Thursday, March 3, 2016

My social sharing guidelines

I love social media (yes, even Snapchat).  Do I think it can be abused?  Yes.  Is there a wrong time to take a selfie? Absolutely.  But as someone who grew up with very few documented memories and knew very little about family history, I love the idea of being able to capture a moment and share it knowing it will live forever.

Those are the key words, however.  It will live forever.  I'm a big believer in personal responsibility when it comes to social outlets.  Some blame the outlet and that's absurd.  We have control over what we share, what we say, what we take pictures of.  We can't post something inappropriate and claim I didn't think it would get around.  It always does.  It's on us to be smart and think about what we share with the world.

So how does this affect my writing?  I've been asked a time or two how I decide what I'm going to share.  And I assume that's because I've written about some pretty personal stuff.  So I thought I'd share my checklist and the questions I ask myself before I hit "publish."

Follow the gut.  When thinking of topics to write about, I do a gut-check.  If I feel confident, I move forward.  If not, I don't.

Would I mind if my kids read this?  Once it's out there, it's out there.  I didn't grow up in a world where I could 'Google' my parents and find a million public pictures and posts, but my kids are growing up in that world.  So I make sure to ask myself if one day they stumbled upon what I'm about to publish would they be mortified?  Even if I'm writing a grittier, more raw post, I make sure to write it from a lesson-learned lens.

  • Kids on social: On that same kids note, I love to share cute moments of my little ones through picture and video (especially with having loved ones far away), but you'll never see a naked baby picture of my little ones or their name used as a hashtag.  I just can't get over the fact that if in 20 years my kid is up for a job, and the boss Googles them and finds a bunch of pictures of my kid in their underwear or in the bath or on the toilet.  I mean, it's weird, right?  And using their names as hashtags?  Yeah, that's weird, too.

Is it a part of someone else's story as well?  We all have harder times in our lives that have served us a lesson or two.  If it was a harder time in our life, chances are that story or lesson or chunk of life lived includes other people.  And if it served as a particularly hard lesson learned, the story could potentially paint someone else in a negative light.  I don't feel comfortable painting a negative picture of someone on a platform where it will always live.  There have been a few topics I'm passionate about that I've seriously considered turning into posts because these life moments are a part of my story, but - even if truthful - it's not my place to publicly tarnish a reputation.

Is this something I've worked through?  My writing is personal but not diary personal.  When I was in middle school, I would take to journals or LiveJournal (*cringe*) and rant about the current woe-is-me situation.  It lacked substance, tact, and a point.  Now when I decide to write about something personal (anxiety, postpartum depression, candid motherhood moments) I ask myself if this is an area where I have perspective, grounding, and if I've found an overall lesson learned.  If not, I may still write about the topic but not yet publish the post.

Could this help someone?  When I chose to start writing about anxiety, I wasn't writing in the past-tense.  I was still very much in the throws of getting my footing and figuring it all out.  I ultimately decided to share the journey because I thought it had the potential to help someone.  I remember being pregnant with Ella and feeling so alone that I'd often search for other new moms' experiences. That was my tipping point in my decision making process - maybe someone else is feeling alone in battling anxiety.  When I wrote my first post on the topic, I simply expressed I was in the midst of the journey.

If still unsure, I talk it out.  I've had a few post ideas that I have been really torn on.  A topic has passed most of the checks off the list but one, and I've had a hard time deciding whether or not to write and publish.  In these scenarios, I talk to my husband about it.  His feedback usually grounds me and I almost always walk away with my answer.

As I continue to write, I may tweak these guidelines adding bullet points to a question or two.  But this is my current compass for sharing on social.  Blogging or sharing a status on Facebook or even crafting a tweet can appear to be mindless, but I carefully look over everything I put out there because everything you see with my name on it forms my online reputation.  (But please excuse me for that once in a while emotionally driven political comment -- I know it's never a good idea, but sometimes Ted Cruz just really gets me going.)

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