During the meeting where we talked about the appropriate (and inappropriate) use of Facebook by school employees, someone observed, "The kids have no boundaries." I think -- and hope -- that is an exaggeration. But it really got me to thinking.
There are different kinds of boundaries in relationships. The one that concerns me right now is the one about sharing of personal information. And I'm thinking about adults, not kids.
We can post something on a blog, or on Facebook, and perhaps later have second thoughts and take it down. We forget that once it has been posted, we don't know who may appropriate it or what that person might do with it. Once it's out there, it's out there. I try to keep that in mind as I write for my blog and only once or twice in all of these posts have I had small second thoughts.
The same is true for real life relationships and sharing of personal information.
Someone once showed me a diagram that was a ring of concentric circles. The idea was that I would be an X in the center of the smallest circle with one or two or three dots in that same circle. The next ring out would be larger and would hold a few more dots than the first. And so on. Each dot representing a relationship with another person. The closer the dot to me, the closer the relationship. I loved this diagram. The sharer went on to point out that ordinarily, the closer-in dots would be relationships of longer standing than the further-out dots.
I like to think that on other people's diagrams, my ring position is similar to theirs on mine. It just seems to make sense.
I want to be clear that this is about ordinary social relationships and not about any type of therapeutic relationship.
Once we share something, we can't take it back.
This whole idea that social boundaries are disintegrating is troublesome for me.
There are two dots in my innermost circle, my husband and my friend of 40+ years. I share things with them that I seldom share with people in the next ring out and certainly never with people in rings beyond that.
I read a couple of things on some blogs recently that made me cringe. People I have never met and never am likely to meet were sharing intensely personal things that involved people other than themselves. For all of the world, literally, to see and read and know. I felt uncomfortable. I pulled back for a bit from reading those blogs.
It puts me in mind of the woman I met some time ago. I liked "Marge" right away and could tell the feeling was mutual. It looked like the kind of thing that might turn into a real friendship. Too soon, however, too early in the relationship, when I had known her for only a very short time, she told me of an involuntary sexual experience from long ago involving someone from her family. Everything changed. I wasn't ready to know this about her, about her family member.
I don't know what that circle diagram was called or who developed it. I wish I did. It has been invaluable to me. For some time I had wondered precisely what had gone wrong in the Marge situation, and the diagram really helped to clarify it several years after the fact.
I have the feeling there is more to come on this topic. And you know what's funny? Much of the rumination comes in the evening, when I'm alone, cutting strips and putting pieced pairs of fabric through the machine. Bringing bits and pieces of this and that into some new whole.