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Examining the Role and the Rules

When my Mother started teaching in the 1940’s in the Prairie Provinces of Canada, there was a strict dress code. She wore her hair pinned back into a nape bun, dark coloured dresses, heavy stockings and what we liked to tease were “grandmother “ tie up shoes. When she retired there was still a dress code, but now it was slacks, nice shirt, and for the older women a smock like shirt with lots of pockets to protect your clothing. The children and parents addressed her as Mrs. H and not by her first name.

hand and apple

She was a professional teacher through and through. She was in great demand as a first grade teacher by the end of her career. She never hit a child, though she did spank her own at home, and her job was to see that every child could read and do numbers. She did her job well and gave each child appropriate attention to their needs and her classroom was a safe place to grow and learn.

My Mother decided to retire when the other teachers in her school began wearing jeans to teach, allowed the kids to call them by their first names and she was no longer allowed to teach them to use their left or right hand in writing. Teachers and parents were becoming their children’s friends, and she felt that would lead too many problems in a learning environment.

I am not suggesting an ideal here, because heaven knows that my first grade teacher dressed the same way as my mother did and her mode of teaching was fear and intimidation. She carried a ruler with her and was known to whack it down on the palm of your hands or flick your ears with it until you cried.

My Mother was working out of her own boundaries and out of her professional boundaries and this security provided her the opportunity to be a warm, loving, disciplined teacher who enjoyed her work and kept her personal life separate.

In every profession, there are professional boundaries and relationships. There are moments of privilege in these professional connections and there are moments of discipline and questioning.

And then there is the Internet!

The only rules of the Internet and connections on the Internet are those that are chosen by the individual (or the parents of the individual) using the Internet. I am sure there are mathematical codes and other programming things that limit, but when it comes to connections and relationships on line it seems to be truly a matter of personal discipline and choice.

My professional degree requires that I get recertified in my ethical discipline every three years. I think this is a good thing. I have just finished that process and am now exploring my boundaries and discipline when writing on my blog. Do I have rules? Do I share too much? What am I hoping to receive or benefit from others comments? Do I have to get myself dressed every morning before writing or would I communicate just as well in my PJs?

Authors in the publishing world have lots of support folks – editors, agents, family, friends, and proofreaders who are part of their team. I have a confidant and a therapist in another city on my team.

What do you think? Do you have support team? Should it be other bloggers? Should a blogger just be self-responsible? Will natural selection just do the job? Do we have a rule such as “Do no Harm?”

I am looking forward to your comments and am hoping that some good discussion will happen here, some good questioning, because I am taking this quest seriously and I am wondering if I can truly just “do my own thing”?


I collected a few more Champagne Stories for the blog – have you got one to share?
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15 Responses to “Examining the Role and the Rules”

  1. Betsy Wuebker Says:

    Hi Patricia – I think most of us set our own boundaries. Recently a fairly popular blogger had what I call a “snap” about someone’s twitter comment and took it offline – calling his house and work. It created quite a stir and the post describing what she did is still generating comments. We’re all human and fallible. On a different day, perhaps she wouldn’t have done that. I’ve self-censored to a degree, realizing that readers may not really care all that much what my opinions are on certain subjects. So, if we’re writing for the reader, and one would argue we are in this venue, we’ll do that to some degree. Interesting things to think about! Thank you.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..THE ENEMY OF CLEAR LANGUAGE TURNS YOU INTO A CUTTLEFISH

  2. Dot Says:

    Interesting question. When the system that evolved into the Internet first went public, there weren’t so much rules as an atmosphere. It was an atmosphere of friendly respect, cooperation, and sharing without charging money for anything. There is now “Netiquette,” which you can probably look up on Wikipedia.

    As for writing about your personal stuff, I think people who are interested in a blog will be interested in knowing something about the blogger, but not everything. My last post on glasses and hair was kind of lazy and a bit too personal, I think, to be that interesting, but I don’t plan on doing that often.

    I guess I would compare it to having a committee meet at your house. They will mostly want to get on with the business of the meeting (or, for bloggers, what you offer on your blog), but a certain amount of personal stuff is always going to be there and will interest them, some more than others.

    The only other limits are, of course, the protection and privacy of you and your loved ones.

  3. UrbanPanther Says:

    Freedom of speech and all that jazz means that yes, you can write what you want. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to read it. I have established personal boundaries for blogging, be it writing my own, or reading others. They are my rules only, and I am sure each person has their own unique set of rules.

    UrbanPanthers last blog post..Putting it into perspective

  4. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    I agree with the previous commenters that it’s up to each of us to establish her boundaries when reading, writing and participating in social media.

    I do think there’s a blogging community, but I also like that blogging gives me total control over what and when to publish.

    Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..If You Want To Sell Something To Women, You’d Better Make It Pink

  5. Mark Says:

    It is great that you are exploring this question. Boundries and ethics are personal choice when it comes to the Internet. In the blogging world as in any publishing venue the bounderies are often set by the audience. Your audience will let you know when you have over stepped what they preceive to be accepted boundries. At this point one of two things will happen, you will lose some of your readership and you may decide to reestablish your boundries or you may choose to go after a different audience. From a support perspective, for myself I am author and sole editor. I write what is on my mind. Often times I don’t know why I am writing what I write, however I am assured that there is a purpose to what I write and quiet often a reader will sense that I am speaking directly to them, that reaffirms to me that there is a purpose even though sometimes I am not overly impressed with what I wrote at the time.
    I let my writing flow freely, I do very little if any editing, which I know drives some English majors crazy. What you see if most often my first draft, the only thing that has been done is a spell check.
    I do practice “do no harm” as a matter of fact I wrote an article on do no harm a while back. I practice this in every aspect of my life, not just writing. You can read the article at http://tobeme.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/do-no-harm/.
    This was thought provoking, thank-you.

