A question on privacy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I know this is opening a can of worms with a wide variety of opinions, but I want to hear your thoughts:
How much should a person share on a blog/website/Facebook/internet? 
How much should she not share? 
When does it become unsafe? 

I've been thinking about these questions a lot recently before our baby boy arrives, trying to decide how much of his little life we will make public on the blog and how much we will keep private.

The original purpose of this blog was to document our lives for our family and friends who are scattered across the country, and to document it for me and Shawn to look back on years from now and see the faithfulness of God in our lives. Somewhere along the way, you sweet readers (and occasionally some that aren't so sweet) started following along. The blog is all the more fun for you being here, but even if you didn't choose to follow along, I'd still keep this blog as a mini journal for this season in our lives.

But then there's the question of safety. It may seem like I share a lot - and I do - but I also keep a whole lot more private. I'm careful not to show photos of the front of our house, our cars, etc. But I've also been recognized in public at least 3 or 4 times in the last few weeks, which is really flattering and also a little sobering. When I'm writing, I often feel like I'm writing to a small group of girlfriends... not to thousands of you that I've never met.

And then a baby enters the picture. A baby who has no say on how much or how little of his life is put online. Do we share his name? His milestones? Do I make the blog private if I'm not willing to call him "Little E" forever? Whew... lots to think about.

I've seen bloggers on both extremes... some who, in my opinion, overshare everything about their kiddos (and have blogs that have a much larger following than mine). I can promise you right now that I will not post a picture or a story about the first time my son poops on a potty. :) And then there are other bloggers who choose to call their kids by nicknames and never by their real name, though the more popular their blogs become, it seems people find out the real names anyway.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. And again, I know this can tend to be somewhat heated, so please, please keep the comments friendly and conducive to the conversation (my family reads this, too!). Thanks, friends.

Thank you guys so much for weighing in. As I expected, there are a variety of opinions - but all are such good food for thought in regards to how much or how little we choose to share. I probably won't make a concrete decision until he gets here, but I don't think I can help but show him off (whether or not I make his name known) and I don't plan on going private anytime soon. Ultimately, it's a matter of prayer for discernment and protection, and I am trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me in what to post and what not to. Thanks again.

26 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I think you should share however much you're comfortable sharing. If you're not comfortable that 800 odd people know your son's name then keep it as Little E. Everyone is different as you say and so everyone will choose to write different levels of their private life on their blogs. In the end though it's your freedom and choice to pick what and what not to share with your subscribers. It's seems as if you are aware of the safety implications and that should be enough.

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  3. Whatever is comfortable for you :) There are some things you can do to ensure safety which you probably already know about like watermarking your pictures on the blog dead center so they can't be stolen. I have a small craft blog so sometimes pictures of my kids pop up. I put photos up sometimes: BUT I don't have a special section of my blog that has photos of my kids and their names. If someone comes to my blog they would have to search for pictures of my kids. Most thieves aren't willing to take the time.

    Also: if it really bothers you, then make your blog private. One thing that I think is a bit irritating is if someone shares on their blog (for example) that they're pregnant, takes you through the pregnancy, then doesn't want to share anything about the baby. (hehe No harm if you decide NOT to share picts of your son!) It's just that it's like reading a book and somebody tore out the ending pages. You could have a different private blog for friends and family. In the end, it's all up to you and what you're comfortable with. YOU are his protector.

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    1. Toooootally agree about it being annoying when people stop sharing. I get why they do, but yeah... good food for thought. :)

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  4. It's your job as a mother to protect your children. And in most cases as a mother you are equipped with 'gut feelings'(or holy spirit promtings as I like to think). Go with your 'gut'. I have two small children and use Facebook. I'm very picky about who accept as my friend (basically only those I know), but even then those people if they comment on my photos can be seen by all of their friends. A tricky situation, so I wish you all the best and ultimately I think you also have to trust God. Because as careful and wise as you can be, bad things happen. That's why I have given my children to God. I trust Him for thier saftey (of course I'm still very careful) But unfortunately I have learned the hard way that God is ultimately in control... hope I haven't freaked you out, this was not my intention. :)

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  5. I read a blog once where the parents didn't say their son's name or show pictures of his face. Only pictures from behind etc. But it made me feel very disconnected from him. Like I knew nothing about him... like he wasn't an important part of what was going on. I would never show my house number or say a location we were going to be at before we were there, but I see no more harm in putting up your baby boy's name and picture here than I see putting it up on facebook, or putting a "baby boy!" balloon on your mailbox. Everything on here is your call. The more you share, the more we will relate to you, but that doesn't mean you have to share everything.

