Are You Sure You Want to Share That with the World?

The European Court of Justice recently decided that Google must offer the right to be forgotten. That decision, however, leads us to ask, “Do you really want to share your history with the world?” It also begs the question, “What does the world really want to see?”

A History of Communication

Let’s take a quick run through the history of sharing.

Communication has always been one of the most important features of human activity. In fact, people have been known to have died through a lack of interaction with others. That is why solitary confinement is such a cruel form of torture.

People love to talk. And they will talk about anything an everything. Have you ever looked back on an evening spent with friends? We often describe the conversation as “putting the world to rights,” or some similar local phrase. Yet, if we were to be asked to relate the contents of that evening’s conversations, we would, undoubtedly, struggle to list more than a handful of topics.

Along came the written word, and communication experienced an expansion as people learned to share news with people farther afield. Posting letters is an ancient activity, even if they were not called letters in those days.

When radio and telephone were invented, it was not long before people learned to communicate over the airwaves. They could now pass instant messages to the farthest corners of the globe.

Amateur radio arrived and people started to share personal matters with relative strangers. Yet these were still relatively trusted people. After all, they were a special community of like-minded individuals.

Then Came The Internet

Then came the Internet; or, to be more precise, the electronic bulletin board, used to post messages to people who lived in different time zones.

In its infancy, these were mostly messages of a technical nature posted on university electronic boards. But they soon started to become more personal. This led, of course, to Instant Messaging and Social Networks. Now, people can share their thoughts, knowledge, and experience with anyone and everyone, almost worldwide.

Still, as I mentioned in my post, The Hazards of Social Media, we have to consider any information posted on the Internet as being public, or easy to make public.

Social networks, of course, mean more than just instant short message services. They can include blogs and other forms of personal websites.

Putting Yourself in Danger

Consider some areas where you could put yourself in danger.

Let’s say that you just bought a new music system, TV set, or computer. It is a top-of-the-range model and you are proud of your purchase. So you post photos of these items online for your friends to see.

A few weeks later, you tell your friends that you are going on holiday for two weeks; and the local burglars say, “Thank you for that information.” You come home to find your house cleared of all those nice new items, and several more.

Worse, what if you published an item saying that you were a little concerned about being alone in the house while your mate was away on business. What dangers could you be opening yourself up to, now?

Also, what about those photos that you take on the way home from work, every evening. Do they say, “Look at the route I take from work, every evening. And I walk this lonely path on my own. Come and get me!”

Putting Others in Danger

I have long believed that many parents protect their credit card details better than they protect their children.

How many parents do you know who post photographs of their children on the Internet? Oh, they try to disguise the children by giving them false names. Some people only post the initial letter of the child’s first name. Others will use the pet name that the family uses for the child. You know the sort of entries: “This is my daughter, J;” or “Here is a photo of Princess.”

Now, what is to stop someone with nefarious intent approaching your daughter and saying, “Hello, Princess. Mammy asked me to collect you from school, today.” These parents have given away one of the key safety measures available to the child: “If Mammy sent you, what does she call me?”

Should It Be Shared?

Another area that needs careful consideration is the question of whether an item should be shared with others, anyway.

In my post, What’s with the Selfie? I asked why so many self-portraits make the subject look evil. Is it the latest craze that I have missed? Or do people no longer care what they look like? If you are going to share a photo of yourself, at least try to make it look flattering. Posting photos of yourself looking as if you are the evil twin do nothing for your credibility, and could even lose you your job.

Another type of post that I often wonder about is the sharing of personal experiences, whether happy or sad. Okay, this is more difficult. The entry that says, “Sorry I haven’t been too active, lately. I just found the new love of my life,” is probably on the safe side. But when the writer goes into the details of his blonde hair, blue eyes, and muscular stature, I often wonder just how true the story is. I also wonder whether I really want to now.

The opposite side is, “I’m sorry I haven’t posted much, during the last week, but we had a bereavement in the family.” This is a little more acceptable as it is reaching out for comfort. Yet I still wonder how many people really want to know.

Sharing personal experiences is more about sharing knowledge and wisdom. It is about helping other people to cope with their lives by sharing your story of successfully overcoming your trials and tribulations. It is not about seeking sympathy.

The Pity Party

Perhaps the worst kind of entry, then, is the pity party, especially when it is accompanied by photos.

I recently saw some blog entries, accompanied by photos, updating the world on the progress of someone’s operation. Listen people, these are not photos that I want to see on a public notice board! If I want to see the stages of repair and healing I will go to the medical websites. Seeing your stitches, and the resultant scars, is not top of my agenda; and I don’t know many people who do want to see them.

