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Bloggers Without Boundaries: Are the Lines Getting Too Blurred?

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of March 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post Jonathan Fields from the Career Renegade Blog and author of the book Career Renegade talks boundaries.

It’s Sunday morning, you’re up early, the house is still quiet. And, like any self-respecting blogger, you take this time to meditate, set-up your day and plan what you’ll do with the family, today. Not!

That’s what you know you should do. But, instead, you wander over to your computer, check your blog for comments, check your subscriber and traffic stats and maybe crank out a quick post or video. Then, you jump on twitter to check your timeline, follower numbers and reply to any @’s or dm’s.

A few minutes later, the kids wander out and your day really begins. Breakfast, then the day’s activities. It’s all great fun, yet, you still find yourself reveling in those random moments in the rest-room, where you linger a few extra seconds to check your e-mail, IM, twitter and stats once more on your trusty iPhone.


You’ve become a card-carrying member of Bloggers Without Boundaries.

You’ve lost the ability to separate your virtual community from your real-life community. And, in fact, what happens in the ether, for you, may play an equally important and impactful role in your life as what happens in flesh and blood.

Question is…to what end?

No doubt, the line between social media and socializing has become hopelessly blurred for many. I’m sure I am not alone in counting a number of twitter and blogging relationships among my “real” friends. In fact, I speak with certain online friends far more often than I speak with other face-to-face friends.

In the thick of this social media wild west, the rules are literally being made up as we go.

Along with the rapid fire commingling of online business and online friendships comes the near total evaporation of the “time” lines that separate family time and work time.

Add to that the ubiquity of smartphones with apps that give instant access to social media wherever you go. And, many bloggers end up blogging, tweeting, e-mailing and IMing seven-days a week, often sneaking it in with smartphone-driven mircobursts.

All of which makes me wonder…

“What’s the net effect on our humanity and ability to maintain intelligent boundaries between work, play, family and friends?”

Has the expectation now become that bloggers and social media marauders are available 24/7? For people like us, is there such a thing as a fixed workweek or office hours anymore?

Is social media the new Crackberry?

Has the ability to micro-burst a small bit of work by smartphone become an ever-present intrusion on personal and family time? Or, has it allowed those of us who work largely online to take immediate action on something that, a few years ago, would’ve been spinning in our heads for hours until we could find the nearest computer or returned to our offices, and given us the ability to be more genuinely present between the offending digital distractions?

Put another way, is this technologically-driven blurring of the lines between work and play and time spent in each a good thing, a bad thing…or just a thing?

Curious what your thoughts are. Let me know in the comments below…


Jonathan Fields is the author of the new book, Career Renegade. He also writes Awake@TheWheel and CareerRenegade.com and produces Career Renegade TV and the weekly Renegade Profiles podcast series.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I agree. Social media marketing has made us plain lazy! I see people who sit on Twitter for hours trying to grow followers. Tweeps come at a flash. Yet, I feel for the regular tweeple. When does he/she go out and meet friends. If the trend continues, I believe the answer is never. Cause he hardly has time to catch up with reality, as he might miss that @reply.

  2. I suppose it all depends on why you find the need to blog. Skipping breakfast and the kids just for the “sake of blogging”, then, I agree, you have blurred the lines, but if it is important to your business that you regularly write then I really don’t see that any lines have been crossed at all; it may just seem that way.

  3. I guess the world of social media has created a lot more harm then good.Beyond a certain extent it tends to spoil your own personal family relations. I have been constantly nagged by my wife on not being able to give enough time to her after I have started blogging. But the fact is that to find good content to write requires quite a lot of thinking and reading which consumes a lot of one’s time. It might also affect one’s main source of bread and butter, especially those who don’t thrive on blogging for income.

    The only way to beat this issue is to develop a group of like minded bloggers and do a group blogging by taking turns to blog. Maybe that could help. Also, at times ones mind gets saturated on what topic to blog about. Surely a team of professional bloggers could solve a lot of these issues.

