Did I tell you about my friend’s new boyfriend?
Did I tell you about my cousin’s run-in with police??
Did I tell you about my mother’s surgery???
Did I tell you about my neighbor’s 401K?
Did I tell you about my co-worker’s family troubles?
Did I tell you about that teacher’s personal issues?
Too often I think we share too much. I think we share too much of our lives in a public format and I think we share too much of what is not ours to share. I don’t believe most people do it with malice, but rather with carelessness.
I have done it myself, I am quite sure. I hope that when I have, it has been because I was not thinking clearly. But, I’m sure at times it was fed by the adrenaline rush that comes from the shock of gossip. I am learning, I am trying to be better. Before you post something to social media, before you talk to a group of people (who are not your closest, most trusted friends) think about what you are writing or saying. If it is not your own personal thoughts and feelings, please consider the subject of your comments. I understand that social sites are a quick and easy way to share information across broad groups, and that may be just what you need. But, if it is not your news to tell, why are you sharing it?
I feel the lines of personal content have been blurred. I worry that the divide between public and private space has been narrowed or, in some cases, removed. This hazing of separation changes our perceptions – of ourselves and of those around us. It is changing us. We are becoming more vulnerable victims, or more malevolent violators, or more demanding citizens. We feel we have a right to know things that, perhaps, we do not. Or should not.
I recently read a post in a public group on a social media site that made me very uncomfortable for the individual talked about in the post. I understand the family member who posted was frustrated at the events and wanted to blow off steam or get advice from others or warn people against similar things happening to them. But this was very personal information about someone who was not even a member of the group. He/she may not know the graphic detail that was shared. What about that individual’s privacy? I didn’t want to know – I didn’t need to know about this incident. Now I can never not know it. In this case, it is highly unlikely I will ever meet the individual who was talked about, or the person who posted in this international group. But, that’s not always the case.
I once listened to someone go on and on about a neighbor’s horrible family. Yes, I listened, I didn’t stop him – I was still learning. Within a couple of months I met the ‘horrible family’ he spoke of. I knew things I didn’t want to know about them. It tainted my relationship with them. And, in time, I learned things I didn’t want to know about the ‘horrible neighbors’ (yes, the one who started this all with his unkind words about the family). Everyone has their perspective. Nothing we hear is the truth. There are elements of truth in it, but there are emotions and experiences that have colored it in different ways.
I have changed the things I write about, the pictures I share, the comments I make and the conversations I engage in. I am working to view my public image from the perspective of my son’s eyes, 20 years from now. Will he be angry or embarassed at what I’ve shared? Will he be proud of what I said? I have learned now to always ask my son before I post anything he says or a picture of him. He often says ‘no’ and it goes unsaid, un-posted. When I first began this process – much later than I should have (which should have been from the beginning) – I was saddened when he asked me not to share some things that I thought were insightful or funny or beautiful. I’ve moved past that now. His privacy as an individual trumps that – every time.
My blog is changing with me. There are some things that just won’t be shared here. There is a lot I do share in hopes that someone else out there can breathe a little easier knowing they aren’t the only one to think or feel something. Or, perhaps, someone will reach out – to lend a hand or seek a hand. And, maybe someone will find a morsel in these posts that propels them in a new direction of growth. Perhaps, they will reach out and help me to grow, too.
I am learning how to be a better mom and a big part of that is respecting my son and myself. My family stories may come less often. My funny quips about motherhood or teenagers may be harder to find. I still take all the pictures I can, but I keep them just for us. I will not comment nor share the messages and memes that feel invasive for someone who is not me. I am re-writing my public story. It’s not to hide or because I am ashamed. It is because I am learning what respect for myself and my son truly mean to me. For us, that means more privacy. Even if that means I don’t get to share my experience with someone else who could learn from it. My family’s privacy will always come first.
I will continue to rewrite my story. I will continue to learn and to grow and to try to do better. And when I stumble, maybe I will tell you about it. Or maybe I won’t.
Thank you for affirming my thoughts and feelings again today. After seeing a post yesterday, (I wonder if it was the same one?), I decided not to share that post due to the inclusion of names of others. So sharing less personal information about myself and family on a public platform is my resolution for exactly the reasons you articulated. You are a gifted writer. I’m still learning life lessons and appreciate the wisdom you share.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Well said Robyn, I agree 100% !!!