Social Media And Your Familial Obligations

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.

16 thoughts on “Social Media And Your Familial Obligations”

  1. I understand what you’re doing. I haven’t even mentioned that I have a wife and two kids πŸ™‚

    1. Jens, I mentioned that I was married but I have it hidden. People who know me know I’m married. Because of that I have my wedding picture up, and to me that’s not a big deal at all. I did share some pictures of family members from a reunion in 1999 and tagged them, but that’s about as far as that goes, and only those few relatives even noticed, although it took them awhile. Otherwise, I’m very careful for them.

  2. Nearly similar, I think I have only one picture of my wife on Facebook. Mostly I am using social network for promotions and rarely personally, but when I use it sharing personal thought I don’t really try to keep things private, honestly I don’t care about my privacy on social networks as there is nothing to hide.

    1. Actually Carl, I thought you had 3 of your wife and son, but you didn’t identify them, though I knew who was who. πŸ™‚ Still, it’s not necessarily being worried about having something to hide as much as worrying what someone might think to do with whatever information they might get if someone shares the wrong thing.

      1. Well, I haven’t share a picture of my ex-wife in China and I don’t think that pictures of my 2nd wife still appear on my wall photos, but yeah the “official” one is on my Facebook page and I think on one old MySpace account. Right this point is good, there have been several situations when I have been asked questions after some of my personal posts on social networks, often when I try to hide a message I write in different languages so I am sure that the right people will receive it.

  3. Yes, its very important to protect one’s family in social media, especially confidential stuff. Security wise, Internet is not really safe.

  4. I agree that we should think before we post anything on social media sites. We should protect information about our family because some information should be protected on the Internet.

  5. Hi Mitch! Another great post. It’s fun socializing but I make sure I am not involve about my personal and family.There are people that wants to destroy others people lives.

    1. True Becca, which is why we get to make our own choices but need to take care in not involving others if they don’t know how to protect themselves online.

  6. Is that you back in the picture with the mustache?! I tell my daughter all the time to think before she adds people on facebook, think before she puts words up, what words she chooses, whose going to see it, who… you know what I’m saying.

    Even with the coaching I have only my initial as a last name but many others have their full name, (i.e., Anthony Robbins) who, yah… probably has body guards that watch out for him, which I do not. πŸ™‚

    1. Sue, I’m actually surprised that both Facebook & G+ are allowing you to only have that initial because last year G+ would have banned your site and Facebook usually wants some kind of full name, as they’re not big on aliases. Still, that becomes our individual choice to put ourselves out there. When we include our family members, we have to be a bit more cautious as to how much we say about them if they don’t have the opportunity to protect themselves. At least that’s how I feel. Doesn’t mean don’t put up family images, but be careful how much you add about them.

      And that’s a beard; I never wore a mustache on its own. lol

  7. I’m glad I inspired this post Mitch, sorry I missed it earlier. I do value your opinion and you make a lot of sense. As for my parents, there are no worries there. My Mother has passed and my Father is still trying to wrap his head around the idea of a phone you carry outside the home. He’s not really sure what that inter-web thing is all about. lol

    I do have a sister that lives on Facebook and we’ve found many distant relatives that we would have probably never found with without the help of the internet. I uploaded a few childhood photos that included a cousin we recently reconnected with after more than 40 years. Wow, that actually hurt to write lol. Anyway, I did the social thing and tagged her in the pics and the next day she asked me to remove them. I should not have assumed it was alright to post the old photos and the proper thing to do would have been to ask. I did, of course, remove the photos and apologized.

    1. Glad you finally found it Brian. I thought it was definitely important enough to write about, that’s for sure. I’ve put up a picture here and there and tagged someone who ended up not wanting to be tagged. These days I’ll still put up pictures, but I don’t name anyone when I do it unless they’re no longer here. It’s hard to determine how people feel about those types of things, but it’s also important to gauge just how much we put out there about other people. Thanks for sharing your story.

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