  4. Haha, this made me laugh. I see myself in your post, in my house we’re on a computer pretty much 24/7 and have been known to take one on holiday with us. For us, its part of our jobs and necessary but not only that – we enjoy it. We do have to make a conscious effort to close them down now and again though but no more ‘conscious effort’ than many of our family need to turn of fthe TV!

    Incidentally, the computer on holiday was to take digital photos off my camera. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it (although we did end up blogging from Australia)!

  5. I liked this article it is something that comes up in our house a bit, my partner does not like me checking things like this all the time, saying I am becoming adictive and I can see the point. But with so many different time zones you need to be fairly flexible with your approach. I think finding something that works for you and your family – i.e. having that balance between home and work.

  6. I am avoiding a smartphone for the exact same reason you are mentioning. I am not a full-time blogger, however when I am outside I try to avoid computers

  7. I think we have gone beyond blurring. Every day I turn on my computer as soon as I get out of bed….and up pops my blog and facebook.

    I get annoyed at friends and family who do not know what is going on …..because I know I just posted to the blog…..wait everyone does NOT read the blog.

    I think I start to have withdrawal symptoms if I cannot check my feeds to see what everyone else is writing.

  8. This article made me smile. It’s validating to know I’m not alone!

  9. Really enjoyed it

  10. Clearly social media is a great step forward for those who cannot leave their home, it can be their lifeline. However there is a need to keep the balance otherwise it could end up all work and no play.

  11. I must admit I have a blur between social networking, family and blogging. My day takes over me, I am not in charge of my day…which I really need to get figured out, because I need to have “productive” days not days that take over me! great post!!

  12. Sunday? Day of rest?
    Does your PC / laptop / iphone (I use my trusty Palm to keep up wireless with mails !)
    We have a rule that Sunday has PCs turned off (unless there is very urgent homework to do)
    It does go for helping some family conversation, tho’ I confess we often spend time on the other screen (remember the t.v.?) !!
    Best wishes, great topic :-)
    P.S. I think the Twitter thing has got a bit out of hand… bandwagons come and go, but we maybe we need to discern what is most valuable, enriching and constructive.

  13. Great post, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I have been making a conscious effort to be more in the moment and not let my blogging and social media take over other aspects of my life.

    “It can wait” is my new mantra and it’s made me less anxious and feeling more content. The great thing is, not being on at all times has had not hurt my productivity at all.

  14. p.s. would like to keep in touch with comments!

  15. Joyful Alternative says: 03/03/2009 at 12:39 am

    Five years ago, I married a guy I met on a political blog, so you could say I merged my online and off-line lives.

  16. I only publish on Monday’s and try to keep stuff pre-written so all that I have to due is publish. I really wish I had the scheduled publishing on GoDaddy. I do not work on my blog unless the family is out or are sleeping. It is very easy to let it get in the way…I avoid Facebook, Twitter and the other social networking sites…just eats more of my time.

  17. Social media provides an element of “community” you can’t get otherwise.

    The ability to edit your interaction with others.

    ~ If you don’t want to respond to someone, it isn’t necessary.
    ~ Your comment can be combed over, thought through, edited for maximum impact and….. then send it.
    ~ You can communicate even when in the powder room (that’s addiction)
    ~ You can block/allow anyone you want
    ~ You can just unplug if you want to

    Social media provides two needs at the same time, community and privacy.

    Just don’t let it rule your life. Hold on while I towel off.

  18. Technology has made it quite bad, all work and play are centered on tech.

  19. Personally, there is no line between my online life and my offline. I speak to family members themselves online as much as I do off. I also think that my generation much prefers IMing to phone calls. At least my friends do. How much more fun is it to have 4 or 5 or MORE conversations going on the computer than it is to have one going on the phone. Sure, there is three way calling, but all three ways are messy and awkward.

    I’m not saying I don’t get out an live my life, but the virtual world is a big part of my life. It gives me a lot of freedom, and has turned me into something I’ve always wanted to be – the eternal student.

