Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

To go private or to not go private?

We interrupt the re-capping of Papa and Gaga's visit to discuss the following:

Do I make this little ol' blog "private", requiring an email address be entered and an "invite" from me in order to read it, or not?

Ok, so here's what is circling around in my head...

I started this blog for three reasons:
1) to keep our family and friends back home abreast to our life in Kuwait. Neither David nor I are on Instagram, or Twitter, or Snapchat, or anything other than Facebook...and many of our friends and family back home are not on Facebook.

2) to keep a record of our time here, and serve as a scrapbook of sorts for our family. I intend to turn the blog into a book after we've moved back home, and we'll have that as a photo album along with stories to remember our season here in Kuwait.

3) as a journal of sorts for me as I process and adjust to living life as an Expat in the Middle East.

I feel like all three have been/are being accomplished.


Within the last few days, I've become aware of a handful of incidents around Kuwait of brazen stalking/harassing/attacking women. Generally I feel very safe here, and have had that feeling confirmed by several people who have lived here (including in our area) for much longer than we have. I know these things happen EVERYWHERE, but when you are learning about a batch of them happening around you, it causes you to take pause.

On the Facebook group I'm apart of for Expat Moms here, and on the small handful of Kuwait Blogs I read, they've all been discussing this recent rash in incidents.

(As an aside - a theory in the brazen nature of these attacks is the lack of laws against them here in Kuwait, as well as the lack of police reports made when they occur. Apparently, often the victim is questioned and made to feel like perhaps they brought on the attack somehow - or so says what I've been reading...)

So. Long story short,  reading about all these incidents - coupled with a random, creepy Facebook message I received from a stranger - made me go down a rabbit hole of double checking all my safety settings.

I'm generally pretty cautious when I'm out and about (anywhere in the World) and especially when our kids are with me. 
I worked for a Children's Hospital back home and rarely went a shift without coming across an abuse report. I also attended several training's for work regarding how to protect kids from abuse, and how to spot abuse.
These things have likely made me wiser, and absolutely made me jaded.
To me, you are a creeper until you prove me otherwise.

Also, as much as I prefer to be kind to everyone, I'll choose to offend before I'll put my kids at risk.
I'm sorry - not sorry.
I'd much rather offend someone than be sorry I didn't and have one of my kids traumatized.

Just the other day the kids and I were playing at the beach, and some young man swam up to my son and asked him to swim around with him.
Could have been totally innocent - children are revered here.
Could have been a creeper wanting to do inappropriate things to my kid - or have my kid do inappropriate things to him.
I had stood up and walked to within three feet of my son the minute I realized this person was swimming towards him. And when he outstretched his hand towards my son and extended the offer, I loudly said "no, I'm sorry, we don't swim with people we don't know!" VERY firmly. He looked hurt, but I just offered a tight smile in response.
Nope. Not happening.
I could be totally wrong, but I'd rather be wrong. 

As parents, it's our job to protect our children at all costs.

I digress.

So this evening, my safety-check-rabbit-hole brought me to the blog... I came to check my blog stats, and learned this little ol' blog had over 1,500 hits last month alone.

I mean, what!?!? Those can't all be my faithful reading sister in law!

I know I've shared the link on my Facebook page, but I keep my Facebook nice and tight.
Unless I know you, we're not "friends" on Facebook. 
(the small exception being if my husband knows you)
David has shared it as well on his page, but his Facebook is limited to real life friends as well.

I'm guessing it stems from people researching Life in Kuwait. I know when we were planning to move here, I googled like a mad woman trying to learn about how people (family's in particular) lived here, and came up very short. I could only find TWO blogs. 

I try and be fairly careful when posting on here...never use our children's names, or where we go to Church, what days we will be where in the future, where David works or much about precisely where we live...but is that enough? I can not handle the thought of doing ANYTHING that puts our children at risk!

But then I think, am I being overly paranoid? I read several blogs that share TONS of personal information very publicly...full names of everyone in the home, pictures of the front of their home, information about weekly meeting spots, etc...and these are smart women/men posting these blogs. 
And what about famous people, like Jen Hatmaker, whose blog I read all the time? Or Glennon?  I mean, if they can post their children's names - and tour dates (ie, when they'll be out of town) without fear, why would I be nervous to keep a semi-anonymous blog?!?

And it seems like every week someone is posting a new blog on the Expat Moms page here, and when I click on it, it offers up plenty of personal information without hesitation. 

