"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bloggers Beware! Should blogging have boundaries?

Should blogging have boundaries?
Many creative artists would argue that due to 1st amendment rights, we are each guaranteed freedom of speech, and that as fully grown folks, we ought to be able to say what we mean, and mean what we say. True?

In fact, this fundamental principle is what makes this great country of ours great.
Some might even argue that the whole purpose of having a Blog is to be able to vent freely and express views without control or editorial dictates.

Others might contend that blogging, like any other form of public communication should have boundaries and appropriateness.

No matter what side of the fence you're on, you should know: even freedom of speech ain't entirely free!

Take for instance, a recent incident where a teacher, (who is reported to have "let her hair down" by penning profanity-laced comments on her blog about her lazy students), was suspended and could face further repercussions for her conduct.

While a popular blogger and buddy of mine also shares on his site how he temporarily "fell from grace" as a pastor, when some of his posts were displeasing to "the powers that be."

And who can forget a few years back when the "Dixie Chicks" got their wings clipped for their disparaging (public) comments concerning the president? Ouch.

These cautionary tales serve to remind us that with every freedom comes a responsibility. Or does it?

It appears that this is becoming a hot topic in this age of social media, as employers often argue that what their workers say online is "their business", because it's a reflection of their company and their corporate image.

But do they have a right to silence individuals' thoughts and actions outside of work?
That's the $64,000 dollar question! And the stakes are high.

What do you think? I pose the question to you, Pen and Prosper readers---should blogging have boundaries? Why/why not?

Image Keattikorn


  1. Blogging should have boundaries. But I say this because of opinion and perspective. Imagine a blog that is extremely popular and it's based on racism. Not only black folks but all walks of life. Is that violating boundaries and freedom of speech if people actually enjoy reading it? I mean it's popular for a reason.

    I think the more popular the blog, the more influence it abdicates, the more people will scrutinize it's writers and the more people may or may not accept it.

    No matter what, i think life is a balance. Good with the bad. Yin and the Yang.

  2. jonathanfigaro,

    Excellent feedback! Thanks for sharing it, and for breaking the ice. :-)

  3. Lately I have decided that the only taste some people have is in their mouths, as evidenced by some of their social media posts and a few boundary-pushing television shows. I believe that Americans should not have their wings clipped because of political commentary. I believe in personal censorship, but not government censorship. I believe in protection of children, and I object to hurtful, libelous or slanderous commentary. Everybody's boundaries are different. If one objects, one can always close the book, click off the TV. This is a touchy subject. Writing for shock value is different than writing a shocking tome from one's perspective.

  4. Jennifer---

    I read your comment on Linda's post. Do you know the singer Ruthie Foster? She sings a song "Phenonmenal" on her CD (or perhaps the title of the song and CD is Phenomenal Woman). I think it is Maya Angelou's poem put to music. (And the CD IS phenomenal!)

  5. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 6:02 AM


    What a witty, insightful comment. And you're right; everybody has different boundaries in what they believe is appropriate to share. Glad that you shared your great feedback with us here today.

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 6:06 AM


    Hi! Welcome! No, I've never heard of it! I love music, so I'm always looking to check out new artists and songs that combine a good sound with socially conscious lyrics. A good exmple of this would be India Arie and Marvin Gaye.

    B/T/W/ Can I hear this cut on You Tube?

    Thanks for stopping by. :-)

  7. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 7:02 AM


    Thank you, thank you! I just checked it out on You Tube. Are you kidding me? Ruthie Foster has mad skills; I can't believe I've never heard of her before.

    In any event, I was so intrigued, that I went on to listen to some of her other works.
    She does a song called "Harder than the fall" that I recommend to anybody reading these words! Seriously. Will be buying her CD
    soon. :-) Thanks again.

  8. Jennifer, you bring up an interesting point. I think if you are the CEO of that company, or if that company is directly tied to YOUR personal identity, then, YES, everything you write affects your company and brand. You must be careful in what you say and if you say something that lowers peoples' respect of your company, that company has the right to send you on your way.

    If, however, your identity is not tied to your company (say you're John the bank teller.). What you have is a job that you'll likely not have forever. You earn a meager paycheck and likely don't think much about work when you're not there. No one likens you to your job, so when you're not on the clock, as long as you don't publicly defame your company, you should have the freedom to say what you want.

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 7:32 AM


    Excellent points. I never really thought of it in exactly the same way. Thanks for shedding some light. As always, good to hear from
    you. :-)

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 7:34 AM


    Would you say that holds true for teachers as well? Just curious...

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    I think blogging should have boundaries. Although we have free speech, our words do carry weight. Our words and make us or break us. We can be popular one minute and fall from grace the next minute. All because of our words. Our words are also a representation of who we are and how we are as a person.

