Friday, May 16, 2014

I have been keeping a secret

People in my "real life" are always surprised when I share a story about something I have never shared on the blog. They assume that if a friend comes to visit, I post it on the blog. Or if we go do something as a family, that I post it on the blog. It isn't a bad assumption, of course, because I DO share a lot. But there's a lot I don't share on the blog. Really when I'm going to share something, I consider a few things: (1) Does this have a teachable lesson that I think other people can relate to? Laugh at? Or get something out of? (2) Do I want to document this for my family in our books (I turn this blog into a book for my kids). (3) Do the people I'm posting photos/stories of mind if they are referenced to? (4) Is it going to have a positive spin? If the answer to any of those things is "no," then it's simple. I do not post it.

I do not post stories detailing the fights my husband and I get into (unless, of course, I think I'm wrong and think you all might laugh at my idiocy). Because, of course, we never fight (ha!). No, really because what good would that do? We work through our disagreements with love and compromise...and sometimes just time...and I can't imagine it doing us any good to post that for the world to read. I do not post stories about friends who have hurt me or friends whom I'm fighting with (a. because I have great friends and this is VERY VERY rare and b. what good would that do to air my dirty laundry with you?). And I won't post anything about people who don't want their photos/stories on the Internet. I tend to air on the side of following the strict rule of Do Not Air Your Dirty Laundry when it comes to this blog. And so far, it has served me well. I never have to worry if someone finds my blog - how they're going to feel or what they're going to think and that gives me peace of mind when it comes to this blogging business. The dirty laundry gets aired to my husband, family, and God. If I need counsel, I pray for it or ask for it from my close friends. Period.

So, something happened several weeks ago and I was convinced I was not going to blog about it. I asked myself my four questions and I wasn't sure of the answer to #1 and #4. "Does this have a teachable lesson" and "can I put a positive spin on it?" Honestly, I felt like it was best to leave well enough alone, reflect, and go back to my normal life with my three children at home, a full time job, a wonderful husband, and a supportive, loving extended family. But then something started nagging at me. Because, while I haven't yet found the perfect teachable lesson in this, there is certainly a lesson to my experience and that is to KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN.

A friend recently asked me about her blog. She asked about why I choose to make my blog public and it's a good question. I do it because I absolutely adore the community I have found of bloggers...women...Mamas...Daddies...grandparents who are just like me. It's been amazingly encouraging and gives me such peace knowing that I'm not alone. I can't tell you how encouraged I was when I read other Mamas who had lost a baby talk about their feelings. I felt so normal. So that's why I blog.

Before I started blogging, I had heard of people having bad experiences and my husband and I considered and weighed those possibilities. We knew there was a risk in making our lives public and we really considered that risk - especially when it came to our kids.

So I'm not going to say I was shocked when we experienced what we experienced, but it definitely left me with a creepy feeling - one that has been hard to blog through. If you've noticed I've been blogging a bit less, it is because I just haven't been motivated to do it.

So what happened? Don't you hate when bloggers or writers do this big lead up and you're left reading through 7 paragraphs only to get more and more anxious about what this big secret is that Mrs. Howard keeps leading up to?!? I know I do. It's like, "just get to it already! Geesh!" So I will.

Someone stole photos of my children off my blog and created a facebook account pretending that those photos were her own children (whom she renamed). She, actually, created several facebook pages (herself, a husband, a sister-in-law, etc. with photos of my children and other people's children). Creepy. I am not going to tell you who or have everyone go look at her facebook account, because I think she needs help. Desperately. I honestly have been praying for her at night - that she finds joy in her life, that she is blessed with family and friends who fill her life and give her purpose, and that she get medical attention. The photos she stole were all from early in my blog (2009) and I don't know if that's because she got them then when I had the right click enabled or if she saved them recently by doing screen shots. Some of them even had watermarks on them - but she cropped them and added things over them (like monthly stickers, etc.).

So why am I sharing this? Because I think as a blogger, you should be aware of the risks. In a way, aside from the creepiness factor, it doesn't affect me that she stole the photos. She wasn't trying to be me. She wasn't trying to stalk my children. I probably would never have even known had someone not notified me and noticed the photos were those of my children. But, regardless, you should be aware. I know some people don't want their kids' photos on the internet, and I totally understand; but the reality is that it's going to happen. Your kids are probably already there. And if they're not already, they will be when they turn 13, 14...18, when they have their own facebooks. This is the world we now live in. Everything is documented digitally. Your kids will go to a birthday party and if they don't post pictures of themselves on there...a friend will post their picture. Your kids school will probably post pictures of your kid and, I forsee a time in the near future where yearbooks will become digital (I am the yearbook advisor for my elementary school). So, to me, rather than finding ways to keep my kids' pictures off the internet, I need to start teaching them NOW about safety. How much information to post. When to post. What is safe to post. The reality is that we now live in a digital world. And I need to figure out what this means in terms of keeping my family safe.

