Thursday, November 11, 2004

Blog bites blogger...

A cautionary tale from Annie at LiveJournal, who reminds us that blogging has consequences. She posted intemperately about the President, inspiring a surprise visit from the Secret Service.
"A couple of weeks ago, following the last presidential debate, I said some rather inflammatory things about George W. Bush in a public post in my LJ, done in a satirical style. We laughed, we ranted, we all said some things. I thought it was a fairly harmless (and rather obvious) attempt at humor in the face of annoyance, and while a couple of people were offended, as is typical behavior from me, I saw something shiny and forgot about it, thinking that the whole thing was over and done and nothing else would come of what I said.

"I was wrong.

"At 9:45 last night, the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President, as what I said could apparently be misconstrued as a threat to his life."
No imminent threat, they decided. But the FBI still has her photo.

Notes the Inquirer:
"The tale is a lesson to us all. Number one lesson is that what happens on the internet can and will bite you on the ass in real life. We've seen it time and time again with internet affairs and sordid emails...Number two is that no matter how cool and geeky the community - and LiveJournal is both - there will always be someone that ruins it for everyone else..."

Medical bloggers know these truths, before they even begin to post. We may not meet the Secret Service, but there are laws about what we can say. What starts as a lark can turn into a privacy minefield. Rants circulate endlessly on Google. No matter how much I change clinical details, someone might read my post and say, "Is that me?"
I study other medical blogs, for clues about what I may and may not say. The recent Bloggercon touched on these issues (thanks, medmusings). Lisa Williams has a theory:
"She can't believe that any physicians blog. They live in a police state, with lawsuits & regulations, duty & privacy hanging over their heads. She seed physician's weblogs as the modern version of dissident Russian Slavislak. Of course they're anonymous..."

Well, perhaps it's not that extreme, but medical blogging can feel like that. What have I posted that might re-affirm Number One Lesson? I resolve to not obsess about this...too much.
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