At least some of y'all read the Emily Gould Times piece and thought, "Clearly, not a graduate student." At least, not a PhD student in a field where, despite a great deal of work about storytelling, said PhD student still has to worry about the word "overshare" being used during a prospective job evaluation.
This is something I have wrestled with for years. If you were to go to my website -- and I am most deliberately not giving you the URL -- you would find a badly formatted, sparsely updated blog I gave up on a couple months ago after being informed that no matter what tweaks I made to WordPress, the only people allowed to comment, apparently, were spammers. Clearly, it would benefit me more to have a richer and better-looking online presence, to decrease the risks that a search committee would be spending time raising their eyebrows at the number of friends I have zombiefied on Facebook.
But to be less flippant about it: the idea of "telling stories" as a method of distributing and accumulating planning knowledge is extremely attractive to me, as someone who wanted to be a writer long before she wanted to be any variety of planner. Stories are powerful. Emily Gould's story, particular as it is to her place, time, and socioeconomic situation, inspired so many comments the Times first had to close the comment thread and then had to open it back up again. Telling stories can invite confidence; open up space for similar or complementary narratives; communicate more effectively than other methods. The story can serve as warning, as inspiration, as exemplar, as lesson. Granted, it's not the easiest thing in the world to teach from story when every planning situation is unique, but people are working on it, and God bless 'em for it.
However: for women working -- not just women working in planning, or women working in academia, but women working, period -- telling stories is also dangerous. To take an example outside of planning academia, to tell a story that begins, or ends, with "I had a miscarriage" is pretty potent stuff. It can inspire sympathy. It can inspire discussions about how and why miscarriages happen, and how the American (or what have you) health care system should respond to miscarriages. It can also make your colleagues uncomfortable, and suggest that your mind is simply not on your work. (And for all we talk of work-life balance, I would suggest that any one of us wants our colleagues to have a work-life balance only up to the point that it does not harm our own work-life balance. Forgive my grammar.) And I think the negative repercussions of such storytelling-gone-awry are greater for women in the workplace than for men.
I am generally more inclined than not to tell stories about my personal life: because I'm seeking advice; because sometimes hiding the information is more trouble than just coming out with it; because sometimes I hope to be able to entertain or enlighten; because someone else has just told a story and I want to offer empathy with a similar story; because I just like telling stories by habit and inclination. But it means I am constantly running the risk of becoming Madame Overshare. And online, where oversharing once in 2002, or even 1992, will still be in Google's memory in 2010, the risk is even greater.
So for a while I have been wrestling with what I want a personal website to be. Because it is one thing to be "personal" and yet quite another to be "personal" while still being "professional." I wonder if other people feel they've been able to find a happy medium, or whether they would counsel me to screw the imagined search committee and tell all the stories I see fit, or wonder why this is even an issue.