These blog entries also frequently mention the author’s illnesses. Look. I know you want to share your experiences with the world, but if that’s the world you inhabit, then fine. Most normal people really do not sympathize with the “Woe is me!” mentality. Just because you are suffering, there is no need to make the rest of us suffer, too. By all means, share your experiences on websites dedicated to these illnesses; but leave the more public forums alone unless you are going to share the strategy that helped you to successfully deal with the problems.

For example, the Reader here on WordPress makes it possible to select blogs based on key words or phrases. So if I want to interact with people suffering from fibromyalgia, I can. If I want to know how others cope with a child who has autism, I can. If I want to ignore those conversations, I can. Other Social Media sites, however, do not have that luxury. So, if I want to follow a certain person, I have to see their lives, warts and all.

To Share or Not To Share

So what am I saying, here? That I cannot control what I read on the Internet? Not really. That I am not interested in people’s petty ailments? No. I am concerned. I have my own health issues and I subscribe to channels that provide news feeds related to those issues. When I find a successful solution to my health issue, I share it in positive terms, telling people how it has helped me and encouraging them to consider whether it would benefit them, too. I do not whinge about every ache or pain that I suffer as a result of my health issues.

What I am saying is that we need to be careful what we share. By sharing personal, often intimate details, we are exposing ourselves, not only to danger of physical or psychological harm, but also to ridicule. There are plenty of obnoxious people out there who will think nothing of ridiculing a sufferer, just for the fun of it.

Worse than that, maybe, is the fact that we could be alienating even our long-trusted friends. These are the very people who could protect us from the ridicule; who would provide a safe haven in times of need. Yet, these trusted friends probably already know about our latest medical episode. So why broadcast it to the whole world?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some instances where sharing such information is invaluable. At times of disaster, the telephone network may be down, but we can still post to our social network pages. A message saying, “I’ve lost everything, but I’m glad to say I’m still alive,” is always welcomed. In fact, after many disasters, it was the amateur radio operators, in times gone by, and the social networkers, in more recent times, that have brought the news to the world.

So, before publishing your most intimate secrets, think about what you are saying. Read through what you have written with the eyes of a stranger; and ask yourself, “If this was about someone else, would I really want to know?”


Grandpa’s Poetic Way


I believe that I have finally sorted out the problem with my book, and it is now available for free download, this weekend.

It is available here for Amazon UK readers, and here in the US. It is available worldwide, so you should be able to find it if you search for its updated title, Grandpa’s Poetic Way.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you to all those who have already taken a look. If you feel moved to offer a review, that would be appreciated. If you don’t like it, then that’s okay, too.

Do You Really ‘Like’ Me? Or Are You Just Touting for Business?


Do you read every article you ‘Like’?

I ask because I have noticed a number of posts on WordPress suggesting that there are some people (and I hope they are in the minority) who scroll down the WordPress Reader simply clicking the ‘Like’ button, but who never actually visit the blog they are ‘liking.’ So I have started to take note of this phenomenon. Is it really happening? Are there phantom fans out there? Do people really use the ‘Like’ button to drive traffic to their own blog? After all, WordPress’’ advises us that the best way to get traffic is to get to know other bloggers.

Moving to a self-hosted blog, recently, has given me an opportunity to test this theory out, and the results seem to suggest that there is some truth to the rumour.

For example, I have been writing a series of articles looking at grandparents and their role in families. I have only posted the complete articles on my self-hosted blog, with links on my WordPress site. Recently, I posted a new article of almost 2,000 words using my blogging software. This has an option to post the article, and then automatically open the post in my browser so that I can see what it looks like. So, having posted this article, I duly waited for the page to load. Now, my internet connection is not over fibre optic, but it is not slow. As the page loaded, my first ‘Like’ popped up. Hey! I know I`m not a fast reader, but it would take a super-speed reader to get through 2,000 words that quickly.

Therefore, I had to conclude that this blogger had seen my post appear on the WordPress Reader screen and simply clicked ‘Like.’ This was rather disappointing, especially since it was a blogger that I not only follow, but whose work I highly admire.

It struck me that arbitrarily clicking ‘Like’ on lots of posts just to attract traffic to your blog is a bit like a politician voting for everyone else so that he will get elected. Is there not some sort of moral issue here?

Why Is This an Issue?

Why do I worry about this? Like many writers, I enjoy reading widely, and reading through other people’s blogs is an excellent source of inspiration and information. But, trying to keep up with all of the blogs that I follow is not easy. I’m sorry, but I don’t always get to read everything on the blogs I follow.

Yet there is a serious side to ‘Liking’ a post. Consider this: Let’s say that someone posts a rather controversial article. I will not specify any subject because that could sway your judgement in this matter. However, this article flies in the face of everything that you ever stood for. It goes completely contrary to your deeply-held beliefs. In fact, you would be outraged by the very suggestion.

Now, you notice this article in the WordPress Reader. It has a beautiful photograph attached and you really love this photo. So you click ‘Like’ to approve of the photo, but you don’t read the article.

