I got lax. I got immune. I became too comfortable. I became too share happy. I became too social media driven and addicted. I forgot the rules of internet safety. And I made my daughter more of a target than she already is.
In college, I became aware of the modern day slave trade and my first teaching job I made sure I talked to the pre-teens about ways to keep themselves safe. I started my teacher career in February and on February 13th, which is the day The End It Movement Shines a Light on Slavery to bring awareness that slavery is at an all time high, I taught students about modern day slavery. People enslaved is the highest it’s ever been in human history.
In high school. I had read the book Ordeal by Linda Lovelace, a pornography slave who managed to escape her captors. I kept it on a bookshelf to remind me of the evils of pornography beyond the sexual.
I read articles in my 20s on how to keep children safer in today’s world. And in my 20s, a woman in my hometown went missing. Disappeared and has not been found. Now in my 30s, more and more local stories of people of all ages being targeted and going missing are being heard. It is rampant and it is all around us.
The past few years, I’ve seen rising numbers of people putting signs in their yard to celebrate their kids’ graduations and achievements. Names, pictures, ages, school names. All loudly broadcasting information to a world of strangers. People are literally making their yards beacons for people who seek to harm.
We want to be blind to it. It’s painful. It’s hard to talk about. It’s easy to ignore because it isn’t happening directly to us or our immediate circles. We want to post pictures of our kids and check in at the places we love to give support and connect with people. We want to celebrate that “HEY! MY KID GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL!” with our friends and neighbors.
A few weeks ago I got a friend request. I had no idea who he was but my mom and a few others were common friends so I asked my mom. “I don’t actually know him but I think he lives nearby. He posts good stuff.” So I added him. And it bothered me that I was adding a man that neither me nor my mom knew personally but I added him anyway. I kept him as a friend for about a week and then decided that I had been ignoring my conscience long enough. I realized how lax I had become letting people see my private world. I was giving people I did not know access to not only my life but my daughter’s as well. I went on a deleting spree. Y’all, I had over 1000 friends on Facebook. I talk to maybe 30 people on a regular basis. I went through my Facebook and deleted 400 people. I’m still working through the list and can guarantee I’ll delete more. I’m deleting people that I’ve never met, people that I have not talked to in person in 15 years, college acquaintances, and people that post things that make me uncomfortable. While I’m working through the list, I tightened up my profile and the things visible. I edited my personal information and went in and deleted any profile pictures and public pictures that had anyone but me in them. I was giving the world access to my kid, to my sisters. The WORLD. ANYONE could view it. Save it. Send it. Anyone. Do I want people having that kind of access to my little one? Definitely not. So I deleted them. I also changed the privacy settings on all my photo albums because I’m not sure that my friends list can be trusted (and let’s be honest-with the way things are looking I’m not even sure Facebook is a safe outlet for picture storage). Until I’m sure of my “friends“, I’m shutting it down. I went into my blog and deleted pictures of faces of my little and I’ve made sure that anyone who posts pictures of her has privacy settings in place and also doesn’t use her full name. It’s my job to protect her and I have to do better. More things will change because I’m not going to be sleeping on this issue anymore. I have to do better.
We need to do better. We need to be awake. God did not give us a spirit of fear but He did give us the gift of a sound mind. We need to be using that gift to protect and cherish our people. We need to think on the offense. We need to love by enforcing firm boundaries and we, as parents, need to break free of social norms in the internet world.
Here are some links to check out to help get your social media safer for your littles.