Airing Dirty Laundry In Public – Blurred Privacy Lines

by Sherry Riter in Computer

airing dirty laundry in public

With each passing day, I feel less enjoyment and satisfaction in spending my time doing the laundry – washing, drying, folding and putting it away. Do I really have an alternative? Well, yeah, I guess I could just let my clothes stay stinky, but I don’t think many people would want to hang out with me for long nor would my employer want me to pollute the air each day.

There is another type of laundry than the kind we throw in the washing machine. You might have heard the phrase, “air dirty laundry.” That doesn’t mean you hang dirty clothes in the sun on the clothesline. It means that you talk to other people in public about personal things that you should keep private.

The line between public and private has become more blurred since the invention of the computer. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and all the social media sites that bring people together also provide a huge arena to air dirty laundry. My great grandmother’s generation wouldn’t even consider saying half the things that are now blatantly spread across the television, billboards and all over the internet.

facebook airing dirty laundry cheating spouse

Have you ever visited someone’s Facebook page or blog and they are ranting about their spouse or ex-spouse? You find out things that stick in your head long after they make up and delete the posts. Whether they make up or not, it is a public embarrassment that includes clients, colleagues, neighbors, church friends and family. We might all agree that publicly arguing with a spouse or ex-spouse is airing dirty laundry, but where is the dirty laundry line? What constitutes dirty laundry?

I remember one day talking to my mother about husband number two. I said that what he did or didn’t do had no bearing on the way I was going to act. I married him, loved him, cooked for him, went to movies with him, slept with him, had sex with him, took walks in the park with him and did a million other things with him. I’m not going to be evil toward him just because we are incompatible. I sincerely wish him all the happiness in the world. I also don’t feel compelled to have a section on my navigation bar called, “Bash The Ex-husbands.” Besides, doesn’t it take two to Tango?

Public Or Private

There are a few things that I am sure should be kept private.

  • Jurors shouldn’t post about a trial that they are participating in
  • Negative statements about your boss/employer
  • Arguments/disagreements you have with your significant other
  • Times you get high or drunk
  • When you pick up a prostitute

Okay, you might be laughing at that list, but there ARE people who post about those things because I’ve read them on Facebook walls and blog posts.

Now I’m going to list a few things that may not have an answer that is as black and white as the list above. Should you post about these things? Think about it:

  • When you are leaving, gone and coming back from vacation
  • A Social Security number
  • Your home address
  • Your child’s bed wetting problem
  • When your daughter starts wearing a bra
  • Your wife’s lack of desire for sex
  • Your husband’s obsession with porn
  • Sexual preference

The privacy line is easy for me to draw, but everyone doesn’t agree with me. Actually, some people tell everything while other people tell nothing. The line that separates public from private is definitely blurred and I think it is becoming non-existent. All you have to do is watch the news for fifteen minutes to see that some people feel that privacy means nothing. For instance, how many leaked “sex tapes” have there been in the last decade?

Uh huh.



I have written about very personal experiences in my life like this drive I took one day, but I share these things in hopes of helping other people. It might even help my daughter some day too. Although it may be private, it isn’t dirty laundry.

Not only are there people who air dirty laundry, but one website after the next is gathering our private information. Not too long ago, Google came up with the great idea of keeping a history of all the sites we visit because, they said, it would help personalize our experience on the internet. Bah! I find it totally abhorrent that they gather all that information about my online activity. No, I’m not going to porn sites, but that is irrelevant. Even if I only visited the Sesame Street and Walt Disney sites, I still feel it is an invasion of my privacy. However, there’s not much I can do about it unless I want to abstain from using the internet. You and I both know THAT’S not going to happen!

So…What kind of information do you feel is public and what should be kept private?


This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli) August 14, 2012 at 8:16 am

Hi Red – As a licensed therapist and blogger, I was very concerned abt the lines of online privacy….But I have loosened up alot in the two years I’ve been online. I noticed that there were many author therapists who wrote abt their struggles with mental health, so I felt ok abt writing abt my personal struggles with depression & PPD. You know, that is a big no no in my profession, But nothing happened when I did. So, I keep writing abt some things in my life, but I wouldnt discuss my marriage online, as it is private. ty, Kathy


2 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm


I would think that sharing your experience could be a positive thing for your patients. It makes you seem more “human” because you have the same struggles as many others. Do people really go to therapists and think that they are trouble-free because they are a therapist? That would be really silly! I’m glad you write about your struggles and I’m sure it has already helped many people. 😀


3 Connie Peterson August 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

I agree about dirty laundry and privacy! I like to share my life on my blog a nd on FB, but I draw the line at many things — my granddaughters and grand niece have nicknames — I don’t say exactly where we live — and I DON’T talk nasty things about my husband (although I will mention silly things he does). I wish there were more who thought that way.

