Musings of a Marfan Mom

The Privacy Line

| 20 Comments

The Mama Kat prompt I chose today was based on an email from one of her readers. Basically, the woman has been blogging for a couple of weeks and already received an anonymous comment criticizing her for using her daughter’s name and pictures, although no other personal/traceable information is given. She wanted to know what other bloggers think about this, how we handle privacy.

This was an issue I struggled with when I moved from Blogger to WordPress and changed the title and focus of my blog. On one hand, I’m a public person. I’ll answer just about any question you ask of me. The entire point of my blog is to talk about Marfan and my experience as a mother with Marfan. Because of my work with the National Marfan Foundation, it’s not hard to find out a lot about me, even without me using my last name. But, I felt that using a false name would (and perhaps I’m wrong about this) take away some of my legitimacy, that my technical posts are more believable if you know they’re coming from a real person who volunteers rather than someone with a trite nickname who might not have any real experience with the syndrome.

On the other hand, how much is too much? I’m very open about having Marfan, but I have had it come back to bite me in a job interview, thanks to Google. Illegal? Totally. Much I could do about it? Not really. I decided to forgo using my last name, just to make it a little more difficult in case some future, differently-abled-phobic employer should Google me. I also decided to create a nickname for my son. This blog is my story, not his. At this point, he doesn’t have a say in what I write, what pictures I post. But my story isn’t complete without him. So, I give him a nickname in the hopes this will grant him some privacy down the road. I also consult with my husband about what I plan to write, and sometimes my extended family as well.

I’m probably not perfect in the balance that I try to strike, but I try and will continue to feel my way.

What guidelines do you use? How did you choose those?

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20 Comments

  1. Wait…when did you move? And, I’ve wondered about this whole thing as well. I am about to divulge some pretty personal medical issues on pBd and am skeptical because I don’t want people who work with me (or may work with me in the future) to let it cloud their view of me. But, in the interest of being honest and being able to support somethings I feel passionate about I feel like it’s important to share my own story.

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  2. I’m also trying to find a balance, I might even post my writers workshop about this……visiting from mama kats xx

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  3. Hi MarfMom,

    I appreciate you choosing this prompt!

    Thanks for the advice. I am soaking up everything everyone says and hopefully it will help me make an informed decision about the future of my blog.

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  4. I find myself wondering what to post and what not to post on my blog. As for photos, I try not to put up anything that isn’t my immediate family or friends that wouldn’t like to be featured on my blog. Its hard to find that balance sometimes!

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  5. You have an interesting perspective. Hopefully I will switch my blog around and remove my sweet babies name before he has to get a job and someone can google him : )

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  6. I thought about this very subject a lot before I began seriously blogging. Because the focus of my blog is motherhood, marriage and everything in between I felt that using first names would be okay. Posting photos of my husband and children is something I have no qualms about. When it comes to publishing photos of other family members and friends, I do ask for permission first. I want more than anything for my blog to be an honest representation of what our life is really like, but there are times when my husband or children have asked that specific situations or details not be divulged. I do respect their wishes. I don’t want my blog to become something that drives a wedge between myself and my family.
    As for the blogger who suffered a ridiculous attack on her privacy preferences, her attacker doesn’t deserve an explanation or attention for her behavior. What each of us do with our blogs is no one else’s business. Unless they’re directly affected by someone’s blog, they really don’t have a right to lash out at the author.
    Great post! I chose to write about why my life is so much better with diastasis pubis, which I suffered from during my last pregnancy. I hope you’ll stop by and read it when you get a chance. Have a great day. :)

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

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  7. That was very interesting. Thanks.

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  8. I know that I am a very open person. I also know that those around me are not as open as I. I also strike a balance as you do and try to keep people’s names out of my posts. I mostly refer to the connection (i.e. my wife, my step-son, my grandson) and never give actual names. I do not think that actually knowing the person’s name really matters in my posts, just the situations that arise between them and myself.

