My dirty closet all open and bared on the Internet. It’s similar to having someone stand up in a crowded marketplace one day and announce my deepest, darkest secrets.
I will probably vanish after that. For how long, I’m not sure. Every time I will meet people, all I will wonder is what this person knows about me. My conversations will be inhibited, my responses will lessen. I will fear expressing myself. What if this person is thinking, look how good she acts, after all the nasty things she’s done!
I can call out the person who did this to me. What did they get out of all this? But that wouldn’t change a thing. The damage is done.
The Lockdown that digitized the world…
More and more constructive communities have popped up on the Pakistani social media landscape. As our audiences and members rapidly grow, we meet many people who are probably unaware of the consequences of their digital footprint. What they share and write is going to stay on the Internet for years. They will have moved on and forgotten about what and who they were talked about, but it will not undo anything.
The stories that weren’t ours to tell…
The COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 has been devastating for the world at many levels. More and more people turned to writing because of its therapeutic impact. Staying indoors inhibited our creativity and so, we started writing left and right on whatever topic we could find. That included stories that did not belong to us. The stories which weren’t ours to tell. The stories which would open someone else’s dirty closet and which would impose potential repercussions on them with us being blissfully ignorant about them.
The road to fame can be unfair…
… and rightfully so. The urge to be famous is a very tempting one indeed. It’s hard to ignore it. It’s hard to give in when it seems easy. What if you stumble upon someone’s interesting little secret and it’s almost too gossipy to pass by. It could be a controversial, a very gripping blockbuster. Nobody will know.
But stop. Do you understand that this is nothing but a fraud? Cashing someone’s life to your gain when the story isn’t yours. It’s also a classic example of privacy breach, and a very serious one at that.
When does mere storytelling become vicious?
Your storytelling becomes vicious when it talks about someone’s life rather too intrusively, or when the subject himself feels it is a breach of privacy. It depends on person to person really.
For example, I am a very private person. I will feel uncomfortable being talked about, let alone, written about. If someone writes about me in a good way, I might be happy about. But I’d like to stay informed. That’s basic ethics.
How to not be an A-hole Storyteller…
I’d like to share some very simple points that, to me, seem of utmost importance when taking inspiration from someone’s story:
Personally I’d say the best way to go about writing on someone’s life story, or a fragment of it will be to ask them. They should have a right to know, and should be the ones deciding about what can be shared and what needs to stay private.
If their story is an inspiration and you plan on merely sharing without putting them in a difficult spot, double check if the story contains details that will easily give them away. In such cases, you yourself will be the biggest common link to help people guess who’s story is being discussed.
To save their identity, fabricate as much part of their story as possible without losing the essence of it, unless, it is an autobiography.
Lastly, own a blog where all such posts should go. This makes sure you are not putting any other platform or hosting at risk. After all, if you’re gonna go down a lawsuit charge, make sure you leave others out of your mess.
That being said, people always have a flavor for gossip.