Online Boundaries

I knew from my first interaction with Tracee that I liked her and I know you will too. We met on Twitter and eventually began to dialogue through our blogs and email. Tracee is a therapist pursuing licensure as well as an accomplished speaker and hip hop aficionado.
She is passionate about the topic of Boundaries, so grab a seat and welcome my friend Tracee to the couch.
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Online Boundaries
by Tracee Persiko

We are beginning to live in a world where the accessibility to people is immeasurable. Relationships are growing at a rapid rate.

Before online communities began, we had coffee dates and conversations that took on hours. Questions were asked that facilitated a maze through the heart of another. Time is what made the relationship a true treasure. LOL’s were actually heard. We learned ways of reading emotions, reactions, and voice inflections. Relationships allowed for development.

The introduction of online relating, and communities, are changing the definition of relationships as it once was. Relationships are starting and growing at an exponential pace. Getting to know someone looks so different then just talking to them. To get to know someone online there are alternative ways of seeing someone without actually having a conversation with that person. We can read their blogs, follow their banter and interactions on Twitter, and watch their journey through pictures on Facebook. These are just glimpses- great glimpses, but authentic snap shots at that.

Every day is filled with new introductions and glimpses of new hearts. We are hungry to be seen and known. We all have gifts that ache to be used.

Relationships are what we are wired for. We are created to know deep connections. Just like life, all relationships need boundaries to work well. The story of another is worth hearing. We long for it, we want to be a part of it; we want to offer, and be offered into. However, there is a time for everything.

Online relating lends itself to knowing another through pieces. It can also lend itself to false intimacy – perceived closeness to someone because of their exposure. It is really easy to exchange typed hearts. More people seem to be willing to “go there” with the perceived safety of cyber walls up, but there is a responsibility that comes with that.

Sometimes I cringe watching people place their hearts out there unguarded and left to the responsibility of others who are unknown. We are sadly moving into being a culture that is enabling enmeshment and blurred boundary lines.

So what do good boundaries look like?

“Guard your heart and mind” is a life principle no matter what sphere you are in. If you are not quick to hand out your heart in person, please take the same precautions when online. Guard the treasures of your story well. Your heart matters.

Proverbs 12:26 states, “a righteous man is cautious in friendship.” There is wisdom in taking relationships slow. There is value in development.

All relationships need time to prove trustworthy and safe. Just like in your first coffee meeting with someone, you might not tell your whole story right away. If you are interested in knowing someone more, engage in preliminary conversations. Leave room for your heart to be pursued. Let people ask about your heart and life.

Knowing information about another person does not mean you KNOW them. Guard your heart and help people guard theirs. Be cautious when entering relationships. Our hearts are worth valuing well. Love people well by asking questions. Love people well by not rushing into relationship levels that are falsely intimate. Do not cheapen the treasures of your heart by handing it out to others who will not be responsible with it.

What kind of boundaries do you uphold when interaction online?

In what ways do you see that better boundaries could be implemented online?

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Tracee cares deeply about the heart and story of other people. When it comes to areas of passion, Tracee enjoys speaking on topics including: leadership development, cultivating character, second mile living, identity in Christ, and carrying the weight of your influence well. Her heart is all about empowering others to believe different and live different.

You can connect with Tracee on Twitter @TraceePersiko and on her blog at http://traceepersiko.wordpress.com/

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12 thoughts on “Online Boundaries

  1. Megan Landmeier says:

    As a fairly new blogger, this is fascinating to me.  I started into this online world because meeting the kind of people I was looking for (other parents of children with Down syndrome the same age as my daughter) isn’t the kind of thing that happens out and about very often. 

    I keep things fairly surface level, and about the actualities of life when I email with people, more than about the heart.  There are a few women I can say I’ve gotten to KNOW, not just KNOW ABOUT through the Down syndrome community… women I will meet for coffee at some point, at some conference or another, women whose children will always know about mine and vice versa.  There’s about five women like this.  On my blog, what I share is completely true, but I keep some of the deeper heart stuff off – I wouldn’t put it all in a newspaper, I don’t need random strangers to read it!

    • Tracee says:

      So glad you are finding good community for you Megz! i love that! i love and appreciate how you have been cautious about it as well. You are good at guarding Ellie! I am glad you are setting the bar at letting their be development and slow processing. so so valuable!! i know you are showing these great women different!

  2. Ayla says:

    You bring some great wisdom to this issue.

    I often feel sad at how social media has replaced intimate, one on one relationships; people don’t have time for each other anymore beyond a tweet or facebook hi. 

    I do agree that it’s important to guard our hearts and minds and especially spirits with individuals we do not know and have a personal, intimate relationship with. I strongly believe in boundaries-both in online and in person relationships and agree that we should use wisdom as to who we share how much of our personal stories with.

    I think there’s a difference, however, with blogging if the purpose of your blog is to share the redemptive power of God at work in your life. I believe in transparency that emulates and proves God’s existence to others who doubt it. I don’t feel that you have to personally know someone to be transparent about your story on your blog unless there are specific conditions requiring you to be.  For example, when I first converted from Islam to Christianity, my blog was a way for me to safely talk about my conversion and faith walk and it was set to private with only a few individuals having access to it/my life. Over the years, God brought me to a more secure place in Him, and I made my blog public, and have been sharing what God is doing in my life. I don’t share specific information a lot of times like names of family and friends, specific locations, etc. but I have been very transparent about my struggles and how God has brought me out of them and I believe this is important for the expansion of His kingdom on earth.