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  6. Thanks for bringing this up! I've been wondering the same thing for myself and baby M and the blog-world and Facebook-world. I'll keep checking back in the next few days to read the comments and advice from your other readers. Thanks again!!

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  7. I think it is extremely debatable. I read lots of blogs where the parents post pictures of their children, mentioning their names too, and it does make it more interesting for the "public". It feels like I'm closer, like a friend, like I'm part of the action, not just reading a fiction story. But I also read on a such blog that the mother, by checking the key words that got people to her blog, discovered that a certain photo with her 2 fully dressed children came up in a public search using child pornography related terms. And it got a lot of visits by this search, many from the same ip adress. I do not want to scare you, but as everyone else said, it is up to you to make sure you do your best to protect your child. If I, personally, knew that some person looks at my children that way, I'm not sure I could sleep at night before I took all their pictures down. Yes, as a blogger and as a blog reader I do love pictures and stories. I don't really care about real names. But it does make you stop and thing at which point you should draw the line. I'm not a mother yet, and I can't say what I will do when I will be one, but it is a subject I will most certainly think about.

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  8. I think both options are fine...totally up to you about what you decide to share about your kids and your life but I know it is great for me to read about you guys being such a great Godly example.One example of I blog that I like the level she shares is Merricks Art.

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  9. I guess go with what you would like to know about others children you haven't met as well as your gut feeling.
    I like nicknames on blogs, and you can always keep your family up to date with more personal and private info and photos in the mail and email etc.
    But lets face it, we are generally all super-clucky ladies who love to gush over a fresh new baby. But it is totally up to you, the internet can be a very scary place.

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  10. My Advise to you,dear whitney: keep it a bit private!!! you can mention him,because we know he will arrive soon, and call him my little baby E!! (adorable nick name)and add an ocaccional DYI for kids, some pics,if you like, but try not to turn your blog base around him...although you will be very busy and having him around all the time, you are still a woman, an artist, a wife, a friend, a nurse, a bussines woman( etsy ),glutten free, etc ,so you have a lot to share if you like that is not focus in your little one. I think the problem is, you have already shere to much details of your life with the public and we fell like we know you (all 850 + fallowers and the ones you can not see ,like ME, I AM NOT YOUR FALLOWER AND I LIKE TO READ YOUR BLOG!!!!)and we want to know what are you up to,or admired your skills..... In other words you and your life are becoming a "bit famous" . My other advice is clean your blog a bit,for example: insted of writing:" i live in Franklin,tennesse......you can put i live in southeastern United States,so a bit more impossible to reach you phisicly, so, make real focus to keep your fallowers closed in the net ONLY!!! you will never know who can be or bring bad intentions. And we fallowers are STRENGERS at the end of the day. So you are in CONTROL of your blog !!even if we pressure with coments like, tell us,show us ,help me ,tell me ,tell me etc heheheeh!!! if you advoid pics and articles without mentionning places,especific times infomation ,full names of friends, you will be fine and you can share as much a you like!!I like to read positive things and look at gorgeous pics,and your blog is the want to fallow!!!! I hope this helps. Greatings from England,
    Isabela
    PD: I'm really sorry for my bag English writting! My mother language is Spanish so please delete this comment once you read it!!hehehe ;)
    Best wishes xx
    Isabela

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  11. It seems the the Lord has given you a discerning spirit. I don't think there is a black and white, right or wrong answer. But remember that the beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord. Ultimately He is your protector as well as Little E's, and it's such a difficult but sweet thing to acknowledge who's hands life is in. Trust Him to protect you as you learn how to protect your little one and don't buy into the idea that making all the right choices makes you "safe". False security is so deceptive.

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  12. I don't show my children's faces or mention their names on my blog. I, too, have been recognized, which is so flattering and strange at the same time.

    My job as a mother is to protect my children, and posting their faces and names on the internet for the sake of a post on my blog...well, I'm not comfortable with that at all.

    Sure, cute baby pictures are fun and I'd hate to think that readers feel disconnected because I don't show them, but ultimately my blog is a hobby and as much as I love and appreciate my readers, I'm responsible to my children, not them.

    Just my two cents.

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  13. It's your blog and your life. Whatever you feel comfy with is your own answer. I think a simple solution might be to create a separate blog for just private followers, where you can really share your family stories safely. I personally think it's fine to show only nicknames or partial photos of kids on a blog like you have now. As a blogging friend, I'm not looking to connect with your baby as deeply as a family member is.

