What you see in someone's social media stream or on their blog has been shared based on what they're comfortable with. Each author has different boundaries or rules for how they protect their own and their family's privacy. In her keynote at BlogHer, Jenny Lawson talked about her boundaries and rules for sharing.
After eight years of blogging here (and longer other places), I decided it was time to attend BlogHer. BlogHer, if you're not familiar with it, is a conference designed to help women learn how to blog, make money through blogging, manage social media, and more. (I'll talk about my general thoughts on this conference as compared to others I've attended in a future post.)
What struck me most from the two days was how we intentionally or unintentionally set boundaries in what we share, something I've grappled with for awhile, but wasn't able to articulate. Think about what you read. Some stories include out of control toddlers who regularly throw temper tantrums. Or teenagers who stay out all night or don't do their chores. Other stories portray families that always get along and eat dinner together every night. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. But those images and stories shape our impressions; a potential employer may see a lazy teenager who can't be trusted to complete a task and pass them over for an internship.
Four Rules for Sharing According to The Bloggess
Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess nailed the importance of boundaries. Her four rules for setting boundaries on what she writes on her blog and shares on social media are so simple they're easy to remember and to apply:
- Don't be mean.
- Never write anything where someone else is more than the butt of the joke than you.
- Never write anything about which someone will say, "I can't believe you married that asshole."
- Never publish anything an angry fourteen year old can use against your children in the future.
My Rules for Sharing
My rules for what I share here and on social media:
- Don't blog angry. Step away from the post and sleep on it. You may have a different perspective after the dust settles.
- Until someone can make conscious decisions about their overall image (online and offline), only share neutral or positive events.
- Never, no matter how cute or how tempted, share naked or topless photos. (Imagine yourself in that image as you are today. If you don't feel comfortable sharing it, don't take it of another person. Do you share photos of yourself on the toilet or in the bath? If not, skip the potty training shots.)
- Never personally attack someone. Keep discussion constructive. If you can't remove emotion from a thread, take a break.
- Everything can be taken out of context. If a story or a quote needs a set up, consider if you're ok with it being shared out of context--it will happen.
- Avoid sharing addresses. Turn geotagging off. Look in photos to see if there's mail (reshoot the photo without the mailing addresses visible) or notes with phone numbers scribbled on them (again reshoot the photo without the phone number visible).
- Share vacation specifics in the past tense (after they have happened). You don't want to invite stalkers.
Resources for Getting Started with Story Telling
If you liked this post, you may enjoy some of my other posts on storytelling and choosing how to share your story.
- How to tell your story (a round up of some of my favorite advice on the parts a good story needs)
- How to craft a perfectly imperfect personal story (or it's OK to take and share photos from your phone)
- When to change the medium you use to tell your story (or how to create a scrapbook when you're used to working digitally)
- Tips for starting a journal practice (or where to put those thoughts you want to process, but don't want to share publicly)
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.