What have you done? You have now agreed with the sentiments expressed in the article. You may even have condoned something illegal. And your next prospective employer could be a fellow blogger who noted that you condoned this activity and he may decide that on the strength of your apparent opinions, you do not qualify for this job. In fact, despite being the best qualified, you do not belong in their company. Believe me, this has happened. A young girl applied for a job and the employer checked out her social network page. She didn’t even get an interview.

What Are You Agreeing With?

My point is that clicking ‘Like’ just to get reciprocal traffic could lead us into trouble. As noted, above, we could be ostensibly agreeing with something that goes directly against our own moral compass. We could even be condoning an illegal act.

That is why I never ‘Like’ a post that I have not read. I have no intention of giving the impression that I approve of something just to get reciprocal traffic.

Also, I will not ‘Like’ a post that contains material which goes against my principles. So, for example, I may highly respect your blog; but if you post an entry about something that I disapprove of, I will not ‘Like’ it. I may comment on it, expressing my disapproval in a tactful way, but I will not ‘Like’ it.

The Value of Commenting

This leads to the question of comments. It is not always possible, or even desirable, to comment on everything a fellow blogger writes. After all, there are only so many ways to say, “Good article.” However, commenting on articles at least tells the author that you have read his or her work, especially if you refer back to something in the article. I’m not always good at this, but Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On is a fine example of it. She regularly comments and her comments always refer to some point in the article. Plus, her comments are always constructive.

Yet, again, because it is so easy to comment from the WordPress Reader, we still need to be careful that our comments are appropriate, rather that just touting for business, as it were.

So, before hitting ‘Like,’ from now on, why not consider your motives. Do you really like this article? Do you honestly agree with what is written in it? Are you only trying to ‘encourage’ a fellow blogger? Or are you just being mercenary in looking for traffic for your own blog?

Grandpa’s Way–A Parent’s Dilemma


The previous article in this series looked at keeping the peace with your children when they leave home. This can be particularly difficult when problems arise in their marriage. As a parent, however, it is your responsibility to keep the peace whilst granting your children the dignity of dealing with their own issues. Let’s look at this, next.

Continue reading . . .

Grandpa’s Way–And Then They Leave Home


Your children will never be ready to leave home. I have no intention of even suggesting that there is any scientific evidence behind that statement. Still, very few parents ever feel that their children are ready to leave home. There is simply no way that they will ever be able to look after themselves. Once the magic laundry basket disappears, and the never-ending food supply runs out, and they leave the bedroom floor littered, in the morning, only to come home to find it is not spotlessly clean, they will be home, again. They will never be able to look after themselves.

Read more . . .

Grandpa’s Way–New Beginnings–Unique Experiences

We left the last article with the thought that everyone involved in raising children has a unique experience, whether they are the parents or the children. The next article in the series is now available on my self-hosted blog.

To avoid missing any of the series, you may want to follow my new blog.

Grandpa’s Way – New Beginnings – Raising Responsible Adults

This is the second in a series of articles looking at the issues faced by grandparents, especially those who find themselves in a position of having to become parents to their grandchildren. You can read the introduction, here.

As mentioned in the introduction, from now on, I will only be posting the full articles on my self-hosted blog.

Grandpa’s Way


Have you ever noticed that your father and, especially your mother, can get your children to cooperate far  better than you can? I know it sometimes involves some form of bribery – candy, money, cuddles, etc. – but it still seems to work much better than your efforts.

Then, again, you may have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Grandchildren are great – We should have had them first.”

Both of these comments highlight the same point, but from different perspectives: Dealing with children seems to get easier as you grow older.

A Dose of Reality

It’s not true, of course. Dealing with children does not get easier as you get older. And there are those who would say that children, today, are far more disrespectful than they were, “in my day.”

The difference, of course, is in the attitude of the adult.

It seems almost superfluous to say that as we get older we have more experience in life and we learn how to deal with things better. Yet it does need to be said, because it’s something that we all forget, from time to time. We go through life lamenting our struggles; yet we rarely seek advice from those who have gone before.

The fact is that grandparents don’t have all the answers. But they do have life experience. And that experience is valuable.

Changes in Circumstances

As we get older, we also learn to deal better with changes in our circumstances. Older people frequently lament not being able to think as quickly as they used to. That, however, is a good thing. Many younger people think too quickly. I know. I used to be one of them. I would fly into the fray, all headstrong and overconfident that I had all the answers, simply to fall flat on my face in embarrassment.

An amusing soliloquy comes to mind: When I was six, my father knew everything; when I was sixteen, it’s amazing how much he had forgotten; by the time I was twenty six, it’s amazing how much he had remembered, again.

