Unpublishable

There's a topic that I've wanted to write about for years in order to better formulate my thoughts. Any time I've tried to have a conversation with people on the matter the end result has never been very satisfying. By writing about the subject, I'm forced to slow down and really think about what's being written and how things are being laid out. Do the points build on each other? Is the central theme followed the entire time? Are digressions and tangents kept to a minimum? By following the basic principles of writing, it's possible to put together an argument on just about any topic.

Yesterday I finished writing one of the longest pieces I've considered for this site. It weighed in at 7,218 words and covered quite a bit of ground. A number of memories were shared, conversations with people summarized, and a couple of religious texts were even referenced, all culminating in the 5-word central thesis of the piece. After reading through the essay twice, I decided that the item was ultimately unpublishable as it could result in some potential problems if my life insurance provider ever stopped by to read the article.

This got me thinking about what sorts of topics would be considered taboo to write about for a person who happens to find themselves gainfully employed with a family, a mortgage, car payments, various insurance policies, and a slow-but-steady freelance client base. To say that "nothing is taboo on the Internet" would be demonstrably false, yet there does seem to be a bit more freedom for a person to discuss ideas that might be unpopular if spoken aloud, particularly if something is published under a pseudonym or anonymously1. There are obvious taboos on posts that would promote violence against others, such as lynching, rape, and murder. There might even be taboos on posts that would intentionally mislead people, which are perhaps best exemplified by "Flat Earthers". That said, there are a lot of topics between claiming the world is a disc and pictures of kittens — the safest topic in the known universe.

Over the years I've written a number of posts that were originally intended for publication on this or another blog only to keep them offline for fear of reprisal at some point in the future. None were quite as long as the essay from yesterday, though some could have certainly resulted in some heated words2. Is it right to keep these offline? Or would this be an ideal use case for password-protected posts?


  1. Real anonymity on the Internet is very hard to find. It's often best to understand that there is no anonymity online without putting in a lot of work to hide who you are and where you're connecting from.

  2. Some of the opinion pieces I've written about the territorial disputes concerning islands around Japan have certainly resulted in some hate from drive-by commenters.