This a blog about the ethics of writing. In this particular blog post, I look at ethical blogging, and I’m substituting the word posting for the word writing. That’s because, while posting uses a written language, most often blogging is done by non-writers.
A writer is, by definition, someone who uses written words in various styles and
techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing. We write novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays and essays, as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers’ texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.
In accounting, “posting” is the act of transferring an entry or item from a book of original entry to the proper account in a ledger. In life, it can also be what happens when you get sent to live somewhere other than your home for a defined or indefinite period of time. Sometimes it describes what happens when you dig a hole in the ground so you can build a barbed wire fence by attaching it to a “post.”
The ethics of writing are loosely analogous to the ethics of posting. I’ve covered the “ethics” of writing in an earlier blog. The ethics of “posting” are infinitely more subjective, murkier, just out of reach and elusive. In this context, I’m using “posting” in the sense that it’s a message on the Internet. It appears in digital form only, on bulletin boards, discussion forums, social media or websites, for everyone to read.
The essential difference is that often, posting is done anonymously or under a nom de plume. Writers use pseudonyms all the time, often for exactly that reason. There is no core ethical issue in using pseudonyms. Archie Leach changed his name to Cary Grant just to be more marketable. Male writers writing on women’s issues often use a female nom de plume. Rappers and DJ’s develop entire phony personas.
Ethical posting depends on why you’re posting and what you expect to accomplish with this short-form writing. If you’re trying to dupe, fool, trick, mislead, defraud, defame, harm, or falsely influence an election, you’re on shaky ethical soil.
Nuff said. Short-form is appealing but rarely satisfying.
I am an author and a part-time lawyer with a focus on ethics and professional discipline. I teach creative writing and ethics to law students at Arizona State University. Read my bio.
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