Keep Your Kids Close — And Your Social Networks Closely Guarded

When I decided to start this blog, I struggled with the transparency issue — how personal and intimate and real was I willing to go in talking about our family, our kids, my marriage? From what I could tell, the most well-loved Mommy bloggers didn’t seem to have much of a problem letting it all hang out … I mean, The Pioneer Woman, for instance, posts wonderful photos of her kids and husband, as does dooce … who even went so far as to blog the details of her separation recently.

Now, I’m not the most private person on earth. I’m not the adult in our household who keeps our kitchen windows papered-over so the workmen who are now entering their fourth year of construction work at our place don’t peer inside at us over our morning coffee. And I’ve never much worried about undressing in front of an un-curtained window — always figured if someone saw me climbing into my pajamas at night and enjoyed the show, well, alright, fine.

Nor would I call myself particularly demure, or self-editing. There are few TMI paths I won’t race right down over a drink with girlfriends. (Or lunch. Or school pick-up. Honestly, get me within ten feet of a girlfriend and I will spill every dark family secret that comes to mind.)

IMO, that makes me pretty fun to talk to. It also, I hope, makes me pretty entertaining to read.

But I decided, when I started working on ChecklistMommy, that I drew the line at selling my blog through cute pictures of my kids. My kids are damned cute when they’re not screaming their heads off — they really are — and I am proud of the photos I manage to take with my tiny Canon G12 (which is a truly amazing little camera that I bought on the recommendation of an acquaintance who is professional photographer and a friend who directs reality TV … I figured they knew what they were talking about). Turns out, where I draw the privacy line is at putting faces to the names of the people I love, especially if I’m telling stories about them. I really don’t need someone in the supermarket to look at Mr. Big (Ideas) and think he’s the Dad who couldn’t pack a diaper bag, or see Gaga at the playground and connect her back to this blog. Basically, I’m happy to make friends with everybody on the big wide interweb, I just don’t think that gives all my new friends automatic rights of intimacy with my spouse or kids.

And honestly, it’s not the people coming here I’d worry about so much. It’s more the thought that, any file on the internet, any image on the internet, is easily pirated, re-purposed, and re-used for nefarious reasons. I don’t want my kids ending up on some kiddie-porn site somewhere. That’s why their faces have those bars over the eyes on my header, and why there won’t ever be a photo of them, or Mr. Big (Ideas), that isn’t similarly obscured.

Me, I’m choosing to put myself out there. Them, not so much.

That’s why I lock up my Facebook page — and why I’d urge you to take the same precautionary measures on every social networking site you use.

So here’s my Social Network Safety and Security Settings Checklist for you — I included the top 5 Social Networking sites as of today’s Google search, and added Tumblr and Pinterest because somehow they’ve managed to penetrate my “I am SO not keeping up with this shit” fog.

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