My son and I got into a discussion that turned into a disagreement the other day.
I brought up the subject of blogging, how much I enjoy doing it, what interesting people I’ve met online, and how we’re all getting to know one another and support each other.
‘You ought to be more careful when you’re using the Internet,’ Domer chided me.
‘Huh? I am careful,’ I retorted (probably a bit huffily, for he was quick with his response).
‘No, you’re not. You don’t really know any of those people you’re talking to every day.’
‘You don’t know the people on Facebook either.’
‘But I do,’ he protested. ‘I only talk to my friends. People I actually know. Not like you. Your “friends” might be stalkers.’
‘No way. Some of them I know. Some I’ve met in person; some I’ve met through others. I’ve become friends with them over time.’
‘Right,’ he scoffed. ‘But you’ve never actually met them. You don’t really know them.’
‘Sure I do. Some are poets or writers like me; some are moms; some have dogs.’
Domer squinted at me. ‘Uh-huh, and most are probably liars.’
‘Nuh-uh,’ I said. (Like the way I switch to kid-mode when I can’t think of anything clever to say??)
‘Bet they are,’ he continued (Was he just trying to push my buttons??). ‘They’re probably perverts. You know, the kind that drive around in dirty panel vans with a sign on the front door saying “Free Candy” or something.’
‘They don’t either. We all have our photos posted. . . .’
‘Yeah, and photos aren’t available free for any pervert who wants to use one. Your “friends” probably don’t look a thing like their pictures either.’
‘But we’ve come to know each other. To learn each other’s likes and dislikes. To feel the truth through hundreds of words. To form a community.’
Domer kind of pursed his lips and nodded. ‘Whatever, Mom. But I still think you need to be more careful.’
I’ve tried to be prudent, I tell myself. I know the rules about not giving out full names or addresses or other personal information. About not broadcasting plans for being away from home. About not actually meeting online “friends” in anything other than very public places. About not posting intimate details or photos I wouldn’t want to share with a stranger.
Safety — my own and that of my family — is paramount in my mind when I post or comment. I want to be true to myself and real to my friends, but I don’t want to be accessible to the stalkers and creeps in the world. Shoot, my desire for anonymity and privacy is one of the reasons I don’t do Facebook and Twitter; the other is lack of time!
Still, the little imp probably has a point. One just can’t be too careful nowadays.
Do you ever relax and enjoy the online experience, or do you still find yourself censoring certain details?