Friday, July 31, 2009
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 6:00 PM
A week ago I received an incredibly upsetting e-mail from a dear childhood friend of mine who was (putting it mildly) livid that I had included her name in a blog post about an experience we'd shared in our teens. ("Fuck me for having any expectation of privacy from you.") Happily, I can tell you upfront that we have since spoken on the phone and everything is fine now (well, until she reads this), but for the 72 hours between the e-mail and the phone call I was shaken, saddened and not someone you would want to be around.
Don't get me wrong. After 6,293 posts, I've received my share of feedback from people who have been mentioned along the way. But honest to god, easily 95 percent of it has been positive, often connecting me with authors, actors, filmmakers or musicians I admire, or reconnecting me with old friends and colleagues who are tickled to relive old memories we shared. So the occasional model who "doesn't want to be seen on a gay site" (even though the photographer who OWNS the rights to the photos gave them to me) isn't exactly in a position to break my stride. But to have upset this friend -- a friend with whom I had been through so much during our misspent youth, with whom I had plotted -- and sometimes exacted -- revenge against our high school nemeses, with whom I had worn so many ridiculous outfits and with whom I had gone to all of those glorious New Wave concerts -- was a little more than I could bear. To be more specific, she was angry because I had used her full name -- which now brought up my post as the top result of a Google search -- her name that I later learned she has gone to great lengths to "keep off the Internet." It probably won't surprise you to learn that it took me -- who has his ENTIRE LIFE ON DISPLAY on said Internet -- several minutes to even truly understand why she was so angry (didn't she see the part about the fun we'd had, I thought to myself!!!), despite the fact that she specifically cited future job prospects as a principal reason for not wanting our tales of underage drinking out there for all to see.
(The sad irony was that I had DELIBERATELY included her full name in the hopes that she would come across the post more readily because I hadn't heard from her in a couple years and I hoped the fun memory of this trip we took would cajole her into contacting me. We have the kind of friendship where we can not speak for years and then when we do, it's like not a day went by. And it also wasn't unusual for her to disappear for a period of time. I had sent cards and occasional e-mails, but she had moved a couple of times and I wasn't 100 percent sure they were even reaching her. Quite simply, I wanted to know how she was doing.)
So while both of us might have been wise to have handled the whole thing differently -- I could have just used her first name, and she could have calmly asked me to remove her last -- I certainly understood that she had a right to be upset. And it got me thinking about the bigger question looming over all of this. In a world filled with cell-phone cameras, Facebook, Twitter and blogs, what should anyone's expectation of privacy be anymore? Is it time to select a date that acts as a cutoff point for privacy as we knew it, and declare that FROM THIS DATE FORWARD anything you say or do can appear online somewhere without question -- but nothing before then? (In her missive, my friend made a point to mention my use of -- what she called -- the "least-flattering photo you can scan in ... on the goddamn internet." I, of course, responded by saying I thought she looked ADORABLE back then -- had she not seen MY hair?) Or are we each the owner of the copyright to our own memories, free to do with them as we choose, and therefore is it time for everyone to accept that their life is now, to a certain degree, a more open book, like it or not?? I would argue for the latter (although that didn't exactly work for Augusten Burroughs, now did it?), but it's much more likely there will continue to be the struggle between those of us who are a 6 on the Kinsey Scale of Privacy versus those who are a 0. And there will be casualties along the way.
As I mentioned, I have had a number of people -- some of them who are very close to me, including my homosexual lover AND even fellow bloggers(!) -- who have asked me to remove references to them over the years, for various reasons. It's surprised me at times, but for the most part I turn into Kathy Griffin getting caught by someone she's made a joke about (even if I haven't) and acquiesce to whatever they want. I blog because I enjoy it, not to upset anyone. I blog because so much of my professional life involves editing other people's words, so sometimes I need to write my own. I blog because I like to make people laugh and think and feel. And I blog because I enjoy sharing my life and hearing from other people who have experienced similar things.
So perhaps it was not all that surprising that after I had written most of this post I would come across someone who had experienced "a similar thing" only to a more devastating effect, one Bradford Shellhammer, whose blog I have read from time to time over the years. (In fact, when he was editor of Queerty he gave me my first big "break" by linking to my Madonna as Valerie Cherish post.) In a stirring article in The Times we learn about the demise of his relationship with his fiance, Benjamin Dixon -- complete with wonderful photos of their charming duplex in the city and kitschy lake house in the country -- that strongly suggests it was the couple's polar opposite Kinsey "privacy" ratings that drove the blogger and his more private lover apart:
Mr. Dixon felt increasingly alienated by his partner’s need to post the details of their lives online. “For me,” he said, a vacation or a party was “real just for the two of us. It seemed like Bradford often needed to put it online for it to be real.”
Almost shockingly, based on a post-article blog post by Bradford, you'd almost guess this was news to him:
I thought he had no issue being Googled and having his life exposed. How could he? He was with me for five years. I knew he would not want to work for someone who would judge him based on his personal life. He's not as exposed to the world as I am. But he does not hide. But I guess, after reading the article, he's not so comfortable being out there as I am. I did not realize he had issues with this blog. I sit here asking myself why I have the need to write here. It's complex and needed and evolving. I will not or cannot abandon the possibilities and connections this space brings to my life. I'm a writer. I'm home here.
A beautiful explanation of this blogging compulsion some of us are afflicted with, one that I hope brings comfort and clarity to the more discreet loved ones of bloggers around the world, particularly one who did some underage drinking with me so many years ago. ...
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 8:00 AM
Thursday, July 30, 2009
For tickets to the New York shows, click HERE. Until then, hear what Natasha has to say about shopping at Rite Aid, the quintessential customer-service experience, below.
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 5:59 PM
In a new campaign for PETA, Mike White explains why he became a vegan. The writer, producer and actor, who made his directorial debut with 2007's "Year of the Dog," says it was actually his dog who influenced him to stop eating animals. "You know I have a dog who looks a lot like a pig," he said, "and I would look at him and I'd think, you know I cannot eat pig any more." It's almost hard to believe such sound reasoning could come from a mind twisted enough to come up with something like "Chuck and Buck"!
You can Pledge to Be a Veg HERE.
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 4:52 PM
Add this to the list of reasons I'm glad we have a new president. (Full story HERE.)
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 1:30 PM
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Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 7:00 AM
Star Demetri Martin and director Ang Lee
Co-stars Emile Hirsch and Jonathan Groff
Co-stars Liev Schreiber and Dan Fogler
Eye candy: Cheyenne Jackson and Claire Danes
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 3:51 AM
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
“I tend to gravitate toward conflicted characters, and a character who is exploring chaos theory and population control and the difficulties of love and family is pretty rich. I mean, I’d be absolutely hopeless playing parts like -- who’s the guy who is married to Demi Moore? I’d be hopeless in roles of his.” -- Ed Stoppard, on why he wanted to play Val, an introverted researcher of mathematical biology, in a revival of his father Tom's play "Arcadia."
Meow. (Full story HERE.)
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 7:16 PM
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 4:20 PM
Berens cracks a smile
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 3:57 PM
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Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 10:00 AM
Which guest of "The Joan Rivers Show" (1989-93) was later convicted in a notorious New York murder case? E-mail me your answer HERE.
For complete details on her Times Square engagement, please click HERE.
Watch Joan interview a 22-year-old Boy George on "The Tonight Show" back in the day -- alongside a very young Jerry Seinfeld!
Posted by Kenneth M. Walsh at 9:00 AM