The things you don’t read about on the internet.

The things you don’t read about on the internet.

There are many things I would dearly love to write about on this blog, for the sake of the writing process, the feedback, the crowdsourcing potential for knotty problems. I can think of a half dozen subjects I could pour my heart and soul into: they’d make for good reading and good conversation.

But those subjects won’t appear on this blog, and probably won’t appear anywhere in print, at least not anytime in the next ten years.

You’ve probably heard bloggers say this before: they have topics they’d like to write about, but they can’t. Or they won’t. As to why not, the usual explanation goes something like this: it’s not my story to tell. (What usually follows is a rousing discussion of Anne Lamott’s quip: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”)

I disagree with Lamott on this one. Some stories aren’t mine to tell: they belong to someone else. (More and more, that “someone” is one of my kids. I ask permission to blog about them these days.)

But I’m realizing that when I decide what to write—and not write—about, it’s not just about whose story it is to tell. That question has an equally important corollary: whose story is it to hear?

four levels of relationship

When my therapist explained the four levels of relationship to me last year, it changed the way I thought about my interactions with others. (I’d encourage you to go read that post before reading on.)

The four levels of relationship in a nutshell

There are four possible levels of relationship, ranging from shallow (our acquaintances) to deep (our intimates). Every relationship we have can be plotted on that sliding scale. The status itself is emotionally neutral. We run into trouble when our behavior and our relationship status don’t align.

This happens all the time.

It explains why it feels horrible to find out about your best friend’s engagement on facebook, and why it feels horribly awkward when a new acquaintance overshares and bares her soul to you. The behavior should match the relationship status: we expect our best friend to treat us like an intimate; our new acquaintance shouldn’t treat us as a confidant.

The things you don't read about on the internet

The four levels of relationship on the internet

When my therapist and I talked about the four levels, we were talking about in-person, three-dimensional relationships: the people you see at work, or yoga class, or Thanksgiving dinner. She wasn’t talking about blogging or social media.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the four levels and the online world, and it’s been eye-opening: the internet is a place where our behavior and our relationship status diverge all the time.

One example: I often find myself cringing when someone airs their dirty laundry publicly—whether it’s a facebook friend or a celebrity on E! Online. But not just because of the lurid details: it’s because, lurid or not, I have no business hearing them. I am not intimate friends with the teller. It is not my story to hear.

On the other hand, when a close friend tells me a sordid personal story, it’s likely I’ll cringe at that—not necessarily because she shouldn’t have told me, but because it was just that kind of story. (She’s probably cringing right along with me.) An intimate relationship can handle the heavy stuff. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s important.

Once I recognized the significance of this, I started seeing it everywhere. (Vaguebooking is annoying, but Facebook oversharing is downright uncomfortable, and this is why.)

This isn’t to say one shouldn’t talk about personal stuff online, not at all. Many bloggers treat their blogs like online journals, and I love memoir as a genre. Those formats work (when they work) because they are highly edited. The writers are careful about what they share, and especially about how they share it. (The best ones do this so delicately you don’t even notice how careful they’re being.) If they weren’t, reading them would feel horribly awkward.
The things you don't read about on the internet.

Moving forward

My family is starting to work through a murky problem-of-sorts right now. (We’ll be fine, nothing major, and whatever you’re thinking it might be, it’s definitely not that.) I would dearly love to hit you with it here on the blog: I want to know who else has experienced something similar, directly or peripherally. I want to crowdsource your ideas. I want to be able to talk about it, here.

But I’ve thought about the four levels, and I’m convinced that—at least for now—this isn’t the right place. (Even though I’m thankful to get to call many of you friends, some of you close ones.) Instead, I’ve been reaching out to friends over coffee, to far-flung friends by phone and email, looking for advice, support, and a sounding board.

It’s not the same as writing about it here; it’s not the same as sharing it with you. But it’s good.

I welcome your thoughts and observations in comments. I’m very curious to hear what your personal experiences surrounding this topic have been like. 

