Where is discretion?

This is a slightly different entry from my usual Prairiefrog blogging as I’’ve been pondering the internet’s affect on human psychology.


A few days back, while hitting the random blog button several times, I  was stunned.  If I was a family member of a few of these bloggers, I’d be tempted to sue for libel! (Now, for the record, I really like the homeschoolblogger community, and am impressed with almost all of what I’ve seen here!  I merely happened upon a few oddball posts.) 


Certainly we can admit the human side of our families—; we can be real.  We can tease and even poke loving jibes here and there.  These posts went beyond being real—–they were vicious.  Granted, they were likely just a fleeting rage that would dissipate as emotions often do, but entries such as I encountered could do permanent damage long after the family issues were resolved.  If I were the teenage son of one blogger, I’d be devastated to know what mom really thought of me and posted on the world-wide-web.  If I were one lady’’s husband, I’’d… wow, I don’t know what I’’d do!  If this man ever seeks a position in the public eye, the reporters don’t have to dig; His wife has already revealed all his private sins and weaknesses.  (Juicy ones at that–the kind that could ruin a career.)


People can copy things posted on the internet, print them, or save them on their hard drives.  They live on even after the post is edited or the blog closed down.  Someday, the husband, son or daughter being blasted on mommy/wife’s blog may run for office or seek a ministry position.  The internet is even searched by many prospective employers. 


Blogs are NOT private forums, and are easily located by search engines.  Entering “homeschool” and my eldest daughter’s first name in Google will pull up my blog as the first result. Enter the names of my oldest and youngest child, and again, you’ll find me immediately.  I haven’’t signed up to be listed at Google, it is just a natural part of being on the web.  Any blog will be pulled up if the right key words are entered into the search engine.  Avoiding real names isn’’t the answer either (although it may add an extra level of privacy).  Really if you post anything of interest, and paint a realistic picture at all, people could identify you—–especially those who know you in real life.  Odds of it being used by a stalker are slim.  (I know it can happen, but that’’s not where I’m going with this.)  The odds of it being found by someone who will form opinions about your loved ones?–Very high!   


Now personally, I don’t want to be too anonymous on the internet.  While I don’’t  advertise our last name or exact location, I want to be free to be myself and share glimpses into our days.  I like to make it personal.  Some would advise against using real first names and posting pictures, and yet I do that freely.  Privacy level boils down to a personal decision each blogger should make for herself.  But whether we use real names or pseudonyms, we should maintain the measure of courtesy and restraint online that we would in face-to-face exchanges–if not more, due to the enduring nature of the published word.  The printed (or posted) word has more permanence than the spoken.  


It is counter-intuitive to me that there are things published online by Christian women.  I can’t imagine the authors speaking their posts aloud at a ladies’ church social.  On the blogs I encountered, enough detail was given to ensure that people who know them in real life could readily identify the family. (And I shudder to think how unrestrained the entries would be if the authors were more cloaked!)  Again, my point isn’’t that we should be more anonymous, but that we should show discretion in our portrayal of our loved ones. It is even more counter-intuitive to me because online we have time to type out a post, edit, deliberate, and even delete before hitting that “”add entry”” button.  In face-to-face conversations there is no backspace key. 


Do people “tell more” online?  Perhaps it is just my perception. Are the scathing entries I encountered just evidence that online–just as everywhere else, people act rashly and don’t think through consequences?  (Certainly since Eden we’ve seen this in different forms.) 

If it is more common for people to divulge online, what is the rationale?  Why are people more ‘free’ to say things to the entire worldwide-web than to a small church gathering? 



18 thoughts on “Where is discretion?

  1. I am in 100% agreement with everything you expressed. I believe your observations are founded on a very small but MUCH too large a percentage of Christian blog entries. Your admonitions and exhortations were exceptionally articulate.
    RIGHT ON!! You deserve an A+ for the paper.
    Grumpy Dave

  2. Dell, your blog is exactly what the online Christian community has needed to read for years. The fact is, message boards, email lists, and blog sites should not be a license to gossip or slander… yet too often they are.

    WAY TO GO.

  3. I totally agree. I have written a set of guidelines for myself about what I will and won’t blog about. I posted it on my blog and asked people to hold me accountable. I published a small portion of that in the upcoming issue of TOS. I hope people understand this issue. The internet is forever not just a moment. You can delete it from your blog but its still out there. Be careful.

  4. That was a great post! I try very hard to keep my blog reader friendly.

    I find the google name search interesting. A complete stranger wouldn’t google up my name in a million years. Googling my name only brings up a list of about 100, and even though I am at the top of it, only family members would be the ones to realize that. Because of that, I try to keep my blogs family friendly as well. (To google my name you’d have to know it, it isn’t any Tom and Jerry sort of name. If I don’t know you then you got my name off my blog, so why would you google for it?)

