Is Privacy a Thing of the Past?
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I’ve been talking with a potential client—a staggeringly talented writer and thinker—about her goals and her writing career. At a certain point, we got caught up on a particular issue that had nothing to do with her books or her writing: privacy.
The author writes her blog using initials, rather than her name. She uses an avatar and avoids posting any real photos of herself. She doesn’t reveal personal details in her writing. She hoped to continue in this vein as she entered publishing.
We talked about her desire for privacy, and the need to keep her family safe. And we talked about the fact that she works for an international ministry and wants to maintain a separation between her work and what she writes publicly.
I told her I understood all of that, but I would have a hard time getting her published—and indeed, I think her blog will have a hard time growing up to its potential—until she finds a way to be a real person on social media.
I believe readers want to feel like they are reading the words of somebody who’s authentic. On some level, there is always a connection being made between writer and reader. I have a hard time connecting with initials and an avatar. I get invested when I feel like I’m connecting with a person who has a face and a name.
But does this mean all authors have to give up our privacy and let masses of strangers into our lives?
The secret is to be real, yet keep truly private details to yourself. Be warm, and gracious, and gritty sometimes if necessary, always be a real person, but don’t feel you have to let it all hang out there. You need to seem like a whole, real person—someone with a face and a name and a life. Good days and bad days. You don’t have to be a completely open book.
We create our online personas. For most of us, our social media presence is a reflection of who we are—yet it’s only part of who we are. We hold back what we don’t want to share, and that’s perfectly fine.
I believe it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly have privacy these days. (Part of me thinks the very idea of privacy is becoming a quaint old-fashioned notion.) When you decide you want to enter the arena of sharing your writing widely, you will necessarily trade some of your privacy for the privilege of connecting with your readers.
Don’t want to be transparent online? At least create the illusion of being “real.”
This doesn’t mean you can’t write under a pseudonym—many authors do—as long as you are “real” in every way that a reader can see.
What do you think? Is privacy necessary, or possible? Do we need to redefine what privacy means to us these days? Do you think a writer should have an expectation of privacy?
Writers trade some privacy for the privilege of connecting with readers, says @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.
Can you have a writing career without being a “real person” on social media? Click to Tweet.
To connect with readers, at least create the illusion of being “real,” says @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.