Stolen Pics? Racist Memes? So Long, Social Media!

June 20, 2014  |  

To say that I’m social media savvy would be a stretch. I’ve had the same profile pic on Facebook for over a year, my Twitter presence is #nonexistent, and I have yet to figure out the inner workings of Instagram. For a while, I convinced myself that it was because I was above all of that “nonsense,” and far less self-involved than the serial selfie-takers and “oversharers” who felt the need to broadcast everything from what they ate for breakfast to pictures of their child’s first poop on the potty (yes, the actual poop).

After realizing that reading through these pretentious posts had become part of my daily routine, I stopped scoffing at social media and started respecting it for what it is… or for what it was supposed to be. That, however, was before I heard the story of Virginia mom Ciara Logan.

The mother of an 8-year-old boy and 2-year-old twin girls, Logan was on Instagram one day when she noticed that someone she didn’t know liked three of her pics. When she went to check out the stranger’s page, she was shocked to find a photo of her three children featured in a meme slapped with the caption: “Harpo just won’t let them girls be.”

A “comical” nod to The Color Purple, the meme had been shared, liked, retweeted and hashtagged several times over; all before the Henrico County mom even knew about its existence.

 

Funny? Meh.  Racist? Debatable. One thing is clear though: Ciara Logan is not laughing.

“To insinuate that my son is a pimp — or that my son is selling cars — because he has on a suit and two little girls with him, or to hashtag ‘Keep him away from those girls,’ as if to say my son is a predator,” said Logan. “He’s an 8-year-old boy.”

An 8-year-old boy whose face will forever live online with thousands of other memes plucked straight from the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages of everyday people.

In a sense, Logan is lucky this is the worst that’s happened to her children’s pics— that she knows of. As parents we want to show the world how adorable our kids are by sharing seemingly innocent pictures of them in the bathtub. We want everyone to know how smart they are, so we post their report cards; how dapper they look all dressed up in their nice white suits.

But the reality is that those same bathtub pics can be viewed by pervs and pedophiles everywhere. That report card? It shows the address leading people straight to your doorstep. And that snapshot of your son in his Sunday best? Well, that becomes fodder for any fool with access to the Internet, a meme generator and apparently too much time on their hands.

That’s not to say that what happened to Ciara Logan is her fault.

We’re part of a culture that’s gotten used to putting ourselves — our lives — on display in a series of pictures and posts of  140 characters or less for people to “like,” comment, and criticize. We “share.” (And sharing has always been a good thing, right?)  We share our road trips  and our recipes. We share our goals, our successes and  our failures. We share random thoughts, jokes, prayers, and apparently, we also share pictures of poop. We share with “friends” and “followers” who we know only by association, if at all; when the ones who really matter are likely just a text, email or (gasp!) phone call away.

We share so much that we forget to keep a little for ourselves; to protect the moments, the memories, and the people that mean the most to us. We forget that thing that parents (or is it just me?) used to covet the most …next to sleep. Privacy! It may take a few extra steps, but as I’m sure Ciara Logan will tell you, it’s sooo worth the time. Because no matter how hard we try — and she did try — there’s no way to “un-share” something. No amount of money or legal action can undo what’s already been done; or “un-think” the thoughts people have had, the judgements that have been made, and the jokes that have been told at Ciara Logan’s children’s expense.

For that reason, I’ll be saying, “So long!” to my social media pages. Maybe it’s less of a definitive, “So long,” and more of a, “So long…for now;” a “Catch ya later.”

Catch ya when I’m finally willing to sit down and take the time to learn how to protect myself and the ones I love; when I’m ready to be a responsible Facebook, Twitter and Instagram user (or wannabe user in my case).

Until then, I’ll stick to my texts, emails, and (gasp!) phone calls, because sharing — as nice as it sounds — isn’t always a good thing.

My status? “On hiatus #wevegottodobetter #protectwhatsyours #wherearetheprivacysettingsonthisthinganyway”

Hear more of Logan’s story below.

Parents, what measures are you taking to ensure you and your child’s privacy on social media?

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