What Sort of Dark Moments Should I Share Online?
I have a draft folder on Medium that is full of memories from my over 75 years of life. Should I develop them for publication to share online? Some show the dark side of my inner life. Thank God I didn’t act on those temptations which might have ruined not only my own life, but traumatized the lives of others.
Yesterday I peeked into that draft folder to look for writing ideas. I found an incident that happened when I was thirteen. I wish it had never happened, though I’m the only one who knew about it until today. It occurred only in my thoughts. I’ve never written about it before because there are other characters in this story. Two of them, my parents, have gone on to their eternal reward. My brother is still with me. We are friends and we are supportive of each other. We have both done things we are ashamed of. I don’t believe we’ve ever revealed them all to each other. There’s no reason we should have. It wouldn’t have helped either of us.
Yesterday I wrote about that incident that involved my brother, and I published it on Medium — a site I don’t believe he visits. The sin I reveal is mine alone — not his. He was acting like a typical three-year-old. If he sinned, it was only in his thoughts and they were hidden — like mine. The story I published today wasn’t about him. It was about me and my own dark thoughts. My problem was not with my brother. It was with the Prince of Darkness.
Sometimes It’s Okay If Our Stories Involve Other People
As I stated above, my new post on Medium did involve someone else. So I had to ask myself if publishing it would hurt my brother’s reputation if anyone he knew read it. I decided it would not. I’ve never known any siblings that did not sometimes annoy each other. That’s not unusual.
The bigger question for me was the effect this would have on our own relationship if he ever read it. If he ever does, I hope he will understand why I shared it. I’m the one it reflects badly on — not him. If he does come across it, I think he’s mature enough at retirement age to handle it. He has children of his own and may have fought battles similar to the one I had that dark day. I’m sure he will at least be able to understand how one can struggle with an evil thought. So I believed that if I shared this online it would be unlikely to hurt him.
Why I Shared It
As I reflected on what happened in my thoughts that day, I learned a lot about how the enemy of my soul works. I thought this information might help someone else. I’m not the only one who fights spiritual battles. Parents need to realize how tempted their children can be to make irreversible mistakes for themselves or others when unsupervised. And don’t think young teen babysitters are less vulnerable.
Many parents have no idea what may be going through the minds of even their “good” children. I hope Christian aunts, uncles, and grandparents may see how important it is to pray for the children in their extended families. I had a grandmother on my dad’s side who prayed for me as long as she lived. She died three years before this story happened. Her daughter, my Aunt Jane, took over for her as the family prayer warrior. To share online makes me vulnerable. But I hope the post I wrote will raise awareness on how important it is for Christian parents to pray for their children, to supervise them when possible, and teach them how to resist evil.
In case you’re wondering about this article, you can find it here: The Day I Almost Killed My Brother
Sometimes It’s Not Okay to Share Online
There is something I would very much like to write about. So far I’ve only touched the edges of it in poetry. But I don’t believe it’s a story I will ever tell. Why? Because too many living people would be hurt by it. I can weigh what it costs me to make myself vulnerable. I have no right to make others vulnerable to problems such online sharing might cost them. If I cannot publish my story without violating the privacy of others who are part of it, I simply won’t do it. Unless it’s a borderline case like the one below. And I won’t do that anymore.
Apply the Golden Rule
When you consider sharing a story that involves others, put yourself in their shoes. I failed to do that once. I wrote about some humorous moments from my college days. No one had done anything wrong, but my now husband did play a practical joke on someone. Her reaction was priceless. I posted this story on a content site. A few years later LinkedIn reunited us online. I hadn’t seen nor heard from her in about thirty years.
We exchanged a couple of emails and I thought she’d get a good laugh from remembering some things we experienced together. I sent her the links to the stories. I had used only her first name and none of her professional colleagues would ever have figured out who the stories were about. One would have needed to be there. Nevertheless I haven’t heard a word from her since she read what I shared online. So she must have been offended.
Although I said nothing unkind about her, the impression her dorm friends had of her personality came through. We didn’t consider any of it negative. There is nothing wrong with being shy or reserved or having unique ways of entertaining friends while goofing off in someone’s room.
Get Permission If You’re Not Sure
It would have been best to let my old friend approve these vignettes before I published them. But I did not know how to contact her and I had no idea that anything I said would upset her so. She had done nothing stupid or wrong. But when with her friends she sometimes shed her reserve, let her hair down, and made us weep with laughter as she recited poetry to us.
Perhaps it was that revelation of her playful side she didn’t want anyone to see. Or how she responded when someone behind her in the dinner line poked her in the ribs. But who knew? The witnesses thought her reaction was funny and the only blame went to my now husband who committed the indignity.
In the future before writing and publishing stories about private activities in company with other living people, I will try to get permission first. It’s not worth losing a friend to publish a story.
If you want to share a time you engaged in questionable behavior with someone else, leave the other person out of it. If your story could ruin a reputation, get someone fired unjustly, or cause a problem between family members, stifle the impulse to share online. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you. If you must to write about it, make it fiction.
If someone hurt you or made you mad, don’t use your writing to get revenge. It will only come back to hurt you and possibly a lot of people who were innocent bystanders. Revenge belongs to God and he can do a better job of it.