I write about my children a lot, how they’re developing, how I try to raise them, challenges I face. They’re a huge focus of my life so, obviously, writing about them comes naturally to me. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot; whether it’s fair.
My children have no understanding or concept about the information I share about them. They don’t know that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people will read an article where I talk about them. I share details of their positive qualities, but also their negatives. Things they may, if they understood, decide they don’t want people to know.
It’s something I need to think about hard. Work out what exactly I think is fair to share. My desire to speak to people on a personal and real level, my hope that reading about another mother sharing similar experiences can be of relief and support to some, that shouldn’t come at the expense of my children’s well being.
But writing is one thing. Something we all do to a certain extent by sharing stories and status updates, texting our friends and family. And writing about your life is not an alien concept as throughout history writers and journalists have drawn from their own lives a inspiration, the dawn of social media just made it easier.
My Instagram account has long been connected to my blog, and I have used it for work and socialising alike. I had a small, but not tiny, following of approximately 700 people, and I regularly shared updates on my novels, podcasts and blogs, as well as photos of the children I so often write about. It was nice to be able to share that with my readers alongside my blog. Though again, it was something I was conflicted about. Was I putting my career and desire to reach more and more people with my writing ahead of what was good for my children?
Today I made the choice. I had an absolute no nonsense cull of all Instagram followers who I don’t know and trust. I cut the 700 down to just over 1oo, and I made that account private. Then I set up a new Instagram account. The account that is now linked to this blog as well as my Facebook page. An account I will use for my work, my writing, stuff I’m doing, but not photos of my children.
What’s the change, you ask? Why now?
My articles are beginning to get more attention. I’m starting to get read more widely, more regularly. My work is being shared more on social media.
I’m a woman, a feminist, and fairly outspoken. And there are men out there who don’t like it. Men who can be aggressive and threatening. Men with a history of stalking women. One who identified himself as “minor attracted” and talked about what a positive experience it can be for minors to be sexual with him.
I cannot protect my children from all forms of evil. I cannot stop anyone from ever hurting them. But I can take them out of the firing line.
Me? I’m big enough and ugly enough that I can cope, for now. I am making the adult decision to face these trolls, then aggressive misogynistic men, and say that I won’t be silenced. Both for my career, I want to write and I want to be read, but also for the sake of women everywhere. The more of us who refuse to be silenced out of fear of these men, the less their voices will penetrate our well being. The more voices who stand up to them the less impact they will have. So for as long as I am able I will stand and keep using that voice.
But my children? Hell no.
Writing about them is one thing, and it’s something I passionately love doing so I am reluctant to give it up. And I’m fairly confident that if handled appropriately it doesn’t need to have a negative impact on them. But if I can avoid their photos being seen by the kind of cruel and terrifying men that like to spray their poison across social media then that is something I can do. I can protect them from my life, from the choices I make, from the vile people who I interact with. And if I can do it, I must do it.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!