3 Tips for Personal Sharing Online

Facebook and forums are great places to share your experiences and get perspectives on relationship, family and personal issues.  Sometimes you get advice, which can be good or bad, and sometimes you receive support.  Often, just getting it out is helpful.  Knowing you are not alone can be beneficial to the soul.

I live far from family and friends.  Sure, I have several local acquaintances, but my close friends live across the world.  From time to time I log into facebook and rant or pose a question, asking my friends for support or help working the problem out.

And other times I will ask something on a niche specific forum to gain perspective from others who have been through my current situation.  For instance, when I was trying to escape my now ex husband when I found out he was abusing my children, I logged onto a support forum for spouses of bi-polar/borderline personality disorder sufferers to get advice on how to make a plan safely so as to minimize dangerous repercussions.

How much detail is too much?

When you are discussing personal and important information online, sometimes it is necessary to elaborate so that your advice givers can understand the situation and better form an educated response.

But it is imperative to keep a few things in mind.

·         Everything on the internet stays on the internet.

Nothing is anonymous.  Remember that even if you do not use your real name, it can be traced back to you.  Be mindful of what you post, and realize Skype calls and google hangouts can be recorded and shared online.

When I was gathering advice on how to escape a mentally ill abuser, I used an anonymous handle and created a new email just for this purpose.  But I felt that wasn’t enough.  I knew he would try to hurt me and the boys if he found out.  So I took extra steps and changed a few details such as the ages and gender of my children, said I had one less child than I did, and altered other specifics.

I knew this was not foolproof, but I had to weigh the possibility of being found with the need to get out safely.  I was correct in assuming he was monitoring my phone, but he never found these forum conversations I had from my laptop.

Take precautions- it’s better to be safe than sorry.

·         Your children will be adults someday.

Be mindful when discussing personal information about your children, especially when it involves abuse.  Your children will grow up to lead lives of their own.  They may not wish to have this information known about them in the future, or it may be triggering.  The affects from abuse can last a lifetime.  Keep this in mind when posting sensitive information.

I use pieces of my real life in my writing.  Even my fiction novels. You can’t write what you don’t know, right?

The truth can still be told while preserving privacy.  Details can be tweaked a little and extremely painful pieces can be omitted entirely.

Be mindful before you hit “publish”, and think of everyone involved.

Be well, my friends.

Shawna Ayoub Ainslie is a mental wellness advocate and writing coach in Bloomington, IN. She teaches writing through trauma for release and recovery to survivors and veterans through the Center for Creative Writing, Ivy Tech Community College, and Survive Your Story. Shawna is also The Relationship Blogger's Editor-in-Chief.

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