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59 comments

  1. Natalie Hart says:

    I mostly see stuff I’m uncomfortable with on FB, and it’s mostly when relationships are unraveling. I appreciate this post so much — particularly when it comes to our older children. I’ll blog just about anything personal about me, but not my teenagers, even when I’m dying to. It is tough to hold yourself back, but I think it’s healthier for your family life — so good for you. I wish you a path that brings peace in the dilemma you’re having.

  2. Kayris says:

    I stopped blogging because of privacy concerns for my children as they got older. Growing up is hard enough without someone talking about your private issues online.

    I’ve seen a couple of divorces through the lens of facebook and it always makes me uncomfortable.

    • Amy Patton says:

      I didn’t start blogging until my kids were teens. As a blogger with older kids it is a lonely world. I was very careful about what and how I blog about them- and always and only with their permission. Usually, my posts were more about me and my need than them. It’s a subtle difference, but important nonetheless. Mommy blogging has helped and encouraged so many parents of young kids. My hope is that we discover a way to carry this over into teen and adult parenting years.

  3. Ellen says:

    This is such a moving target, depending on the issue, the person, etc. I find I’m defaulting more and more to just not sharing, especially as my kids get older, but really for my own dignity as well. I was never a Facebook over-sharer, but in pulling back more and more.

    I think that sometimes people categorize their online audience by thinking of a few people (certain Facebook friends, say) and then ignoring how many other people will see that post or information. It’s like having a private discussion loudly at a restaurant and then finding your neighbours in the booth next to you. Whoops. It just takes so much awareness to navigate sharing information in the online sphere.

    My current system, which is far from foolproof – I have basically only family and close friends following me under a false name on Instagram, so that’s where I privately share most of my kid/family photos and anecdotes. Facebook gets a lot less.

  4. Hannah says:

    This is such a wise way to look at the whole issue of what to share and what not to share. I think less is more online. I blog, and I haven’t always gotten the balance right, but I try to err on the side of caution. Kudos to you for not sharing intimate details of your life with us. We might be curious about them, but they aren’t our business to know!

  5. Jill says:

    I share. Sometimes I overshare. Mostly it’s because I wish people shared more. Postpartum depression and anxiety are one such topic. It wasn’t discussed much generally before my first son was born- before Facebook. 😉 Now it is much more widely discussed and less negative stigma is attached to it. Compassion and care have opened because it is discussed. Women have more avenues for seeing that they aren’t alone or doing things wrong- it just is something that happens to some women and it’s okay to admit it and get help.

    Now, relationship struggles being aired on Facebook? Yikes. For everyone. I am so grateful social media didn’t exist in high school or college for me. Email did and I am embarrassed enough about emails and my crushes.

    I share more on my private blog than on Instagram and even less than on Facebook. I love to know and be known, to understand how to help others and to similarly be able to reach out when I need help; but I am also very sensitive about the care with which such knowledge is handled. I’m an INFP too and love to believe all of us are doing the best we know how, and “if only” we’d stop worrying so much about how we appeared, we could love each other better if we knew how we all felt. 🙂

    These levels are good for me to know. Thank you. Especially as it relates to family. I love them but are we intimate in our understanding and relationships? That depends on the person.

    Good thoughts, again. Thank you.

    • Bethany V. says:

      Jill, I have to agree with you here. I sometimes air on the side of oversharing when it comes to some of my own parenting struggles because I want the honesty and openness. I’m tired of the pinterest perfect world where every status update in a highlight and every blog post is about how great life is. Sometimes it’s not great. Sometimes it really sucks, even the things that are supposed to be great. I don’t share things I wouldn’t be comfortable with the public knowing but I’m also finding that category is getting larger. My miscarriage, yes. My struggles with anxiety, yes. My husband’s struggle with depression (with his permission), yes. The days I don’t like my kids very much (keep in mind neither of them can read yet), yes. There are too many things that have been socially kept in the dark and if the internet age can’t help remove the stigma from major issues like mental illness, miscarriage, etc then what good is it anyway? I don’t care to have the daily lives and bowel habits of the average celebrity updated hourly, which is why I don’t follow many on Twitter. I definitely have Facebook friends that make me cringe. But if we can’t be real about the things that matter most than the whole institution of blogging and online community building is just another façade.

