again, this isn’t about this particular blogger but about how and why I personally participate in the blogging community. I read blogs to create a connection and I don’t feel like I can create a connection with someone who doesn’t want me to read some of what they write. Maybe that makes me selfish or unsupportive–though it is not my intent–I just know it doesn’t feel right for me.
I blog to foster an inclusive community of people who are willing to give and receive something of themselves. I understand that not everyone feels comfortable sharing as much I share with anyone who cares to read it. I respect that 100%. But I also know that I’m most interested in participating with those who will let me get to know them in as complete a way as they are willing to write about.
So yeah, it stung. I felt a little like I walked up to a group of women at a party and someone stopped telling a story and wouldn’t finish it until I left to get a drink. I was again reminded of what strange social situations blogging creates, how we try to take cues on how to interact with each other from our real world relationships but frequently find the rules nontransferable because talking at a party or sharing a cup of tea and writing a blog post or comment are simultaneously strikingly similar and throughly unrecognizable. This community we’ve created, within this interconnected web of personal blogs and their comment sections, is an incredible place, where amazing friendships can flourish. But it’s also a diaspora (as Justine has taught me) of individuals who are still figuring things out, determining how to share what they need or want to share in a safe way and learning how to forge friendships with people they’ve never met, who only they can determine they can trust.
The past couple of weeks have taught me a lot about why I blog, about what I hope to accomplish here. It’s true I’ve experienced some of the negative aspects of sharing myself unconditionally with others, but I’ve also enjoyed some of the tremendous benefits. So many people have reached out to thank me for what I share here, for giving a voice to those who have similar thoughts, fears, dreams and dissolutions but not the inclination to share them. Instead of scaring me into silence, recent events have inspired me to keep writing, no matter what. When I look back at the attempts to tear me down I preferably see the people who held me up, who defended me in my time of need. I am a part of an incredible community here and I like to believe my honesty plays some part in the fact that I’m accepted by others. Now, more than I ever, I know that for me, password protected posts just don’t make sense.
What are your thoughts on password protected posts? Do you used them? If so, how do you determine what to protect and who will gain access? How do you feel when you encounter a password protected post on someone else’s blog?
**If you’re here to express anger or disappointment about this post, please feel free to do so but you may want to read my response to other people’s comments first before you do.**