How Personal is Too Personal on the Internet?

I try to keep things on the DL when it comes to blogging. I want to remain somewhat anonymous while still sharing my life on a meaningful level. I don't share (anymore) my location, last name or diatribes on my latest marital argument, health issues, etc. It's not so much that I'm worried about what happen (though things do happen), but there is so much information* on the internet already. Do I really need to add more? I only want to add things that have value. How is posting my hernia surgery on Facebook valuable, for example. (Yes, I did see this recently. And no, it was not me. Ha! Ha! And yes, it was quite gross!)

For those of you that are just tuning in, I blog for a site called Families.com. If you have not visited the site before, please do so now! It's a great site with tons of valuable advice and community centered around family life. I write about pregnancy. It's a fun topic since 1) I have been pregnant before, 2) I loved being pregnant, and 3) I plan on being pregnant many times in the future. (I'm not sure how many children "many" entails - we'll see what God has planned for us!)

Recently I blogged about an interesting story I picked up about a woman named Lynsee who is going to broadcast the birth of her first child, LIVE, on the internet. You can read my blog on the topic here.

The more I think about it, the more it makes me think. Where are the boundaries? Sharing a pregnancy or a birth story is a wonderful thing, but when you bring the whole world into the delivery room, you lose your ability to filter out what you don't want to share. People always feel like they're entitled to the whole story, but guess what, when it comes to a person's personal experience, they are not! Even if that person is a celebrity. You should censor your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog... whatever it might be. Don't be the poster girl/boy for "TMI."

Another thing to consider is what I'll call "familiar privilege." I will define it as the unique privilege of those closest to us to share our most intimate experiences. If we keep a small circle and choose to share our private life within that circle, we experience strong community and tight friendship. The larger our circle, however, the less special our experiences become. It's inevitable. The knowledge of our experiences and the intimacy of sharing them with our community becomes cheapened. Secrets are more precious than public knowledge. To overcome this, we must either limit our circle, or limit what we share with our larger circle.

My challenge to everyone is not to completely remove ourselves from the socialsphere of the internet, but to practice safe and respectful censorship of what we publish, broadcast, blog or tweet. Let's consider the value of what we're adding to the internet. Let's treasure our most personal experiences and perhaps reserve those for the ones closest to us.

By all means, share the story of the birth of your child; but let there be secrets, known only by those who were present. Let the sound of those first cries only be known by you and your husband; a joyous and private moment between the two of you, the moment you became parents. Let your husband have that exhilarating moment all to himself; when he first embraces his wife and his new child. Let his first words to his son or daughter be heard only by you and you alone. Let these things remain sacred between you.



  1. That's one of the things I love most about Facebook... how fine tuned the security is! I've actually got mine set up with multiple layers of "friends" who get various permissions depending on how much I trust them. I've all but stopped using Twitter due to the lack of security options. I wish Blogger would provide more options too.

    All in all, I will admit that I do share a lot online (not everything, and certainly not childbirth!) but I'm a really open person. And I really enjoy reading blogs that are a bit more personal. Maybe not the details of labor or a hernia surgery (ew!), but I enjoy blogs the most that don't feel faceless. I don't want to feel like I'm reading an advice article or story in a newspaper. It's much better in my opinion if it feels like a conversation with a friend. I so very much appreciate my blogging friends, even the ones I have the ability to see in real life. It can be hard to find the time for phone calls and get togethers, so Facebook & blogging can help us keep in touch despite busy lives. Even my parents who live hours away get to be a part of my day-to-day activities by following me on Facebook. I can't help but laugh sometimes when my mom calls me in the middle of the day to ask about something I said on FB. :)

    This comment is way longer than I intended. And I'm not even trying to say I disagree with you! I agree that a certain degree of censorship is necessary, but I also think it is so awesome how the internet allows people who are emotionally close but geographically far away to still feel connected.

  2. Sarah, from reading your blogs, I really think we are not too far from being on the same page. I appreciate an emotional openess and a certain degree of vulnerability. There are just some places I don't go: blogging about work, specific financial situations, and private marital affairs. I've never seen you do any of those things! :)

  3. You set an excellent example. I find myself hesitating to blog at all because I censor myself...I don't want too much out there. I mean... For instance, I want awareness to come from what I write about Kai and Cystic Fibrosis...but how many people really need to know the intimate details of my life. So, instead of censoring...I just don't do it. I love reading your blog...many of your posts speak to my heart on so many levels. Newly married to a gem of a man that LOVES the Lord and adores my children and I... your lessons learned about marriage and family - so many can learn from.