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Privacy on Social Media: Why Do We Let Complete Strangers Know the Intimacies of our Lives?
I HATE that there are people out there who know very well who I am but who I will never know because they are only Facebook friends with my husband. They think they are being friendly when they approach me in public and say hello but it annoys me almost beyond words. Let me explain: these people have a window into my life. They see things I’m tagged in, or that friends of friends have liked, and they feel they get to know me through these little glimpses. They think this little window affords them my friendship; which it unequivocally does not. It’s literally an intrusion. I don’t know them at all.
Further, it constructs this weird virtual world in which people think that online social interactions have replaced traditional real-life interactions; meaning that liking a picture on FB is adding value to a virtual relationship, though it literally has no existence in reality.
I’ve therefore reached a point of no return. To the girl who tries to support my decisions online – get off the keyboard and get off my picture; you don’t know me your opinion is not valid. I don’t care that you agree or disagree with me. To the guy who knows me by name and sits next to me in a bar as though we’re good friends, get the hell away from me because I don’t know you at all. We’ve never met before. Your virtual ‘friendship’ means nothing to me because, even in this virtual world, we aren’t even friends. You’re a Facebook friend to my husband or a friend of a friend whose name I may never have even seen in this virtual world. Did you really expect me to be friendly to a stranger who supposes on my behalf or demands my attention?
As social media continues to morph into a modern essential, we’ll be faced with this aspect of intrusion more than ever. It makes me reflect on the value, if it even exists, of making our lives so very public to virtual ‘friends.’
But don't you like the connectivity of meeting new people?
My problem is that we give out so much of ourselves without realizing who can see that information. I'm not even a parent yet, but now I'm thinking about all of those parents who I do know who post 1) what their kids look like, 2) a pic of their new car - usually accidentally including a license plate, 3) where they work because they talk about it all the time, 4) where they eat,because they tag themselves there, 5) where they go on weekends, 6) what school their kids go to...the list goes on.
It's not about friendships at all, it's about everything that people we'll never know can see freely.
For example, I took a picture of our apricot tree the other day. I gave serious thought to which houses can be seen in the background, how much of which cars, etc. Not because then people would know where we lived, but because an untold number of people would be able to see, based on who likes or comments. And sure enough, a fellow who I don't even know (but is friends of friends) proceeded to tell me what I should do with my apricots. We even got into an argument about why I should jam them!
The bottom line is that social media is not safe anymore. Friends of friends and people you may never even know are seeing very private information and know very personal details about your life. Where does it end? When you post about a vacation and muddy footprint appear in your yard? For me, this means thinking about what I'm sharing - but more, thinking about why I'm sharing the picture or information and deciding whether I need an exponential number of people to see that information.