Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead...

Last last Sunday's NYTimes had an article titled Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It. The article discussed the uncomfortable phenomenon of reading private details of your life exposed in someone else's weblog. It's not a new topic for bloggers who had had to confront the issue and make some choices from the time they started publishing to the web, but perhaps it's an unpleasant surprise for those who don't blog but find themselves surrounded by a rapidly growing community of amateur web journalists.
Writers (journalists being a particularly notorious subspecies) have always had to deal with the suspicions of their subjects. It's not unjustified, especially in this tabloid age, a natural extension, perhaps, of the revolution in investigative journalism which many trace to Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate. As much as a writer can cement your reputation with a mainstream audience, much as Michael Lewis did for Billy Beane in Moneyball, the writer's main goal is to establish his own reputation and legacy. Beane is paying the cost for his fame. Many baseball executives have publicly denounced Beane for sharing the secrets of their conversations and for making them look like fools (the truth hurts, especially when publicized), and even some of Beane's own scouts resent the all the credit Lewis gives to Beane for the A's strong farm system.
My personal philosophy is never to mention anyone I know in my weblog unless I'm sharing positive feedback and something I'd be comfortable saying in public with that person present. I try to err on the side of caution; you'll hear me write about movies or concerts or plays I've attended, but usually I don't mention who I went with. It's not that I'm embarrassed about the company I keep (I've been accused of it), but I'm never sure if others want their personal lives publicized. What if they lied to someone else about why they were going to be busy that night? You'd be amazed at the ridiculous lengths that people will go to to spend time with me (Editor: note the seamless injection of self-deprecating humor), and I've been known to resort to a harmless fib from time to time myself to secure some private time. Perhaps in the early days of my weblog I could get away with it, but I don't know enough about my audience now to risk it. I do know it's a larger audience than before, and that restricts the amount I'm willing to share.
To some, this leaves my weblog devoid of, well, me. But there's more of me here than you think. All written language reveals something about the structure of the mind it came from. For someone who's actually quite private, I sometimes cringe at some of the things I've published to the web. Some of it will come back to haunt me, I'm sure of it. Psychologists have done experiments in which subjects were asked very personal questions. One group was asked to respond while looking into a mirror, and another group to respond without the mirror. The group with the mirror revealed much less about themselves. Something of that effect works on me when I sit at the keyboard, or take pen in hand. The distance from my brain and heart to the my typing fingers is shorter than that to my mouth.
But never fear, I've found a new way to signal to everyone about when we're speaking on or off the record. If I'm ever wearing this t-shirt from O'Reilly, you'll know it's not a good time to confess that you're cheating on your honeybun, or your taxes. Remember that Far Side cartoon titled canine social blunders? In it, a dog stops all conversation at a cocktail party when he proclaims loudly: "Say, I just found out yesterday I've got worms."