Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 27, 2012
Although I’ve asked, it’s rare that I actually have someone write me to ask me to give my opinion on something. So this is a special treat, and it comes from our friend Brian Hawkins who asked me to address the topic of whether people should be taking more consideration of their family members when it comes to social media.
It’s an interesting question in this day and age when most of us are at least talking about our worries about privacy, when in essence there’s very little privacy left. Of course, anything we do pretty much means we give away information freely, whether the entity that ends up with it was who we gave it to. But what about our family members?
In almost 1,300 posts (I’ll reach that this week), I’ve mentioned my wife’s name 4 times, and two of those times it was in highlighting her website Li’l Specs. I also only have 6 pictures that include her. I have some other pictures on the blog, few few though, of other family members that I’ve never identified, other than my dad, so in a way I’ve protected their privacy since I know none of them reads my blogs (do family members ever read our stuff?).
On Facebook I only have two pictures of my wife, and I have none on Google+. I do have pictures of my parents, though not many, but since my dad and grandmother are no longer with us I don’t think they’re so worried about their privacy. And I’ve put up some pictures of cousins and other family members, but haven’t come out and identified them as relatives until they did so themselves.
In essence, I’ve been relatively perspicacious in protecting the privacy of my family; what they do for themselves is another matter, but I’m not responsible for that.
I think it’s important to not only protect the privacy of one’s family, unless they okay it, but it’s also important to protect the dignity of one’s family through social media, whether they’re a part of it or not. Have you noticed that whenever someone gets outed on Facebook for doing something stupid or putting up something stupid that it embarrasses the family as much as the person? I was brought up to always protect the Mitchell name and to not embarrass the family, and I’ve worked hard to do just that very thing and still be an individual.
Whereas I don’t expect everyone to think as I do and do as I do, I always try to tell people that their bad behavior doesn’t only affect them. People who bully and are eventually outed impact the entire family. People who commit crimes puts the family at risk, often making them move for no reason other than the hate they now have to share for something their family members did willingly.
Of course there’s always the issue of very close family members and whether they should be connected with each other in social media circles. As much as I’d love my family members to read my blogs, I know quite a few people who write personal blogs that would be appalled if their family members knew they even had a blog. That’s a tough one to get beyond, though not for me.
I know of parents who want to connect with their kids social media accounts so they can see what it is they’re doing. I also know of parents who don’t want to connect with their adult children who do because they’re made to feel guilty if they don’t.
Personally, I’ve never had to deal with this, but it begs the question as to how I’d feel if my mother was connected to my account on Facebook. I can truthfully say this; I’d probably have to delete a bunch of stuff that other people post that shows up on my page because, as I’ve said a few times here, I’ve never seen a movie rated higher than PG with my mother, and never a movie I hadn’t seen beforehand. I’m often stunned at the language family members use with each other, and some of the things one will put up, either child or parent, knowing that the other is connected and will see it.
As I said earlier, I think it’s important to protect one’s family on social media because you never know what someone else might do with that information, no matter what it is. But it’s also a decision one has to make based on how their family handles such matters. Social media really is a great responsibility, as much as it’s a place to have fun and make a lot of connections. Just think about it, and be careful.