I was reading my first blog posts the other day for comparison purposes. You know – checking for growth in writing style; that sort of thing. And then suddenly, this feeling took over me, this feeling of paranoia. All of a sudden I felt extremely uncomfortable with how much I had shared about myself as a person and about the people in my life. I have always valued privacy – I was never too fond of people who asked loads of questions or having people in my business – but when I started the blog I made an oath of transparency, something that is talked about a lot in church.
Recently, this transparency has been so robust that the clear glass wall is almost non-existent – you know just about everything but the real names of the people mentioned in the blog posts. And I don’t know how I feel about that. My main purpose for starting this blog was to inspire, to motivate, and to teach. When it comes to teaching about the matters of life, love, and faith; a level of openness and cheerful exposure is necessary. I say cheerful because what you reveal about yourself must be done with a willingness. If you don’t genuinely want to share, then if and when you do, it’ll all be in vain. The point of transparency is 1) to learn, and 2) to teach. But if you don’t actually want people to know the inner workings of your life, and you’re doing it for the wrong reasons i.e out of pressure or profit, you’ll close your heart to the teachings of others and you won’t learn anything. Additionally, if you don’t want to share something, it’s often because you’re still dealing with the discomfort of it, which doesn’t put you in a position to teach. A heart in need of healing hinders the mind of its rationality and reasoning.
So, when I think about my openness and whether or not I give the right amount, I have to ask myself: Kyra, are you happy with it? Do you actually want to share that?
And usually, the answer is yes. I read over my previous blog posts and I shudder a little because I know that the people reading my blog know the people written about in my blog. And also, because people have a certain view of me as a Christian woman after God’s own heart and it’s a lot to live up to, though I’ve never been one for acknowledging reputation. It’s a rather ugly word and concept to me. But despite the shudder, I’ve never once thought ‘I should take this post down’. The lessons that are to be learned from my personal experiences are way too valuable for me to keep to myself – I want you to have them. Even still, I find myself in a state of conflict where I decide I have to tone it down A LOT. I find myself re-reading unpublished blog posts and editing them last minute because the person I wrote about just told me they read my blog and that’s going to make things slightly more awkward than they need to be.
So this all begs the question: how transparent is too transparent?
A popular YouTuber, Aliyah Maria Bee, came onto Instagram Live a couple of weeks ago talking about this same thing and it got me thinking. She said that as a digital influencer, in which her career is based on showing excerpts of her life, she constantly battles with whether she wants to share certain aspects of her life or not. One thing she mentioned in particular was her boyfriend, someone who she just revealed she’s seeing though apparently, they’d been together for over a year (I think someone even said two years, you know). She then proceeded to ask her audience if they wanted to see more of that aspect of her life but also pondered on why they cared. She asked why something as personal to her as her love life was being requested as a talking topic in the first place and I wondered that, also.
Why was it necessary for her to give out that section of her life to the public? The reason I draw on necessities is that as a digital influencer, you’re expected to share parts of your life that can inspire or persuade others to behave in a certain way, live a certain lifestyle or to purchase a certain product. That’s why they’re paid to say certain things, to advertise products or services, and taken on free holidays by travel agents and hotels. The companies that work with them know that they have a large following on social media and so much engagement that people will most likely take their advice and buy into what the influencers themselves buy into.
I realised that it really didn’t make sense for Aliyah to share her love life with us because it didn’t contribute to her purpose in any way. It doesn’t teach us, advise us, or tell us to buy a product. It isn’t in any way, shape or form related to her career. Guys, she’s a digital influencer not a reality show star. Her job is to influence. Unless she’s giving relationship advice and using her personal anecdotes as a testimony, she shouldn’t have to talk about her relationship. And it’s lowkey weird that you guys want her to.
And practising privacy doesn’t just come down to what kind of experiences you’re sharing, but the way in which you’re telling the stories, too. Recently, my ma read an article I wrote quite some time ago and she told me she was surprised by some of the things I shared and the manner of which I said them. I didn’t know what she was talking about until I read it again and realised it almost completely defiled the character of a real person. Yes, I used a fake name, but I had provided so many details that it wouldn’t be hard for anyone who knows me and knows them to narrow it down. What’s more: the tone in which I wrote was entirely inappropriate and I noticed it not the third time, nor the fourth time, but my tenth time reading it. The truth is we take an oath of transparency and openness, we vow to expose ourselves for the sake of our platforms, we promise to open the curtains to a window into our lives, and then we get carried away with it.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again. I’ve seen digital influencers, bloggers and celebrities go from private individuals to couple channels on YouTube where the whole world knows their business. I’ve seen famous couples go from Him and Her to Him, Her and the World. As in we know who cheated and who he cheated with and when they got back together and when she got knocked up outside of her marriage and who the baby daddy’s girlfriend is. It gets like that.
I suggest that maybe openness should have a cap. We start to slowly expose ourselves more and more and then we go over the top with it but maybe we don’t do that? Maybe we slowly expose ourselves and then when we’ve reached a level we’re comfortable with and that doesn’t put others at risk, we maintain that level. I would say it’s okay, even admirable, for bloggers to sacrifice their pride for the sake of their readers and admit to their mishaps. I would also say be aware; know your audience, know your enemies, keep in mind who might be collecting evidence for your moments of weakness as uncommon as they may be. If you know you want to work in a heavily saturated, competitive industry that requires professionalism, be very cautious about what you’re sharing and your choice of words. Don’t forget yourself is essentially what I’m saying. I can’t tell you what the best level of openness is for you; I can only remind you to remain aware of the impact of your sharing at all times, and not just the impact it may have on your life but on others.
Interestingly enough, someone told me just yesterday that the best advice he had ever received was this: you can say anything you want as long as you say it politely.
My immediate reaction was to disagree, to insist that something was wrong with that. Surely, something had to be wrong with that. But then I actually thought about it. Assuming that what the rational, reasonable person wants is also going to be rational and reasonable i.e. to coexist with others in perfect harmony, saying what you want just requires you to speak the truth, and with the politeness clause, one really can’t go wrong. This would, however, require one to be both rational and reasonable. A person who finds some sort of joy in trouble and chaos would be exempt from this rule for obvious reasons. It seems fair to say that if your intention is to cause harm with your honesty, no matter how polite you say it there is something inherently wrong with your saying it. With that said, since the rule is ‘say anything you want’, and what I wanted to say did not aid me in coexisting with others in perfect harmony, I can conclude that I was not behaving like a rational and reasonable person when I wrote my first posts. However, since then, since having edited that post and righting these wrongs, I can still claim the rule; I still said what I wanted to say but now what I wanted was that of a rational, reasonable person since it allowed for perfect harmony. As much as I could probably go into this in more depth, this is beginning to sound like a philosophy essay now so all that’s really left to say is
Live in Peace,