Blogging, privacy issues, and a Mommy Blogger

Photo by ItzaFineDay, via Flickr

The great thing about the online community is the way you can draw on the experiences of a much wider variety of people than ordinary life allows. You can have a conversation with a number of people at the same time, and everyone’s experiences and perspectives (via comment box) enrich each other.

Yet sooner or later, I would imagine every “mommy” blogger has to confront the possibility that her kids are reaching the age where it’s no longer acceptable to parade their every word, antic, and struggle in front of the world.

I’m really starting to wrestle with this now with Alex. Up to now, he’s always been very excited about being featured on Mommy’s blog. But a few months ago, he surprised me by saying, “Don’t put that on the blog!” It was the first hint that it’s time to start thinking more carefully about what I share of his life. His peers don’t read my blog, but some of their parents might, and not everything is meant for the world to know.

I try to be pretty careful about what I reveal about the lives of others. But I’m really struggling with the line in my own household. What you guys like to read is my reflections on children and family and parenting, and it’s hard to do that without sharing the stories that prompt those recollections. Plus, my blog has replaced the journals I have kept from 6th grade on. I sometimes miss that format–the format where I could use as many exclamation points and tell as many secrets as I wanted, be as blunt and frank as I needed to be. There was something very therapeutic in that process, and that’s something I can’t do in a public forum. But typing is so very much faster than longhand, and it feels like I’m hitting two targets by using the blog format.

You see, I began blogging because every author is supposed to have a “platform.” But I soon realized that nobody wants to know my ruminations on writing. And frankly, most of the time I’m not all that interested in writing about writing. What I learned I was good at was taking the moments of daily life and putting them into words that make them at least somewhat universal.  Which brings me back to my opening: the thing I love about the online world is the way it’s possible to glean deep insights from people I’ve never met, and the possibility of offering insights to others who might never meet me. We can learn from each other. Help each other through the struggles we all face. I think that’s really profound.

In order to accomplish this, however, we have to be willing to share–not to set up “privacy” as an idol. There are many times in the human experience when we iolate ourselves from the very people who can help us, simply because we’re afraid of being vulnerable, of being judged. That vulnerability is what frees us.

But where is the line? There’s little, if anything, about my life that only involves me. Any time I have an experience to relate and insights to share as a result, it’s because I interacted with someone else. I can strip identifying details, but are those people not still going to recognize the encounters and feel exploited? I wrote a post last week that never went public for that very reason: it felt exploitive, even though it was something that profoundly affected me for several days.

Most important of all is that line between too much and not enough where my family is concerned. It’s not my place to parade details of an adolescent’s struggles. And yet my own journey as a woman, a mother, and a child of God is deeply impacted by those details. How do I share my story without betraying the trust of those most important to me?

I’d love to hear thoughts from those who have wrestled with this already.