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  14. with my 2¢, i generally have a couple rules as i've blogged for people who don't live in the area and my readership is like... 10 :) but! i generally avoid using my kiddos names, i do my best to talk about things that if one of them read it in the future, they wouldn't be embarrassed (this took some refining... as i was kind of learning the ropes of parenthood with my first and blogging all at the same time). i do the same with facebook. i almost blew it a couple weeks back and wrote a very specific status about something that had happened. i deleted it immediately as i don't want to form opinions for my kids without the people really knowing us (unless it's cheery- so life can maybe get a bit artificial). as i'm leaving baby-dom for the first time in 5 years, i'm noticing that i have more to write about aside from kiddos. it sounds like you may continue working both within nursing/crafting so i think that you'll have more external things to keep up with as well. i've loved reading blogs, but when kids are born you do the best for your family, right?

    ps- i can't wait to read about your december date night to the movies and 'les mis' :)

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  15. Oh, I feel for you Whitney! I've often thought about the purpose/privacy/relationships in the blogging world. It's weird that strangers can look into a person's life. But then, there isn't really anything I'm hiding either.

    And so with that, my advice is to keep going the way you are (because honestly, you are super encouraging to me, a stranger!), and limit pictures of your kid/s (or don't post faces at all, if that's uncomfortable for you) once they get recognizable. :) Baby pictures are pretty safe, I say! I agree with what Kayla said earlier in the end though- God is your protector. He knows what the purpose of this blog is. I say, spend a day in the Word, just looking for answers! Ask God to give you wisdom in how to manage this area in your life. I'm pretty sure He'll come through...maybe even in an unexpected way!

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  16. thank you so much for getting this discussion started. i was just thinking about 'how much is too much' to put on my own blog and after reading these comments, decided to do a google search of my own name, my husband's, and my children's...and i found all of my blog pics and entries coming up which made me uneasy! and i noticed recently on my live feed that people from random countries around the world are checking out my blog. needless to say, i have changed my privacy settings and removed any possible identifying information since then. but unfortunately i don't think i can remove the previous images from coming up on a google search. :( if anyone on here knows how that can be done, please share!

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  17. I would say

    1. use common sense
    2. never share things about your kids that would embarrass them
    3. keep using the same discretion you use now and

    4. have fun.

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    1. Great advice, as always. :) Thanks, Glenda.

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  18. As soon as my baby arrived I went private. I just remember a night where my heart started pounding, I started freaking out about the outside world, and I couldn't fast enough go through all my posts and check to see how much I shared. Although I am not anywhere near your followership. All it takes is one person to have really bad intentions. And as much as I loved the blog love from others, it wasn't worth it to me. Since going private, I still continue to post and it continues to be my little story keeper. With all that being said. If you do go private...please invite me lol. we have mutual friends that can vouch for me! :) hehe.

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    1. You're adorable. :) I probably won't go private, mainly because there are so many crafting tutorials and things on here that people come back to time and time again. It's all just really good food for thought in how to share our love for our baby without it being dangerous. Thanks, Bri!

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  19. I think this is a topic between you, your husband and God. I work as a nanny and as such, I don't post any pictures of kids that I work with due to media release, etc. But in the industry, I have seen parents and nannies that share quite a bit about their families including names and pictures. There is no right or wrong answer. God has given you discernment on what to share from your own personal life and it is up to you to use that discernment to protect your child. You also have to think about what Shawn feels about it. You both have to be comfortable with the amount that you share with others. Whatever decision you make, make sure that you have fun and aren't stressed over it. =]

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  20. I in NOOOOO way think you are fearful, I greatly admire you for being wise and seeking wisdom. The home I currently live in is in a nice neighborhood that unfortunately has had bouts of crime, I've lived alone for years and have prided myself on feeling confident and comfortable. Until I lived with a threat to my security. It was very sobering. I had to apologize to a friend who numerous times needed to come sleep on my couch for not being more sympathetic. I went through a time of great fear over my safety what helped me more than anything was memorizing scripture. (saw your post on that too!) I memorized psalm 27 "the Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life of whom should I be afraid" at the end of the day it is JESUS who keeps us safe not the alarm or locked doors etc. I take comfort in that. I know your heart is to honor Christ and to protect your child I think you'll do it beautifully. I tend to naturally be an over-sharer a proverb that helps me is "a fool blurts forth everything...a wise man holds back" I think you have a great balance already of holding some back while still genuinely sharing. The Lord is your and the little man's keeper (psalm 121)! We'd all be a little mopey without watching God's hand in his life.......we already love His hand in his feet! Also to piggyback to the names I wonder if little E might be short for Elm ; 0 ) Praying you have peace and clarity!

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  21. I think you are wise to think about this. Children are so innocent and precious and we are called to protect them. Does that mean that sharing names is not protecting them? That is up to you and your husband. I am not comfortable sharing my boys' names on my blog, so I don't. I do share some photos and some updates, but names are a little too much info out on the internet for my taste. Just pray about it. :)

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