ControverSunday: Digital Privacy.
Head here for the latest link-round up of other posts on this topic.
I haven’t worried much about this, though perhaps I should. Or not? I have a hard time getting too riled up about this topic, though I want to emphasize I do think issues of digital privacy are important to think about, that we should have some ground rules for what we publish about ourselves, and especially other people, online.
Part of my non-worry specific to this website is a (perhaps naive) sense that I just don’t get that much traffic. I get 3-4 emails a month from marketing reps with poor grammar asking me to promote their products for free. There are a few of the “heavy-hitters” in the mommy-blogging game that have stopped by here on occasion, but my niche remains small and polite (not that said heavy-hitters are not polite; I mean to say, with high traffic or high regard in the parent-blogosphere comes crazy judgmental people to comment or hate-site you). Many people I work/go to school with read in the early days, but I think that readership has fallen off a bit as I blog a good deal less and the HOLY FUCKNESS of the first year of parenting ended, and with it came the waning of the explicit drama/humor/schadenfreude of most of my posts. It’s old hat now, me being a mom. And talking practicalities of high chair use and sleep training isn’t particularly appealing to most non-parents. I already know of several ex-boyfriends, and their new girlfriends and even newer girlfriends, who’ve found their way here. But I have little bad-blood in my past, thankfully, so I have no nemeses (nemesi?), that I know of, out to ruin me by exploiting the personal details about my self and son posted here.
I link to this blog on Facebook, so anyone who I’m friends with has access. That includes many among those I work with, my family and extended family, and friends of my family. I don’t have any living grandparents, but I do write assuming I’d be okay with my grandmother reading here. Including the F-bombs and occasional confessional moments here, there’s nothing I’ve put on this site that I’m uncomfortable with being “out there.”
I do use my son’s first and middle name, his and my image, and occasionally, but rarely, the image of my partner. If you live in the same (small) city that I live in, there is no mistaking, even without pictures, who I am, who my partner is, and who our child is, with the smallest bit of poking around here (one step to my twitter account and you can figure out quickly where my partner works, even). It’s obvious from my posts that I work for the local university. It’s not hard to guess what department I teach in. I don’t complain about work here, because I like my work. I might complain about writing my dissertation, but it’s non-specific complaint and limited to my own insecurities about my writing. I don’t think (again! maybe naive!) that what I write here would be much of a game-changer when I go on the job market. But it’s something I might start to invest a bit more thought in as I get closer to that step.
And I don’t, at this point, think what I write here puts my son in danger. And that’s what this topic is meant to address. Not how my own digital privacy is being negotiated here but that of my unwitting son.
I can provide no good answer. Or, rather, the only truly satisfying position on this would be to not do a litany of things I’ve already done. Post pictures of him. Use his real name. Talk about his bodily functions. Use profanity in conjunction with sweet anecdotes about his adorableness. Refer to occasional domestic difficulties. Produce a blog.
I truly admire those of you who manage to carry off a parenting blog without using pictures of your children or their names. This is, perhaps, the ideal. I fail at that ideal, like I do so many other ways, professionally, parentally, life-ily.
But, like so many other aspects of parenting, life, being one’s self, being an awkward over-sharer who has breastfed in a work meeting and is always happy to talk about sex or pooping or mental health, I do what I do, and I’m mostly okay with it.
Ah, yes, but you counter: can Henry be said to be okay with it? Again, I don’t have a great answer for that. Maybe. Probably. Possibly not. The Henry I talk about here is one Henry amongst many that he will become, and at some point this Henry will be far divorced from that Henry. And that Henry’s digital presence will probably have all kinds of other fish to fry.
Others in this blog circle have written articulately about the mythic pedophiles who are waiting to do scary bad things with the pictures we post of our children and other “real” fears that impact this issue. I, too, am not particularly worried about that possibility. Nor am I worried that we will be targeted by bad people because there are details posted here. If targeting for The Bad happens to us it’s not going to come from here.
I do think it ultimately comes down to consent, alone. And, well, fuck. I don’t have a good answer for that. You?