Sunday, April 8, 2012

Content vs My Life and Theirs

On Monday nights I hang out with some ladies in an unusual place.

Tiny shards of the stories they share shake my heart. The hard kind of shake, like when you search for that last dime to feed the meter, and you repeatedly pound your purse upside down in the passenger’s seat because you know eventually the dime will drop out.

Okay, you get it. I am inspired by these ladies.

Last week, one of the women shared a powerful story, and I really wanted to tell you about it. Still do.

Then, I thought it's her story. It's her life. It isn't my content.

And what’s my point in sharing her story anyway?

To impact you?

To make me look good?

To make a killer blog post?

What if my sharing has more to do with me than with her.

Disappointing, right? Slightly.

Anyway, the whole situation made me revisit some of the guidelines I made for myself regarding what I share online. 

So, just what are my online rules?

1.  Share about serving people in an inspiring way, not a condemning, I’m so fantastic kind-of-way.

2.  Restrict the amount of pictures I use of my kids, and try to use old pics. This is haaaard and sometimes I break it. However, Jon A. wrote a great article about not using your kids as content here, and it's a good reminder.

3.  Write very little about the hubby.

4. Use this space to celebrate God and acknowledge people involved in cool ways of helping others. 
 Your turn. What rules do you have regarding sharing online through blogging or Facebook? Are you guilty of using your friends or family as content too much? Is anyone else out there freaked out at the thought of how much we share online?


13 comments: said...

I feel this same tension -- when am I out trolling for a good post VS when am I living life and God gives me eyes to see (a lesson, an insight, a helpful illustration).

These are some rules I've made for myself:

1. I'll use family BUT only if it's really about me and they are just bit players. I won't use family if it makes them look bad.

2. I won't use anyone by name if I havne't asked them.

3. No pictures of family members -- I did bend this one a bit with pictures of my nieces in Beijing. They were hailing a cab and you can't see their faces.

4. Because I work in a fairly public company and many people know me (but we're also small enough AND people aren't dumb, they can put pieces together) -- on occassion I'll change details that are not core to the point of the story (i.e. 6 months becomes 2 years) to protect others' identites.

I'm curious to read others' rules too! Amy

Amy Sullivan said...

I actually just wrote something off-line in which I did number your #4. I changed the amount of time that elapsed. It gave me a little bit of freedom to say what I wanted to say without worrying that people were connecting the dots.

I should probably ask people to use their name or their story more instead of just being vague. Like in the case of the lady I mentioned above. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't care if I shared. It's just her story felt too personal.

I'm curious as to the rules of others too!

HopeUnbroken said...

this is a great post, and that was a great article by Jon A. you already know i have some strong limits because of hubby's job.
there are times i want to break those, especially when sharing pics of the kiddos. but then i ask myself, why do i really want to share them?
the stories--i have often wondered how some of my favorite bloggers will change how they write when their children enter the tween/teen stages and begin reading their moms' blogs. i guess because i started at that stage, it has affected my approach from the beginning. nothing to keep you more accountable (or private) than having your teens reading your stuff. it also reminds me that everyone outside of myself deserves that same respect, and i shouldn't be sharing a story that i wouldn't share in "public."
one last "rule." don't share anything i'm not emotionally ready to handle a critique of. i once had a story i felt ready to share. i was given the advice that while it was a story worth sharing, perhaps i needed to wait until it wasn't quite so raw before putting it out there for others to scrutinize and offer input on. that advice was invaluable, and i think of it often.
happy monday, amy!

bluecottonmemory said...

I'm like you with pictures - I use very old pictures because really after a certain age, their image is theirs. I won't post picts of my grandbaby because I think that is an invasion of their authority.

I have a mission statement and I try to adhere to that. My blog is about the faith, love and politics of raising boys to men - and it involves my faith to fulfill those responsibilities. I talk about challenges, but I rarely talk about the exact nature of those challenges - and, surprisingly, that reaches people where they are even more. Plus, while it is not a place to hang out dirty laundry, it is all about encouraging story telling. If there is not honesty, there is isolation in the struggle - and God does not want us isolated in the struggle!