      • Anne says:

        I keep asking myself so many of the same questions, and I keep coming back to an analogy I heard years ago: for many topics there’s a “living room” version and a “bedroom” version. The “living room” version isn’t a prettied-up, pinterest version, it’s just not as intimate as the bedroom version … and when we’re talking about online writing, the living room version is probably going to be the appropriate one.

        I hugely agree with this sentiment:
        “There are too many things that have been socially kept in the dark and if the internet age can’t help remove the stigma from major issues like mental illness, miscarriage, etc then what good is it anyway?”
        YES.

        • Amy Patton says:

          I love the analogy of bedroom vs. living room. My blog is built around discussing complicated hard topics for the purpose of change. I too struggle with how and what to share and even when to share it. As you mentioned, it is often a matter of sharing with grace and dignity. Some posts sit for a long time before seeing the light of day. Yes, we must and need to talk about the hard things. Community is key. Personally, I think one of the biggest problems is that many people start with their online community instead of their real life community- or worse, never build real life community. This is definitely an area our generation is learning to navigate. I hope our children learn from our success and failures.

    • Anne says:

      I completely agree on how sharing our stories lessens the stigma of painful experiences that are actually quite common: depression, anxiety, miscarriage, infertility, etc. Your story reminds me of when an acquaintance of mine had a miscarriage, and I came to discover she had NO IDEA that so many women she knew had had the same experience, because none of these people ever talked about it. That experience completely changed my approach to talking about my own miscarriage: before that moment, I didn’t really discuss it with people; after that, I did.

    • Lauren B says:

      Yes to all of this! I have some mental health issues and I think not talking about it is a huge problem. I am tired of the ridiculous amount of misinformation, secrecy, and shame surrounding it. But that’s a personal level for me. I don’t overshare about my husband or our marriage. In fact, I barely discuss it anywhere, to anyone. But anyway Jill, thanks for bringing up mental health.

  6. Katherine says:

    Excellent post, Anne!

    I know in the case of one of my casual friends on fb, she overshares because she is extremely isolated and alone and looking for support. It is so sad when people feel that the internet is the only place to turn for help.

    I also totally relate to having stories that aren’t mine to tell. Someone dear to me is going through a really rough time, but I can’t ask family or friends for help or insight because it would betray the confidence placed in me. Thank goodness for being able to talk things over with a therapist who knows me well enough to offer advice, but not well enough to know said person.

    I hope you and your family find an answer to your difficult situation soon!

  7. Dear Anne … this is so wise and perceptive. This is an important post for even though we call each other ‘friend’ in this blogging world, the truth is that not everyone who enters our online spaces is a friend in the truest sense of the word.

    Discerning what and when to share with who is an art, and we often learn this truth the hard way.

    There’s a certain little saga I’ve written and tucked away. Whenever I even think about posting it, I hear the still small Voice saying, ‘no, not now, not here, not yet.’

    Maybe not ever online. And that’s just fine. Those closest to me already have heard the story. And that just might be good enough …

    But I AM sharing your wisdom on my sidebar this weekend. It, and you, are so very shareworthy.

    Blessings …

  8. As a beginning blogger, I appreciate your insightful post. I want to find the balance between sharing and oversharing as I write, and the levels of intimacy is a helpful way to think about it. I remember when I first read about the theory a few years ago, it really helped me deal with a bad breakup. I realized that I was mourning the loss of someone who had been an intimate friend in my innermost circle but was now relegated to an acquaintance. That shift was painful, but recognizing it helped me move on.

  9. Janet says:

    I agree totally! There are so many things I will never blog about, not because they aren’t important, but rather they’re too important to just throw out on the airways.

  10. Karlyne says:

    I hear you! I mean, about the “hearing” part, especially. There are many, many things that I do not want to hear, because, frankly, they disturb the gene I have which is labelled “appropriateness”. Even within the intimate context of friends and family, there are things which should only be discussed between the two people involved.

