Monday, July 28, 2014

Setting Boundaries (and Protecting Your Family's Privacy)

What do you see when you check Facebook or Instagram? (Honest, this isn't a trick question.) The images see in someone's social media stream or on their blog are those they're comfortable sharing.

Whether intentional or not, we all have different boundaries or rules for how we protect our own and our family's privacy.

Gates prepares her vegetable garden


Do you consciously choose what you share online?

To jump start your thinking about how you share (or might want to share), consider the four rules Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, has and the ten rules I have.

Gates gets her nails done Gates gets her fingers and toes painted

Think about what you see on social media from friends and from satirical mommy bloggers.

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.

Gates creates an egg coloring machine with Legos at STEMful


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.

All the children pause to color at Gates' 5th Birthday Party


When it comes to what they share of their "private" lives, each author has different boundaries or rules for how they protect their own and their family's privacy. In her keynote at BlogHer 2014, Jenny Lawson talked about her boundaries and rules for sharing.

Gates Learns How to Use a Cordless Drill at Tinkering School


Four Rules for Sharing from Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess

In her keynote at BlogHer 2014, 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:

  1. Don't be mean.
  2. Never write anything where someone else is more of the butt of the joke than you.
  3. Never write anything about which someone will say, "I can't believe you married that asshole."
  4. Never publish anything an angry fourteen year old can use against your children in the future.


Ten Rules for Sharing Images of Children Online Gates playing at a lego table


My Rules for Sharing

My rules for what I share here and on social media:

  1. Don't blog angry. Step away from the post and sleep on it. You may have a different perspective after the dust settles.
  2. Until someone can make conscious decisions about their overall image (online and offline), only share neutral or positive events.
  3. 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.)
  4. Never personally attack someone. Keep discussion constructive. If you can't remove emotion from a thread, take a break.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. Share vacation specifics in the past tense (after they have happened). You don't want to invite stalkers.

Gates arranges the materials she wants to use in her collage. Gates cuts ribbon in half to add to a collage.


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.


genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

Updated 11/10/2017 to add three new guidelines and include sample images of children.