Over the past week or so, the issue of deciding how much personal stuff to share online has been the centrepiece of a few conversations I’ve had. Being a YouTuber and blogger, I naturally share quite a bit of what my daily life entails online (and since I’ll be doing Vlogmas shortly, there’ll be even more out there!), and a few vlogging-related talks lately have got me thinking about the issue. If it’s something you’ve also been debating, here are a few things to consider…
1. How much is SAFE to share?
When it comes to this big question, safety has got to be the number one priority. I have always been careful not to share my exact location (you guys all know I live in Manchester, but when I lived in a smaller town I never mentioned the name of it). I know that 99% of the people who watch my videos would be totally respectful of my privacy even if they knew my full address, but on the internet there’s always the minority who wouldn’t be. If you’re underage you need to be even more careful – in fact, I’d recommend discussing with your parents exactly where the boundaries are in terms of privacy/safety and sticking to them.
I remember filming a video once where I held up a package I’d received in the post, and my address was clearly visible (I had to re-edit the video), and there have been some stories online of people unwittingly showing their credit card in a photo or video and promptly being rinsed of their money. Being vigilant about the little details is super important, as it allows you to share more of what you really want to without worrying so much.
2. How much do you WANT to share?
When so many people are sharing so much about their lives and themselves online, it’s easy to fall into doing pretty much the same things without asking yourself whether you really want to. I often talk about what I ate on a certain day on WhatTheHealth, or show my make up-free face on my main Chyaz channel (I’ve also shown my just-out-of-the-shower look, fully clothed but with wet, matted hair before to). These things are all fine by me, but may not be the kind of thing you’d want to do. Maybe they are…only you can decide that.
There are a couple of things I’ve chosen not to share over the years, like the split of how I earn money or discussions about medical bits and bobs. Who knows – I might talk about these things if I want to, I might choose not to. Everyone has this choice, and it’s about figuring out your own limits and boundaries of where you feel comfortable. There’s no manual on how to live an online life, so take it into your own hands and decide what’s best for you.
3. How will it affect me in the future?
Like it or not, whatever you put out on the internet is likely to stick around (unless you delete it pretty quickly…but even then it’s not a guaranteed safety net). As a rule, I never post anything I wouldn’t be happy to share with a room full of people in real life, and I always do a mental checklist of whether I’m happy to release something into the online world. Whether it’s photos on my Instagram page or videos on my channels, I’ve got to have confidence in what I’m posting. I recently filmed a make up tutorial and just wasn’t happy with how it turned out, and how it reflected on my skills, so I scrapped it (it was painful to delete half a day’s work, but that’s just how it goes sometimes).
The same goes for any social media page, including more private sites like Facebook. If you’re happy with the representation of yourself a photo, video or text post puts out there, it’s all good. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-moderation at times though – it’s just the smart thing to do.
What do you think of my advice? If you have anything to add, or any questions, just leave me a comment!