All of us who write online debate this question. When is sharing good for the soul and when does it destroy the lives of people you love? Here’s a helpful guideline.
Imagine you live in a small town.
Like me. My town has 10,000 people (which is larger than some of yours), but it functions as if there were only 10 families. Everyone you meet is related to someone or works for someone or used to be married to someone. Not one person you meet—whether it’s the guy at the oil change place or the woman behind the counter at the fitness club—is unbiased.
This is helpful, actually. It’s useful. It means you must always, always be nice.
If you have a situation that people want to know about, you must say exactly the same thing to everyone because everyone will repeat it. Decide on your story and do not veer.
What does this have to do with the internet? Everything. Because the internet is basically one big small town. Everybody can know everything instantly. Everyone is biased. Everyone can and will share.
As I said, this is beneficial information to have before you write, before you speak. It forces you to behave.
We all need people and places where we can be absolutely honest. Of course we do. But not here.
This is a place where I play with words. These posts are not journals. My poems are not always autobiographical. This is a place where I point a camera, as it were, at one thing. Maybe the room is a mess, with a pile of dirty clothes four feet high. Maybe all the furniture has been moved out. Maybe there are holes in the wall. I will show you, say, this:
This is absolutely true. It is in the same room as the other stuff that I am not pointing out. It is what I can say and show and what you can repeat endlessly. This can be passed from phone to phone, from Facebook to Twitter to blog to Instagram to Pinterest. This has been approved by me, personally. Share away.
The rest? Take me out for a mojito in a big city. Maybe then I’ll tell.
Sheila Dailie says
As the old cliche says “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Though your words add more meaning!
Thanks for reminding us that what is shared is not always the whole picture!
Sally Clark says
I love your analogy about the room. Perfect.
Lyla Willingham Lindquist says
So many reasons to love you already. And then you go and give me another.
Laura Brown says
I know, right?
Monica Sharman says
Perfect. Bravo. Yes.
Sheila Seiler Lagrand says
(It would appear I’m following Monica around the interwebs today, saying “Amen! Me too!” Nonetheless:)
Amen, Monica! (And Lyla! And most especially you, Megan!)
Liz Hoy Eberle says
And you sat it so sweetly (& succinctly ). And having married into one of those local families, I attest that you are absolutely CORRCCT.
I have to say Amen to Lila above.
Carol J. Garvin says
You ‘play with words’ so very well! This is a truth that many of us tend to forget. The anonymity of cyberspace is an illusion.
Ann Kroeker says
Each of us must decide how much or how little to reveal, and this may change over time. I have fallen almost completely silent on my blog while trying to figure this out.
Thank you for the small town analogy. I used to think of my words online like a newspaper story sent out for anyone to read, but I think the small town idea is probably far more accurate.
Louise G says
I too love that room analogy as well as your small town — and your point is well made.
I couldn’t agree more Megan
Some urge us to share our painful stories, but such stories are never ours alone. I can’t bare my soul, even if it might encourage someone else, at someone else’s expense.
You’ve made it so understandable. Thank you!
This does help. Small town. Everyone shares. Yes, I’ve been on both sides of that. I don’t know why I always have to learn the hard way.
Marilyn Yocum says
Excellent analogy, Megan!
Jody Collins says
To echo Laura Boggess above…….’think about living in a small town’-THAT is helpful, ’cause I do wonder sometimes about my overgushing or oversharing.
Excellent words, Megan.
…and don’t even think of running for president 🙂