One day, this story will weave itself into you and you will see how God wants you to use it.

Gaby said...

You got me thinking on this one, Amy. It's hard to write a primarily parenting/adoption blog without sharing your children as content. I try to write more about me as a parent rather than about them as children, if that makes sense. And I only share a story of theirs if it will make a point of encouraging someone else who is parenting. I only write when I have something to say, that's why I'm so sporadic. I won't write unless the post grabs ME, so I can't be a routine blogger. I won't tell more about their adoption story on the blog than what they already know, if that makes sense. And I won't write about the process much (as you may have noticed, I have NOTHING about the Haitian adoption after the announcement that we are doing it) because it is too fraught with unknowns and I know all my family reads.
I guess that's all I can think about right now, but you got me thinking about my blogging philosophy...

I am LOVD said...

This is such a good thinker post for us bloggers. I don't use my husband's or child's name, for sure. I don't ever write about anything that would put them in a not-so pleasant light.

I always ask permission if other kids happen to be in the photo I use of my son.

I always, always keep in mind that I started my blog by wanting to inspire others and, when they left my blog, I wanted them to feel good.

I always say a little prayer on my really heart-felt posts that it reaches someone in need of reading my words and offers a bit of comfort.

I am LOVD said...

Oh, yeah, and totally agree about not talking too much about hubby. He doesn't like that so much. said...

I am very reserved online. I never post pictures of my kids, I never associate my name with the company I work for, and I don't talk about vacations until I return. I have read too many stories about security scares and I just prefer to be safer than sorry later.

Jean Wise said...

This is a good post to ponder and rethink how as bloggers we ARE using this forum. I limit my personal stuff but have used it occasionally. I think it helps to remind ourselves what is the mission of our blog and stick to that theme. You are making me think, Amy! LOL

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Interesting post, Ames! Here are my two cents.

I understand those who choose not to use their chilrens' real names, photos, etc. because of security reasons. I struggled through that a bit early into my blog. But I decided to not be led by fear on that issue.

As far as using my kids for "content" - Yes! I totally do. (You already know this. ha!) This is a blog about us, our family. It's my online journal of my kids and yes, it's becoming more public. I am sensitive and respectful with what I share, and sometimes it's hard to find that line, because some of the hard stuff I share is adoption related and I feel compelled to be forthright about the challenges of adoption rather than just posting the happy parts.

I don't see sharing parts of my kids' lives as "using" them. Not at all.

As my oldest gets older, I find that I'm even more sensitive about what I share. When I blog about him, I let him know and I make sure it's not a situation where another teacher at his school read my post and then it all comes back to him. I would never want to embarrass him or make him uncomfortable.

I'm not done yet. :)

As for sharing others' stories, this is an interesting one. Again, it's important to use respect and (when necessary) anonymity, but I wish more people would be willing to share openly about certain things. I think there's a fear of people thinking something is braggy or condemning, but if the heart is in the right place, then those aren't our worries to bear.

God gives us stories and he uses us in the stories of others and in sharing some of these things, He gets glory and honor and the lives of others around us are impacted. I LOVE that!

Beth in NC said...

Hmmmm. I'm sure I use entirely too many pics of my daughter. Hmmmm. Ok, you have me pondering this one.

I don't use my husband or daughter's names -- nor do I disclose our location (other than North Carolina).

I also try to never write a post in anger. I may write posts that others might not agree with, but I try not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

Great post!

emily wierenga said...

i've found this topic hard lately, since i have two new boys in my family... i've asked their mom for permission to blog about them, but i have to be careful. thank you for convicting me of this, dear amy... love you girl. (so glad you like my tunes :)) xo

Amy Sullivan said...

Geesh, guys,
So much to respond to...taking the email route on this one.

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