How Much of Your Family do you Share on the Internet?

We all want to protect our kids on the Internet, but where do we draw the line? Photo Credit: Sean Malone Photography
We all want to protect our kids on the Internet, but where do we draw the line? Photo Credit: Sean Malone Photography

This is not a new question. Everyone has their own approach. Some of my friends share nothing, others share everything. As a blogger, I often get caught in the middle. On the one hand, sharing is part of what I do, on the other, I want to protect the stories of others, the stories that do not belong to me alone.

When it came to pregnancy, my husband and I were cautious about how quickly and how much we shared. Still, as time passed and we became more and more excited, more and more trickled onto the web. Then, when E. was born, I could not help but shout everything from my keyboard, pictures and all.

The reality is we live in a world where a lot of our connections are enhanced by technology. When I share pictures, it is not so the girl who sat four desks behind me in sophomore chemistry can tell so-and-so, “Guess who had a baby?” Instead, I share so my mom, mother-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends can take part in my joy, (and, it is a whole lot easier to post an album to Facebook than to try and email a batch of pictures. Trust me, I have tried).

So, this morning, I deleted more than 100 “friends” from Facebook. I went quickly, so I am sure some stayed who shouldn’t have, and some went who maybe should have stayed, but it felt good. Darn good. I only kept people who I see in real life, who I would love to see if they were closer, or who I have formed an Internet connection with because of similar-aged babies, etc. Everyone else went, including I am sure, some perfectly nice people who I hardly know.

While the Facebook cleanse was liberating, it still did not address the bigger question; how much of my family should I share on the Internet? Here is what I have decided:

1. Facebook: I only plan to share pictures for extended family/close friends. On that same vein, I am only accepting friend requests from people who meet the above criteria. While I get why some people want huge friend lists for networking purposes, I have decided my personal Facebook will be used to share my (somewhat) personal life. This still does not address the issue of how companies use Facebook to data mine for personal tidbits, but I figure if I use it more for pictures than for words, the better.

2. Blog: This is where things get trickier. I want to blog about motherhood but I don’t want to give away my daughter’s story without her permission, (and, let’s get real, she can’t give her permission for another seventeen and a half years…). My decision is to focus my blog more on my experiences as a mom than on her experiences as a child. Along that same vein, she will now be referred to as E. and pictures will be chosen very carefully, especially as she transitions out of babyhood. Eventually I plan to include no pictures of her face.

Phew. That’s a lot to decree and the truth is that I am still figuring it out. My generation is in a unique position as new parents because social media became a big part of our lives before our kids arrived. I completely get wanting to share more or less with this digital world, as I often feel conflicted myself. I would like to hear about your approach to sharing your family on the Internet. Where is your line of comfort? I realized I had been skirting along the edge of mine for months and it was time to take a new approach.

7 thoughts on “How Much of Your Family do you Share on the Internet?

  1. So smart of you to set boundaries! And good work on the facebook purge! I really should the do the same.

    The whole subject is an important one to think about with the omnipresence of social media. As introverts, especially, I think this desire to share and the desire to stay private are constantly at odds for us. Then throw in wanting/needing to promote our professional selves and everything gets even more complex! Whew.

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    1. So true! It’s that want/need to promote our professional selves that throws me for a loop… Some days I want to put it all out there and others I want to hide from the entire world. Glad you get me šŸ˜‰ Enjoy the purge!

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  2. That’s one of those issues that’s really tough to deal with and that I struggle with on a daily basis with my blog. There are so many things about my family life that I would like to blog about, but I don’t. There is an element of privacy my family deserves and just because I want to blog doesn’t mean their lives should become public as well. So, I dance around some of the things that happen, don’t blog about a lot of things that happen and, as you describe it, generally blog about my experiences, rather than theirs.

    It’s interesting that you wrote this today. My blog post from last night was about my mom and revealed some thoughts I have about my family and some “facts” about them as well. My mom has nothing to do with computers and the internet so she didn’t read it until my dad printed the post out and gave it to her. She called me today and during the conversation, which was good-natured, she commented on what I had written being seen by the world. I had to break it to her that there were probably only about 20 people who read it. She is a very private person and has no interest in having her life “out there.” I should think of her every time I think of telling somebody else’s story.

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    1. I will have to read your blog post from last night– my Internet usage is so stop and go based on the baby’s needs, so I hardly get to keep up with my blog reading anymore. Many people in my family are very private as well, so I identify with your mom’s response, pretty sure I’ve received similar reactions. I try my best to ask for people’s permission before I post, but different with a baby/kid since they don’t (fully) understand what it means to have a story shared. I feel the same way about writing fiction. I am learning to create people/scenarios from scratch instead of patching together the different personalities and experiences from my real world. Perhaps Expecting Happiness with return again one day with a fresh voice… šŸ˜‰

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      1. It’s very hard to write fiction completely separate from your own experiences, but those stories where I’ve managed that are the ones I’m most proud of because they are truly fiction and not dependent on my own experiences. Look forward to the new Expecting Happiness!

        Regarding the kid thing … I have tried to be very careful about what I share about my kids on my blog. They’re teenagers now, as you know, and they are definitely old enough to say yay or nay. But then social media is so pervasive with their generation neither of them really seems to care. Kind of sad, actually.

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  3. I can completely relate to this. Such a fine line! Like you, somedays I wanna share a lot and other days I wanna shield myself and my family. On Facebook I don’t post much at all. Instagram’s where I struggle. I’ve recently decided to make my posts private because there are just too many photos of my boy out there…but it makes me a bit sad because I made some new mama friends on there because my posts were public before. Oh well… at the end of the day, I guess we just have to go with our guts really. Social media is so tricky!

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    1. I feel the same way! Have made some wonderful connections/friendships through putting myself out there, but then don’t want to overexpose my fam… Such a hard choice!

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