If you’re setting up a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, or a blog, how much of your personal life should you share? Many people will expect you to share all kinds of details, whether it’s photos of your kids or a discussion of your medical issues. But what’s right for you?
The following are some points consider:
You’re allowed to have boundaries
Even if you decide to post about personal topics, such as your mental health, you should draw boundaries. There are probably a variety of personal details that you want to keep private.
You may think, “Of course I don’t have to share everything,” but it can be easy to forget, especially when people pressure you. Your audience becomes interested in your personal life. They want to know more about your relationships and where you live. Many times, they’re just curious. But some people will dig into your life for worse reasons.
Also, keep in mind that you can reset your boundaries. For example, if you begin to talk about a medical problem you’ve been struggling with, you can later decide that you no longer want to discuss it. It’s up to you.
Resist Posting Impulsively
The click of a button often leads to regret. If you’re about to share something personal, take a break from your computer or phone. Do something else for a while. Consider the ramifications and whether it’s worth it for you to follow through on posting.
Sometimes, you become tempted to share personal information because you know it will get you more clicks, likes, and subscribes. But in the long run, will it be worthwhile for you? Will it harm you? You can’t know for sure how every decision will play out, but you can at least keep the risks and drawbacks in mind.
Ultimately, you may decide to share something personal. At the very least, don’t do it on an impulse. What you post can wind up staying on the Internet for as long as there is an Internet. Even if you delete it, people can make copies and post it elsewhere or use the Wayback Machine to find it.
Consider Your Safety
I’ve watched YouTube videos where you can see someone’s whole house, including entranceways. You can figure out where they live based on what other houses in the neighborhood look like or based on street signs. People also post videos and photos of their kids outside of easily identifiable structures, such as schools and churches.
Speaking of kids – child predators often steal images of children from social media and blogs. These can be ordinary photos, at least to normal people. But they wind up getting exchanged among creeps.
Keep safety in mind when posting online. For example, if you’re uploading a short video of yourself, make sure there isn’t an envelope or a prescription bottle with your full name and address visible in the shot. Consider what people can learn about you from your posts. Can they see the make of your car? Are you wearing an ID badge from your workplace? Does the world really need to know your date of birth, your kids’ birthdays, and other identifying information?
Consider the Effects on Other People
Even if you’re fine with posting a lot of information about yourself, are you exposing too much about other people?
There may be tension between what you think would make excellent content and what other people need for privacy. You may want to include your spouse in public photos, but they may have no interest in appearing online. You may want your kids to feature prominently in your videos, and maybe they seem enthusiastic about it. But do they understand the potential pitfalls of appearing in videos available to anyone?
How will your content affect your relationships? If you frequently film interactions with family and friends, you’re changing how you talk to them, listen to them, and perceive them, and they may get frustrated by how you seem to be prioritizing your online audience. Also, if you share sensitive information about your kids, such as their medical history, how will they feel about your choices when they get older?