    Marks last blog post..Do It Now – Eat The Toad

  6. patricia Says:

    Betsy,
    Thank you for your good comments and adding to the discussion. I am taking this task to heart and looking at how I write – I attempt to be conversational – and not be too personal and yet convey a message that I think others might read and find inspiring. I am also working to be more free form and have the kind of control over what I write as my whole life I have been following others rules and regulations. I like your ideas and value your opinions.

    Dot,
    You really make so vital points here in your comments. I do have someone breathing down my neck that I need something like a board of directors or an editor. I truly don’t want that committee and think I am better at self editing and boundaries in this medium of communications.

    Urban Panther,
    What I am loving about blogging and writing at this point in my life is that I can set my own boundaries and say what I want.
    I am basically a kind person who wishes to have her words read.
    I wish to be in charge.

    Vered,
    I have had to go through so many hoops in my life, I am working on establishing more control over what I do. You are very clear about you boundaries and it shows in your posts and your replies – I admire your control and clarity.

    Mark,
    Before I begin writing each and every post, I spend the time to play one game of Suduko to get my brain energized and then I meditate for about 20 minutes. I just start typing on the computer and the words flow out. I tend to write in themed groups using one concept or idea which right now in intrigued by the Ethics class I just took. I am the sole editor, but I am dependent on my IT person and she will not let me use pictures or articles that I do not have expressed permission to use. I honor her rules .

    I have practiced “do no harm” for most of my life also and know that I am a kind person . I look forward to reading your article on the subject. I think I am a good writer and like that I write more conversationally on the blog rather than formally as I was trained.
    I am so enjoying the comments and the discussion. Thank you all – lots to think about and explore

  7. Liara Covert Says:

    Patricia, boundaries are aspects of the self many human beings chose to revise over during their lifetime. Resisting change can make life difficult in some circumstances, and seem to simplify others. What matters is that a person comes to recognize why he behaves as he does at a given moment. Is the impetus love or fear? One or the other motivates a person to think and feel.

    One perspective is outside influences always shape beliefs. Rigidity is not always helpful. In fact, rigidity can prevent a person from being truly honest with himself. When a person chooses to gain insight into the messages he sends the world through specific behaviour, then he reaches another milestone.

    Liara Coverts last blog post..What do you learn from forever?

  8. Henie Says:

    Hi Patricia…

    As everyone has already stated, I too think that we are respomsible for setting our own boundaries.

    When it comes to blogging, I think that a lot of it depends on what your blogging focus or goals are.

    For me, I write for the love of it…I write for me not the reader. And if a reader likes it and relates, then that is just the bonus for me.

    Thank you for writing a very interesting and insightful post!

    P.S. BTW, I gained 14 pounds from my meds! I almost fell over when I saw my doctor last! I immediately went off of them and started a new kind…phew! I’ve never weighed over 100 until now…:~)

    Henies last blog post..Inbound Marketing Summit SF #ims09

  9. Patricia Says:

    Liara,
    I think I am working on this, “When a person chooses to gain insight into the messages he sends the world through specific behaviour, then he reaches another milestone.” and not being so rigid with the rules. Thank you for the good comments. I think this is a good discussion.

    Henie,
    Isn’t the weight gain awful, when it is so sudden, one just feels un-movable!
    I love to write and that is why I blog – some place to put my writing! and it is so much better when there is discussion and feedback on the ideas. I think this is good exploration material for me as a foment ideas and integrate them
    Thank you for your insightful comments. Glad you are off the meds.

    Patricias last blog post..Examining the Role and the Rules

  10. Jannie Funster Says:

    There will always be personal codes that people go by, I believe learned in the home. And I feel that those with similar codes will gravitate towards each other.

    Th Intenet has someone for everyone and we can pick and choose. There is a kind of sadness I feel that there is so much hating available on the Net if you want to go that way, sites to fuel negative stuff. However I think the goodness inherent in us always boils to the top and overall the Internet is a great place to be. This site near the top!

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..The CDs Have Landed!

  11. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    Thank you for the nice words…my Buddhist teacher friend always smiles and says the cream rises to the top…

    I do believe there is an energy pull one towards another…we are all energy and some of us sing!

  12. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. I think it’s good to have a support team. And, from a variety of areas of your life: bloggers, friends, colleagues, etc. What’s great is that not only do you support each other, but you also keep each other accountable to the goals you have set.

    Davinas last blog post..Positively Breathing — Affirmation 1

  13. Patricia Says:

    Davina,
    Not only for the accountability issue, but also because I have been a lone ranger for so many years, it would be nice to have regular contact with some fresh ideas…two heads are better than one?

  14. Jannie Funster Says:

    Davina is a wise one too.

    And you, Patricia, have certainly helped me keep accountable for the goals I’ve set.

    Thank you from the bottom of my bottomless heart.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..The CDs Have Landed!

  15. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    What are friends for if not for support?

    You are such a creative person you inspire me….Enjoy your reveal, I am thinking about you on the 10th

    Oh yes! and Happy Mother’s Day