How Much Of Ourselves Should We Reveal Online?
“Writing means revealing oneself to excess” – Franz Kafka
Occasionally when I write something on this blog, I pause before hitting the “publish” button and wonder have I revealed too much of myself? Have I gone too far when I have written about my struggles with depression, infertility and grief? Does it make me less employable should a potential client decide to Google me? Will people judge me? Think less of me? Maybe..sometimes… definitely?
So should I stop more often before I hit publish on my blog?
It would be the sensible thing to do. But I write about these things because I truly believe we do each other no favours by pretending that we have it all together. I actually do have it together much of the time. I am hardworking, diligent and reliable, capable of great things…but I am human too. My struggles make me even more so.
When it comes to potential employment, perhaps revealing too much about our state of mind and health is not the sensible thing to do. When it comes to our blogs, it certainly makes for better writing and a better reader experience.
We must decide on our priorities. I am lucky to have reached a stage in my life, when I can say (and write) that this is who I am. Unfortunately, we all can’t afford this luxury. Sometimes we need to build boundaries around ourselves and be careful how much we reveal. Not everyone will understand the complexities that make up the wonderful person you are.
Do you ever worry you have revealed too much online? Do you hold yourself back for fear of what others might think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this tricky question of how much is too much.
This is an issue that I have agonised over when blogging, tweeting or talking at conferences. I always remind myself that what I’ve written could be read anywhere by anyone and ask myself am I OK with that? Also another check I do is to ask myself what if a family member or close friend read it will that be OK for them or a horrible surprise?
Sometimes blogging can feel like a private confidential chat but when I hit publish it’s the reverse. Maybe that’s why I’ve been such an absent blogger while doing some part time Non-Executive work in the NHS in case of any potential conflicts of interest or putting off potential employers? However I’m now no longer working for anyone so that has changed my mindset.
Thanks for raising the issue as I’m determined to get back to my blog and make it more personal without it being ‘too much.’
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Thanks Christine for taking the time to comment on this post. Your comments are really helpful to those of us who are trying to figure out where the balance lies between self-protection and self-disclosure. Be sure to let me know when you publish your next post – I’d love to read it.
Thank you for raising the question, Marie – this can be a difficult issue, especially in these days of “trolling.” I previously didn’t say much about myself – I wrote about the things I think about, rather than my personal life. That has changed since I decided to write a book, but there are still details that I keep hidden – not because I’m afraid in case a potential employer or a member of my family might read it – but simply because I’m not yet ready to share it, or I don’t believe it would add anything to the conversation, if I were to share it. But my attitude towards sharing stuff varies from day to day – as I’m sure others’ does.
I really like that last point you make Julia – I agree. My attitude about sharing changes too depending on how I am feeling. Sometimes you just want to share to make a connection and that’s when you share the most. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment here.
This is something I think about a lot. Even now, after nine years blogging, I sometimes still wonder if I’m sharing too much. And yet, I have only scratched the surface! I’m at a point in my life where writing is my career, so I no longer worry about the impact on future employment, but there are so many other areas of one’s life that can be impacted by sharing in such a public way. I always revert back to a piece of advice that our friend Jackie Fox gave me a long time ago: “Never be afraid to write what’s in your heart, Nancy.” Can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about Jackie’s’ words when I am hesitating to hit that publish button. For me, the benefit of sharing still outweighs the potential pitfalls. If you don’t get at least somewhat personal, what’s really the point of it all? Of course, that’s a very individual thing based on each person’s life circumstances. Thank you for writing about this. xx
What a wonderful comment – thank you Nancy. For a long time for me, the benefit of sharing outweighed the pitfalls, but I must confess that has changed for me recently. It’s a tricky balancing act but I do want readers to be aware that their need to share may change as the months years and go by.
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