August 11, 2008 by · 1 Comment
This is the first in a series of interviews with internet personalities on the topic of family privacy. The interviewees are all active in online communities as bloggers and podcasters so how do they handle the issue of family privacy as it relates to their internet personas?
Clearly they have chosen to live their lives on the internet, but what about their families? How much information about the family is fair game for public consumption?
Our first interview is with the author of Dad or Bust, a blog designed for new dad’s that are looking for real-world information about fatherhood.
[Dad or Bust] presents what one dad has learned and thinks works or doesn’t work. He’s not a doctor, psychologist, social worker, or even a teacher. But he is open-minded, relatively competent and won’t waste your time – he’ll cut to the good stuff. He tells you which products he actually bought and uses, and will be sure to let you know if they suck. And he’ll let you laugh at his mistakes and all the other junk we deal with as we make this scary transformation. From: About Page.
Here is the result of our email exchange on the topic:
In general, how much and what type of information are you comfortable sharing online about your family?
I really don’t want to put too much identifiable information out there in a public way, and that’s why I blog under a pseudonym. While everything I type is absolute magic that shouldn’t be withheld from the public, I don’t like the idea of strangers knowing my kids names or what they look like. I don’t know whether “Buster” would necessarily appreciate being on full exhibition either, once he has an opinion about it.
That said, among my family and friends, I share nearly everything about myself – through online tools I trust that do go to the proper lengths to assure privacy. What if their networks get hacked? I think there are much better things to worry about.
Do you have any guidelines set for how you approach this (or other personal) subject(s)? Were the guidelines self-imposed, spouse imposed or a mutual agreement for how it should be handled?
This is particularly hard for me because I come from a family of very attractive people. I’ve actually had to enforce the idea of keeping photos private, within my family, either because people didn’t know they had left them open to the public, or because people didn’t really take me seriously. The first time I expressed a preference, they wondered hey, why would the highly attractive mind anyone looking at them?
What are your concerns that lead you to this decision to withhold certain info?
Mostly I think the world is filled with people who just want to find their own joy and otherwise stay out of each others’ way. But I also think there are some very ill and sad people out there – and I know from my real job that there are people that do terrible things. Sickos will copy and paste your kid’s head onto exploitative images of other kids they’ve managed to gather – and they even exchange photos of infants. It’s scary stuff.
Facebook, as an example, allows you to create private groups to share photos with. Do you trust that type of functionality and are you comfortable using those features
I do trust this type of functionality. But I still run checks using search engines now and again.
Are there certain website sites or communities that you are more comfortable with revealing that information?
I actually prefer established brands like Facebook, Flickr (owned by Yahoo) and WordPress or Blogger (owned by Google) to the newest start-up websites when it comes to this stuff. At least I know who I’m dealing with and that the rules and terms won’t suddenly change without recourse. I don’t want to worry about what might happen to promises and pledges if the brand new social network or multimedia content tool I’m using gets acquired – or worse, whether my data will be unwittingly sold along with some server in a bankruptcy auction if the company goes belly up.
Do you feel that parents in general reveal too much information about their children online? If so, why do you think that is?
Absolutely, I do. And I think that often, it’s not so much about a hunger to socialize with like minds as it is about a thirst to be noticed.
I think our culture has put a disproportionate amount of value on the concept of attention. People value fame more than achievement; buzz more than truth; even infamy more than anonymity. Exhibitionism has gone from a guilty pleasure to a requirement in order keep up with the Joneses.
We’ve come to believe that the more eyes that see something, the more successful, important, or even true it is. From Nielsen ratings to number of Diggs, exposure and visibility are assumed to be the best measure of quality. Your picture of your kid isn’t cute anymore unless 100 people say they agree. And so people tell themselves to forget about the sickos and go ahead and publicly post photos and videos and intimate details of their lives.
Even though as a blogger I may seem to be tossing stones within a glass house, I do feel I pull the shades down more than the average tech-savvy parent through blog anonymity and carefully chosen privacy settings for multimedia. Because of the precautions I’ve taken, my readers have no idea that I both played point guard for the 1996 Denver Nuggets nor do they have a way to view photos from the time I placed third in a wet-t-shirt contest for chubby teens.
Well, we do now! Very interesting take on family privacy from over at Dad or Bust. Stay tuned for the next part in the series. To be notified when the next part is published, you can subscribe to Daddy Rockstar by Email or in a news reader.
Photo Credit: Kenneth F Andrade