I had been flipping through some photos of a friend of mine online when I stumbled across some photos of his that could be described as dubious. In several pictures, his eyes were red and watery. Smoke billowed from his mouth and he was holding a pipe in his hand. It was not one of the pipes that gentlemen used to smoke with in the 1800s, like Sherlock Holmes, but one that looked more florescent green that went well with a sack of Doritos or some other “munchies.” I do not judge his choice to party. I really do not care. However, his boss or anyone else could find him on his personal social networking page and come to a different opinion. Is this being transparent?

All of this got me to thinking about the idea of transparency, authenticity, being real on the web. After all, most of us have a Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace account and an online persona. I follow dozens of bloggers online. The ones I am most attracted to are the ones I feel are being most honest with me, the ones being most transparent, authentic and real. Sometimes, they say things that push buttons and boundaries of their readers. Their ideas provoke and maybe gamble with their personal reputation, like my doobie toking pal. So where does the line get drawn with an online public image? The Internet makes for a smaller world.

Because I believe in promoting no B.S., there is a built-in problem with wanting to be transparent, and that is taking the chance of being too honest, too exposed, and too open.

Here are the three questions I answer before adding a new article that might be controversial to some.

1. Have I been completely honest?

When I have been completely honest, I know that if I catch any flack, it is, at least, for the right reason.

2. Am I willing to take the scrutiny?

When I have a strong opinion publicly, it means that someone with an equally strong opposing opinion may want to punch me in the face 63 times. Yes, exactly 63 times. This is something I have to be willing to accept.

3. Does my opinion fit into the larger picture of my web site’s ideology?

Is there a good reason for making a bold statement that is beyond my ego or just a feeling of wanting to be clever? If the answer is yes, than I go for it. I think the most important idea here is being conscious of how people might react and making a decision that I can live with it. Before Travel. Write. Live. went live, I decided where my lines were drawn.

Now I will go write something either compelling or offensive. Wish me luck.

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