Honestly, I just don't know. I like the idea of another momma looking to move here - or having newly relocated here - having the ability to learn about doing life here. I like the idea of encouraging people to broaden their horizons and live outside their comfort zones, and perhaps even try immersing themselves in a new culture. I like the idea of people in our life who do not know much about technology easily clicking on the link and keeping up with our family. I LOVE reading other expat blogs I find!! 

I've met some of the coolest women I know through blogging in the past...(I'm looking at you, Stephanie, Heather, and Monica!)...and would love to leave that door open.

I don't care one bit about gaining traffic and "followers" here. That has not been -and never will be- my goal in blogging.

I don't know...thoughts???

I'm not even sure what I'm looking for in writing's not like I expect someone to comment "hey. I'm a predator that's been reading your blog for the purpose of gleaning info on your family so I can find you and attack you, so please leave it public..."  Guess I'm just thinking out loud (see above: Reasons I Started This Blog 3) a journal for me )

I guess I'll talk it over with David and we'll give it some good thought and conversation.


  1. I totally hear you! I stopped blogging altogether because somebody in my tiny community was targeted and there was suspicion of a kidnapping plot. It's so sad that we live in a world where weirdos are everywhere. Our parents could ride their bikes to the grocery store to pick up something as kids. Our generation could at least play outside with neighborhood kids. These days? Nope! I live in an extremely rural area. There's less than 2000 people on my entire county, and yet there are three registered sex offenders within five miles of my house. Not trying to make this about me! Just saying I know where you're coming from.

    I am horrible about commenting because I have four little ones (#5 due in July) and I rarely have the presence of mind to write out anything that resembles intelligent thought, but I check your blog every day (there's at least 30 of those hits!) and of you do decide to go private, please let me know! I've read your blog since the infertility days and even though I've never met you personally, I still feel a tiny twinge of possessiveness for your kids. I invested prayer into their existence and I bawled like a baby watching the video where you announced "two strong heartbeats". I rejoiced and worshipped when they came healthily into the world. I've watched them grow into the beautiful little crazy people that they've become, and then my heart sank to my toes when you announced that you were moving "my" babies, and to Kuwait of all places!

    That totally makes me sound like a creeper, doesn't it?! Lol! I'm not! Promise!

    1. As the auntie to these sweet kiddos, I have to say that your comment made me cry - and not at all in a creeped out way. THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR OUR SWEET BABIES and rejoicing in their continued growth and development. :)

    2. That is SO sweet...thank you for praying and then rejoicing with us ;). I had so many women struggling with infertility email me when the twins were was such a beautiful example of what God can do when you lay your burdens at the foot of the cross and He makes something beautiful.
      And I totally get it - I would be so sad if some blogs I've read forever suddenly weren't available anymore!! I've followed those people for years ;)

  2. You definitely have to do what is best and safest for your family. I have loved readin your blogs! Especially now and all of the experiences you are having in Kuwait. I totally understand if you go private, but please send me an invite so I can keep reading. Like the commenter above, I hardly ever comment, but read every day!

  3. I have some thoughts and ideas for you, but want to put some context around them first. I don't know how much Amy has told you about my job, so apologies if this is old hat.

    For the last six years, I've worked almost exclusively with victims of violence. Intimate partner violence (aka domestic violence, spousal abuse, etc), sexual violence, stalking, child abuse - basically, the worst things that humans can do to each other, at least on an individual basis. My official role is attorney, but I am an advocate first and attorney second (my poor co-workers are probably sick of hearing me say that). So I spend a lot of time listening to stories, evaluating the risk of further violence, and creating safety plans. I'm trained in a couple different danger/lethality assessment methods. I've been stalked and targeted personally by abusers who blame me for the end of the relationship (don't even try to understand that logic, it will make your head hurt). And I've talked to so many adults who were victims of abuse when they were children, too many to count.

    So I can say with a great deal of certainty that the concept of "stranger-danger" is wrong. Not to say it doesn't happen: I have worked with some people who have been victimized by strangers or acquaintances. But I remember every single one, because I can count them on one hand.

    The greatest risk comes from the people we are closest to, the people we love, who are supposed to love us. It is crazy, it is counter-intuitive, and it is heart-breaking. I wouldn't believe it, except that I see it every single day.