    Thanks for sharing,

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  9. I try to be selective about what I write about my family, thinking “How would they feel if, instead of writing this here, I read it to them over supper?” But beyond that, I honestly don’t worry too much about it. I use my children’s real names and occasional photos. I read an article a few months ago that looked pretty closely at statistics and such and concluded that there is really no danger to children whose names and photos are accessible through Facebook and their parents’ blogs–which is something I had worried about. That’s just not how criminals look for victims; unfortunately they have other ways of doing that. As for my own privacy, these days, anyone can find out someone’s name, address, phone number, email, etc. pretty easily on the Internet. You don’t have to be a blogger for people to access that info. As someone who needs to promote my real name to market my work, I just put my name out there and fortunately, I’ve never had someone use that information inappropriately. They may disagree with something I write, but that’s not a bad thing!

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  10. I moved to WordPress too. Except I still have my blogger account. I can’t let just yet. Good thing for copy and paste! :)

    I think if you want to blog about something just do it. If you choose to use your REAL names and photoes fine. Just be careful. But for the most part, you are probably safe. I used to have my last name in the title of my blog but I decided against that. I originally thought that I would just always be known as Cluttered Brain and never reveal my REAL name on my blog.
    Already did.
    *sigh* I haven’t came across any SICKOs yet. just be careful and don’t click japanese links. They lead to porn, or so I have been told.
    Great post. i decided to make fun of soap operas. Either blog has the same post.
    I really like wordpress. It is GREAT!

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  11. I meant I already revealed my name on my blog.
    Oh well.
    Aquamarine76 is my handle in case you are wondering who this chick is.
    Love your stuff Marfmom. You are super awesome!

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  12. I totally agree with what you’ve chosen. Though I don’t have any kids, I imagine that’s how I’d do it.

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  13. I’m loving the comments so far! I just realized I can’t reply to a particular comment so sorry! I will work on that tonight.

    PBD, I moved to WP.com in October, and that’s when I started becoming more of a “serious” blogger. I also worry about the same thing re: medical issues, esp. when it comes to adopting down the road, but I also think these are important things to talk about and share, so I guess, like you, I’m just taking the risk and hoping it works out.

    Kaishon haha yah. I guess I worry more about when the Menininho is a kid…would parents of friends find him on here, or teachers and would that be awkward for him?

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  14. Oh and One Vlogging Mama I know who you are :-) And thanks!

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  15. This IS a tough issue. I hadn’t really put much thought into the privacy issue until I started having people steal my photos, and more importantly, my business information.

    Some of that was my own fault; by nature I’m open and willing to share. I’ve had to learn to guard some types of information, especially concerning my biz.

    I think you strike a good balance, though. Love the new header, BTW.

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  16. Great blog! I recently started a kind of “serious” blog (you already know) and I find myself very reluctant to post pictures of my family, though I have put up a few. I google myself, my kids, my husband, and all of my screen names every once in a while to see what comes up, then I go around and delete it or make it private if I can. It’s hard not to be paranoid sometimes.

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  17. Great insight, especially for those who haven’t ventured into the blogging world, even on social networks how much personal info. is too much? Keeping your son’s name private was a good ideal…I just goggled Menininho (I swear I am not a stalker LOL) and it came up on the 2nd page results marfmom.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/miles-dressed-in-style/ BTW he has grown so much!! As you said he is part of your musings and we get a complete picture of who you are as a teen advocate for Marfans, and a mother with Marfans. So as a reader I am glad you share this part of your life but glad to know it is done with a good balance.

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  18. I followed you from SITS but I’d read the MamaKat post you refer to. I only use my first name, everyone else has some sort of nickname. I don’t think I’ve had the occasion to put anything out there that I’d need to check on first. But my friend put photos that included my kids with hers. I had no objection since I show my kids as well. If she’d used their names, that would have irritated me, though.
    I do appreciate the reasons you’ve stated for revealing what you have. I agree about putting some info out there so an author is more real to his/her readers.
    There’s all these pesky things called laws and swearing to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, bah who needs them? I’m sure that potential employer would agree with me.

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  19. I am as open as a book and don’t use my last name at all….had to delete a comment from my sister in law because SHE used it!
    Great advice!

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    marfmom Reply:

    Haha I found that in WordPress I can edit comments, so I’ve gone and just edited any comment that used my son’s name.

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