  20. Amazingly sad! One will never have real results without human touch, contact, and person to person contact. There will always be introverts in life and extroverts. Introverts are wired differently than extroverts. There’s nothing “wrong” with them. They just become energized through different processes depending on where the majority of their brain activity takes place.

    Now we have to tell everyone what we are doing it, when we are doing it, where we are doing it and why we are doing it.
    The follow me Twitter can be an additive and a BIG TIME sucker! Each one of these new Internet tools is like a Hot new Night Club, here today gone tomorrow, and then replaced with something else. Try giving it up and have a meaningful communication. Somewhere along the Internet highway, we fell under the spell that more communication is better communication. Sometimes more communication is just noise.

  21. I don’t have a family so it does not get in my way. :P

  22. Thanks for the timely post!

    Would love to read how successful bloggers manage to write and promote and still make time for real life.

  23. Great post!

    In my past life (Pre-Self Employment) I fell victim to a life without balance- and the consequences of always being plugged into my business took a heavy toll both personally and professionally. I learned LONG ago, that no business relationship is more important than the one I have with myself and my loved ones.


    I love Social Media as much as the next guy, AND I also feel that everything in life must be experienced in moderation. Yet, moderating Social Media is a difficult task. During the day it can be considered “working/networking” and during our times off it can be considered “connecting/interacting”, and before we know it, we’ve spent more face time with our “Friend’s List” than we have with our spouse, children or in-person friends.

    An important question to ask ourselves no matter the vice:

    – Is this interfering with other parts of my life/Are other parts of my life suffering because of this?

    The tricky part is pulling ourselves away from the computer long enough to take inventory on the state of affairs in the rest of our life, and to be willing to answer that question honestly.

  24. Balance with anything is important. Some stay at the office too long and others never make it out of bed. Sometimes we gotta know when to flip of the power button and step outdoors.

  25. Lines can get blurred if we ignore the importance of human interaction. Social media is wonderful for re-connecting so long as we don’t lose our established (human) connections at the same time.

  26. yup, that describes me, in the first sentence. But I try to maintain at least as many physical friends as online friends. The economist this week had an interesting article on the Dunbar number

    turns out the virtual world isn’t that different from the physical world.

  27. I can’t speak for others…but for myself I think that being able to work in short bursts and check in for a moment is great. I am able to work for a while…but I can always get up and take care of my family or my other obligations and know that most of my business tasks can be done 24-7 in small bursts.

  28. Card carrying member here. Blog and/or tweet, (try to do both) 7 days a week. But not the iphone thing. I’d say available everyday, but try to cut down on Sundays (way down — it’s my time to spend with God in a greater way, and with family).

    Is having so much access to a computer (and to work) a good thing, or is it a bad thing? I think it depends on the blogger and his/her ability to actually have boundaries — one of those boundaries being not allowing work cut into his time w/ his family. In other words, even in the blogging world you can maintain balance — set boundaries, have rules and guidelines. You must have good time management. You must decide when you will work, when you’ll stop to eat, when you’ll eat with the family, how late you’re willing to stay up, etc. You also need to decide when you will spend time with your family giving them undivided attention.

    When one has established these basic types of guidelines, and knows pretty well what his boundaries are, he should be able to have a happy family life. It even enables some to work at home who would never have had that chance, and would now be taking their children off to babysitter.

    So having access to today’s technology and the ability to work at home is actually a good thing. For example, one can actually be closer to his/her family if he blogs at home, b/c he can spend more time with his family.

    Again, it’s all if one has well set out guidelines for himself. And whether one has the willingness and ability to stick to the guidelines of a healthy lifestyle for himself and for his family.

    So yes, I’d say if you’re disciplined, the technology of today is a plus! If you don’t discipline yoursef, and are without guidelines, you make many around you sad because you are not participating in the life that is going on right around you. So in the end, it depends on the individual, and how he handles his freedoms.

    krissy knox :)
    my main blog: Sometimes I Think
    Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  29. The blurring of lines between work and play… well, you know, sometimes I think it’s the most efficient way for me to work, but then I really do get sucked in checking this and that and responding to “just this one comment” really quickly. Before I know it, an hour has gone by and my son is still waiting, ever so patiently, for his snack.

