There’s an interesting thread on 2Peas today regarding privacy, personal information being published in the scrapping magazines and the wisdom (or lack or if) in posting photos of our children on line, where they could be used for less-than-good purposes by sick strangers.
I admit to being on the fence about this issue.
I have had 2 layouts published in Memory Makers Magazine. It’s a common practice of MM to list the name and hometown of the layout designer beside each work they publish. I read in an interview with founding editor Michelle Gerbrandt that explained their reasons. She said they like to do this because it reminds readers that MM is a family magazine and it’s contributor base is comprised of "normal scrapbookers" from all over the globe. I agree with Michelle.
When I read a magazine, I look for the names. It’s a habit. There are a handful of artists who have been regular contributors to the magazines I read long enough that I *recognize* their children on-sight or their style without the prompting of the name listing. The scrapbook publishing community is relatively small. Some of the artists who have been published a great deal are now my friends "in real life". It gives me an extra special thrill to see their work published. Hang around long enough and you start to connect. With this in mind, we have to consider the risks of exposure.
While the scrapping community is relatively tame, the big big world outside us has plenty of unsavory characters who would like to take advantage of our free information. Even a minimally-skilled detective-type can use google and the online phonebooks to connect names and cities and addresses. I have a pretty uncommon last name. If you know my hometown, you can google my name (first and last) alongside my hometown and come up with four entries for people with this name. Along with addresses. So, any half-wit stalker can show up on my doorstep. Isn’t that reassuring?
On the flip side, we live in a world of strangers. I don’t know all my neighbors--perhaps I could already be living in close proximity to an unsavory character already.
So you see the dilemma. Is the risk of possible exposure outweighed by the thrill and reward of publication and professional success?
I think it is a worthy consideration. I walk a fine line, even here on the blog and at 2Peas. If you read my blog (and you obviously do--thank you) you’ll see references to my husband and children. When I first started blogging, I used an uppercase J to refer to my husband and a lowercase j to refer to my son. While it made sense to me, not everyone understood, so I started using names for a while. If you browse thru my gallery at 2Peas, you can easily spot the names of all my family members in the journaling on my pages…so I decided that was kinda silly to hide them in one place and use them in another…when the two are connected.
I am careful with my children. There are certain parks we don’t frequent because the “mommy-safety-sensor” dings in my head while we are there. When we lived in the apartment, I was constantly not answering the door because I didn’t know the person on the other side. I don’t use the same routes going to the places I go all the time--the bank, the grocery, the library, the park. I am alert and cautious when we are out together.
I am a stickler for caution when we are traveling. We don’t stop at rest areas or gas stations for breaks (obviously we get gas, but the children don‘t leave the car and I use the pay-at-the-pump feature)…we take potty breaks at Starbucks, WalMart, Target or a grocery store because these are places where we look less like tourist targets. It’s pretty common to see a woman and her children in WalMart so we don’t stand out there.
It’s a fine line to walk. For me, the litmus test with what I write here and at 2Peas is my comfort with someone I just met having this information. I read my own writing with that in mind…”would I be uncomfortable saying this to someone I just met?”
It’s not my intention to provide sick people with ammunition for their bad behavior but at the same time I don’t want to live in a cave without contact with the outside world because I fear what someone somewhere could conceivably do with what I post (photos, words). I will not be held captive by “what if” in most areas of my life. I will use common sense, that built-in-mommy-safety-sensor in my head and take certain precautionary measures, but I won’t hide. If we all hide, the people with bad behavior win.
One of the things in the thread at 2Peas that stood out to me is the large number of posters who said they wanted to post layouts but wouldn’t because they didn’t want photos of their children or grand children on the web. I respect that but had to resist the urge to offer alternative suggestions. Why not post a LO without the photos attached? Why not blur or mask the faces? Wouldn’t that be the best of both options? You get to share your work without revealing faces.
Just a thought.