It’s Personal

Sometimes I worry about my grandchildren.  Not because there’s anything wrong with them, because there isn’t.  In my eyes, they’re both perfect and I seriously doubt if anything is going to change my opinion about that. (If grandmothers can’t provide unconditional love and acceptance, then what’s the point in having them?)  It’s just that every now and then, like most parents and grandparents, I find myself worrying about exactly what kind of world they’re going to be living in when they grow up.

There are always plenty of big issues to worry about, and goodness knows we have enough of them these days, but I’m talking more about the little things.  Because the world is changing so quickly, and sometimes I wonder if that means that the next generation is going to miss out on so much that I grew up believing was important.  I realize that cursive writing, the ability to read a map, make change, and do basic research any way other than looking it up on Google or asking Alexa are all fading away, and I can live with that.  (Although I think that relying too much on one source for all your information is never a good thing.)  But I was also raised with the belief that I had a right to personal privacy, and I do worry that privacy is a concept that is fast becoming extinct.

It’s not just that all our internet activity is being monitored, stored and sold to the highest bidder.  Or even that most households now have a virtual assistant (like Alexa) which has to be listening all the time in order to know when to respond to us.  (Remember when almost every spy movie involved finding the “bug” that the enemy had planted in the hero’s house?  Now we plant them ourselves, and pay for it.)  But I can’t help thinking that children who have grown up having so much of their personal life being played out on-line aren’t going to have the faintest concept of what privacy even is.

I’ve heard the argument that people who have nothing to hide shouldn’t worry about a lack of privacy, but I don’t buy it.  Privacy isn’t about hiding our faults and sins.  It’s about being in control of what parts of our lives we choose to share with others, and what parts we choose not to share.  And I don’t like the idea of that choice being taken away.

This is a public blog, and I make every effort to be completely honest when I’m writing it.  I’m very open about my thoughts and feeling on the topics I write about in each post.  But there are aspects of my life that I choose not to write about, and that’s usually because I’m either respecting someone else’s privacy or protecting my own.  Not every single thing we do, think, or say needs to be for public consumption and the inevitable judgement that comes with it.

Of course a certain amount of sharing ourselves with others is a good thing, and all healthy relationships are based on that.  But I believe that what we share, and who we share it with, should always be our own personal choice.

103 thoughts on “It’s Personal

  1. HI Ann. I am with you on the “privacy” issue. It should be my decision as to what info about me is shared, and nobody else’s decision!

    As for our grandchildren’s world? They were born into, and growing up in, a world quite different from ours. Whereas we will experience trouble adjusting as we get older (I already am), they will just accept it all as normal … which it will be to them. When they get into their 60’s+++, they will probably be saying exactly the same about their grandchildren. So the cycle continues. 🙂

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    • I absolutely believe that what information about ourselves is shared should be our decision. And yes, they will think that everything they’ve been born into is absolutely normal, just as we did and every generation before us. But I admit it still bothers me, just a little, that they will think having no privacy is normal, because I kind of worry about what that means for their sense of self and independence. Still, it will probably all work out..things usually do!

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  2. Sharing when we choose is a good thing. When someone else makes the choice for us, it is not. All the Social Network apps run an algorithm that knows we like, dislike, want, do, etc. The Netflix show The Social Network should make us all paranoid. Stay well Ann. Allan

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  3. great post Ann. Definitely gets the brain thinking. I worry about the world we’re leaving for the younger people but they’re also native to the tech and see the world in a different way. Remember the hippies and free love? the world evolves and changes. As far as privacy–anyone who doesn’t believe that they’re info is “out there” is fooling themselves. What it comes down to is a choice of being on or off tech and all it entails. Do we need to take the good with the bad? idk. maybe some need to go back to rotary dial phones. We need to remember it’s us purchasing the tech and bringing it into our homes. Choice.

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    • That’s a good point. We often do get to choose what technology we bring into our homes and what we don’t, and we need to remember to choose wisely. Some choices aren’t ours, of course, like having all our medical records and financial information on line (I’d really rather mine wasn’t, but it’s no longer a choice.) But as for the rest, we do get to choose and decide at what point the good outweighs the bad. Thanks for that comment!

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    • You didn’t share too much….I think it’s the way most grandparents feel! We can’t really protect the young ones in our families anymore from things that are really too old for them, and that is concerning. How this will all play out is anyone’s guess! We can only hope it will be alright.

