They’ve got you in their sites

[author: sfleming]

I must confess to never really having given this whole digital identity malarkey much thought – apart from a brief flirtation with Friends Reunited when it first began, I have never felt the least inclination to put information about myself on the Web. In fact, the very notion is almost enough to send me running to the hills.

As an intensely private individual (and a bit of a control freak to boot) I find the idea of putting myself out there for all to see completely horrifying – after all, how would I know who would be reading about me and, more to the point, what might they choose to do with that information?

This view was strengthened recently following  a conversation with a couple of close friends, stay-at-home mums, who were extolling the virtues of Facebook – recounting how they’d put up all these lovely pictures of themselves and their children on their profiles, and they’d made lots of lovely new friends…

‘So,’ says  I, ‘you’ve posted pictures of your children on a Web site, and now you’ve made lots of new friends?’ ‘Oh yes,’ came the response, ‘and little Johnny looks so adorable in that one of him on the beach in Lanzarote last summer!’ ‘So,’ I say again, ’you’ve posted pictures of your children wearing not many clothes on a Web site, and now you’ve got lots of new friends?’ You can see where I’m going with this.

Of course it doesn’t do to be too cynical, but what this little exchange brought home to me was that when people jump on the social networking site bandwagon, common sense can go out the window because they are excited at the prospect of being involved in something new and different. How great, if that’s your thing, to be involved in something which allows you to connect to a whole world of new people – but should you not be at least a little cautious about trusting the motives of those who might want to connect back?

I don’t want for a minute to suggest that everyone checking out little Johnny’s holiday snaps might be a paedophile – other parents often enjoy cooing over cute kiddy pics, and why not? But the fact remains there are individuals out there that you really wouldn’t want drooling over images of your children – or come to that, finding out where you live, what your favourite colour is, and the fact you wear pink bunny slippers in front of EastEnders!

No, it’s not for me. The Web is great thing, and has enriched my life in many ways, but the way I choose to manage my personal presence on it is by not really having one at all.