Our privacy, and our children’s privacy in a digital world.

privacy1I have been doing a lot of long, difficult thinking about this. After reading several other blog posts, and several opinions about this matter, I have come to inconclusive realizations. Hands Free Mama really struck a chord with me. I am actually one of those people who sits at dinner and scans the room to see how many phones are out, I don’t like it when I’m having a conversation and someone is looking at their screen. As a rule to myself, I don’t take out my phone at dinner or restaurants, especially to talk on it. That’s a whole different story though.

What I have been anxiety ridden about lately, is the future of my baby. I’m sure you see it too. You get on facebook, and there is hundreds of pictures of ultrasounds, infants, toddlers and children. Willingly taken by: the parents, the grandparents, the sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends. I am not here to judge those who have decided to put photos of their children online. The sentiment is sweet, they want to share their life’s moments with their family and friends on facebook as a digital album. I can see why, children grow fast, a birth announcement is exciting. I don’t live in the same state as any of my family, or in-laws. Without facebook, I wouldn’t see any photos of them, I wouldn’t get text photos or hear how they are. So with that, I can see why.

But it feels wrong to me, for me.

Here’s a modern scenario: I imagine myself going through childbirth, the most intense, challenging and joyous several hours of my life. Could be 5 hours, could be 20 hours. My husband calls to let the grandparents know the baby is on the way. After nine months of kicks, smiles and back pains, I am overwhelmed holding my little baby my husband and I are finally meeting. We ask the midwife to take our first family photo during our excitement. We pose, she takes the photo. My husband sweetly takes a photo of our newborn on his phone to share with our family and friends who are far away. We are overwhelmed with joy and congratulations about our baby’s birthday, gender (we find out when they are born) and name.

A few days pass by of smiles and challenges and bonding with our newborn. Exhausted sitting on my couch one day, I decide to get on facebook and write the birth announcement for the baby.

I get on facebook and…. people have already written it for me, and not only that, there’s a picture of my newborn on facebook, and of the special, private photo of me with my hair still sweaty and my face still red, a sweet and private moment with my husband, myself and the baby as our first family photo, along with the full name, birthday, gender, and weight. I have been completely robbed of our moment, my privacy, and my baby’s anonymity.

This is not an unlikely scenario.

I can’t count the number of times a woman has gone into labor and other people feel it their right, or their business to post on behalf of the mother “She’s 2 centimeters dilated, she’s 9 cm dilated. Pray for the health and speedy delivery.” Now, if the mother already knows you are going to be the newscaster, that’s fine. The thing is, I don’t think these people ever ask or wonder if that’s an invasion of the family and the mother’s privacy. If I want to share some of my personal, private information such as going into labor, I will text it, or my husband will call or text it. Those closest to me, I want to share that with them. Not everyone.

Facebook is not as private as you think.

When someone feels it their right to share my business on facebook or my baby’s photos, which is especially common with babies for some reason, they are sharing it with their 500 friends. I don’t know your 500 friends. Heck, some people have 1,000. Then they use a tag. Now it’s escalated to even more people seeing it.

Babies have sensitive information too.

Identity Theft.

Have you ever heard of the story when Target credit card user’s had all their information stolen? Yeah.. That actually happens a lot. Did you know that baby’s identities can be stolen too? It’s pretty easy actually. You have a birth day, a full name, a place of birth…. all you need is to find the social security number via birth certificate or just stalk information on someone’s facebook when they share information about their child. It’s almost the perfect crime, the baby won’t open a line of credit and the parent’s won’t have any idea that the baby’s identity has been stolen until they are 18 and go apply for their first credit card (or later.)

Pedophiles and kidnappers.

Some photos are revealing. Let’s face it, some children are starting to be dressed in a way that pedophiles would love. A newborn in a bikini or diaper? Adorable to normal people! Luscious to a pedophile. Not only that, how many times do you see a photo of a child near their home, or maybe a photo with their friend’s kids in their neighborhood. Or a post about in what neighborhood the family lives in, then a photo of the family car. Do you see where I’m getting with this?

If some sick freak knows what neighborhood you live in,

what your kid has looked like since ultrasound,

what car you drive, your license plate,

it’s really easy to know what house you live in.

Your schedule, when your kids play outside.

Then one day you go outside and your child is missing.

This is not something anybody wants to think about, or hear. But our information is sometimes more sensitive than we think.

Nosy people, old relatives, ex girlfriends, ex boyfriends and the squawking judgmental gossipers.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I grew up in a town where everyone talked shit. During one of the most difficult times in my life, everyone else thrived talking crap about it, and making it where I didn’t even want to step foot in a public place. If those people treated me like that during that time, why would I WANT them to tell me a big fake congratulations through someone else’s facebook and nose through my new family’s photos. Even if it proves to them all the shit they talked was wrong about me, because now I’m happy… that doesn’t give them a right to be anywhere near me, my business and my family. My husband is 20 years older. That’s not a popular thing. I don’t need anyone’s consent or approval to love the one I love, our marriage is the most beautiful thing to me and they can shove any opinions they have.

Those relatives that comment on everything, and nose into everything. You love them, but they don’t make any effort to be close to you. This isn’t all of them, just those ones. You know which ones I’m talking about. The ones that don’t say congrats but ask how far along you are or when something happened, or where the photo was taken as if they are solely getting information. For whatever reason.

