25 Mar 4 Rules For Online Transparency

Transparency is trending.

And, I have to say, I don’t mind. To live authentically both on and offline is a worthy goal. The struggle comes with boundaries. How do you post with class? Can you? When should the personal be made public? Why?

Google didn’t seem like the appropriate source to ask. So I took my questions to the lady — the first lady — who changed the nation with her candor, Betty Ford.

She and Jerry entered the White House under great scrutiny. You see, President Nixon had resigned amidst allegations of the Watergate scandal. Just months prior, his vice president had excused himself after charges of tax evasion.

As you can imagine, this didn’t inspire much trust.

It didn’t help that little was known about the new first family. Jerry had been nominated, not elected, to vice president before Nixon’s resignation. There was no presidential campaign to introduce the Fords to the American people.

1. Have nothing to hide.

Returning integrity to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue required openness.

While the president kept busy with matters of state, Betty maintained a full calendar of interviews and engagements. When asked, she answered personal questions regarding tranquilizers she took for a pinched nerve and her mental state due to side effects. Her opinions on controversial issues such as marijuana, amnesty, and equal rights were given without hesitation. Biographer Lisa McCubbin wrote: “She was the most accessible first lady in recent times.”

That didn’t stop when she received her breast cancer diagnosis.

2. Share with pure motives.

Understand that in 1974 the word breast was considered pornographic. Polite society imposed a taboo on the disease. However, Betty had no intention of hiding her surgery, and a press release promptly informed the public.

She felt a duty to bring awareness and later said, “The fact that I was the wife of the President put it in headlines and brought before the public this particular experience I was going through. It made a lot of women realize that it could happen to them. I’m sure I’ve saved at least one person, maybe more.”

As she recovered from her mastectomy, women across the country scheduled appointments for breast exams. Newspaper articles circulated with guides for self-exams. Thousands of women wrote letters of encouragement and others of their own experiences.

3. Wait until the wound scars.

Years following the White House felt purposeless and lonely. Jerry traveled. At home, Betty attempted to cope with her pain by mixing pills and alcohol. Finally, an intervention resulted in treatment at a rehab facility.

During her stay, the publisher of her autobiography reached out. Another chapter was requested, this one focused on her addictions.

She refused to write in the raw process of healing, and the release date was postponed.

4. Include your name.

According to her biography, “Betty couldn’t forget how being honest and forthright about her breast cancer and mastectomy had helped thousands of women and had undoubtedly saved thousands of lives.” She hoped her story of addiction would be as impactful.

Fellow survivors came alongside her, and together they began to dream of a rehab facility that would set a standard of care. Soon fundraising renewed her spirit, and she flourished.

Eventually Betty was persuaded to lend her name to the facility. Now, the Betty Ford Center is perhaps her most recognized legacy.

Like the first lady, you have a platform. Be it on Instagram, WordPress, or another social network, your story will leave a digital legacy. How will you choose to post with transparency?

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (ESV)

Note: The political views of Mrs. Gerald Ford do not reflect those of Legacy Christian Church (or the author for that matter). However, lessons can be gleaned from every life. It’s this writer’s hope that learning from Betty’s will improve yours.


Sources

McCubbin, Lisa, and Susan Ford. Betty Ford: First Lady, Womens Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer. New York, NY: Gallery Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, 2018.

“Betty Ford Quotations at QuoteTab.” QuoteTab. Accessed March 10, 2019. https://www.quotetab.com/quotes/by-betty-ford#SeeAkIv8wwbbzfok.97.

Nichole Parks believes to become a great woman, it’s best to study them. Her recent reading spree has focused on first ladies. Catch her latest post at www.nicholeparks.com.