December 07, 2010

Blogging Dilemma: When Virtual Visitors Become Real

Is it a dilemma or is it not, when virtual visitors to your blog become real visitors to your life?

It depends. It depends on the intention of your blog and it depends on the visitor. It is not a dilemma when you want to sell something or rent something. And it is also not a dilemma when someone who became a "blogging friend" after a while of emailing back and forward agrees with you to meet in real life.

Yesterday, Angelo sent me an email saying an American couple stopped by and asked if they can see the house. They "knew" it via my blog. He showed them around and they said they will leave a comment on my blog about that visit.

So what would you say? How would you feel, while sitting thousands of miles away?

I can't blame Angelo, he is just proud of showing his work to someone who is interested. Not many visitors in Pizzo anyway at that time of the year. He is open minded and not chicken-hearted like me. And we have not yet had the situation that someone totally stranger would ask permission to have a sneak peak inside.

Then of course, this question suggests itself : "what is the point of blogging about all this ?"

The best thing of blogging about our renovation is, that we are getting some fantastic feedback and valuable input from readers who are interior designer, architects or interested, creative people with great taste and ideas like some family members and friends. Also family and friends are kept updated that way, as the renovation takes ages. Another very important aspect of keeping this blog alive is, that this blog helps us to document the whole work process and to get the best photos, manufacturers, inspirations etc. filed with tags.

My Italian family is very open about my blog. However, my German family does shake their heads about it: What if some crazy guy gets jealous and burns the house down? - While this is a bit exaggerated, a crazy guy might not look up the Internet for potential houses to burn down and travel far ... it might be a neighbour, however, looking for an opportunity to sue us for something.

That's why I am very wary and careful myself. And shy. I have only one blurred picture of myself, no pictures of my son, one picture of my husband from behind and very few from my Italian in-laws. Most personal pictures are from Angelo as he seems okay with seeing his picture and name in cyber space. Actually, I think, he even enjoys it. However, I am very discreet. Very selective with pictures. Very thoughtful with words, information, names and other details. (Did you realize, I did not mention from which US city these visitors came from?)

Of course, Angelo and CC cannot understand that I make all this thinking about this little incident (virtual visitors to my blog becoming real visitors).

So I asked Angelo to handle the next tourists who show up and request a tour of the house, to show them our semiinterrato, the beautiful basement and garden that will be available for rent one day. The upper parts, although not decorated yet, are private. I hope everyone understands and respects my protective reaction. Maybe just in time, before our house becomes a tourist attraction ...


  1. I personally think that you home is private. The bits that you show on your blog are things of interest to others, not an invite to see it in person.

    A blog is like an online magazine. Sometimes you can figure out in a design magazine where a house is located, but that is not an invite to drop in and have a look.

    Since it appears that you have no online communication with this couple or friendship that extends beyond this blog, I think this was an invasion of your privacy.

  2. I have loved watching the amazing progress and promise to remain...virual.

  3. I was a bit nervous about the comments for this post. But you made me all smile! (another fun part of having a blog!)

    When I sometimes say "drop by for a drink", I really mean it, but if possible, please just send an email before or call.

    I know, in Italy, you just drop in.
    However, I agree with Ratzmatz, just knowing a blog is not an invitation card.

    On the other hand, I really do not want to offend this couple that dropped by. They might be very friendly people, and maybe even Angelo asked them in. I do not really know how the situation was. They might not have planned to visit our house. On holiday, no email access... Maybe they walked down the street and realized: that is the house from the blog! And started to talk to the friendly contractor who just came out of the door and they recognized him from a photo.

    So please, if you have been the visitors and read this, I am not upset with you (if I would be upset with anyone, then with Angelo). I am just reflecting about virtual visitors becoming real visitors, how much I want this or not and if it's possible to protect our privacy when publishing private things after all.

    Last but not least, I want you to know: so far I never had problems with blogging, only positive experience and even found friends via my blogs - one of them became even very close!

  4. You are correct, the circumstances are not given. Perahps they were admiring from afar and your contractor was just so proud of his you are not residing there yet. Maybe in hindsight it would be OK.

  5. For me blogging sometimes is a "slippery slope" (I just checked the dictionary for "Gratwanderung"). I tend to be precautious - like in the real world.

