This is an issue I have been contemplating for a while, as I often wonder how I will tackle it. Posting images of your children.
I am not going into a rant about how annoying it is, because lets be honest, if someone is going to post lots of pictures of their kids that is their right. I also happen to personally think it is adorable and not annoying. As an audience for their posts you can easily remove them from your timeline or de-friend them entirely. There is also the very real possibility that they will also talk about their kids a lot in person as well as online. If you also find this annoying it is possible you and they have simply reached a cross roads in your relationship and are heading in different directions, it might be time to shut up and move on, or shut up and accept that it is only because they love their kid(s) so much, that is not a social faux pas but is in fact just called being a parent.
As usual, I digress. What I have been thinking about is actually from a wanna-be parents perspective whether I should post pictures of my future children at all. Do I own the right to their face, their body, their image? Would I otherwise run around their entire nursery, primary, secondary, college, university or office with pictures of them from their past? Do I wan to be the reason some kid they don’t get on with has a photo of them in nappies? On the other hand, as this is not an issue I alone face their is the possibility everyone in their class will face a similar problem and so perhaps baby photos will no longer be viewed as embarrassing but as cute. Parents of the future may well need to find new ways to embarrass their kids in front of potential love interests.
With this issue it is not just future children and the potential change in how baby photos are viewed that come into play with this subject. Even if I were to decide not to post images of my future children, at least until they were old enough to consent (whenever that might be), I am not the only person with a camera. Much like many idealistic goal parents set out with family and friends can often stomp all over them. My father had the ambition of not allowing me sweets, as he thought if I was never allowed them I would never crave them and that would be better for my overall health. If only that plan had worked, but unsurprisingly it lasted until I was about 2 years old when a little old lady in the boulangerie near the campsite we were staying at in France decided that as we had become regulars over the trip, and I was rather adorable as a baby she would give me some sweets. My Father could hardly tell the kindly old boulangerie owner off, and once they were in my hand it couldn’t take them away from his little princess either. And that is why an old french lady is to blame for me not being a model. Long story short, other people are likely to post photos of my kids as well. I am not suggesting they would do this out of malice, but rather because they too will think my kids are super awesome and want to share that with the world. I can of course firmly, but kindly tell everyone not send photos to me via text or private message and to not post them online, but that can’t guarantee they will listen or adhere. If they do post stuff I would then be faced with the difficult decision of either abandoning yet another ideal (I’m sure my family and friends will foil other perfect plans as well) or asking them to remove the image. The latter shouldn’t be an issue but there is the very real risk of alienating or insulting one of the people I hold closest and want most to be involved with the future kids.
Say instead I decided that I do want to post images of my future children. After all I just have to show how cute they are, or visualise the impressive feats they have accomplished. Social media was designed to share important things like this with those closest to you, and I’m sure my family and friends would welcome the break between news, PETA and Greenpeace posts. Lets also assume that I am no longer worried about the future as I realise that social media will alter how future generations view themselves, others and photographs in general. Then I still have the rest of the world to contend with, and the potential that what I see as an innocent beach snap or potty training moment could be seen as sinister. Before you suggest I am being far-fetched let me share this article from the Huffington Post about two examples of mother’s having images they had taken of their children removed because they were considered pornographic.
If those images were posted privately perhaps there wouldn’t have been an issue, but there is still the potential and I have read many other stories of breastfeeding pictures, shared privately, that have been removed due to complaints. Perhaps this highlights another issue we face with social media, and learning how to narrow down our target audiences better. After all, we would carefully filter who we share such information with in person, but online immediate family, distant family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers and friends of friends are all mixed in for what we share with ‘friends’. Some social tools do allow this type of filtering, but as a general population we are not great at using it yet, I predict this is something that will change as time moves on. After all not everything is for general public consumption.
So I have yet to decide how I will deal with these issue. A lot of it depends on what has happened between now and when I do eventually have children, and of course I wouldn’t make any decision until I was at least pregnant (which I am not). I further predict that I wouldn’t even make a call on this issue until [push came to shove. It is also possible I will change my mind on the subject, which could prove problematic once images have been posted. I think this perhaps further supports the need to be forget, as who of us would be happy if our parents all took to social media tomorrow to post pictures of us before were kids.
We all want to be in control of our own image, whether that is present, future or past – the question is will our future children share this concern, or will ones image mean something different by the time they are old enough to consent?