But now I'm left with this debate within myself. Do I fight to make my blog private? Do I put watermarks over every single photo right through the middle of it? Or is there another solution? I hope you reflect, for you, on what you think is the right thing. I know I've been doing a lot of reflecting.

Thanks so much for sticking with me on this crazy journey called blogging.

17 comments:

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That is the same thing that happened to me last year and what ultimately made me go private! I was so freaked out that someone had stolen pictures if my kids and were passing them off as her own, even referring to me as their aunt in photos I was in. I tried to watermark for a while but it was such a pain in the butt for the number of pictures I would post. The internet can be such a scary place!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Yes! Scary! But then I think, am I going to stop posting to Instagram? Or stop posting photos on my personal Facebook? Anyone can steal photos from all those places. It's so easy to get photos if they want them. I just don't know!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

wow! that is creepy! who does that? and how did you ever find it???

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I know!! Creepy! Someone messaged me on The Howard Bunch's Facebook! She had added a bunch of parent groups and was following them! She must have done it to others (stolen their photos) because there were people already questioning her about photos. I think that sparked an interest and people tried to figure out who the other kids were.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

that is just crazy. that poor lady must be so lonely and disturbed, but at the same time I would be so infuriated! it always scares me that people will steal my photos, but my story means more to me...I'd be torn!
p.s I have no idea how I got this to post like this instead of my blog link! hahaha

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What I ended up doing is blogging through my Instagram feed which is private to only friends and family.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great idea too!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

So very lonely! It was clear she needed mental help and, honestly, I feel so very sorry for her. It was clear she was desperate to have a family and didn't.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

How awful. I saw this happen to a lot of the twin moms I follow on Instagram--they had people creating fake instagrams with their kids (maybe it was happening a lot in general and I just happen to follow mostly twin moms?) All the points you brought up are good--would you just go private on here, make everything private and just be strict about who you're friends with? Ugh, so many things to consider. I'm sorry you went through this but I do love how positive your blog is so this was interesting to read about how you decide what to post. Good luck with deciding how to handle this and I think that how you talked about truly feeling sorry for the person who did this to you (which is how I generally feed about it--how sad that somebody is so lonely to do this) shows a lot of grace and kindness.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Whoa! Wow! That definitely does make me stop and take a step back to think. I can't believe that someone would do that...it's sad. We are usually leary of too much info on the internet but since I started blogging, I think about it less. Thank you for posting this! I need to think on it a bit.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

yuck! I do like that you are practical about the fact that your kids will end up on the internet some way some how. When I started blogging I was not careful about putting up pictures of other people. Now I pretty much don't - and I just post pictures on Facebook if they do, too.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I know we have talked about this before and I recently had something happen as well that even got me re-thinking what I post on facebook (as you know my blog is already private). Nothing creepy like your story, but because of all the stories I've heard similar to yours it still creeped me out. Our gender reveal photo blew up on facebook and all I kept thinking was thank goodness my little one wasn't in the photo (he was supposed to be, but refused to cooperate). My facebook is private, but any photos my photographer posts aren't so my family could potentially end up all over the internet and into the wrong hands. In this day and age though it isn't realistic to avoid social media all together. Figuring out as a parent where to draw the line is something I have really been struggling with lately. We are definitely in uncharted waters with all the new technology and it is tough as a parent to know how to best protect our innocent children without sacrificing all the wonderful perks of modern technology. I hope you are able to make a decision you are comfortable with.:)

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Unchartered territory is the perfect way to describe it!!! I hope we're able to come up with something too!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It's hard to know the right thing to do! I've spent a lot of time trying to learn the right way to do things!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It's just all so new and since there aren't a lot of safeguards yet, it's so hard to know the right thing to do!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What a sweet compliment. My heart just breaks that someone who clearly wants children SOO badly - that she'd need to pretend - can't find that joy. How can you not feel sorry for her? I just pray that she get help in dealing and coping with that. I honestly wasn't one ounce mad - just creeped out. Decisions...decisions...

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

How scary! We talked about the same thing when I started blogging about putting too much out there but with family all over the place blogging was the best way to keep everyone updated. I also love to print my book at the end of the year and it was a great way to meet other twin momma's :) Like the other comment said your blog really shows such grace and kindness, maybe this is what that person needed to see--then she really needs to get help!!!

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