Every Monday at school, the class gathers around and shares what happened that weekend, or something they’re looking forward to in the week ahead.
Every Monday morning, I watch my twins negotiate the delicate path of separating their overlapping lives. “I’ll say we went apple picking, you tell them about the pie.” “I didn’t really like that movie, so you can talk about that, and I’ll talk about playing in the leaves.” It doesn’t always go smoothly, but most often they are able to divide topics among this imaginary line. This is yours/this is mine, even though both are really ours.
In this world, we’re so constantly pressed to share. Our photos, our memories, our deep thoughts, and our mundane tasks get put up for public or semi-public consumption. I constantly struggle with knowing what is mine to share and what is more rightfully someone else’s. Even if it is their story, are my thoughts and feelings about it mine to share? Where is the line?
I try to set boundaries and stay within them. No pictures of my children that they may someday find embarrassing – no nudity, no pictures of them sick or in the hospital, no pictures of them crying or in trouble. No public discussions of potty training, circumcision, or anything regarding the private areas of their bodies. No stories that may embarrass someone else. No discussions of my marriage or sex life.
Still, I struggle. Our lives are so intertwined that teasing out what is specifically mine is so often too complicated, and I end up walking away without having said anything at all.
It’s interesting watching them navigate it so easily. Is this the effect of growing up in an over-shared society? Much like their innate ability to manipulate a touchscreen and pick up on the finer points of Minecraft, will they grow up having this instinctive knowledge of how to extract their individual story from the larger mesh?
I’m glad to see it, proud to see it. So many people share indiscriminately and thoughtlessly, unconcerned about how the other person may feel. Instead, they carefully discuss and agree before any information is shared, so no feelings are hurt. It’s curious and heartwarming to see them so concerned about respecting the boundaries of others. I can only hope they continue along this path, thinking before sharing.