    The takeaway is: don't run screaming from your loved ones, just teach your children healthy boundaries and allow them to say no to hugs, even from close family members, so that they learn that they can say no to touching, no matter who it is. In the outside world, be cautious, but don't let it stop you from living! And Katie (the first one who commented) - let your kids play with the neighbor kids. Crime is way lower now than it was when we were kids, and most sex offenders are not pedophiles or predators.

    If you haven't already, read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker.

    This post is always good:

    But I will also totally back you if you decide to make your blog private, because it is your family, and you know what is right for them way better than I ever could. But please please please send me an invite, because I love reading it!

    1. Wow, Bev. Thanks for your comment. I, too, live in Kuwait and was shaken up by the news of these recent incidents. I was trying to figure out how to balance my life between being careful and overly-cautious. I *hate* living in fear. My husband went for my morning run with me yesterday because he's worried about my safety. But he is a much faster runner than I am (and I like running alone), so this solution is not ideal for either of us. Also, believe it or not, your comment is the second time in one day that someone recommended The Gift of Fear. I haven't heard of it before, but I am definitely checking it out.

    2. Also, just read that post you linked to--needed that one as much as the reminder about the statistics of risk in your comment. So, thanks for that as well.

    3. Beverly - God love you, girl. I knew you were an attorney, but I did not know what sort of law you were in. You are doing a hard job, friend.
      In my previous job, we worked with CARES NW a lot, and that is where I received several trainings from. I know that - sadly - the statistics say you are totally kiddos are more likely to be in danger from someone they already know. We talk a lot about our bodies and boundaries, and we try and make a point of pulling our kids aside in situations and asking them "do you feel safe?" instead of implying obedience is most important. One thing I *am* grateful for this day in age is all the available articles and research on how best to talk to your kids about these things!!!
      Thanks for your feedback, and thanks for the hard work you do as an advocate...AND an attorney =)

  4. I would hate to see you go but would understand completely. I haven't maintained a blog of any kind since before my first was born 8 years ago. At first it was family who objected and then I could never really get back into the swing of posting so I just let it go. You and David must go with your heart & gut on keeping safe.

  5. I say go private, at least for the rest of your time abroad. You can always see where, or if, you feel like blogging when you get back to the states, and you can even then "publicize" your record of time in Kuwait, still providing your insight to people researching (harmlessly) in the future, but it gives you an addition means of protection now. Those of us who care to follow your journey will not mind the additional step of "logging in" to keep up with you all. Your safety is so very important. Just take it private. Also, scolding tone aside, love you. xoxox

  6. I check your blog daily, sometimes multiple times daily, to see if there have been any updates. Also, blogsport stats are notoriously incorrect. (Example: it says my blog got 702 hits last month, and I haven't posted since December 2014). So I wouldn't worry too much about that number as a reflection of creeper status. Just my thoughts. ;)

    1. Really!?!? oh, that makes me feel better...I thought those stats were a little crazy!

  7. Ive been reading your blog since the twins were babies. I just found the link on another blog I read and enjoyed reading. I do love reading about your time in Kuwait and would have no problem going an extra step to log on to read. I completely understand your reasoning. I won't even post pictures with car plates or house numbers in them. I'm crazy paranoid!!!Do what makes you feel secure an if that means making your blog private then so be it. No offense taken here.
    From Amy (another protective mother) :)

  8. I started blogging ten years ago and went private a few years in. It had more to do with annoying random commenters than safety back then, but I also don't like to censor myself on my own blog and having it set as private allows me to talk about whatever I want because I have the ability to control my audience. It's a slightly different situation, of course, because I am blogging more so to keep my own diary of sorts and to keep some of my friends in a loop. I know I lost some readers when I went private, but I never cared about numbers anyway, and people who want to keep up with you will--no matter what you decide to do. So, yes, do what you feel best, and please send me an invite if you do decide to go private. :)

    1. well DUH, of course I'd send you an invite! I'll need your feedback on if I've properly recounted all our adventures and shenanigans around the Middle East ;)

  9. I have been reading your blog since the twins were babies, I originally started reading while going thru infertility and have enjoyed reading about your adventures with the twins in Kuwait. I completely understand why you would want to go private it is a crazy world we live in!

  10. Go with whatever reduces your stress. Your current readers can request an invite (me, me, me) and continue following your adventures if you are comfortable with them. Perhaps one or more of your Kuwaiti groups could do a generic blog with some of the info that would be helpful to newcomers to Kuwait but not contain anything truly personal -- if anyone has that sort of time.

    Love, Aunt Carol

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