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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Social Media Without Consent...

Yesterday, I posted what you see in the image above on my Facebook page because it is entirely true.  I have not been to a concert or any sort of performance in the past five years or so when there was not a sea of people in front of me watching the entire event through the screen of their smart phone.  Actually, if I am being honest, I have been going to concerts for well over a decade and remember the days when every ticket had "Photography and Video Prohibited" printed across the bottom.  Back then, smart phones did not really exist and mass-market digital cameras took lower quality pictures than the current iPhone.  
Why are we raising the next generation to do crap like this?
Why are we not teaching them to live in the moment instead of missing it completely by trying to capture it as a means of showing off on social media?

I will be the first to say that social media is not bad, and I wrote a blog explaining my reasoning for that here.  The random junk I post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram keeps the human aspect within reach of my readers and subscribers, as well as being an outside business tool.  Honestly, if not for this blog, I would have ditched Facebook months ago (as I have done before), but it is a necessary evil for Drewcoustic.com to successfully exist.  I promised to be honest with my readers and I am throwing that out there right off the bat to be certain I am doing so.  The biggest concern I have though is not with the teenagers and twenty-somethings posting horrific, blurry concert videos, but with the upbringing of the children growing up behind them.  

When I was a kid, I hated having my picture taken and am not all that keen on it today either because I am not a photogenic person.  Most people I know who were like me as children hold the same feelings into adulthood.  You know how that one person is always walking around a birthday party taking pictures (sometimes drunkenly) and you see certain people holding their hand out to allude the "photographer"?  Those are the people I am talking about.  Would I go as far as holding my hand out in avoidance?  No, because I am a little more mature than that, but anyone who knows me well enough to care knows that being in pictures is not really my thing, which is why you rarely see any new images of me on social media (that and I really do not like "selfies").  I will be in a picture for the sake of a memory, but anything that will get lost in a jumble of others on social media or eventually deleted from a memory card does not matter in the long run.  Does that makes sense?

Why did I bring that up?
Because I am about to make some people really angry.

Children.  
I fear for them right now - from the most recently born kid, and all the way to pre-teen ages, and I do not even particularly like children.   

There has been this running joke on television shows, in movies, and whatever else for years now about courting couples "meeting the parents" and them bringing out the baby book of embarrassing photos for their significant other to see and laugh at.  Most people my age have one of these laying around their parents' house, and generally they do not contain anything out of the ordinary aside from awkward photographs of your life growing up, but I always treated it as something somewhat sacred.  Baby and childhood pictures are the things only my grandparents, some aunts and uncles, or some of my mom and dad's close friends have seen (or a significant other if I ever have one).  My growing up was something shared with family and the people directly experienced with it and I am thankful for those times.  But we are losing the close-knit and family-specific moments in this most recent generation. 

What?

 I read an article a while back which I cannot find, but will link to it here if I come across it again that was written by a mom with two young children.  When this mom started a Facebook account, she did the typical thing that many parents do of continually posting pictures of her children and captioning those images with little stories about what was happening.  After a few years of doing this and noticing her eldest daughter shying away from her iPhone camera while trying to capture little life moments she was sharing with the world, she thought a bit.  Her pondering led her to the realization that her daughter had been growing up with an iPhone camera in her face for a few years and was now of the cognition to understand what was happening.  She then asked her daughter if she wanted her to take pictures of her and put them on Facebook. 
Guess what her daughter said?  
No.
Anytime from that point forward that this mother wanted to take a picture of her daughter, she asked first and also asked if putting that picture online was okay, and most of the time she still said "no".  

Now, should your kid tell you what to do?
Absolutely not, but I do believe children should have a choice in the matter before parents go on about putting hundreds or thousands of pictures of their children online for strangers to see.  If the children are not of age or mental capacity to give consent, the parents should probably think a little bit harder about what they are doing.  
"But I only have close friends and family members on my Facebook."
Extended family, distant cousins, church friends, high school or college "friends" you have not spoken to in over a decade, friends from where you moved from before you had children...  
Need I continue?
I am twenty-seven years old and every time someone in my family dies, I get pulled into this vortex at the funeral parlor of my parents or a relative motioning me over to someone who says:
"I haven't seen you in twenty years!  You were this big *motions* when I last saw you!  Do you remember me?"
Nope, and there is no way I can step out of that one-sided, irrelevant conversation without being awkward or rude toward you, because faking a smile takes more effort than being honest.

That person?  The person I had not seen in twenty years and probably will not again before one of us dies? (I'm being honest.)  That person has no business knowing the first time I used the bathroom by myself, has no business knowing how much I cried when given a vaccination at the age of nine, and has absolutely no business being able to know every milestone I have gone through in life if I have no actual relationship when them.  That is not me saying those people are irrelevant to the world or bad in nature, but them knowing so much about me when we never, ever see each other is weird and really an invasion of privacy.  Had my parents posted the chronology of my life online for a few hundred, a few thousand, or the entire world to read without my consent, I would be livid with them and probably very bitter for a very long time. 

I have read similar photo captions of children on Facebook:
"He didn't want his picture taken. LOL!"
Then, here is a tip:  Do not post it online.

Look, I do not have children, nor do I have plans to have any at this moment.  You can say all you want that:
"You'll understand when you have kids."
But I value privacy, so I will never understand exposure without consent.  Even on this blog, I do not post names of anyone I have mentioned (good or bad) and I do not use a text message screen-cap or any other image without asking consent of anyone involved.  I never will.  I talk about many things on here that have to do with my life, but there are many things I do not talk about that this blog will never know about. Privacy is huge with me, because remember, nothing on the internet is "private" no matter what your settings on social media say.  No IT technician I know posts anything considered private on social media, because they know that everything on the internet is saved in multiple places every time you click "send" or "upload" and that anything you "delete" is never actually removed from the internet.

If you want to take a picture of yourself holding your kid and use it as your profile picture, that's fine!  But a chronology of your child's life in vivid detail when they cannot give consent is probably not going to work out very well as they get older and more informed about what is going on.  
Then again, they are your children to raise in any way you see fit to do so.

Pictures and images intended for few can be sent by email so they are not seen by many instead.

I just wanted to give everyone something to think about.
"You wouldn't say any of that to my face."
I do not post anything on my blog that I am unwilling to say in person.
Try me.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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