Cole posted something yesterday about rethinking how he handles photos of his family on Flickr. It sparked something (as his posts often do) that I've been rolling around in the back of my head for awhile. I've put a whole schwack of photos of Evan on Flickr. Nothing I'd worry about the Evil Internet People getting their furry little paws on, but lots of photos of him doing all kinds of fun stuff.

But, he never got a vote. He never got to decide if he wanted his photos to be Out There. Janice is rather shy, and so I've not posted photos of her. But Evan has been having fun with it, so I just kept posting photos.

After thinking about it, I think it's only fair to give him the chance to decide. It's not like there's anything there that would come back to haunt him, but it's something that might become an issue as he gets older. I imagine the punks in his Jr. High School Of The Future finding old photos of Evan and making his life more interesting than it needs to be. He won't need to deal with that.

So, as an experiment, I've just moved 308 photos of Evan into the "Friends and Family" privacy setting. I had to leave a couple of the best ones, but may even rethink that.

It was weird – even though the photos are still available to friends and family, it felt like I was deleting a large part of my life. I was actually saddened after hitting the button to commit the change. Like I'd just lost something. Like I'd just carved the most important person in my life out of my online place.

But it's not about me. It's about him, and he needs to be able to control his own online personna without having his old man posting 32 bajillion photos of him throwing snowballs…

17 thoughts on “Deflickring”

  1. Comment from Leigh Blackall that got borked by the spam blocker. Akismet no likey him…

    I hear ya D’Arcy. I share your concerns (fear) but I’m concerned with the concern more…

    The heady and euphoric early days of our using these tools are leaving us. The fear and suspision is coming back. I know you mention that fact that you didn’t ask your boy if you could post them.. but is that really the reason you set them to private? If it was, will you now take off all the pictures you have of others who may not know that they are on the giggest image database in the world? Will you now carry release forms with your camera? Will you support censorship of those that disregard these traditions of “respect” and “consideration” for others, such as an entire generation with camera phones?

    I’m not sure what to think. I know I preference the exciting, heady and euphoric days, and am sadened by this darker cloud coming over us.

    How does the saying go… “a life lived in fear is a life less lived..” all well and good, but is there something worth fearing here? What ever it is, is it hear and now, likely to be hear, or suspicious of coming in the next 10 years.

    Have we all read too much into 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, etc? Has it instilled a spirit of fear in us all that is affecting our lives and direction?

    This old beauty of a movie may help (or not) Despotism for the most beautiful project in the world –

  2. Hi D’Arcy – interesting post. I’ve always put up pictures of my son and friends and family’ children as restricted. Partly it is the consent issue for me; partly I think I’m more protective over my home life as a single parent. Also, as someone in a position of helping kids and teachers of young people to become more net savvy, I like to lead by example – I don’t post pictures of any one who hasn’t agreed to have their picture publicly available, and for younger people keep names and locations/schools separate – i.e. if you give that information then its one or the other.

  3. I made the decision for my children when they were younger– as is a parent’s right and responsibility– but as they got older I talked to them about it. I encourage them to lead open, shared lives as well. I think the benefits are great… but they know they have the option to ask me to remove/refrain, though it rarely comes up. My daughter has even started realizing the potential benefit of having pictures of herself which aren’t only flattering– she told me that “that’s what a real person does, they show people who they are good and bad.”

    We’ll see how it goes. I am careful about personal data, of course, and I worry much more about my writing than my photos. I really censor myself there, though not in my journals which my children will inherit anyway :)

  4. Leigh – the reason I took Evan’s photos private was because they were essentially making up his online persona, and he had no say in that. Photos of other people were all taken in public venues with no expectation of privacy, but photos of Evan opening Christmas presents in his pyjamas are a different story. I don’t plan to carry release forms while taking photos in public. If people don’t want to be photographed, they can stay home. Evan doesn’t really have that choice (I’ll go ahead and photograph him at home, too :-) )

    I didn’t privatize him out of fear of Internet Perverts or the like. I did it so that he could thoughtfully craft his own online identity without having to step over what I did for him when he was 2, or 3, or 4… It’s not about any Orwellian tendencies, or destruction of historical records. It’s about giving him the opportunity to find his own voice when it’s time, without having me done that (even partially) for him already.

    And I may still waffle on the whole thing and open everything up again. I don’t know. I really hate having done it, but I think it was the right thing to do.

  5. Don’t waffle, I think it’s a wise choice! If I were Evan I would definitely want the choice, and I do think that baby pictures could lead to some teasing later on if they were on the internet. Cyberbullying is existent and a lot kids are tormented by it.

  6. I only rarely have children pictures (mine or anyone elses) public. This for me was in reaction to some strange attention I and other people I know have gotten from blogs and flickr. There are just too many wierdos out there. The fact the interweb tubes never forgets is just another reason to keep your family restricted to friends and family

  7. I’ve been lucky (I guess?) – I’m not aware of any nefarious evilness related to any photos I’ve posted. Either it hasn’t been a problem, or I’m just blissfully unaware.

  8. it need not be a total banning of “The Boy(s)” (I too like seeing your offspring), just selective choices, or being nebulous about names/locations. I often blur street signs in the background of my personal shots.

  9. I’ve always been nebulous about locations around home (I think) but it wouldn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out The Boy™’s name… I will be more selective of which photos of The Young One get tossed into the public pile. Ones like the one at the Calgary Tower observation deck will likely still make it through the sentries.

    I can see my house!

  10. i have approximately 3000 “family” only pictures of our child on a separate flickr account, so i know what you are going thru

    i made the decision when the kid was born

    it’s possible the kid might not like that decision and might want to be online but that’s easily remedied. if that’s the kid’s wish i can easily make all 3000 public

  11. A friend of mine hadn’t really thought about the privacy settings, putting all his stuff up as public. Then he put a picture up of his kids playing in the bath, replete with rubber duck!

    Next thing he knew was he had hundreds of views in very quick time. Normally, like me his shots clock up slower than the days in a year.

    So he started using friends/family. Encouraging as many friends as possible to have a flickr account was great.

    I admire your decision to give the kids choice, that’s cool.

    I once took some photos of colleagues at work and that was a real education about how different people approach personal privacy. I try to respect that for others and abuse it for myself :-)

  12. I move 60 or so this morning and it felt very strange … sort of like going into a dimly room after being out in the sun for a long time — it feels a lot darker and lonely then it really is. I like your perspective on this and I will add it to my list of why I am about to commit a total reversal of my public facing life. One thing I just realized though is that I am not changing my view on living my life in the open, I am changing my perspective on my family living their lives in the open.

    Two very different things.

  13. Oh no!

    You do realize that I’ve always used you as a proxy for thinking through matters of web protocol and ethics… Whenever I heard someone express misgivings about posting pictures of my boy, I just thought to myself, “oh well, D’Arcy does it.”

    Now I’ve got to think for myself. What a drag.

  14. Brian – it’s ok. Let Cole do the thinking :-)

    actually, I’m going through this to see how it feels. So far I hate it. It feels like I’m devaluing someone who is so important to me.

    I don’t thnk it’s going to be possible to completely excise Evan from my photostream unless it completely devolves into an endless series of sunrises and snow. That’s not much of a stretch, though…

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