    Now, the house is in transition. But soon it will no longer be a "renovation object". It will be our private home. And then it's time to agree on how to handle the "keyes" and "visitors". Especially, being far away, it is good to set some rules.

  6. Women, especially mothers, tend to be very protective of their home, while men are a lot more carefree about it.
    So I think, your reaction is just normal. To have some rules might help you to feel safe about your house again. :-)
    But don't be upset with Angelo, please. I mean, he was with them and nobody lives there atm. Later, when that changed, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't let some strangers in your house.

  7. ok - i will say this - if I was in your city, i would have gone and stopped by too and begged to look around!!! i just would! now, if you lived there - i would ring the door and introduce myself first, of course!!! but, i think the visitors took liberties because you don't live there yet. i've had readers show up on my doorstep and ring the bell. several became good friends. it's a dilemma i know, but i always say, serial murderers don't read design blogs, do they? hehehe. i want to come and see your house soo badly too!!!

  8. I guess everyone is curious about your beautiful house, just strange they make it to your part of the world. It is a compliment to you. Carla

  9. "serial murderers do not read design blogs"... ha ha ! Great comment!

    Hey, Joni, I "know" you! I would have left you in anyway! Even with your camera!!

    Sure, I am not mad with anybody.
    I am just a chicken-hearted blogger scared about publishing anything private. The whole blog is a challenge, I am often asking myself why I am doing this.

    But difficult to share all this exciting photos and development with the real world, as there are not that many people interested and able to share this beauty of this crazy project. I don't want to make anyone jealous, that's why this "anonymous" sharing with design and interior lovers is more fun and rewarding.

  10. Hey Suzie!

    Hmm... I can see how this definitely raised some questions on boundaries for you. It is a fine line sometime on what to share when blogging, and what not to share... I know I often err on the side of TMI in hopes of connecting with readers... {That's what working in PR will do to you though!}

    It's crazy that they were in town? It's definitely not a touristy town. I would take it as a compliment that people stopped by, and feel okay that it's fairly off the beaten path of all those "design blog serial killers." ha! ;)

    Don't worry- I will definitely have my captain ring you before we dock at the marina. ;) You'll have plenty of warning before we get there.

    You're smart. I have no doubt you'll find a good balance in connecting with others... and setting boundaries that make you feel comfortable!

    Have a great week!


  11. Suzie,

    A further explanation about our visit:

    While having dinner with a friend who lived on the same street, conversation turned to your renovation, and he suggested that we might be interested in seeing the work being done. As he explained the location and work in progress, I realized it was the site I had seen on the web. He then asked permission from Tonino and Angelo before making an appointment for us to stop by. We also visited the Chiesa del Carmine (next door) that my late father-in-law, helped build ( and rebuild after the fire). We had dinner at Popilia Resort, so we have seen both the old and new in Pizzo! So I hope this clarifies the circumstances of our visit.

  12. I fear we are the "dreaded American couple" who asked permission to visit your Palazzo Pizzo.
    While it is true that we viewed your blog on the Internet (quite by accident, as we frequently check the web for news of home)our interest was sincere as my husband was born almost next door (Via Luigi Paladini 21). We have spent 38 years returning to Pizzo at all times of the year ,with our children and grandchildren. My husband and children grew up playing on this very site. We love and admire the beauty of the city and the welcoming nature of its townspeople. Your renovations are truly awesome. I hope this explains our interest and puts your mind at ease.
    December 14, 2010 3:18 PM

  13. Dear Anonymos Real Visitor,

    I hope my post and comments here did not scare you off after all. Since you were the first virtual visitors becoming real I had to muse about this subject. I am a very private person, and blogging somehow is the other side. (I stop musing here about it)

    Hey, I knew that if you are coming all the way to Calabria over the Atlantic, one in your family must have Italian roots!!!

    But I did not expect that one of your family acutally was born in our little aley in Pizzo, just next door !!!


    Tanti saluti

  14. A new house was just finished on a leftover lot in my neighborhood (almost all the other houses here were completed by 1995). In late November, as it was being completed, I stopped by when a lot of workers were bustling around and walked in the door. I asked the guy who seemed to be in charge (and who turned out to be the builder) if I my son and I could look around and he that we could. The last room that we got to was the kitchen (we had circled around it because of all the activity taking place in there), where we happened upon the homeowner. She was very gracious to us, but I wonder what she thought about strangers ogling her new home.