In this era of social media, a lot of people have started chronicling their lives for the world to see. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I myself have a daily blog  that serves as an online journal of sorts. I also post daily links to that blog on my Facebook page, so I am hardly in a position to complain about social media.

However, using social media is not without risks. People who write about their vacations as they are on those vacations are opening themselves to burglaries from Facebook-savvy burglars. Students and adults who post nasty things about teachers or employers can sometimes find themselves in big trouble when those teachers or employers come across their comments online. Discretion is definitely needed.

Today’s letter, however, deals with details that are revealed online about missionary work. Inspirational stories may seem less inspirational when viewed through the eyes of a person who was being taught by those missionaries. Therein is the subject of today’s letter.

“Somewhere in the World” writes about an experience she had where an investigator saw herself in a place where she didn’t want to be seen. Read on for Somewhere’s experience:

I suggested an investigator watch “The District” (a new byutv.org reality series on missionary work). When she reported back, she said she was worried about personal privacy.

The mother of one of the missionaries who was teaching her wrote about her (repeating the missionary’s comments) in an online blog in ways my friend recognized, though it had not named her. She also wrote about others – including the reasons they weren’t being baptized, in ways that made them identifiable to this investigator.

Should missionary moms, mission presidents, and/or missionaries themselves write mission stories online? And should any of them write about investigators without their permission? Does it matter whether it is a country which is wired, or one that isn’t (and therefore less likely to have the word spread)? Who has the right to publish online info about other’s investigation/conversion/life stories (I’m assuming here the best of intentions)?

Somewhere in the World

Now there’s a sticky situation. On one hand, people want to describe their experiences and have a right to do so. On the other hand, the people they write about certainly don’t expect to have their life stories broadcast in a way that identifies them. I can only imagine the concern that Agnes P. Investigator might feel if she read Elder Earnest’s (or Elder Earnest’s mother’s) blog telling the world that Agnes P. had a testimony but that she was having an affair with a married man and didn’t think she could be baptized yet because she didn’t want to give up Romeo. Talk about an embarrassing situation – not to mention a potential cause for a lawsuit!

There has to be a fine line somewhere. Readers, if you have any suggestions about behavior (especially honoring the rights to privacy) on social media, please send your thoughts to [email protected]“. DO NOT USE THE FORM ON THIS PAGE, BECAUSE IT RARELY WORKS SO YOU’LL JUST BE WASTING YOUR TIME. No, write an actual email to the email address in this paragraph. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Until next week –

Kathy

“Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.”

Jean de La Fontaine

 

Want more Kathryn H. Kidd? Visit www.planetkathy.com to read her blog and get free stuff. Kathy also has a weekly column at the Nauvoo Times (www.nauvootimes.com).