drawing the lines

sharing online

How do you decide what you share online -and what do you hold back? It’s something that regularly comes up often during mentoring conversations – our sessions invariably slipping a little into blogging too (& one of the reasons I’m changing things up). Where do you draw the line?

Authenticity is still the hashtag du jour online, and for most of us it’s roughly the reason we started; to have a voice, to tell our side of the story, however quiet.
Not only that, but honest content has the most value too. In a world of makeup hauls and ‘my nice Saturday’ posts, something raw and real resonates and reaches out, has the potential to make a little butterfly-flutter of an impact. Most of the time that thought is the only reason I bother to get up and do this at all. “There are some things that you can’t know unless you’ve been there, but oh how far we could go if we started to share.”

But where do we draw that line, between the truth & oversharing? How do we put our honest selves out into the limitless, permanent world of the internet, and trust we won’t feel over-exposed? It’s tempting to be simplistic: I won’t write about my kids; I wont name my partner. For some this seems to work, but it doesn’t really address the issue – what are we keeping just for us – and how close can we walk to that line? The adage that ‘everything is content’ is true, to an extent – but when you’re trying to balance a personal life and other priorities, it’s important to know where your boundaries lie.

A column not a blog

One of the most helpful revelations I ever had in regards to blogging was to stop viewing framing it as such; I don’t like the word ‘blog’, or much that it conjures up. I’ve never really identified with it.

What I wanted to write,  I realised, was not a blog but a column. Columnists write the weekly content I love to consume. They’re not limited by tight subject fields or personal branding; they write what they’re thinking about, and it’s always ‘on-message’ because their column is about themselves. Immediately I felt more free: like a tiny, self published Cailtin Moran; an aspiring Hadley Freeman. Women who write openly and vulnerably and who were tackling the question of what to include long before professional blogging came along. Women who know their shit, and when to spread it.

the lag time

I’ve found when it comes to the painful parts of life, time is a great blogging asset. Letting a post sit in your drafts gives you some distance to feel it all less intensely, whilst providing some valuable thinking time. Sharing the bad times is one thing, but sharing the lessons you learnt with reflection is a whole lot more useful and wise.
A little distance leaves you less vulnerable should any of the comments or responses be less than compassionate, too. If you’re anything like me, you need to be in a calm and clear-headed place to be able to deal with that sort of nonsense. So, I write the post, then pour energies into restoring my happiness again. I can tackle the opinions of the rest of the world once I’ve re-established my equilibrium.

FIVE

Impact on others

This is perhaps the most difficult thing to navigate – what can we say about other people without their consent? It applies to our children & partners, our colleagues & friends; both the people who help and support us and those that drag us down.

There’s a quote I hold dearly to, by Anne Lammott:

β€œYou own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

I stand by this, every word of it; and yet, we can’t write in a vacuum. There are repercussions to everything we share, sometimes unseen or unexpected. I have so much to say about my dysfunctional family; about the way they see me and my choices, about the way they navigate the world. From private conversations I know it’s a topic that would resonate with many, and that, on a personal level, would be incredibly freeing and healing to share. Yet, the fallout would be nuclear; the resulting misery greater than anything I might gain. & no matter how much they ignore it or resent it, those people are still here, creeping, reading, and so the bulk of it stays unsaid for now.  A little more distance, perhaps. A little more time.

Where do you draw the lines, & how close do you get to the edges?

 

 

 

 

  • katie

    That quote is one of my all time favourites and I find myself referring back to it often (possibly a sign I’ve had one too many crap people in my life, but hey). I write in the vein of borderline overshare, but I started my blog for that purpose – to share my journey. I do worry and wrestle with the several draft posts sitting there and wonder what’s off limits and, speaking of dysfunctional families (I’m going to start a support group!), I’m going through yet another bad patch with mine. Today, my husband said to me “Why not write about it?”, but I imagined my sisters or mother reading it and felt terrified at the prospect. Maybe that’s one for the drafts… Loved this post, food for thought x

    Katie
    coldgirlfever.com

  • I simply write my own stories, those that belong to me. I have learnt what to share and not over the years. It is a steep learning curve.

    • This is a lovely perspective. Those that belong to you. Thanks for sharing x

  • LilBee

    Oooh I love this. Time. Yes; give it time. Thanks Sara xx

    • Time is a magical ingredient to so many things, right? x

  • Think to yourself “Would I be happy if my mum read this?” that normally tells you if you’re over sharing. πŸ˜‰

    • Hah! Sadly if it were up to my Mum, I’d be mute.

  • Pingback: Time Out Reads – Create | Slowly Lived()

  • Anne

    Fabulous idea about writing like it was a column. I’ve often thought about oversharing and have actually removed two of my children completely from my blog. There is so much more I have to share but I can’t without breaking another’s confidentiality, so yes, my posts sit in draft until I read them again another when the emotion is less raw and they often don’t get published at all.

    • This all sounds v familiar. It’s a fine line with kids especially – their right to a private life versus the wonderful connections we can form as parents by opening up and sharing. I relate v much to the drafts thing – it’s a wise move, I think x

  • thanks Nadia! Your point of view means a lot x

  • Anna Day

    This is so helpful. I only have our business blog and I think that muddies the water a lot – how to be approachable and real, but still professional. At the moment, the solution is to not blog at all… am still trying to get over myself fundamentally believing on some level that blogging is self-indulgent, and how dare I presume to imagine that anyone would care to read what I wrote. Ack. Baby steps, starting with knowing when it’s overshare πŸ™‚ Big love to you.