You know everyone’s ex girlfriends, ex boyfriends, even ex wives and ex husbands have facebook. Sometimes a majority is through siblings, relatives or other friends. If you have any mutual friends whatsoever, and your profile is set to let mutual friends friends see it, you can almost guarantee that a browsing ex has seen all your shit. I have mine set to maximum privacy, even so, I still don’t share that much with the settings it has just in case of hackers, and marketing groups and for my protection. It’s not that hard for a nosy person. All they have to do is check last names, comb through mutual friends. Boom, they can get onto your profile. If they have a mutual friend and that friends has any photos of you, they can definitely see you, and they have. I don’t care about exes, but I also think they should stay in the past and out of the loop, nothing I do or my husband does is their business. Not that many years ago they would have had to pry through mutual people in person, and they wouldn’t have been able to land information about an ex’s new life, where they live now, marital status, or number or kids. Especially not photos of all of that to top it off. I just don’t like the idea of anyone, especially an ex, browsing over my personal life and photos, secretly judging everything and/or having any kind of opinion or thought about me or my husband at all. Not their business. Especially not their business to see my baby, child, or children and decide if they are cute, or whether their kids are cuter or whether they would have had cuter kids had they married. What kind of a sick world? You may think that sounds crazy, but I have seen society do this, and I have studied the psychology of it. Believe it or not, people get a curious hair about the one that got away, an old college classmate, or an old friend, and all of a sudden they are trying to compare their lives and top it via online, or wondering, am I even with the right person, should things have gone different? It’s just weird. I wouldn’t show a photo album to anyone I used to know, so why would I online?

My thoughts and anxiety about my baby, and my family’s privacy.

My baby deserves anonymity.

This may be unpopular, but I know how I feel when someone discloses information about me that I feel is private and I don’t like it. It makes my skin crawl, it enrages me.

I don’t want to put up my one ultrasound photo I have of my baby. That’s mine and my husband’s. It’s a special moment for us, it’s private. I want to share it with those closest to us and the baby when they get older. We’ve decided to only get one throughout the entire time, so it’s special to us.

I don’t want people to post photos of my baby on facebook.

We have talked about this a lot. It’s not out of malice that anyone does this, but nonetheless, it’s an invasion of privacy, it’s unnecessary, and it’s dangerous sometimes. If I ever did choose to share photos of my baby through social media, I feel that I should have the right to chose with whom they are shared, what information is shared, how it’s shared, and where it is shared. It’s my duty to protect my child. I understand that sometimes it’s a proud grandparent or relative, but… I am the parent. It doesn’t matter if whatever I decide in my parenting seems weird or irrational, because I make the decisions. Nobody likes other people telling them how to raise their kids. Rightfully so.

But, the thing is,

I honestly don’t feel like I’ll want to share any photos on facebook or social media of my baby.I don’t like the idea. Not only do I not want other people to share my baby’s personal information or photos, I don’t want to either. My baby will grow up one day, all too soon. Innocence doesn’t last forever. They deserve anonymity, and to someday create their own digital life. Not already have one since birth. I want to share photos of the baby, through e-mail or text. It’s more personal anyway. I don’t need to see how many likes my baby will get. I love my baby and will do the very best I can. Family and friends will meet them, but I’m a separate person from my baby. Remember how embarrassed you are when your family member shows photos of you when you were a kid doing something embarrassing? Imagine hundreds of photos online of you, that everyone has already seen since you were born. Imagine going back and reading that you peed in your own mouth or ate dog poo as a child and everyone already knows that story about you.

I’m a separate person from my baby. My husband and I’s marriage is related to and important to, but separate from our baby.

I’m sure I will give small updates about baby through facebook. But nothing too personal. No full name, no full birth date. Potty training or bowel movements is personal. I wouldn’t post about my bowel movements so my baby deserves the same rights as I have. If people care about me before I have a family, they will care about what I’m doing after I have a baby. Everything I do ever, doesn’t have to be all about the baby. I still have a husband, I still have passions and aspirations, I still have a dog. The things I post about now, won’t change that much. I will still share controversial posts about food or politics or important issues every now and then strategically.

My social media life is a smaller, more discreet, more private version of my real life.

I aim to keep it that way. If you want to know all about me, do it through phone, in person… text even. I don’t even know how much longer I’ll keep the facebook, I’ve debated back and forth on that too. I refuse to be the mom constantly on her phone, or constantly on facebook. That’s not the parent I strive to be.

So what will I do? My best. And before the baby is born this will be posted:

An exciting, challenging, intimate, and very special personal time is approaching.The birth of our baby. We have talked about this a lot, and have decided on what our wishes are surrounding our baby that might not be very popular. We will be sending photos to those closest to us and letting you know the gender and name. We love and trust those we send this to, and please respect our privacy and the baby’s anonymity on social media and do not post the name, gender, announcement or photos of our baby anywhere online. You may send private texts of the photo. You can imagine how upsetting it would be if after childbirth you got online to find an announcement and photos of your baby as soon as they were born into this world. Once we have settled in together and taken time to bond, we will post the birth announcement and gender online in our own good time. But we do NOT want any photos of the baby on social media. If we end up eventually having any photos of our children online we will control where and to whom they are shared. If you see any photos online of our baby before I have had a chance to say anything, please let the poster know, or me know, to take it down immediately because this would be extremely upsetting. I know this wouldn’t be done out of malice, but please know we will be very upset if this happens after we’ve made our wishes clear. If you have questions about why, ask away, but we are not budging on the issue. Please respect our new family.

Update 8/6/14: For the past three months I have had facebook disabled. I have not missed it in the slightest. For those closest to me, I have posted a few photos on instagram. But very little about the baby. I will continue keeping facebook disabled, and maybe around the time the baby is going to be born post my wishes for the baby to remain off facebook, (still debating whether to share a photo on instagram as- only about 20 of my closest are on there) or if I can let people know in person without facebook, I will do that instead and then completely delete it. : ) Remember, it is your right and your right alone to choose how your baby/children are displayed on the internet.

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