Making My Private Life Public

Last month I wrote an article on why my husband and I never post photos of our child online.  Included in this post I explained why we also do not disclose any of locations we have been with our daughter and why we try to limit the amount of personal information we share regarding her.  Not long after writing this particular piece I stumbled across an article featured in Time Magazine that held a similar concept to the one in my blog.

The brief article, entitled My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal, describes how personal information is collected throughout the government, academic and industry markets.  The mantra of “if you don’t like it, just opt out” is thrown at individuals who are uncomfortable with how public their lives are becoming yet this is not as simple or easy as its advocates proclaim.  Janet Vertesi, the article’s author, demonstrated how complicated this catchphrase really is with a nine-month long experiment to see if she could keep her pregnancy a secret from the Internet (which would have fed that information through databases that companies use for targeted advertising). The author concluded the article by stating that her ‘experiment’ was personally inconvenient to herself and her husband while making interactions with family and friends extremely awkward and rude. She even wrote that she and her husband were seen as inconsiderate, abrupt and antisocial.

All of this to say, I was encouraged by what I read.  I can relate with the above statement as many people view my husband and I as “inconsiderate, abrupt, rude” and somewhat “antisocial” for being picky about what we share via the Internet regarding our daughter.  It is very unfortunate that our desire to live private lives have caused the individuals and community around us to label us in such a manner while straining relationships.  And although the Time’s article features a slightly different topic then the one that I shared a few weeks ago, the theme is the same.  The ability to opt out of publicly sharing every aspect of one’s life is viewed negatively and met with fierce criticism.  Gone are the days of personal, face-to-face interactions among individuals.  In its place is surface-level relationships with individuals merely interested in learning the details of their peers lives without ever holding a conversation. Convenience, comfort and complacency have made our society unwilling to invest richly or deeply into individual human life.  And have alienated those who desire this and more.

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Why We Post Nothing About Our Child Online

Before my daughter was born, my husband and I made the contentious decision to never post a photo or video of her online nor share any specific information that could be used to personally identify her.  We do occasionally share brief stories or memorable moments with her on our Facebook pages (which have been set to ‘private’) for our family and friends who are not able to see her on a regular basis.  But we always try to be as discreet – and, oftentimes, vague – as possible in order to provide our daughter with some sense of confidentiality and anonymity.

Many people have asked my husband and I why we do not post photos of our child online or why we try to limit the amount of (personal) information we share regarding her.  Often times, people have a difficult time understanding our rationale.  We have even been met with some resistance, even after explaining our reasoning.  Although most of our friends and family members have been respectful of our requests for them not to post photos/videos of our daughter online to any of their social media (or other Internet) sites, it has saddened us to see how some individuals have blatantly gone against our wishes and posted material anyways.

Our reasoning is that we do not want our daughter’s life to become public knowledge where anyone in the world – particularly strangers – can have access to her through photos or videos, viewing the various locations she has visited or resided, or reading intimate details of her life (i.e. the activities she enjoys, who her friends are, what foods she does or does not prefer, etc.).  We are uncomfortable with the reality that the rise of the Internet has allowed such easy access to any particular individual’s  life in which a lack of propriety often times prevails.

Slate Magazine published an article in September 2013 that does a wonderful job explaining (in a nutshell) why parents such as my husband and I are choosing to keep our children’s lives private.  The article, entitled We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online: Nothing.  It’s the only way to defend her against facial recognition, Facebook profiling, and corporate data mining, discusses how modern day social media – among other Internet sites – are preventing future generations “any hope of future anonymity”.  By sharing our children’s lives through digital content, we are providing the world with personally identifying information that can be accessed at any point in time, anywhere in the world.  It is up to our children – when they have grown up and matured – to make the decision of what personal information they would like to share and with whom.  The over-arching theme of the article is a call to parents to protect their children in a world saturated in and obsessed with over-sharing on global platforms.

The article is a short, fabulous read and I encourage you to read it – regardless of whether or not you agree with what it says,

In Sickness & In Health

It has been quite some time since I last posted a blog.  Things have been immensely busy, especially in lieu of the recent celebration of my one year wedding anniversary trip.

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My husband and I decided to visit Austria for several reasons: one of which is that I was familiar with the language, another being that we were anxious to visit the infamous Salzburg, where The Sound of Music had been filmed.  We had a breath-taking stay in Austria, filled with many wonderful memories.  What a fabulous way to celebrate one year of marriage while inaugurating a second.

Our journey home, on the other hand, was quite the contrary!  To make a long story short, I became extremely ill on our flight out of Vienna.  When we stopped in London to catch our connecting flight into the U.S., my husband and I were informed that we would not be allowed to continue on to our next flight until we had received a doctor’s approval for further travel.

My husband wrote an excellent blog post about our horrendous ordeal of navigating through the socialized medicine of the London hospital – all for a simple note signed and dated by a doctor, approving me “fit for travel”.

The entire ordeal caused my husband and I to reflect on the vows we had exchanged a year ago.  As we contemplated the lifelong commitment we had made to one another before God, we couldn’t help but chuckle.  God has a sense of humor in teaching us what “agape love” truly means and how we are to apply that to one another.  We smiled as we thought of how appropriately applicable our vows had become beyond the alter.  I thought I had loved my husband with my fullest capacity as I stood before him at the alter.  However, this past year of marriage – with all of its trials, including our unexpected delay in London due to sickness – has caused me to realize that I am continually learning what it means to truly love him with an agape, sacrificial love.

The Nutcracker: A Twist on a Childhood Fairytale

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how my husband surprised me with tickets to go see the San Francisco Ballet perform their world-renowned The Nutcracker.  Although it has been a few weeks since we watched the spectacular performance, I cannot help but relive the breath-taking performance that we saw danced upon the stage of the ornate War Memorial Opera House.

Having performed in The Nutcracker multiple times myself, most recently with The Sacramento Ballet, I was intrigued to see how the SF Ballet would present such a classic story.  The ballet opened up with the classic scene of last minute shoppers bustling about foggy streets on a cold Christmas Eve.  Herr Drosselmeyer, an eccentric toy maker, puts finishing touches on a magical nutcracker before caravanning to the home of the Stahlbaum’s.  Choreography during this scene, as well as the following party scene, was almost identical to other companies presentations thereby offering familiarity.  Yet small changes to the choreography of the life-size dolls that are presented by Drosselymer during the party enhanced the believability of the story, drawing in the audience.

Moving into the scuffle between mice and the Nutcracker, one would have believed they were indeed transported to the base of a ginormous Christmas tree.  Mice poked their heads out from the presents and performed comical antics, provoking laughter from all the children in the audience.  Dramatic fighting shortly ensured, however, as the King Rat histrionically challenged the Nutcracker to a dual.  Aided by toy soldiers who marched out from a life-size Christmas present, the Nutcracker eventually overthrew the mighty mice – but only after a canon was fired and the Rat King’s tail was caught in a life-size mouse trap.

The Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince, who embarks with Clara through a wintery wonderland.  Typically, the Land of Snow scene is one of my least favorite sections of the ballet.  Yet, the SF Ballet performed an incredible, breath-taking and gorgeous rendition of dainty snowflakes falling from the sky.  The choreography, coupled with heavy paper snow which fell from the auditorium’s ceiling, was the most stellar I have ever seen, enrapturing me in an awe-inspiring spell.

Choreography in scene two was as equally wonderful.  Beautiful costumes, lively characters, energetic movements and boisterous music performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra all contributed to the spectacular display of artistic flare.  Arabians withered their way out of a gigantic magic lamp, Russians popped out of canvas-covered , carriages and Madam Du Cirque revealed small circus children and a dancing bear.  The colorful yet elegant flower waltz – lead by the Sugar Plum Fairy – signaled the end of the celebratory festivities.  To end the evening, Clare was transformed into a princess to dance in the arms of her prince, who happened to be her Nutcracker.  I don’t think I enjoyed this ending to a classic story that I have grown to love so dearly.  Somehow the innocence and childlike wonder of the previous festivities seemed to disappear with the pas du deux of Clara and her prince.

Reading through the SF Ballet’s program, a fun fact drew my eyes.  The Company’s current production of The Nutcracker, featuring over 300 costumes, includes three sets of “Drosselmeyer” costumes for the different casts.  The Snow Queen’s tutu alone took 80 hours to make – and SF Ballet has created five sets total, equaling 400 hours on construction time on one character’s costume alone.