Managing an online life.

Being online is an interesting, potentially tricky lifestyle. If you hold any sort of online presence (yes, even Facebook), you’ve probably entertained some questions before. Do you blog daily? Do you post to Instagram in real time? How do you manage internet life with real life? How do you know what to share and when?

A few things. First, the internet is real life. As much as people want to poo-poo that, you know it’s true. Maybe you’ve developed solid relationships with people you’ve met online. Or maybe you’ve maintained old relationships in a more consistent manner, thanks to the internet. Regardless of how you feel about it, the internet is real. It’s tangible and fruit comes from it and when you do it right, it’s just as important as your “real life.” That’s why we feel the Influence Network is so important. Your time spent online had better be worth it. It needs to count, right? But I digress. The point is, this area of my life needs tending just like everything else. So when people ask how I manage the balance, I try to answer that clearly. I simply make time for the internet, and I’m intentional about it.

Something else that has been huge for me over the last couple of years is the realization that my online life is my space. I created it, I manage it, and I can control what goes on there. After over a decade of blogging, I’ve encountered my share of negative feedback online. And although I’m very sensitive about it, I’m okay with it. Criticism is not an attack on who I am. I’ve actually learned a lot from criticism I’ve received online. I am seriously a better writer because of some it.

But I don’t think it’s defensive to say people don’t actually know me when they see my online life. People see what I put out there. And I also don’t think that’s fake or deceitful. It’s my space. It’s my choice. Although they say the internet is just a highlight reel for people, I’m not afraid for mine to show a few clips of me falling on my face. However, those clips will be on my terms. I choose not to write about the big boys’ mom, or mommy war topics like vaccinations and circumcision. I don’t have to post a photo of the hole in my ceiling from the recent plumbing work. I don’t keep an editorial calendar for this blog, and I only put out content when I have something to say. I don’t live tweet the arguments I have with my family. Sometimes I hang onto photos or ideas or stories for weeks and post them later on down the road. Because at the moment I experience something, it’s mine. The moment is mine. It’s something I get to hold and experience and cherish, and then choose later on whether or not to share.

When it comes to what I share, I use a pretty basic filter. I rattle my way through a bunch of questions before I head in a direction, be it a tweet or an Instagram photo or a blog post. Will I look back on this later and be okay with it? Is this an area where I experienced growth, or where I was forced to look at something differently? Did this change me? Did I enjoy this moment? Was I humbled by it? Will someone else be encouraged or humored as a result? Does this protect people from shame or embarrassment? Is it good content? Would I want to read this or look at it? Does it promote conversation?

I guess it’s a modern twist on Philippians 4:8. But you’ve seen 90’s fashion come back. There truly is nothing new under the sun, right? After I asked myself those filter questions time after time, it just became second nature. Show the kids the photo and ask for permission before I post it. Run an idea by a couple of women I trust before publishing it online. Smile at a memory in secret for a few weeks before developing it into a story to share. Just like every other area of my life, the internet isn’t mine for keeps. I’m just trying to do life with open hands. I’m just trying to listen out for what the Lord wants me to do with what He gives me.

13 thoughts on “Managing an online life.”

  1. I think the questions you ask yourself before posting are perfect! That was so helpful to me as I try to wade through what I want to share without only sharing “perfection.” Your words speak wisdom. Thank you!!!

    1. Glad to help! It’s nice to be able stand up from falling flat on your face and pass a little advice along ;)

  2. This is a great reminder, I’ve been pondering how to “curate” my Instagram feed a little more, rather than posting right away. These questions are challenging and great to remember.

    I have a thought/questions for you – as someone who reads your blog/follows your online life, but doesn’t know you – what do you do about that awkwardness that comes with seeing someone in public/in real life? We saw you this weekend at TJs (with your adorable son), said hello and you were as sweet as you could be! But, it’s weird because I feel like I know you (though I don’t really, I know what you post and my husband knows your husband from years ago) and you don’t know me because I don’t have much of an online life to follow. Does this make sense? Weird. Anyway, Happy New Year! Thanks for the encouraging words all the same.

    1. I’m glad I was sweet! Haha. It DOES make sense, but I’m okay with the awkward. I protect how much people read/know about me in the same way that people do when they have face-to-face relationships with one another. I absolutely love it when people say, “Hi from the internet” in real life. Happy New Year!

  3. Well said! Especially loved the last couple of lines. Blogging can get tricky or discouraging, and sometimes it’s easier to just quit for a while than to work through a lot of what you just put into words and press on. But at the end of the day, it’s all really about Him and He’s the reason to keep going (or even to stop for a season of that’s what He’s telling us to do). Either way, thanks for the encouragement that online life IS real life, that it matters just like the rest of it, that we can glorify Him through it :-)

  4. I’ve been a huge fan of how and what you post since I started following you. these thoughts are right in line with what I feel and try to do. thanks for sharing them!

    1. Super encouraged to read that. I strive for consistency, although I don’t think I’ve always followed my own “rules.” Grateful to have folks like you along for the journey.

  5. I just came across your blog now and had to thank you for a reflective post. It begins to capture what I wrestle with – reconciling how much of myself I want to make public with how much I really prefer to keep private. (Even posting this comment is a bit disconcerting to my slightly introverted self.) In this age where the offline and online are becoming increasingly inseparable, it’s important that we, as individuals and society, take stock of and join the sharing vs privacy conversation.

    1. Grateful you spoke up! Encouraged by your feedback. I think it’s also important to be comfortable with wrestling with topics like this in public. If I need to change my mind about something, I want freedom to do that. And I give others the same!

      1. I read several blogs about online privacy and I always find it rather fascinating, not just from geeky techie perspective but from a sociology perspective as well. Again, I enjoyed your insightful post.

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