    I have recently made a vow to myself that I will turn off the computer when the guys come home from school and not check anything until they go to bed.

    My 10-year old son really hit home when he said, in response to my question about a poor homework grade, “Well, I was going to ask you for help with my homework, but you’re always on your computer.” Ouch.

  30. I am just now learning to feed the addiction that is social networking. I’m a new blogger, new to twitter as well as facebook and I had to laugh as I read this post because I overheard my son tell his sister who is away in college yesterday that I must have been ill because I hadn’t been on the computer all day! I will be a bit more cognizant about the blurring lines and try to keep the “crackberry” from becoming an addiction that completely overtakes me. As far as killing the human connections, I would beg to differ. I’ve been found by childhood friends as well as high school buds and we’re all planning a gathering now. Social networking has its place and can enhance human interaction if it is used properly.

  31. Social media was first initiated to connect people and enable people around the world together without being constraint in a fixed place or time or even meet face to face. But now, in my opinion, this kind of connection is somewhat overextended that it becomes to have reverse effects. I wanted to be available 24/7 to connect with friends with now I just want take some time for myself to connect with real people. I am wondering if social media began to fall into McLuhand’s tetrad in which a technology can pass 4 stages: enhance, obsolete, retrieve, and reverse. If the need to social media starts to bring more irritation and inconvenience to our life, may be it’s on the reversal stage. If it is, then may be we will go back to simpler time or develop a new technology and the cycle will begin again. Hm, what would be more convenient and better than instant social media? (if there is not, then technology evolution may seem to reach a halt.., but what do I know about this, I am just a normal non-technie grad…)

  32. It’s really a great post, I think everything in life have importance but according to its priority.

  33. Great post. It high time for us to separate out virtual life from real life and vise versa. Many time it occurred like this :- we bloggers get up in the morning.. start blogging and spend longs hours in front of computer. and when get up from the front of the monitor , it high time to go to the bed…..Life seems….

  34. Several years ago I used to play MU*s online (google muds) and I discovered that I was having trouble differentiating between real life and the game. I’d literally get up at 4am and play until 10pm. This went on for about 3 years and those are three years that are gone. Poof! I’ll never see them again. I lost a great girlfriend, and several close friends over it. I was entirely blind to what was happening. In fact it wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that I look back and have an “ah ha” type of moment.

    I mention this because I’ve lately found the same thing happening with social networking. The worst thing about it is that I’m not networking. I’m not the type of personality who “networks”, I’m just wasting time in front of the computer. Example: I have 5 blogs and I spend more time writing comments on other people’s blogs than on developing my own.

  35. Hi “pet lizards” (yes, I did pop in to your blog there… that sure is a “niche market!”
    Sounds like you are getting near (if not already) on the addiction trail…
    It is quite easy to spend hours on end in front of the PC and lose track of time (and people, and yourself which is the bigger danger…) I know, I have been there…
    We need to find a healthy balance and know when to SIGN OFF (I am after writing this to you!)
    You may find it usefukl to talk to someone you trust about this, or perhaps talk to your doctor, because this is becoming an international EPIDEMIC.
    Best wishes.

  36. Colleen says: 03/12/2009 at 5:57 am

    I am just beginning to consider a blog and am getting familiar with the social networks. But I must say, your post is exactly what I would expect from a man.
    I say this with great respect and a smile. Men tend to compartmentalize their lives. For women there is no separation between one aspect of their lives and another. All this multiple lines of communication is the kind of thing women do naturally. Unless we are being very focused in a task or career we experience the blurring of lines as the way life is.
    So your question may come from moving into that world in a way you haven’t before. A blurring of your world lines as a masculine person. And this is probably a sign that you are expanding as a person, something I would consider a good thing.
    And, I see there is also the potential to go too far with anything.
    Wish me luck in discovering this for myself!

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