A Question That Has Me Thinking

by Ginger on March 18, 2013

in Blogging & Social Media, Blogging & Social Media

So here’s a question for you.*

Say you have a friend who isn’t on social media–no blog, no Twitter, minimal private Facebook mostly used to keep photos of the family flowing to distant relatives.

This friend goes through some kind of struggle or tragedy or challenge.

And because you care about your friend and want people sending positivity toward this person, you ask your social media network for prayers/good thoughts for the friend and their issue. You post about their problem on your blog, in your tweets, on your Facebook page, and ask for people to send positive thoughts out to this person.

So my question–Is it OK to share a person’s private problems online when they aren’t “into” the online space, even if it’s for the purpose of sending prayers/positive thoughts to that person? Is it different than a prayer chain or the like? Or does the element of sharing it online change it to a privacy issue?

What do you think?

*This isn’t prompted by anything other than a random thought while I was driving home.

Katherine March 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I’ve always thought it was incredibly tacky of people to discuss other people’s medical or personal issues on social media, regardless of the reason. You wouldn’t walk into a Starbuck’s full of strangers and ask people to send prayers or positive thoughts, but as far as the other person is concerned you might as well have.

Anne March 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I don’t think it’s okay to share someone else’s issues. But I do think you could say something like “a dear friend is having a difficult time, please send me some positive thoughts/prayers so that I can best help her through this”.

Lana Baker March 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

I was going to say just what Anne did.

If it were me, I would not want details of my issues discussed with all and sundry, but I would deeply appreciate knowing that people were sending positive thoughts my way, even not knowing who I am. I have, in fact, asked for that very thing, even when people have given me permission to share.

I just think positive thoughts without agendas are better than a hundred people praying for a hundred different right solutions.

Cloud March 19, 2013 at 6:52 am

Yeah, I generally don’t tell other people’s stories unless they are so common that it would be impossible to trace it back to one person. Except my kids, of course, but even with them, I don’t tell stories I don’t think they’d want to share.

It gets complicated, though, when other people’s stories are part of your story. So I think it is hard to know where to draw the line sometimes.

Elizabeth March 19, 2013 at 7:44 am

It’s always been my (perhaps faulty) opinion that people who do this are trying to grab sympathy/support/attention for themselves which ends up with a misappropriation of grief or whatever else comes of the sharing. Often it isn’t their story to share, so what’s the real motive if not grabbing a little bit of the attention for themselves?

Of course I’m sure there are people who sincerely believe asking for thoughts and prayers will help, but I don’t think I know that many people sincere in that way.

Aaaaand maybe I’m just too cynical.

Tragic Sandwich March 19, 2013 at 8:40 am

I have one friend who does this, although she’s more likely to use email–and her approach is the one Anne recommends. I’m fine with that.

I do think it’s insensitive to share someone’s name or specific situation. Even if they are involved in that space, it doesn’t mean they’d choose to share that information with everyone they know, much less everyone you know.

Michelle March 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

Yeah, I think the only way to do that is if you ask the person for permission if you plan to share specific details. Otherwise a general “positive thoughts for a friend?” is probably best.

Jesabes March 19, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I agree with pretty much everyone – only do so if you don’t share details and, even so, it seems a little attention-grabby. Of course, I did do something like this once, when someone posted on facebook what they were going through (RSV hospitalization with a newborn) and specifically asked people to share with anyone who would pray. I figured since several people on Twitter have dealt with RSV complications, people wouldn’t mind praying. I still feel a little weird about it, though.

bekah March 20, 2013 at 8:09 am

I think no. I mean – maybe a general prayer request to a small group of friends (say you are part of a prayer group – and you simply say ‘I have a friend who could use prayers of encouragement, healing, whatever”) but otherwise – it is not your place to be spreading other people business around the ol’ world wide web, ya know?

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 20, 2013 at 11:24 am

I don’t think it matters whether your friend in need is a rampant social media person or not. The question really has to do with whether or not they would be OK with you making such a request, even if their identity is kept anonymous. And if they express the slightest bit of discomfort and/or you just know they’d never be OK with such a post, then I’d back away from it immediately.

Single Mom in the South March 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Interesting because my blog is anonymous so I have asked for prayers for friends and blogged about situations I saw friends grappling with, but they, not anyone we know would never know it because most people don’t know who I am.

I have also asked for generic prayers for friends without giving details about for whom are what they are about on my personal facebook page.

My instinct was to say it’s not okay, but I guess that would be hypocritical.

Jamie March 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I don’t think it’s right to share about another person’s personal issues unless they gave your permission, etc.

And on that note, I think it’d fine to say something along of the lines of “send a prayer for a dear friend” without calling attention to who the person is.

Some things are just meant to be kept private.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: