How do you feel about social media? About people living their lives, more or less, online?
We can connect in so many ways that were science fiction not that many years ago. And with those connections has come a number of ethical issues that previous generations didn’t have to deal with.
Much of what we see on social media is content designed to portray a particular image. If you believe postings on Facebook or Instagram, most of us lead pretty rosy lives. And many of us have no filters.
When Facebook was in its infancy I joined the site. Not that I was in the slightest bit interested in putting my life out there for the world to see. But I was interested in the lives of others. A very select few people.
I had a job where I was required to screen job applicants, selecting who would or would not get interviews for open positions. Fifteen years ago no-one thought about the privacy settings on Facebook.
Which meant that several people who had all the qualifications I was looking for on paper didn’t get job interviews. I was looking for discretion in my employees, and anyone with social media posts indicating they lacked that quality never got a call. (Hint – don’t put party photos online.)
Having said that, I’m about to get personal. I became a grandfather this year. Which means in this day and age I should be posting hundreds of photos online for friends to gush over, since I would obviously have the cutest grandchild ever.
I haven’t done that. Nor has anyone else in the family.
A few months before the baby’s birth I had a conversation with my son about social media. I mentioned a number of friends who had posted hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures of grandchildren online. (Pictures I haven’t scrolled through, if truth be told. One or two was enough.) I suggested that before the baby was born was a good time to decide how to handle any online presence for him or her.
I also suggested that the child should have a domain name registered upon birth, just in case it becomes useful later in life.
I don’t know whether that has happened, but the decision has obviously been made to keep this baby off the internet, at least for now. Friends and family get sent pictures privately, but there is nothing out there for the whole world to see. I recall one photo on Facebook, but you couldn’t see the baby’s face.
To me that makes sense. Personal privacy has been eroded considerably in the past few years. Your phone always knows where you are – and who knows who it is telling. Every time you use a bank or credit card someone is analyzing your spending habits. Search for a new car online and you’ll be inundated with auto ads for the next few weeks.
So why not let kids grow up outside the spotlight? There will always be time later to launch them online.
As a proud grandfather, though shouldn’t I share a photo or two of my grandchild’s first Christmas? Isn’t that what grandparents do? If I don’t, will I get kicked out of the grandparents’ union?
Instead, I’ve got a couple of photos from my first Christmas, when I was three months old. Needless to say I don’t rememebr the event.
I don’t have many pictures from that year. There are more from when I was one and two-years-old. But I thought I would share these today because it gives you an idea of what my grandchild might look like if we had never moved beyond black and white photography.
May you have a Merry Christmas!