Transparency & Privacy Settings

This week, my humble lil’ blog has surpassed 2,500 posts and now has more than 150 followers! I remember when there were just a handful of followers, and those were folks I knew personally. Times have changed; life has changed. I’m grateful that people care to read what I have to say.

The focus of my writing has shifted, since I converted my posts over from an academic blog in mid-2008. I do have some geeky posts tucked away in the Scholarly Stuff and Techie categories, but that hasn’t been my main focus for a long while. There are also a variety of recipes and other food-related posts in the Nomnomnom category. I’ve got several poems filed under Musings, fix-it projects under DIY, a couple of reviews in Book Nook, and some adventures described in Travels. The biggest categories, though, have been Little Men, Grief, and Ponderings.

I posted frequently in the Grief category for the first few years after my brother died, and I still write entries there occasionally. I have been frank about some of the struggles that I’ve gone through, in the hopes that my candor about grief would help others cope, as well, but I try not to be inappropriately transparent.

I began writing some devotional thoughts in late 2010 and then committed to posting them weekly/daily for my church in January 2011. Since then, the Ponderings category has become the largest section of the whole blog. I enjoy writing the devotionals, and they seem to be well received, so I plan to keep posting for as long as the Lord leads.

It’s the other category, Little Men, that gives me pause these days. I have always been conscientious not to use my children’s real names, for some semblance of privacy in this digital world, and I don’t think that I write about topics concerning them that are overly personal. Most of the entries in this category are simply posts that seem too long (or too “deep”) for Facebook.

So, here’s my predicament right now: the birthmother of my nephew-sons is an unstable individual, to put it politely. She has mental illnesses combined with God-only-knows-what substance abuse issues (there have been numerous ones over the years, both prescription and illicit); she is intermittently homeless, in & out of rehab, and waltzes in & out of the boys’ lives whenever she’s lucid enough to remember to call. Her last call was in late October, for the younger one’s birthday. She never sent whatever it was she promised to mail him for a present, and she completely missed Thanksgiving and Christmas … again.

I don’t talk about her because I don’t want her stumbling across my blog and reading it, but that’s precisely why I need to talk about it today.

Truthfully, it’s emotionally easier on the boys when she stays away than when she’s on-again-off-again. Even at 10 and 11-years-old, they don’t quite know how to voice their anger and disappointment with her, so when she goes through periods of calling frequently and then dropping off the face of the planet again, I’m the one who has to deal with the emotional aftermath, as they wrangle with their frustrations over her. I also have to deal with her empty promises, lies, and threats, like when she tells them that she’s going to send them boxes of gifts that never arrive, or that she’ll “get them back” from me to go live with her, because I “stole” them from her. (Never mind that my brother had sole custody of the children before he died; when she gets into one of her manic episodes, there’s no telling what is going through her head.)

I had my Twitter account (@Ang_PF) public until several weeks ago, when I got an automated alert that she was a new Follower. Again, I don’t talk about deeply personal things on Twitter, and she’d probably bore quickly of my countless football-related posts, but the thought of her snooping into my everyday life was disturbing, so I changed my privacy settings. I already have very tight public settings on Facebook, for that same reason, but I never dreamed she’d try to follow me on Twitter. Knowing her, she probably just followed whoever happened to be in her address book, but still — I don’t want to be that close to her, ever.

That’s why I’m planning to not post anymore under the Little Men category here, and just focus on the devotionals. I can still share stories and pictures of the kids on Facebook, where I have a little more control over who sees the posts, but I’m removing that category from public view on my blog. I know some people are averse to using social media at all because of this type of issue, but I’m not going to live in fear; I’m just going to try to be smarter about what information I make publicly available about my family.

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