That concept runs right through our lives. I look at my mother, now, and there are times when I will discuss my problems with her and benefit from her advice. There are also times when I wonder what happened to her intelligence! There are times when I will discuss things with my children to get their younger perspective. And there are times when I worry that they will never survive. And I have no doubt that my own children look at me in the same way. There are times when they ask my advice and act on it; so they obviously feel I know what I am talking about. And there are times when it seems that I am speaking a totally different language, because they look at me as if to say, “Are you real?”

A Changed Perspective

Recent experiences have set me thinking about this. Also, research about dealing with these experiences has made me aware of a big gap in the advice available for grandparents who love both their children and grandchildren, but who may be faced with the dilemma of protecting the family that they love so much. There is plenty of advice for parents on how to raise their children. And there is plenty of advice on being grandparents to children who go home at night.

But a number of my friends have recently been faced with having to make a choice that no one wants to make: They are having to choose between their children and their grandchildren.

Let me say that again. They are having to choose between their children and their grandchildren. And that choice is not an easy one.

These grandparents are finding that, at an age when they were looking forward to having a life of their own, going for walks, holidays, simple meals out, they now have to care for a new generation of children, and their life is no longer their own. Their children have left home and the bedrooms have been tastefully redecorated. Some rooms have been set aside as offices; others as bedrooms for the grandchildren to spend the weekend.

But the pleasure of grandchildren was supposed to be that you borrowed them, had fun, then gave them back. For these grandparents, giving the children back is no longer an option.

Grandparents Parenting

I come from a part of the world where it was always traditional for at least the first child to live with his or her grandparents for a few years so that the mother could go back to work. That was the situation when I was born. But that has changed. Parents now take their responsibilities more seriously and grandparents find themselves roped in as unpaid babysitters while the mother goes back to work.

But that is not my friends’ experience. They are in the position of becoming parents to their grandchildren, not for a few days, not for a few years, but for life.

Now, as I said, there is a lot of advice out there for parents, a lot of advice for grandparents, and a lot of advice for foster parents. But there is very little advice for grandparent parents. They are left almost to their own devices.

A New Series

So I have decided to start writing a new series of articles based on the difficulties experienced by grandparents faced with the dilemma of becoming parents, again. This series will be tagged and categorized under “Grandpa’s Way,” and it will only be available on my self-hosted blog, Harcourt 51. I will be posting links on my WordPress site, but not full articles.

What Will This Series Contain?

I don’t know! But seriously, I will be looking at the role of grandparents in the children’s development. How can grandparents help their children to be better parents? When should you speak up? When should you keep quiet? How can you deal with potential conflicts of interest?

I will also be looking at the situation surrounding grandparents taking over the role of being parents to their grandchildren. Why might this be necessary? What do you need to take into consideration before making such a decision? What help is available? How do you deal with Social Workers if that becomes necessary?

Other questions might include things like, What can you do if you think your grandchildren are at risk? And what if that risk comes from your children? How can you help your children to improve as parents, reduce or remove the risk, and still keep the peace in the family?

I also want to share parenting tips for both parents and grandparents. Maybe some of them will work for you.

I want to look at various situations that could lead to grandparents becoming parents. How do you help your grandchildren to deal with losing both their parents, which is why they are now staying with you, and their grandparents, because you have now become their parents?

Finally, I want to share some tips on mindfulness as it applies to family situations. How can a greater awareness of your own feelings help you to better understand your children and grandchildren? How can it help you to be calm in the face of serious difficulties? How can it help your family to deal with trauma, which can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes?

In Summary

So, what will this new series contain? Anything and everything that could be of interest to grandparents, their children, their grandchildren, and the grandparents’ parents. After all, there are more grandparents than ever before looking after people both older and younger than they are.

One final point of note is that you do not have to be in this situation to benefit from this series. You may be someone who has friends or family members facing these issues. What advice do you give them? How can you help them? The series will look at this situation, too.

You may be a professional who deals with these situations every day. I hope that you will benefit from reading about these issues from the perspective of the layman. If you feel that some of the comments are out of order, please contact me to discuss it, either through the comments or my Contact page.

And, who knows? Maybe I’ll even combine it all into a book.


Please note that I do not claim to be an expert. The thoughts expressed in this series may not reflect the current thinking in professional circles. These are my personal opinions based on my personal experience and that of my friends, who shall remain nameless. Any names used in these articles will be fictitious, and the experiences quoted, although based on real life, will be fictitious constructions combining isolated incidents and mindful meditation on the potential consequences.

Also, remember that all situations are different. The thoughts contained herein are not meant to be definitive answers to any situation. They are provided simply as prompts, enabling those who care to think about their own dilemmas with a view to finding their own solutions to their own unique problems. Basically, we will be looking at principles, not rules.

This blog, its authors and editors cannot take responsibility for any decisions made by those who read this content. Please conduct your own research and discuss your situation with your own advisors before taking any actions or making any decisions.