    It’s also, I think, a matter of fairness. Are our posts or news feeds giving the other person a chance to respond, or are they just completely ignoring their right to privacy and respect? Are we using the airwaves to justify ourselves?

  11. Katia says:

    Thank you for writing about this. This is a subject that I think of often. I have seen plenty of oversharing on Facebook. There have been too many divorce cases, stories about the embarrassing things people’s children have done, etc. I have never been one to share photos of my children, because it just feels so private. The same goes for stories of what happens in our household. So, you can probably understand the dilemma I’m facing while writing a memoir about motherhood. Some of the stories are incredibly personal and yet, I want to write about what so many other parents experience. I want to connect, I suppose, and explore my own experience through writing.

    I think that social media has its merits, but it will never be a place to make real connections. Unfortunately, having been in that very lonely place where I felt that I had no one else to turn to, logging onto Facebook at times has actually been therapeutic for me. These days, however, when I feel lonely, I try to go within. I don’t have many friends, but I do have my little family. I have been working toward reconnecting with my mom, my sister, and a few intimate friends, and of course, I have been focusing on strengthening my bond with my husband. We are never alone, but it’s easy to feel lonely in a world that often feels governed by social media.

    Anne, I respect your decision to not share your story with us. In fact, I admire that you choose, instead, to confide in your close friends over coffee or via telephone calls.

  12. Gini says:

    Some of your links here took me to your older posts on personality. There is a wonderful book called The You Zoo written by Kirkbride and Robbins that is geared toward K-6th graders to determine personality. It helps you determine a child’s personality type and help them with their strengths and to learn through their weaknesses. It then helps you use the strengths of your personality in cooperation with your child’s personality. I’m not explaining that well, but I found the book an amazing tool. It helped me work through some issues with one child that is completely opposite from me in everyway, as well as with my child that is so similar that we would struggle for that very reason.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a look!

  13. liz n. says:

    Very insightful post, Anne.

    With all of the good, interesting, and fun things that have come from advancing technology and social media, I think society has lost its sense of privacy. Not every single thing in our lives need be made public. Some struggles–and even some triumphs–should be kept private, or be shared only with the people they actually affect.

    Whatever you’re struggling with right now, no matter how minor or major, I have no doubt you will resolve in the way you best need to.

    • Patty R. says:

      Good insight, Liz. I find my kids feel like every little thing that happens to them ought to be posted somewhere on social media. I share things occasionally; I’m trying to set a good example! They definitely have different ideas of privacy than I do.

      • liz n. says:

        It’s kind of another take on the saying, “You don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited.” With kids, especially, I think that if they don’t keep an almost constant presence on social media, they think (whether they’re aware of this or not) that they will be forgotten, excluded, ignored. Social media has really magnified the phase of social adjustment that kids normally go through!

  14. Monica says:

    This topic has been rolling around in my mind for some time. As a (relatively) new online writer, I’ve experimented and definitely overstepped. One of my first big lessons was writing about some local Native American powwows that I have a great appreciation for. I asked a friend from that community to read it over. My intentions were good and the writing and photos were good and it was not my story to tell. While she didn’t tell me to, I soon realized that the fact that I had to ask if I’d overstepped was a clear sign that in my heart I already knew the answer. I took it down.

    More recently, someone I care for very deeply was diagnosed with cancer. Upset, I wrote a full blog post about him and what I’ve learned from him. It was complete and ready to go, and (lesson learned) I asked him to read it, as much because I wanted him to know how I felt and because I wanted to know if he was okay with me sharing it. In fact, he wasn’t, and still, he asked if he could print it for re-reading later one. I respected his decision and did not post it, and that feels good and right.

    I guess I’m getting better at following my instincts on these things and I definitely agree… as personal as I can get on my blog at times, as much as it feels I’m being completely honest, there are absolutely areas I won’t cross into sharing. We develop relationships with people through the online world, and those relationships are not the same as the closer levels of relationship.

