You can find the full video of this discussion on Scott's blog here.
For the first half of this session the discussion went mostly as expected … Then at exactly 57:47 the discussion turned to whether parents should be blogging about their T1 children. It was suggested that a parent should err on the side of caution and share almost nothing about your child’s life with diabetes.
Until that moment, I did not realize I was doing anything wrong. I thought I was helping my son … not hurting him. And it never occurred to me before that by writing this blog I was being selfish and putting my interests before my son’s. Thank God another mommy blogger spoke up to defend herself (and what felt like me too). I felt some comfort knowing I was not alone. But I did leave the session convinced I should pull down this blog and beg for forgiveness.
Later in the week I attended another session about blogging. (Seriously, I must be a glutton for punishment.) My hope was that I would find some comfort listening to the advice and wisdom of my fellow bloggers. Soon the topic of children’s privacy came up again, and again, and again.
I left this session again convinced my blog needed to come down, if I write one more word my son will never be able to get a job, or insurance. His life will be ruined and it will be entirely my fault!
I immediately hunted down my husband, Jeff. He works in education specializing in technology. I knew he would have an opinion. When I found him, I starting babbling about how I am ruining our son’s life and I am the worst most selfish mother on the planet! Jeff, of course, disagreed and suggested I calm down! Jeff insisted I shouldn’t feel so badly. He said he was proud of my blog and all my advocacy. He also suggested that everyone has a digital footprint and what we need to do is learn how to take advantage of it instead of being so scared of it.
Ahhhh! Now that was an interesting perspective!
With that little bit encouragement I began to reconsider my decision to quit blogging. (I even posted a story while we were still at the conference.) But I was still not 100% convinced. Once I arrived home I started scouring the web for more information. I started by googling “digital footprint.” I wasn’t even sure I understood exactly what that meant. I eventually ran across this short video that describes what they call your digital dossier (aka digital footprint).
The basic premise is that you are constantly leaving behind a trail of all your interactions on the web and the whole digital world (including your TV and phone). This happens when you visit websites, make purchases at web stores, Google information, and use social media. So the idea that our children have any real privacy online seems unrealistic.Some of this information we unwittingly put out there when we visit websites and visit web stores. But there is also a load of personal information in our digital footprint we put out there ourselves, via Facebook, Instagram and BLOGs! Now you can be like me and run away scared, deleting Facebook accounts and taking down blogs … or you can be smart and brave like Jeff and realize you hold the power, the power to mold and control your online identity. (And the online identity of your super-awesome and brave T1 son!)
Now this idea led me to a couple more questions …
First, what is the purpose of this blog? (It most certainly is not to ruin my son’s life.)
I started this blog last year because I felt I had a story to tell … a story that was too long to tell over a dinner or while chatting during a hockey game. I also felt it was a story people needed to know. I am certain that if the whole wide world understood (really understood) what life was really like for all these T1 kids there would be a call to arms!
Secondly, what is it I want the world to know about me and my family?
I am a mother of three wonderful boys and my youngest has T1. We are a family learning how to live (and love) life with Type 1 diabetes. We have had triumphant days and other days we would assume just forget. But through it all my son has proved to be tough, resilient, un-complaining and the light of our life. He is our hero! (And to any future employer … you would be lucky to have him.)
With those questions answered I finally have decided to keep blogging.
I started this blog to tell our story. And serendipitously, I have found the support and love of the DOC. I honestly believe this blog has both educated folks and at the same time made me a better T1 mom. I will continue to tell honest stories. I have always been careful to not share too much, but will now be even more diligent.
So after a couple weeks of soul searching and trying to better understand our online world, I am left with this simple idea … If the whole wide world and web is listening to you when you are online then you better make sure what you are saying is interesting, compelling and the best representation of yourself.
The power is yours!