Removing my children from the Internet

New Yorker Ultrasound Share

Excerpt from this article:

About a week ago I began deleting all photos and videos of my children from the Internet. This is proving to be no easy task. Like many parents, I’ve excitedly shared virtually every step, misstep and milestone that myself and my children have muddled our way through.

This is not only about privacy, it’s also about your child’s identity. We are human beings, not amoebas. How would you like it if your mother and father were in charge of your social media presence? That’s what you’re doing to your children.

And that brings us to my tipping point, Amy Webb’s article on Slate, in which she shares the story of “Kate” and her share-happy parents:

With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.

That poses some obvious challenges for Kate’s future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.



Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say

Getty Images

Excerpt from this article:

With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.

“As these children come of age, they’re going to be seeing the digital footprint left in their childhood’s wake,” said Stacey Steinberg, a legal skills professor and associate director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “While most of them will be fine, some might take issue with it.”

Isabella Aijo, 15, a high school sophomore in Natick, Mass., said, “I definitely know people who have parents who post things they wish weren’t out there. There was a girl in my eighth grade class whose mom opened a YouTube account for her in the fourth grade to show off her singing,” she wrote to me in an email. “Finally, on one of the last months of middle school, a peer played the song in class and almost the entire class laughed hysterically over it.”

When parents share those early frustrations, they don’t see themselves as exposing something personal about their children’s lives, but about their own. As a society, says Ms. Steinberg, “we’re going to have to find ways to balance a parent’s right to share their story and a parent’s right to control the upbringing of their child with a child’s right to privacy.

“Parents often intrude on a child’s digital identity, not because they are malicious, but because they haven’t considered the potential reach and the longevity of the digital information that they’re sharing,” said Ms. Steinberg.



RIP the Selfie: when Prince Harry calls time on a craze, you know it’s well and truly dead

Excerpt from this article, which is subtitled, “The selfie was the great silliness of our time, the trainspotting of the techno age. So take them if you dare – the world is laughing at you”:

Prince Harry called time on the selfie craze this week. When a teenager asked him to pose for one with her in Australia he replied: “No, I hate selfies … I know you’re young, but selfies are bad. Just take a normal photograph.”

Good for Harry – it’s time more people spoke out against this great silliness of our time. The royal repudiation of the selfie followed hot on the heels of a powerful attack on the selfie age by the great historian Simon Schama. Launching what sounds like a fascinating project about the British portrait, Schama ridiculed the idea that the “quick dumbness” of selfies has anything in common with the true art of portraiture. “What we love about selfies and phones is that it’s of the moment,” he said, “but the true object of art is endurance.”

I agree. It is depressing that we’ve turned self-portraiture, the most intense, worrying and neurotic of arts, into a big collective joke. Anyone who can look at their face without anxiety is not looking at their face. The self portrait for Van Gogh and Picasso was a thing of fear and dread: we’ve taken that dread and airbrushed it out of existence. Selfies deny and erase a fundamental human self-consciousness. We are in danger of losing our sense of awkwardness, embarrassment, of being an individual. The selfie is actually an attack on the moral self.

Case Study: Social Savvy Burglar

Excerpt from this article:

Describing himself as a “nerd burglar,” he breaks into a couple’s home while they’re away and sells their stuff on the internet.

The campaign taps into a growing phenomenon of social media-savvy burglars. A 2011 U.K. study by Friedland, a home-security company, found that 78% of ex-burglars admitted to using social media to find targets. More than $16 billion a year is lost in property crimes, according to a 2013 FBI report.

…The story unfolded over eight ads that premiered during the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which aired on ESPN. The infomercial-style spots push an e-commerce site developed by Allstate where people could buy replica items from virtually every room in the Moskal’s home, including a blender, TV, weed wacker and their car. And they’re all at “Mayhemically-reduced” prices — dirt-cheap.

See also this case study video.

Learning to Love the Babies of Instagram

Excerpt from this article:

…At the beginning, I was very self-conscious about it. I still held on to the hope of being the parent who “gets it.” I wrote funny or at least very honest captions under all my photos; I only posted one truly great baby photo every few days; I tried to intersperse photos of other things, too, as if to remind everyone that I still lived in the world, even if I didn’t see much of it.

I remember early on feeling as if I had to earn my one baby photo by posting a photo of something else. I’d look around my house. Something else, something else. Hmmm. What did I take photos of before? Funny signs? Nature? Cute corners of my apartment? Things I baked?

…I don’t post photos of my kid to Instagram to show off my great reproductive prize, to brag that I ran through the finish line of society’s great mandate for women. I post photos of him to Instagram because I am bored and he is always around and at times I feel certain that all I have to offer my friends and followers are adorable photos of him.

An Open Letter to People Who Take Pictures of Food With Instagram


Excerpt from this satirical letter on McSweeney’s:

Dear People Who Take Pictures of Food With Instagram,

Just because the picture looks artsy doesn’t mean you are. I get it. We all went through our creative, experimental stages. There is a period in all of our lives where we think we can probably make money off our pseudo-artistic talent of choice. And now, you think you are a photographer because Instagram does the work for you. Do you have to focus anything? Do you have to worry about lighting? Do you have to think at all? Not really. You are part of a fast growing legion of people that have been duped into believing they are visionaries, auteurs, even.

…You proceed to take various angled shots of the avocado being sliced, the blueberries getting washed, and your bearded boyfriend plucking feathers from the partridges because the Farmer’s Market only sold them with feathers, because plucking out the feathers themselves would be too mean and they’re the nice kind of farmers who kill with love. And now that your meal looks professional and Alexandra Gaurnaschelli would approve of it (but Scott Conant would totally get the one piece of undercooked bird) there is a great final product shot taken, complete with two Coronas because you were feeling summery. “Ah, the good life,” you caption, wanting me to be simultaneously awed and intimidated by your domesticity. “This looks awesome! Wow!! You two are so cute!!!” writes jealous girl between drafts of her latest Game of Thrones fan fiction. That’s when you know you’ve done it: you are officially the greatest woman on the entire planet.

…I think it’s best, especially in the interest of honesty and my mounting rage, to tell you that no, no, I really, truly, absolutely, do not care about you or your food. I don’t. Sorry.