  15. emily says:

    Thank you so much for voicing your feelings about this topic. I am often disturbed by the amount of deeply personal information that is shared online, as well as third-party over-sharing (“Did you see what so-and-so posted this morning?!?”)–although the latter is probably further into gossip territory than anything else. I assumed that I must be too old-fashioned in my loyalty to propriety.
    I find myself guarding my innermost thoughts, feelings, and struggles almost selfishly–hesitant to casually fling them into the communal muck of idle chit-chat. There are those who criticize me for being too private and assume my reluctance to share comes from a feeling of superiority or a desire to be perceived as perfect, when it’s actually quite the opposite. Those who know me best KNOW me. You know?
    That being said, I thoroughly enjoy reading the thoughts that you feel are shareable with us, your faithful readers. I often find myself nodding and thinking, “yes, exactly!” as I read your posts.
    – Peace and comfort to you in your struggles, whatever they may be. 🙂

  16. Sarah says:

    Whatever you’re currently working through, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers! I love that you share so many things with us. I feel like I genuinely know you and trust the things you have to say. But I also understand a blogger’s need to keep some things private, and that doesn’t take anything away from your work in my opinion. I also have the same reaction to oversharing on Facebook! So uncomfortable!

  17. Hannah says:

    Thank you, Anne, for writing such a wise post. Discretion is a virtue that is not often valued these days, especially online, and it is refreshing to hear someone bring it up.

  18. I definitely tend to overshare at times because I love that heart connection with others, and I often wish that every relationship was at the truest intimate level. I imagine that we will only truly be able to connect like that in Heaven, and need to look forward to that time in the future rather than trying to recreate that here on earth.

  19. Bethann says:

    Anne,

    This post really hits home with me. For years, I didn’t blog because I didn’t know how to write without over sharing. I cringe when I read FB posts or when snide people post on pics that I share that have nothing to do with the photo but everything to do with their own agenda. Our social media world blurs privacy in new ways every day. Thank you for your thoughts on this topic!

    Bethann

  20. Dana says:

    This is a great post. I am not on FB for this very reason. People tell way more than I want to or should know about them. It is so uncomfortable for me. I tend to be very private about personal matters and I often wish other people would be a little more discreet.

    I found the over sharing part ringing home with me recently, not online but in person, which was even worse. A new acquaintance and I met through art classes. We hit it off and met for lunch and outings a few times, but to me the relationship was still rather new. One day in an art class she poured out her whole personal history to me which had some very sad and disturbing events, much more than I wanted to know. I really had a hard time responding because I just kept thinking “why are you telling ME this?” I have kind of backed off the relationship a bit, which is too bad. I like her a lot and we have lots in common. She is kind, sweet, generous but she over shared too soon.

  21. Victoria says:

    I had a friend accuse her husband of an affair on FB, out ‘the other woman’, then the three of them carried out a campaign of abuse and got their families involved, all on FB. It was appallingly awful to watch and so very unpleasant for everyone. With no consideration for the children involved (both adult and underage). I have enough trouble being open in comments on blogs when none of you know me at all!

  22. Shawna says:

    My brother and his wife (both mid- to late-thirties) are constantly making passive-aggressive shots at each other on Facebook. We all know when they’re fighting, and it’s really annoying because usually it’s something petty.

    When my husband and I have a fight, I purposefully won’t open Facebook so I’m not even tempted to post something. It doesn’t belong there. I have one or two close friends I can talk things over with if I absolutely need to talk, but I can trust those friends to keep confidences, and if it’s something I’m not comfortable sharing with them, I “talk” it out on paper (and usually shred it).

  23. Bronwyn Lea says:

    This is really helpful: the difference between “whose is it to tell?” and “whose is it to hear?” is a vital one. Perhaps, then, this is another reason to consider fiction as a truth-telling genre: it allows writers to share experiences without names or faces. I think of the brutal honesty of the hard questions raised in “The Shack” and am struck that a memoir dealing with those issues would have been unbearable and inappropriate, but fiction gives one way to go deep without needing to classify readers in terms of their closeness.