    It’s kind of like when you write a book; you can’t determine who will have access to your story and what they may do with it; but if your HS led in sharing your story in love, truth, and grace, then God will take care of covering you from any harm.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. Definitely not trying to argue with your points; I agree with you; just offering a different perspective.

    Love and blessings!

    • Tracee says:

      Ayla,

      Absolutely agree blogging is a different way of telling your story. I tell mine through what i am learning. In being authentic, i think there is still a presented edited version of articulating our hearts and some of that is wise. I love that you are willing to share your story. There is redemption in telling our stories. I love that you value authenticity. I hope that when people meet you for the first time, face to face, that they still ask you “get to know you” questions even if they have read your story. So important. I think there are a lot of great people offering their stories and hearts in healthy ways, for the benefit of others. I have also seen a lot of people use their voice and space in very unhealthy ways. 

      Would love to hear what boundaries you use, or are consious of when you write a post, or share you story. that would be so helpful for people to read on here and think about!

      Thank you for your long winded thoughts! i really really appreciate them. thank you. 

  3. Suzanne says:

    This is really good, Tracee.  I try to be transparent with blogging but careful by not  being too specific.  (It seems others have said something like this).  I am grateful for online community, but I completely agree – it can be misused and misunderstood by many.  

    At the same time, I have a desire to get to know some of the people I am in contact with online (through twitter, blogging) for real.  Maybe that makes me weird. 🙂

    • Tracee says:

      I have “met” some really quality people online – people i canNOT wait to meet in person. I have loved getting to know people online, and the extrovert in me is loving twitter. At the same time, i am slow to still develop those friendships and cultivate them well. It makes all the difference. I value taking the time to still get to know people i still see through the screen. I try and pursue online people the same way i would if we were meeting out somewhere. All good things take time. 

      Love your thoughts!! thank you!

    • Tracee says:

      I have “met” some really quality people online – people i canNOT wait to meet in person. I have loved getting to know people online, and the extrovert in me is loving twitter. At the same time, i am slow to still develop those friendships and cultivate them well. It makes all the difference. I value taking the time to still get to know people i still see through the screen. I try and pursue online people the same way i would if we were meeting out somewhere. All good things take time. 

      Love your thoughts!! thank you!

  4. www.ristowswife.wordpress.org says:

    I so appreciate the online world. I am not always the one to initiate a friendship. Not cause I don’t want to, but because I don’t know how. I’m also very careful about the people I let into my inner world. Not because I am snobby, but because my husband and children are so very precious to me that I understand each interaction I have with someone else affects them too. That being said, as much as I appreciate that I can have in depth convos with people online, without having to take tons of time away from my family, or get to know someone whom I would never cross paths with… There are some things that online world’s cannot replace. You’ll never hear: “Hey, remember that time when you were doing this online, and I did this, and that was really funny..?” Nope. I think, no matter what, our very best memories of all happen face to face. “Remember that time when we were together and…”

    • Tracee says:

      I appreciate your words so much. I really appreciate that you protect your family, as well as know that your lives affect one another deeply. That is a sign of a trustworthy person to me. So thank you for being cautious. Nothing beats a real hug as well. I love your example of “remember when..” so true. 

      I have gotten to know some really amazing people online. There are some great gems out there – people i can’t wait to meet in person. I also value taking the time to develop those friendships and take it slow. Boundaries are so crucial.

    • Tracee says:

      I appreciate your words so much. I really appreciate that you protect your family, as well as know that your lives affect one another deeply. That is a sign of a trustworthy person to me. So thank you for being cautious. Nothing beats a real hug as well. I love your example of “remember when..” so true. 

      I have gotten to know some really amazing people online. There are some great gems out there – people i can’t wait to meet in person. I also value taking the time to develop those friendships and take it slow. Boundaries are so crucial.

  5. www.ristowswife.wordpress.org says:

    I so appreciate the online world. I am not always the one to initiate a friendship. Not cause I don’t want to, but because I don’t know how. I’m also very careful about the people I let into my inner world. Not because I am snobby, but because my husband and children are so very precious to me that I understand each interaction I have with someone else affects them too. That being said, as much as I appreciate that I can have in depth convos with people online, without having to take tons of time away from my family, or get to know someone whom I would never cross paths with… There are some things that online world’s cannot replace. You’ll never hear: “Hey, remember that time when you were doing this online, and I did this, and that was really funny..?” Nope. I think, no matter what, our very best memories of all happen face to face. “Remember that time when we were together and…”

  6. Cindy Holman says:

    Great article.  Ouch.  This hits home with me.  I have not always been careful in knowing or trusting too much in a friendship – only to have revealed too much – dealt with messy emotional feelings and then was stabbed in the back with those delicate feelings.  It always hurts worse when it is a perceived “trusted friend” and not just an acquaintance that you only know online.  Things do tend to get messed up in emails and misinterpreted as well – so I can appreciate what you’re advising and believe me – I have learned to be more careful and really get to know people before I reveal too much.  However, I will say that I am fairly transparent with my blog and writing has been a form of healing from that hurt just a short 2 1/2 years ago.  I’ve learned that because I was willing to share parts of my story – I found many friends who shared with me their stories and could not only relate with hurts of their own – but who encouraged me along the way.  It’s been great and I’m glad I did not totally shut down after being betrayed by my friend – as I would have missed so much and not developed such wonderful relationships with all you wonderful people 🙂  Fear holds us back – but with love there is no fear – and I want to have that kind of love – and the ability to risk my heart from time to time if that is what will make me more like Jesus.

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