The other day I wrote about the good that can come from the Internet; today I want to talk about some of the darker side. There is this line that we all have to walk when we post things online. Some people don’t even get near the line and some don’t realize the line even exists and willingly cross over it. That line is the point where we are sharing to a point of potentially compromising ourselves or maybe others.
The place that we have really started thinking about this is with a child on the way. How much do you really share about and of your kids? I try and be careful of what I post online and tend to share with friends only to be careful; there is still that extra consideration when thinking about sharing stuff about my child. With the rate and pace at which things can be shared online and the fact that once they are there it does not just go away, there is some consideration to be made to how much we might share online and how we choose to share it.
One option is to just share nothing. This alleviates any concerns about sharing too much because nothing ends up shared. No embarrassment for the child later in life of things shared before they had any control. No worry about photos of your child being shared or used against your permission because someone just happened to stumble across them. No thought of people being able to stalk and find your child for nefarious purposes. At the same time by sharing nothing you are also cutting yourself off from friends and family as well.
This is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. Those kids are going to have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Is that fair to them?
The other extreme of course is sharing everything. I know some people for whom not a day goes by without them sharing some photo or video of their kid. Now, I also don’t know what security settings they have, but at the same time I just question sharing that much and that often. I mean I don’t even share that often about myself and yet am I going to do that with my child? Yes, I am sharing the information out, but some people might not want to see that all the time. Also, there are other ways that I might consider sharing the information to only those that matter. As opposed to putting it out for who knows who to find and what they might do with it.
Then there is the line that we all try to walk and that is the balanced sharing. Where we share some information, especially with people we know, but keep it at a level where we don’t mind if it gets beyond us. There can be concerns with sharing any information that might show a child’s school or give someone the ability to track your child’s current location. Then there is also the consideration of should you post anything about another person’s kid because you do not necessarily know their policy about those types of situations.
I actually really like friends of mine who have done the growth photos. They will actually put the initial one month to a one year and then I could see after that doing every year. They are very posed images that really do not reveal any particular information. This shares information with those who care, but allows for some restriction and control on what really is getting passed around.
So I don’t really have a great answer we will have to be figure it out as we go along. One of the web comics that David and I read, PVP Online, addressed this issue to a certain extent recently. One of the couples has a child and they posted a photo of their child that went viral. Then instead of removing it they boosted the post. Finally they just decide to run with it and merchandise the image to help pay for the child’s tuition. It’s another way to go at it I guess, but it does seem a bit exploitative. That, plus a variety of articles that I have read, have definitely make me think about this issue and what it means.