Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When does personal become private?

Someone is watching
Part of the fun and "distraction" of Internet researching is the unexpected tangents that you happen along.  Unfortunately, it can pull you off focus.  On the upside, you sometimes come across something that is very relevant.

Example: While researching HIV funding disparities, I fell upon this Ted Talk video of Julia Sweeney  performing a short piece about giving her (then) eight year old daughter, Mulan, an impromptu sex education.  It starts with Mulan's questions about how frogs "do it" then accelerates way beyond Mom's comfort zone.

Having enjoyed the video, I thought I'd post it here (see below) as a stand alone; no editorial, just "as is" for your entertainment.  Upon checking out her blog, I was very surprised to learn that her personal life (and the bulk of her stand up material) is now closed to the public:

"I plan to stop being a public, personal, storyteller."

"I no longer wish to be so naked and bare...there is no more “off-the-record” anymore.  Anything can be posted online.  Immediately... For 16 years I have been getting on stage and spilling my guts while simultaneously attempting to make people laugh.  That’s a long time.  This decision feels like a death.  It’s hard to envision myself as myself without the outlet and the drive to get on-stage and talk about it."

How much personal is too much?

To some of my friends, I seem to be an open book.   I gave this some thought and came to the conclusion that my blog is not so much an open book but a table of contents with teasers.

The topics that I tend to write about; culture (musicals etc.), LGBT issues, and politics reflect my passions and you must write what you're passionate about.

However, I'm also passionate about my family and my friends, and because I care deeply about them, I don't write about them in any detail. That is the boundary that I chose to draw when I decided to start this blog.
If anything, I feel that I am still too timid.  It could be that I am only too aware of the uncontrollability of information on the web and that by revealing too much about myself, I may embarrass or upset someone close to me.  In any case, my personal revelations tend to lie within the context of my blog topic.

Someone asked me recently if I thought that I could be jeopardizing any future professionall opportunities by being so open about my sexual orientation? -  Possibly.
Would I want to work with or for someone where that would be an issue? - No.

As much as it is a loss for all of her fans, Julia Sweeney's decision to stop using her personal life as show material is understandable .  The reasons and the emotions that emanate from her blog serve to caution those who may not know when personal ceases to be private.

How much are you willing to share?

"The Mulan-frog story" with Julia Sweeney, as she has the “sex talk” with her daughter.


  1. Anonymous23/6/10 22:07

    Personally as a friend, I am happy that you follow your passion, which is something the rest of the universe should do, it will make us a better person. We are so consumed with the little things that we forget what is actually our passion in life, so your blogs gives us this reminder.
    Happy Bloggin!

  2. I recently visited your blog. It is a very interesting one. Keep it up.

  3. Thank you, Alan, for the encouraging words.


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