"Read me" by Anon.

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Girl with a one track mind has long been a favourite read, primarily because of her open and frank discussions of her sexual adventures and preferences (and mainly because of the wit and honesty with which she writes). Surprise, huh. After the boom in popularity of Belle de Jour —does anyone still read her blog? She has posted on this topic as well— which went from “best kept secret” to “guess who” in a matter of months, the publishing of books of these so-called sex blogs seems to spark undue interest.

But, now that the true identity of Girl has been revealed, again we have the press creating a hubbub where, frankly, one doesn’t really exist.

In a nutshell the ‘story’ can be described thus:

  1. Woman starts anonymous blog, discusses her sex life
  2. Blog starts gaining in popularity
  3. Publishing house decides to cash in, offers woman a book deal
  4. Woman accepts, with some trepidation that her identity will be revealed
  5. Her identity is revealed by a national newspaper

Fascinating, huh.

One question is why the newspaper chose to run this story. It’s a tiny headline in a sea of corruption, war, death and an Englishman winning a Grand Prix, and I reckon that you can split it’s audience neatly into sections. There will be many people who will tut, tut at the decline of society, appalled that ‘sex’ is being discussed in such frank and open terms (and to continue the stereotype, they’ll later go home, tie up their partner, and start whipping them whilst dress in head to toe PVC). There will also be people who read the article and will wonder what all the fuss is about. There will be others who wonder why she wrote about it all so publically, and there will be plenty of others who will see the word “blog” and stop reading.

Needless to say it’s making ripples in blogland.

Up in arms that a journalist has broken the code of conduct, Tom Reynolds writes that “We bloggers examine every word on our blogs for their effect on our privacy, we edit what we write to reveal as much, or as little about our true selves as we desire”, arguing that everyone has a right to privacy, which we do.

Bobbie asks Why was Girl with a One Track Mind anonymous? reminding us of “The First Rule of Blogging: if you don’t want things to ever come out into the open, you don’t write about them at all.” I’ve discussed self-censorship on here before, and have to agree with Bobbie, if you wouldn’t stand on a street corner, shouting it out, don’t blog about it.

And Pete suggests that the journalist in question should “do some investigative research into what journalism is supposed to be about and do something useful with your skills“, and having read the article in question I’d wholeheartedly agree. The few snippets of information are presented in an entirely sensationalist way and, well, I just don’t see the point. WHY should I read this (a moot point as I already have, I know).

But is there a middle ground here?

Personally I think that Tom is correct, that journalists (and not just in this instance) need to exert more control and have a level of morality injected (physically if necessary). As the press scramble for publishing figures, the right to privacy for all needs to be more readily enforcable. Of course I’d suggest that society should take some of the blame here, the fascination with any level of celebrity isn’t healthy and only serves to lower the standards of the mainstream press (again, a deeper discussion of the lower education standards, and lack of discipline is probably warranted but best avoided for the moment).

Yet I also agree with Bobbie, to a point. It IS possible, if you are careful, to have an anonymous blog —the identity of Belle de Jour has yet to be revealed— and, frankly, if you want to discuss your preferences, sexual or otherwise on that blog then go for it. The personal nature of a blog and the relationship that exists between the author and the blog itself, is unique. With a little care you could publish whatever you want and not fear that your anonymity will be compromised.

But balance that with the simple fact that, like most secrets, the truth will out and you have a potential recipe for disaster. Whilst it’s easy to say that the journalists should exercise some self-control, the same can be said for bloggers. Maybe blogging needs a central charter that can be referred to, an agreed Code of Conduct?

I’ll close by saying that I sincerely hope that the fallout from this doesn’t hit Girl too hard, and I’ll leave the last word on this to the inimitable andre (ohh god, am I allowed to mention his name?).