Have a beautiful day.


4 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Unfortunately we have to worry about crazy people taking the information about our families and doing evil. It is very sad. Thanks for your comment!


5 Sue August 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

Again, you are thinking about laundry and I have been thinking about laundry lately too. I agree with your post and I hate it when people start posting personal nasties about others. Some people just don’t get it!


6 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Maybe we are sisters. 😉


7 Skip_D August 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Privacy is a very personal thing. That said, one is never justified in deciding where the “dirty laundry line” lies for anyone other that oneself… & perhaps for one’s juvenile offspring. Clearly what’s OK for one is verboten for another. I think that your list of “not-so-black-&-white” laundry belong on the private side of the line, although a few may have valid exceptions – but only to be decided by the individual. Definitely a subject worth examining… & reexamining.


8 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm



9 Making Our Life Matter August 14, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Lots to think about Red! Thank you!


10 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm



11 Mary Mathieson August 15, 2012 at 5:43 am

I often read Facebook posts of the type you mention, many of them are not exactly shameful but they are private and, frankly, I don’t think I know these people well enough for them to be confiding in me (and maybe hundreds of other people).

I do wonder whether they would be as ready to broadcast the same information in the real world (the other customers in the queue at the supermarket for example). I know there are some people who do that but they seem to be far fewer in number than you find on the www.


12 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm


That’s a good point. I wonder if those same people would turn around in the supermarket line and say, “Hey! Guess what?” Somehow I don’t think they would it. I think the distance and anonymity provided by the internet makes people say more than they would otherwise.

Thanks so much for your comment!


13 mom August 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm

First of all I have a Facebook to share happy thoughts and encouragement with my friends. I delete anyone who uses bad words or argues with me or tries to argue!!!!! lol,

Your great grand parents would of died before they even admit they had sex!!! Even though they had 13 children!! We {Me} are called old fashion,lol. People are so starved for attention and live in the me me world. That is why nothing is sacred. They will get attention even if it is negative.

I have not eaten yet and those dang pancakes on the side bar are driving me nuts!! I could get fat just looking at your food blog, { except those fish ones}

Your blogs are great daughter. Sometimes your pain is too much for me, but I pray it helps others. I wish I could stop all my girls boos boos like when you were little. Do you remember when I kissed your boo boo and you would stop crying? lol I always wondered what it did, but it was instant pain relief. Wish I could kiss away all your hurts.

Have a good day! When you lie down at night, you can either tell the Lord, “That was a good day,” and thank Him or if it is bad say, “Boy I am glad this is over” and thank Him anyway. In every day, no matter how hard, there are so many things to be grateful for.


14 The Redhead Riter August 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

Thank you, Mom. I’m sorry that it hurts. 🙁


15 katlupe August 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I end up writing things I probably shouldn’t. I think it is because my FB friends, are more than online friends. I have a lot of really good friends on there that I know personally or my homesteading friends from Homesteading Today and it almost seems like we know each other personally. We ask for advice or what would you do in this situation or what do you think of this? Sometimes you really need to talk to someone.


16 The Redhead Riter August 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Yeah, I know what you mean. I feel like you and I are old friends and have been for a long time. {{{hugssss}}}


17 Jules August 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

Wandered over from BlogFrog –

Just wanted to say I really appreciated the story about ‘this drive I took one day’ – as someone who has pretty much been there, done that. When life feels out of control, suicide is the ultimate way to assert control. Something I understand very well.


18 The Redhead Riter August 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

Thank you, Jules. {{{hugssss}}}


19 Kira December 7, 2014 at 1:04 am

I think some people don’t realize how much this can hurt them or have a huge impact on their life. Sometimes airing out your dirty laundry can give people the ammunition to hurt you in ways such getting the middle of a relationship; killers; identify theft; gossip/rumors and so much more. Some people I’ve also hear do this in public such as when there having a conversation in a loud or obnoxious manner or on their cell phones which is just as bad.


20 Sherry Riter December 14, 2014 at 4:22 am

Cell phone conversations in closed spaces with strangers drives me nuts…well, unless the conversation is really interesting. LOL


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