    Anyway, Maybe you should make that post the HSB’ers creed. Abiding in the Vine!

  5. I certainly wouldn’t post anything on my blog or on a forum that I wouldn’t want posted outside my apartment in big red letters! I wonder why people think it’s okay to post off-color personal information. Are they really that naive? Or do they WANT to hurt the person they are posting about?

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks have bought into popular psychology’s belief that we have a need to “vent.” And I guess they choose the Internet as their way to vent. I’ve got an idea — how about PRAYER?

  6. What a great post. When I started blogging a couple weeks ago. My sister got upset that I decided to do this. She was concerned for mine and my child’s safety. I explained some of the points you have mentioned and even for the person who does not have the internet and is never on the computer, yes there are still people out there, that person is still listed. No one is completely safe from the internet and the information on it about ourselves. We have to have moral standards in what we share. You should never post anything that about someone that you would not share with them directly.
    Just my 2 ¢’s

  7. Allright Dell, you have me wondering if I’ve said something out of line! I don’t have a teenage son and I don’t really have any gripes with my husband … so I hope it wasn’t me!!! I know exactly what you mean, I felt like complaining about my Mom the other day, when I thought, “Self, what if she comes and reads this??? And who wants to read about my complaints, anyway!”
    Great post, Dell

  8. I’m writing a post now in response to the “safe code” on my blog… I will be posting it soon.

    Would you please spread the word about Candace’s surgery tomorrow? I have a prayer list on my blog for anyone who would like to take a specific time to pray.


  9. No names, huh. I hope it wasn’t me. LOL

    That is rude. I would hate to find where someone trashed me. Not to mention, putting it out there for the whole world to read.

    Talk about inconsiderate.

  10. …I also have another point. (WARNING: I AM long-winded!!) I have wanted to start a blog for friends and family out of state, as we are in the military, and just about everyone we know lives FAR from us. I met a friend with a blog and thought, oh how perfect!! Well, my husband isn’t in the same place with that. BECAUSE, and I agree with him, we have come across so many unchristian-like “christian” blogs. I feel that we have enough to contend with with the “world” without having to contend with our “own”. (My husband’s take on things is that women have a hard time controlling themselves with backbiting, gossiping, murmuring, whatever word you use, it’s all the same. He just doesn’ t want me to fall into some of these traps that are so easy to fall into. I think he is wonderful to be so open as to tell me this, and when I have a blog I fully expect him to help and post along with me.) I have been to quite a few blogs now that are so vicious and mean. People lash out with comments without considering the feelings of the other person. Is it because they can stand up to people without being face to face? What about the people that are posting? Are these people reaching out for advice? Are they asking for an opinion? They air so much dirty laundry about church business and family life that it’s ridiculous. I think that in a lot of cases, in my reading, that these women are just using the guise of needing advice or help, but are really just putting it out there for all to see.
    I don’t know, Dell, why people do this. I guess I’m just throwing in with you and agreeing. I do know that it is just another tool for the devil to use to keep us from being godly, upright christians. And it’s not just blogging. It’s all of the internet.
    I must say that I throroughly enjoy your blog. Your family is NORMAL I’m sure, but it sure is fun to get new recipes and ideas and to see the quirky things your girls do!! (I have a couple girls myself.) I love all your dresses!! (We wear dresses all the time.)
    I pray that you always have these kinds of things to say, to keep people on their toes with their blogging behavior!! And I always want to comment when you talk about liking people’s comments, so here you go!

  11. I felt like crying when i read what you wrote. A few years ago i would have seen it exactly the way you did. I don’t feel quite that way anymore.

    I’m not for being vicious, etc — sin is still sin.

    But sometimes neither church nor home, etc has been a place where hurts could be expressed at all, much less worked through–even in a restrained manner. And after years of looking to God and crying out only to Him, if there is noone on the planet to whom we can speak without being condemned it can seem too much to bear. In fact, I’m not sure such aloneness is really what the Lord had in mind for us.

    Is it really valid to be so sweated about making sure people appear more righteous than they really are, while denying any sympathy for wounded lambs?

    And, while being shocked that these “Christians” could show so little self-restraint, is it possible that we don’t identify with them and share their burdens, but rather have a corner of self-righteousness in our own hearts that *we* would never be like that?

    Could we please have some compassion for possibly desparate lambs, while still hoping that over time the Lord will grant them grace to speak only what is edifying?

    Maybe this doesn’t apply to the situations you’re referring to, i don’t know.

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