  24. Margaret says:

    I completely agree that relationship difficulties are extremely uncomfortable to read about on social media… however, I too tend to wish there was more sharing of uncomfortable or messy realities than there sometimes is, to counteract the “Pinterest perfect” posts that make people feel like they are alone in their struggles. Perhaps I feel this way more because I don’t blog, I just read… and I really enjoy reading blogs where someone is working through a difficulty that I identify with. Small-child-rearing woes are the best example. I am not looking forward to the loss of that kind of support as my kids get older, though, because people don’t post much about older kids. Part of me wishes there was an anonymous forum to discuss older child/ teen issues, because that’s going to be a difficult part of parenting and I will miss reading about and learning from others’ experiences and struggles.

    • Anne says:

      “I too tend to wish there was more sharing of uncomfortable or messy realities than there sometimes is, to counteract the “Pinterest perfect” posts that make people feel like they are alone in their struggles.” Agreed, and I appreciate your thoughts on navigating the tension.

      Also: there are anonymous online forums (or at least, forums where you can participate anonymously) for a whole host of issues.

  25. Ruthanne says:

    Thank you so much for speaking to this Anne. I think many people just don’t think about and make choices the way you describe here. It seems like you do and I appreciate your thought process.

  26. Patty R. says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Your insights have prompted me to re-examine some relationships in light of the four levels of relationships you mentioned. It’s freeing to be able to let go of expectations about certain family members and friends with whom intimacy has changed over the years. I need to deal with things the way they are now, not the way they used to be.

  27. There are times where I regard all these levels of relationship with the utmost care. And then, I just get in too deep because I care too much or want to help out as best as possible. It is a tough balance and it’s a slow process of knowing how much to say and how much to keep for whom.

  28. Raquel Costa says:

    This was a great post, about a topic I haven’t seem much online, curiously.
    I’m a introvert by nature, and I tend to share as little as I can in general. But I do think using some platforms to share important topics is something very significant and needed. I do think, though, there is a way to do it without overexposing.
    I’m a psychologist and I’ve learned to do that in time, trying to find a middle ground. I find that If you talk about how you feel in a situation – but not about the especifics of the situation itself – it tends to have the same result without the awkward feeling.
    But you are right, it is a lot of work, and I apreciate how honest and careful you are with us – your readers – and with your own kids, and your own feelings. I have an oversharing mother who loves to overshare and does so by choice. And it does bother me when it consernes topics that are my own. Most of the time she does it inadvertently, and says “this is such a minor issue, I honestly didn’t think it would bother you!” And that is the hardest thing, isn’t it? We all have this discrepancies exacly because we are such different human beings, with millions of different perspectives.
    Uau, for a natural introvert I shared a lot, didn’t I?

    • Anne says:

      “But I do think using some platforms to share important topics is something very significant and needed. I do think, though, there is a way to do it without overexposing.”

      Definitely, and I appreciate your psychologist’s perspective on this. Thank you!

  29. Heather Anna says:

    I’m FB friends with a new, young writer and she is *always* posting about people she doesn’t like and how they’re going to have the honor of being written in as her next unsavory character (and – I have a suspicion that I’m up next because of my latest pregnancy announcement and ever-growing family….yikes!). This has always really bugged me, and I think that putting it as “not her story to tell” is only half of it. It’s also “not ours to hear.” We don’t need to hear about every time someone looks at you funny, and in fact it really lowers her in my eyes. She’s also always bickering with her husband online, although you have to have a good passive-aggressiveness radar to pick up on it. But the funny thing is that we have the same personality, which isn’t really an over-sharing type! I think that she just has a poor concept of different levels of relationship and thinks of her online activities as a sort of semi-open journal that her closest friends are allowed to see. But the whole world can see it!