    As for the teacher, I don't think I would have posted something like that about my students. If I did write something like that, I would make sure I was posting anonymously. There is always a way to get one's point across without coming out and being obvious about who/what you're talking about.

    I've done a few posts where I was sending a message to a few people, while never mentioning their names. Do they know I was talking about them, I don't know, but at least I got it out. LOL

    Take care,


  12. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 2:54 PM


    Point well taken. I hope I wasn't one of them.:-)

  13. I think there should be boundaries, but as Linda says, everyone has different ones. So where do you draw the lines? Hard to say, but again I concur with Linda and her thoughts that way.

    The Golden Rule would be a good place to start, as would examining what would be in good taste. Had to laugh at what Linda said about taste; my grandfather used to say of some "All their taste is in their mouth."

    Kindly, carefully, and tastefully - those are a big part of my guidelines. Good topic!

    Happy weekend,

  14. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your time and feedback. Sounds like you have some sound guidelines in place. :-)

  15. I think you should be allowed to say what you want and blog about what you want but people/readers DON'T have to like it. There could be consequences.

  16. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 19, 2011 at 4:33 PM


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and taking time to stop by.

  17. Jennifer, to follow up on your question about teachers, I would say that depends. If it's a blog you advertise to your students and to parents, I would say be cautious and don't create stirs. Not worth the stirs that may arise. This also goes for Facebook & Twitter I think. More students will be active there.

    BUT..if the blog is very different and geared toward a very different audience (provided you're not producing porn), you should be able to have an identity that's well-rounded. Again, use discretion in who you market this to, but if it's business, personal, etc., I don't think you should be penalized for it.

  18. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 19, 2011 at 6:24 PM


    Thanks for the follow-up. I'm not sure of the type of blog (the teacher who was penalized) was about, or what it was purposed to do. But, I do recall a similar incident (about a year or two ago) when another inner city teacher got in hot water for calling the parents at his school "GHETTO".

    So, I believe that perhaps the "unwritten rule" is that certain occupations carry more risks than others.

    Readers, what do you say?
    Any teachers like to weigh in on this one?

  19. Jen: I do think that is a really interesting topic. I am all about 1st amendment rights, but I do think one thing trumps even the right to free speech and that is the good old golden rule. As long as you are blogging in a way that lives up to the golden rule and not causing harm to other people, I think you should be able to express your opinion. Interesting question.

  20. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 20, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Hi Sibyl,

    Great perspective and valid point. Thanks for the input and the reminder. :-)

  21. Hi Jennifer,
    I think there should be some boundaries in blogging, such as excessive use of vulgar words. Never liked this one. Sometimes, I just dismiss it as part of a person’s way of expressing themselves. However, too much makes me leave their site.
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Hi johanna,

    I'm with you on this. I appreciate your feedback today.

  23. i agree with Jonathan, bloggers should have boundries
    thanks Jennifer for asking this question:)

  24. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 23, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    Hi farouk,

    Welcome!... A pleasure to have you with us here. I'm guessing from my guest post at Alternaview.com...? :-) Glad to get your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Bloggers should have boundaries because, generally speaking, we are all influencers. We just never know who's reading and how they can impact other aspects of our lives.

  26. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 6, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    How true. Thanks for your thoughts, Marcie.

  27. Thanks for your Post,

    I do think that without boundaries you might have a bigger chance of - polarisation -

    'This might not
    be as bad as it sounds...,'

    Because I do think that it can lead to - discussion - that in it's turn can lead to insight, or even new insights when people (with respect, with not to many bounderies?) make an effort to (atleast try) to understand other peoples insights.

    Personally I do think that it can be enriching
    to gain other peoples insights it doesn't even matter if I agree with them or not, I will be able to better understand people.

    When you set boundaries, you possibly will have less polarisation only probably also less insights.

    Talking about - discussion - ,

    While I do think that generally people will think of laziness as something bad, on my - Travel Blog - I currently actually (pre) sell a Book that seems to suggest laziness to be good.

    I would like to see what you think.
    or are you to - lazy - to write a comment! :)

    All the Best,
    To Your Happy Inspiration,

  28. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 8, 2011 at 4:09 AM


    Thank you for your very thoughtful, thought-provoking, engaging response. Boundaries can be both positive and negative, and many times that's situational. I'll check out your site shortly. I appreciate the visit. :-)

  29. There's a fascinating article in the March 2011 issue of BUST Magazine (a socially conscious, pop-culture-loving women's magazine) about women who've had consequences for blogging about their sex lives. It's a fine line. We bloggers are truth-tellers, but the world can't always handle the truth.

  30. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 9, 2011 at 5:28 PM


    Interesting feedback. Thanks for commenting. I'm familiar with BUST MAGAZINE--I'll see if I can locate the article.