Friday, October 16, 2015

My Rules for Navigating Social Media and the Blog

When I first began blogging Sadie was six months old.  I hadn't really read many (or any) blogs at that point, but I somehow stumbled upon the Blogger website and decided that I could carve out my own little corner of the web where our far flung relatives who lived across the country could check in if they wanted and watch as Sadie sprouted up like a little bean stalk.

So I started typing, just about every day on a bright pink background on a blog called Sadie's Mom's Blog (that's long since been absorbed into this blog).

Over the years the focus of the blog has changed quite a few times, but one question that I've asked myself all along has been how much to put out there (here) for the world (in this case anyone who stumbled upon this blog) to see.

The conclusion I've come to is personal.  I think that it nearly always is, or should be.  There isn't a template that can tell most of us what's the right level of openness when blogging.  It's something we have to figure out for ourselves.

Over the years I've developed my own set of rules, that I've used to guide my writing and to help me decide what I'm willing to share in this space.  And tonight, if James stays asleep for another half hour and lets Mommy blog, I'll share them.

Rule #1: I can share embarrassing stories about myself, no problem.  But embarrassing stories about my family?  Not so much.  I'm the one who signed up for this, after all.  I can decide what my level of comfort is.  And I can ask Paul if he's comfortable with me writing about something (I can't recall him ever saying no).  But if it's something that I think will be even marginally embarrassing for him or the kids, I don't ask.  Because it's my blog.

There are moments, at least once a month, where I find myself thinking "If I was an anonymous blogger who didn't use any names or pictures this would be hilariously funny."

I'm not though.  That's part of the trade off.  And so far I haven't regretted the level of openness that has existed here for the past seven years.

Rule #2: If  I can't sign my name to it I shouldn't be putting it out there.  

Having my name attached to the blog and to my comments when I'm elsewhere on the internet makes me feel a certain sense of accountability when I'm writing.  It usually helps me cut back on the snarkiness that I sometimes find creeping up on me.

More than once I've typed something up and then paused to ask myself if what I'd written was kind or even necessary.  Did the person I was addressing really need to know that I disagreed with what they said?  If it was in response to something that I'd written did I not feel that the initial post could stand on its own?  Did it really need to be added to?  Am I going to start wondering if I need to go to confession if I hit enter to post something unkind and reactionary?

This isn't always easy, and I've failed at it many times (not the signing my name part, but the kindness part) but it's something I've made a point of asking myself more often in the past year.

This also carries over to social media in another way.  All of my accounts are public and I don't post anything that I wouldn't want the entire world seeing.  I think that the idea of social media accounts being private can get people in to trouble and so I find it's just safer to assume that everyone can see everything, which makes me think a little longer about what I'm sharing with the world than I otherwise might.

Rule #3: Babies get more face time on the blog.

Over the years, if you've been around, you may have noticed that the smallest member of the family is very likely going to get a lot of blog play time.

The reason for this is two fold.  First it's because this blog has effectively been my baby book for all of my babies.  And they grow so fast and I am still posting for our friends and family across the country.

There's another reason though.  As kids get bigger they need more privacy.  I can share cute stories about James and Patch all day long and even years down the road those stories won't be embarrassing.  As the kids get bigger I share moments that they are okay with me sharing, and I try to make sure that those moments are instances that respect their privacy and won't be embarrassing down the road.

 That does meant that it's impossible to really get the full picture of our lives.  You likely will miss out on the hardest days and moments and meltdowns, and on some of the biggest victories, because many of those moments and challenges are intensely private and just shouldn't be commemorated for the world to see.

If my kids are going to be embarrassed by me blogging I want it to be because they're embarrassed by me being me (like how a certain child was obviously embarrassed at the imagined idea of me leaving the house in my Mickey Mouse pajama bottoms when I put them on at 5 pm the other day because I was ready for it to be my bedtime), not by me telling stories that they didn't want the world knowing about.

These are the main standards that I take into consideration when I'm writing a post.  There are others too that come up now and then but those are the main guideposts that I use to decide on whether or not I should really write about the topic that's just popped into my head, or the funny thing that happened when we were out and about with our merry band of kids.    

Obviously this list isn't for everyone and I think it lies somewhere in the middle of what people feel comfortable sharing.  Some feel far more comfortable sharing more than I do here (and I love many blogs in this category) and others use made up names and don't share pictures at all (and I have favorites in this category as well), so the decision I think is a personal one where each person who does have their own little corner of the internet figures out what they're comfortable with and what works for them and for their families and friends.

So for all you bloggers and users of social media do you have any rules for how much you put out there and do you have any rules you'd like to share that you've found help you navigate this world of being able to share your thoughts and photos at the press of a button?

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you already know my rules, but you did ask. I don't use real names. Most of my photos are not of people and the ones that are don't reveal faces. It's in this way that I protect my children, myself, and my husband. And not just protecting their privacy but also to actual protect them. I find that a lot of what I write is controversial to some like pro-life things. Some of these people can be down right threatening. Thankfully that hasn't happened yet, but I think the reason is because they truly have no idea who I am and can't publish anything personal about me (there's a name for that but it escapes me right now). Mostly what I encounter is just ad hominems and inflammatory jargon. Your blog seems to be tame but then everyone once in a great while someone says something that I think "wow, whatever happened to civility." I realize that based on what I say that for some people they simply can't be civil and maybe should not read what I write. I don't write to make people angry. I write because I feel that by being silent on certain issues it can be construed as consent. There are many things that I don't consent to and yet the media would have you believe that "most Catholics believe/do x,y,z." I write to say that there is a minority and we have a voice too which should be heard. I feel that using a pseudonym best serves. But I think how you want to write and voice your opinion works well for you. I think bloggers have to be conscious of what they are writing and why and figure out how to best serve their family (and community) without hurting them. It's not a one-size-fits-all. It's a discernment thing.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!