Sharing our stories on the internet: transparency vs. privacy

My blog life presents a bit of a conundrum for me.  It's a web- log;  a diary of my days, a diary of my thoughts, a diary of my feelings.  And yet, my blog is out there on the public internet and people I've never met and never will meet, visit and read my thoughts.  So, yes, it is a diary of my feelings but it is also a public airing of those feelings.  How much is too much when sharing online?  Should I hesitate to write experiences that put others around me in a bad light?  Is it fair?  Is it right?  What if sharing my experiences help others facing the same sorts of problems?  I think for women with a conscience too big, too sensitive- it’s a bit hard to step out and tell the tales you’ve been conditioned all your life to not speak of. This post by Catherine Connors resonated with me, and got me thinking hard about how open to be with my blogging:

I bad mouthed my Mother-in-Law on a blog-then she found out By Catherine Connors on

Yikes!  Her words spoke truth to me, made me think more about transparency vs. discretion; my truth vs. fairness.   Mostly, I was glad it wasn’t me…

*I'm also going to take a moment here to say that Sky's mother is wonderful, no complaints.  (really, truly- we lived across the street from Sky's parents for almost 10 years, and I would do it again in a heartbeat).

Catherine Connors vented online about a family member, she tried to hide it a bit by not putting it on her own blog, but she did sign her name to it..a mistake, in hindsight.  When it was found, sometime later, she had to do some serious apologizing.  Still, she also had this to say:

“But I also said this: that I wasn’t sorry that I had written it in the first place. I wasn’t sorry, I said, because I believed — and still do — very firmly in the importance of women sharing these kinds of stories, these difficult stories that we are so often told not to tell, not to share. How would I, a new mom struggling with depression, fighting through that depression to find her place in her expanding family, know that I was not alone in that experience if other women were not telling those stories?….  How would I know that it is not just me, if we never told these stories, if we kept them hidden behind the heavy curtain of familial privacy, inside the quiet domain of the private sphere?”

“… my obligations to my family do not extend to fully silencing myself, I don’t think. Because if we accept this as one of our duties, as women, to family — to keep quiet, to be silent on all matters concerning family — then we condemn ourselves to remaining behind the veil, our voices unheard, our stories untold, our world — or that portion of our world, large or small, that is the world of family — forever cut off from the public sphere. And that hurts us, I think.”

I agree with her words, as part of a greater community of women, I do think that sharing our stories can uplift, teach, and even rescue other women. I reject a worldview where women are seen and not heard, hidden, even if only figuratively, behind a veil.  I do believe that sharing our experiences and trials can help other women realize that they are not alone in their circumstances- and that sometimes, not feeling totally alone can inspire courage.

And yet, ...and yet, my stories are not usually just about me, but involve my family, my loved ones, my friends.  My hand pulls back from the keys because I know that every story has two sides and more than one point of view.  There is a stigma about airing family dirty laundry to the world.

and yet...and yet, I don't want to feel alone in my struggles.  I know, from personal experience, that being isolated during times of personal crisis can be debilitating.  We are intensely social creatures, being surrounded by a sisterhood that cares and understands and maybe, even, have walked in my shoes can make all the difference.

How do you feel about transparency vs. privacy in blogging?  Do you let it all hang out or are there some topics off-limits?  Do you use your kids’ names on your blog? Is sharing of family drama a traitorous act?  Do you enjoy more the blogs that spill it all out and shock a little?  Or do you avoid those?

Your thoughts?


p.s. if this post looks a little familiar, I published a different version of this a few years ago elsewhere