Thanks for Reading Suburban Adventure

Friday, January 31, 2014

My Three Lives- Privacy

"Everyone has three lives, a public life, a private life and a secret life."

When Christopher turned eleven, he begged me for his own Facebook account. Against my better judgement, I created an account for him and watched as the number of friends on his account increased daily. I thought it was a good thing for him as we all want our children to belong on some level and yet be individual enough to make their own decisions, accordingly.

His initial reaction was excitement as he added friends and was amused by many of their posts.  I monitored the connections and attachments that were sent to him. I showed him how to remove wall posts should he not want them there and I emphasized that the internet and all social networking can be dangerous in a variety of ways.
 I set up a meeting for my children with a detective who is a friend of the family. He came to my house and discussed internet safety with them.  It is a sad commentary on life that we have to monitor our children out of fear but it is essential. Christopher told me that he would only be using facebook on the weekends. He stuck to that which was easy for him as he was not overly impressed with the entire concept.
I have always been impressed with his maturity level however when he told me that he found Facebook to be very intrusive- I tried not to show my inner satisfaction. 
I was happy that he was a private person and he found facebook to be a waste of time. The idea of kids sending him surveys and silly games was unappealing to him. He despised that whatever he wrote could be viewed by everyone. I encouraged him to simply use it in a social manner and I showed him how to block content. I had to laugh as most Mothers were yelling at their kids to get off of facebook - I found myself asking him if he had checked his wall and encouraged him to go on chat with his friends. He just wasn't into the whole concept. He enjoys his privacy and while he has many friends, he simply did not feel the need to be involved. He asked me to delete his account and told me he may reconsider when he is in Middle school. This was to me the perfect outcome. He never reactivated his account.
Giavanna on the other hand, is ready for her facebook account despite the fact that she is ten. She has been ready to have it since she was seven. 
Her desire to chat with her friends and look at pictures and share stories is wonderfully alive. She often stands over my shoulder when Im on my facebook account. She suggests that I friend famous people and laughs when I tell her that Prince Harry accepted my friendship. This girl is ready to start chatting and friending and linking and tagging. It amazes me how savvy our children are with all of the social networking outlets. Most kids have to have a facebook account to feel like they are cool. I think this is the case for many people. Now, it's about Twitter and Instagram and all the others that have bombarded the social media arena. She does have an Instagram account, which I monitor and yet finding her following Cheerleaders that she does not know. It's a constant monitoring in this house.
I find that the desire to be involved with social media is extremely interesting. The youth of today know this to be a normal  part of their culture. The older generations find it to be a new part of their culture, that they don't really know how or why they should embrace it. It is a world that perplexes them as they were brought up in a time that was far less intrusive. I was taught to keep family business and issues to myself. 
"The less people know about you, the better." I heard this more than once in my household and yet as an adult, I have a blog in which I share my life experiences and inner self with thousands of people. I got the message and as my readers know, I do not discuss my relationship or gossip about other peoples business on my blog. I would never expose anything about anyone other than what I share to choose with all of you. I respect the privacy of my friends and everyone else for that matter.
Our society has indeed changed. It is reflective in all of the reality shows that exist. Im often hard pressed to find a show to watch that is worth watching. I really enjoy Anderson Cooper and Conan O'Brien but the reality shows are of no interest to me.
Again, these shows are reflective of the society of today. We expect to hear people share their feelings and bare their souls. There is no privacy and one can be googled, oogled and zillowed in a matter of minutes.
It's fun to connect with people on such a personal level, but is it really all that personal if they are sharing the same information with the rest of the world. What- if anything are we supposed to hold sacred. I have heard personal stories from strangers that are very disturbing. In fact, it happens quite frequently to me as Im a friendly person. 
The other day we made a quick stop into a Subway shop. After we selected the type of bread, I knew it would be all down hill. I was held hostage by the Subway girl. Oye- I just wanted two sandwiches for my children. 
Instead, I found myself counseling a twenty something year old woman with a pierced tongue and a large, visable hickey on her neck. We- including my kids were told all about her baby's father and how she hates him and how she is now on birth control with her new boyfriend.
 Apparently she did not notice my children as they stared at her in horror. Christopher's eyes were glued to her and they shifted from her and then back to me. They were well aware that her babbling was  extremely inappropriate. Giavanna simply stayed as far away as possible and would not look at her, thankfully.
She shared every detail of her depressing life. I tried to offer my advice. I told her to go back to school and not to have more children until she can take care of herself. This was all between the cheese and right before the addition of vegetables.
 She carried on and on and on, it did not matter that other customers walked in. There was no stopping her from sharing every single detail of her life with us. I don't have to wonder if she is on facebook. I was afraid she was going to want to "Friend" me as I paid for my sandwiches.
I say all of this in jest but I do think it is important, as a parent to emphasize the importance of privacy. Our children are not given that message by society and are encouraged to share everything to everyone. 
I was married to a well known Morning Talk Show host.  He shared our wedding, the birth of Christopher and many other extremely personal details of our life to an audience of thousands.  Every morning his audience  awaited for him to talk about his relationship and entertain them with details of his private life.
I didn't like it, in fact I despised it.
I was working for a dental implant company -- everyone in the office park listened to his show. If we had a disagreement, it was on the air. The good, the bad and the ugly- all shared with complete strangers.
 I forbid him to talk about my children or my family of origin on the air. Complete strangers would come up to me and hug me or give me gifts that were for my children. He clearly had a wonderful connection with his audience which is essential in the entertainment industry. It is however a very uncomfortable ride when you become part of the show.Privacy is a difficult thing to obtain these days. Im glad that Christopher has decided that Facebook is not for him. Giavanna will in the future have a closely monitored account. Colleges, Employers and others have immediate access to all that you expose and I suspect the future involves many more avenues to dig into our personal lives. Privacy is in fact no longer an option.xo


Anonymous said...

IT almost seems like hypocriscy. I have learned how old your children are , what their personalities are like, you outed a girl at subway( we know what general area you live in as you have discussed it in the past)we know about your ex what you didnt like about his profession andhow it affected your personal sanctum...We all know that you have afb account as does oneof your children adn your daughter has instagram...the only thing you didnt share is what your tags are so that you could be more easily found. I understand that this is a chosen profession but perhaps for someone who claims how much the felt someone elses personal choices infringed on them you might think twice about sharing so much of your childrens ...I speak first hand becseu my little person informed me several months ago that when he gets in trouble he would relaly prefere if I didnt shrae it with the world on FB becseuhe had to hear about it at school, at his freinds and at relatives..POINT TAKEN my life my choice until it reflects on others in the position to say nothing...LH86

Michelle Bravo said...

I appreciate that you took the time to write to me. I however did not out the girl in Subway- there is a subway on every corner in just about every town in the Northeast. I did not mention her name.
In regard to my children, I share what I choose to and know my children well enough to not share with readers anything that would be upsetting, embarrassing or disrespectful of them.
The same goes for my ex-husband. Im not a negative person nor do I write negative things about people.
Whatever I chose to expose is my choice. Im not quite sure how you view my blog as being hypocritical. Again, I thank you for your input.