    This second half of the comment probably belongs in the 4 possible relationships post, but I’ll put it here where the conversation is still going. 🙂 Anyone else feel like they go through life with a giant sign stuck on their forehead that says “Please, tell me all your problems!” I think people sense that I’m a good listener, and I truly don’t mind being an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on for my friends. I’m good at it and am often told I should have been a counseler. But people (sometimes including near-strangers! but also including good friends) forget that I have my own problems to be getting on with, and I’m often tired and overwhelmed with baby care, not to mention my own past and present woes that need to be dealt with. I also grew up in a no-boundaries house, so I’m learning how to sensitively but firmly set up boundaries. Not too rigid, not too loose. Maybe less fake than “gee, I think the baby needs to be fed now, sorry to interrupt your story, see ya!”. If anyone has tips, I would so appreciate it!

    • Anne says:

      “Anyone else feel like they go through life with a giant sign stuck on their forehead that says “Please, tell me all your problems!””

      It’s not just you. 🙂

  30. Jamie says:

    I have overstepped this boundary in person and online so many times. Still do. (One reason is because I love connecting with others & small talk can annoy me. Another is because I have that sign someone mentioned on my forehead that says, “Tell me everything about you.” So I share back.)

    The instances I really regret are when issues were happening in real time and I vented. Reactive responses are rarely helpful – online or in person. Also when the venting put people in a negative light – whether it be those I don’t personally know well or at all, but I deeply respect, or those I know well and dearly love (like the ones under my roof).

    But you know? I definitely have one and a half feet in the camp of being honest about the messy. Making sure our lives don’t look, as someone said above, Pinterest-perfect. So others know they are not alone. And others’ honest-but-appropriate sharing has been a lifeline to me so many times. But I think those things are best shared *not* in the moment. When a little time and processing with in-person, intimate friends can temper the reaction. I am quite sure I will continue to cross this line, but I have learned much.

    It’s interesting that even the appropriate things can create a false sense of intimacy. I have occasionally read acquaintances’ blogs who write about fun milestones or special events. When I see them in person, I want to run up and hug and congratulate them. But I can’t, because we don’t actually have that level of relationship in real life.

  31. One of the things I’m pondering A LOT lately is what stories I can share about my own kids. I write in order to help other people and part of that is to be real, and share the honest truth about my parenting journey. BUT, now that my kids are older I am very sensitive to what I can say about them. It’s tough because I want to be open and honest but respect my children’s lives. It’s tricky as a blogger and writer I think.

  32. Bets says:

    Thank you for NOT sharing! Your insight on this is PERFECT and you have described precisely why I am not on FB. How refreshing!

  33. Marvia says:

    Anne

    Yes to this! I have been really considering how much time I spend online and how much a I share. Totally need to revamp that and practice better boundaries. I miss the days of phone calls and more in person meetings with friends and family so that’s what I want to do more of. Your post is timely and insightful. Thank you for sharing these words.

  34. Amy Patton says:

    Anne, thank you for another wonderful and thought provoking post. This is something I have been thinking about and pondering on many levels lately. I plan to think about this some more and then continue the conversation over on my blog. Telling our deepest and most sacred stories, in my opinion, never begins in a public forum. Yet, telling our stories is important. Finding the balance between generations past that kept everything secret and where many seem to be today- telling all to everyone- is something we need to figure out.

  35. Liza says:

    My problem with online oversharing is the people who consistently overshare. The ones who share every time their toddler went potty (with photos!). Sorry, I didn’t need to see that. The friend who recently got divorced and now everything on his Facebook feed is pictures of his new girlfriend and how much he loves her. I’m happy for him, yes, but I don’t need to know every time they see each other.

    The more time I spend on social media, the less I share. I write a lot and then delete without posting because it wasn’t really necessary. I used to post in my blog 4-5 times a week but I haven’t posted in over 2 years. I still write some but I haven’t posted anything because it seemed pointless. I started a second anonymous blog, even though I write anonymously. I did that because family knows my online name but sometimes when I need to vent, I need to vent about family. And I have certain family members that like to analyze everything I write. Even though the second blog address is searchable, I haven’t told anyone what it is. That extra anonymity helps me get things off my mind without having to worry about the analyzers coming after me.

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