What Boundaries Should Exist In Blogging?

Fence
The teenager who lives with me tells me he thinks Instagram is stupid, doesn’t understand why anyone uses Facebook and finishes with a “dad, you aren’t going to blog about this are you” that is a statement and not a question.

I tell him not to worry because I’ll be sure to obscure his identity by describing him as the teenager that lives with me.

“I don’t like it. I am your son.”

“Sounds like you are proud of that.”

“I am.”

“Good, I’ll describe you as the teenager who lives with me and just happens to be my son.”

He rolls his eyes at me and says he doesn’t understand how I convinced anyone to marry me.

“The doctor said the men in are family are well endowed.”

He looks at me, jaw open, unsure of how to respond.

“Don’t get too excited. It was your great-grandfather’s urologist and he was talking about our prostates. Of course he told me that about 25 years or so ago. Since you don’t know why the time is relevant I’ll tell you that the good doctor hadn’t examined me. I’ll also tell you that your great grandfather told me to remember that any time you got your prostate checked you should make sure you know where both of the doctor’s hands are.”

What Boundaries Should Exist In Blogging?

It is a conversation I have had with my children and with clients. Part of what my son doesn’t like about social media is the idea that his private business is shared with people who shouldn’t be involved in it.

I understand that. It is why I described the boundaries as sometimes being similar to a brick wall and sometimes resembling a paddock.

The trick is trying to determine which sort of boundary you need in each post you write. Some of it is contingent upon the sort of blog you are running.

Corporate/business blogs almost always tend to focus upon a more conservative bent but there are moments when it is worth opening up. Do a proper job of it and you can be rewarded but screw it up and you might end up being lampooned for your blunder.

Personal blogs are different but that doesn’t mean there aren’t or shouldn’t be boundaries. Sometimes I write about business here. Sometimes I write about writing and or share stories about clients and things that have happened but when push comes to shove this is still a personal blog first.

That means that I have more flexibility to use than the corporate giants but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have any boundaries because the things I write about can impact my family.

So while I might share some funny stories that are a bit off color I tend to be more discriminating than you might realize in the things I share about my children.

For example I could tell you more about the conversation with my son about the urologist. I could tell you that he didn’t know what a urologist was and that when I told him he asked me to confirm that it was a urologist who said the men in the family are well endowed.

He started to smile and sort of muttered “that is cool.”

I think if he hadn’t been speaking with his father it might have been more enthusiastic because who wants to talk about size with their father, especially when you are a teen.

But I made sure to tell him we were referring to prostates and explained that being well endowed there wasn’t always something you wanted. I also told him that  when you are in your twenties and you are taking your grandfather to see his doctors you sometimes learn more than you want to know.

What Do You Need To Know?

I follow my math teacher’s instruction and reduce everything to its lowest common denominator. The question is what do my readers really need to know?

What is going to build a relationship between them and I and what is going to hamper building one?

The standard answers in life apply here. If you write about religion and politics you will bring some people in and push others away.

Some people try to build communities that are as big as possible and others focus on building smaller and tighter communities.

Both ways have their advantages but my preference is to build smaller and more passionate communities.  This blog isn’t going to be for everyone but the people who like it are dedicated and when I ask them to do something they respond.

Remember my comment that true power in social media is defined by what kind of response you receive when you ask people to do something.

Of course that doesn’t matter for everyone.. Not everyone has a need or concern about whether people will respond to what they post online.

But for those of who do, well it is worth thinking about how to make it happen.

What do you think?

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6 Comments

  1. Cormac August 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I tend to be quite honest when I write, use my kids names etc. but I do bear in mind that I don’t want them or my wife to be offended with what I write or share.

    My wife doesn’t generally read what I write unless I specifically as her, which I have done for newspaper or magazine articles.

    I think that it is important that we do share and be honest with how we deal with some of the big questions and experiences in life. That way we can hope for more honest feedback from our readers.

    • Jack August 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Cormac,

      I understand exactly what you are saying. That authenticity goes a long way to helping to build trust and a relationship between our readers and us.

      There is merit to doing so and I encourage it. My primary concern for my blog is to not cause discomfort to my family for things I have written.

  2. Larry August 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Yeah, I can’t imagine there was anything I less would want to talk my father about.
    It is tricky deciding what is blog worthy. Sometimes I have topics that I think could work but if it would embarrass or upset someone, it’s not worth it.

  3. Jon August 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I only use first initials, and my wife and I are very careful about the information we put out there. But I can totally see where you are coming from. Too many people out there sharing too much information!

    • Jack August 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      I know some bloggers figure that it is easier to build relationships by letting it all hang out there but I am always cognizant about what might affect my kids and that is what keeps me in check. I don’t blame you at all for using initials.

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