to post or not to post? raising kids in the age of facebook

Over the past few years I’ve been scaling back my engagement with social media– or more accurately, I’ve been thinking more carefully about what I post. The days are long gone when you could stick to a private blog loop with your best friends and trust that nobody else would ever see what you wrote. Heck I’ve gone through a dozen drafts of this post over several weeks before deciding to go ahead with it!

I generally stick to jokes, or the more nostalgic and media-oriented posts of my blog. I might get more confessional over time, we’ll see. Most of my friends and family know I’m insufferable about being taken out of location-tagged posts (hello, stalker central!). I tend to put fake demographics in online profiles because it creeps me out to think of this information being plucked up by invasive online ‘white pages.’

Have you Googled yourself? Horrifying! I even deleted my LinkedIn profile because 1) it’s useless to me anyway and 2) do I really need a public page on which I tell the whole world exactly where they can find me during business hours? Maybe I’m overly concerned about stalkers, but I don’t think you can be too cautious where the Internet is concerned.

Long story short: I hit a balance of online sharing that I was personally comfortable with. And then I had a baby, and now I am frozen with indecision about what to share online. I’m keeping him nameless and with minimal images on my blog, Twitter, or any other public page. I’ll probably leave him off entirely as he grows into his recognizable childhood face.

But what about Facebook, that perennial nightmare? My content is set to ‘friends only’ but that is meaningless due to the ‘share’ button and the fact that I can’t control what other people post to their own friends and varied privacy settings. I frequently see posts in my feed by people I’ve never even met before, because a mutual friend hit the like button. Do they know that a total stranger is seeing their post as a result? Are strangers seeing mine, or are my settings private enough? What about when the next invasive update happens??

The thought of my baby’s entire life being documented on social media squicks me the hell out. I certainly don’t want it to be possible for his future school friends to pluck up embarrassing or private moments from a Google search or by connecting with the right chain of friend-of-a-friend. I also have people I’ve cut out of my life entirely, and the thought of them being able to keep tabs on me and my child because we have mutual social media friends makes me feel ill. Again, my blog and Twitter are public, but I can control my own content here.

I can always stick to email and private message with family. But I also want to share the occaaaaasional photo with friends and that’s so much easier in a Facebook post. Where and when do I draw a line??

So… I suppose this is an honest question to other people raising kids right now! How do you juggle this– or do you even bother?

  • Do you consider this a normal part of the modern age and enjoy documenting your kids’ daily life?
  • Or do you curate down to the pleasant moments and compete with your friends for most photogenic family photo?
  • Or have you kept them off-line entirely, preserving their privacy till they’re old enough to decide what to share?
  • If the latter, do you have a spoken or unspoken agreement with extended friends and family about your web preferences? Was that conversation terrible??
  • Are you reading too much into this post right now and fretting about whether I’m subtweeting you, because if so please don’t?!

I’m not judging any particular answer. I’m honestly curious about how other folks handle this because it is a new generational problem. I’m also interested to hear what non-parents think about the way their parent friends post, but I don’t want it couched in an accusatory manner so be nice!

*nervously hits Publish and hopes I don’t start a Facebook war*