Balancing privacy, creativiy fine line
September 5, 2009
Recently I've been thinking a lot about privacy and how much to reveal about my children, our lives and experiences.
While reading criticism and support I've received for my work, I stopped and questioned what writing has meant to me, both in the context of my family and in the context of being a military wife.
Being open about experiences, mistakes, depression, tantrums (child and adult), serious stuff, silly stuff, and the failures and triumphs that are part of life requires juggling privacy while sharing meaningful events. It's sometimes hard to walk that line.
In a military world, which is often isolating and rigid, sharing can be a way to make it work and to reach out to others. I've always appreciated the honesty in other military writers and the chance to make friendships with women who may have felt overwhelmed or down about something.
Speaking up and being honest has allowed many of us to make this military living far more pleasant than it would have otherwise been.
The issue of privacy and sharing of information goes beyond the military world and can be a problem for anyone who writes, or really anyone who uses the new social networking sites.
It's not just young people, a friend of mine received a friend request on Facebook from her 89 year old grandmother. Social media is here to stay and this new method of communication brings with it questions about what it means to share personal details and how to draw boundaries.
If you're on Facebook, My Space, Twitter, or if you blog, there may be plenty of personal information about you and your family that can easily be found online. These applications make it easier for us to reach out to so many people, but also much more possible to be found.
For example Twitter allows people to write anything in 140 characters. You have followers, or 'friends', and whoever follows you sees your updates and communicates with their own 140 message characters, and vice versa.
It's easy to take these messages out of context or to accidentally share too much. Saying that you're eating lunch at a specific restaurant for example, lets your friends know what you're doing, but might also tell people who aren't your friends your location.
These new applications are becoming essential in the way we communicate and do business.
Go on any Web site and the first thing you'll see is a button that says follow me on Twitter, Facebook, etc. So we'll have to constantly address what we share and what it means.
It becomes even more complicated when we look at children and teens who are almost entirely immersed in this new way of communicating.
How do we draw the line as parents? How much do we include about their lives in our own internet lives?
It's a question that each one of us answers through trial and error and with an open discussion with our families and loved ones.
The new communication has the merit of allowing anyone to reach out to many people, but like everything else it has its drawbacks, mainly the loss of privacy.
But as my grandmother would say, “chi non risica non rosica” — if you don't take a chance you'll never reap the rewards.
The trick is finding a balance between what's public and private, so that we can keep to ourselves what we need, but still make real connections to others.