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    • I know, it is sometimes hard to decide! That’s one reason why I don’t actually name my friends and family in my blog, because I think it’s not my place. Once in a while, I’ve even asked permission before I write about a particular topic, because I think the person involved should have the chance to say they’d rather I didn’t write that. All we can do is be intentional about what we share, I think.

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  4. this is spot on Ann, you have a knack of nailing what I’m thinking … then you articulate it so well!
    Privacy is choosing who we share what with and knowing the invasiveness of the current surveillance you have every reason to be concerned …

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  5. Yes, our world has changed dramatically since we were kids. I can only hope as we move forward that younger generations will be smart enough to know what to do with all of the technology. As for privacy, yes I share many of your concerns Ann. Ultimately, everything’s a choice. Take care.

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    • I think they will be much more savvy about how to uses the technology wisely, but I think they will also be more dependent on it than we ever will be. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not quite sure!
      Meanwhile, we just make the best choices we can when it comes to what we do and do not allow into our lives. Good to hear from you, Miriam!

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  6. I am constantly amazed at what people are willing – even eager – to share about themselves… and not just young people. We don’t have a bug, I mean, personal assistant in our home and no interest in getting one. I turn off the Location Services on my phone (although I have a felling it monitors my comings and goings anyway). It’s something but I’m just not sure what we can do since we all want the convenience of technology. I don’t have kids or grandkids, but I also have concerns about the future.

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    • For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone would want an Alexa or Google assistant in their home. The invasion of privacy far outweighs any convenience, in my opinion. And why would we want a “smart” refrigerator, stove, or mattress? So someone who hacks into our account can mess with our appliances or know exactly what we’re doing all the time, in our own homes? It’s just weird…and my concern is the next generation is just accepting this as normal!

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      • As far as my blog goes, I’ve been committed from the beginning to being personal, but not confessional. Some of the most interesting stories I could tell I never will write about, because they aren’t anyone else’s business. I’m very careful in what I say in comments, too. Anyone who’s done a Google search for their own name knows that it’s all there, and available — and it never goes away.

        I know some people think I’m a Luddite, but I’m simply committed to maintaining as little presence as possible in the databases. I have a simple flip phone. I am not on any of the social media platforms apart from my blog. I have not a single ‘smart’ device in my home. I never respond to surveys from places like the dentists’ office or car dealership, and I don’t use those ‘member cards’ at grocery stores. I’d rather pay extra for a product than have my information sold to assorted databases. If I’m lucky, my car will last as long as I do — it’s a 2011, and doesn’t have all those gizmos that allow tracking.

        I could go on, but you get the point. To the degree possible, I’m flying under the radar. I happen to think Bezos, Zuckerberg, et. al., are power mad and pursuing goals antithetical to a healthy society. I can’t find a way around Gmail and YouTube, but one day I may give them up, too.

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        • I actually think you’re very smart to be so discriminating about what you share on any platform, because you’re right, it’s all being tracked and stored…and toward what end? Even if those who created the platforms started out with innocent aspirations, they soon learned the real money comes from selling information, and that was that. I don’t understand why so many people are so trusting that giving being spied on all the time can’t possibly lead to any trouble!

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    • I was having that conversation with my daughter just yesterday, which is part of what prompted this post! Even her generation feels that they need the approval of their peers for so much of what they do, because they share so much of what they do on social media. My advice was not to share anything remotely personal on social media, which got me to thinking about what my grandchildren’s generation will think of as normal!

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  7. I’m really troubled by the Big Brother aspect of our society and I will cling to my right to privacy. I hope today’s kids will recognize the value of not oversharing and of having boundaries–perhaps learning these from parents and grandparents. I wonder how I would have navigated today’s world when I was a child or adolescent–can’t even imagine. Every generation seems to make its way through the minefields of that particular age….

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    • You’re right, adolescence is hard on every generation. But I just think about how much harder it is for today’s kids to take a break from all the drama at school, because they are plugged in, all the time. I know it has taken bullying to a whole new level, and that is concerning.
      I also share your concern about “big brother” because it is harder and harder to keep anything private. For instance, I thought I had turned off the “tracker” on my phone. And yet every photo I take with it is clearly labeled with the location of that photo…..

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  8. Though I share my thoughts and activities on my blog and some on Facebook, I have no personal assistant. I have no cellphone. My life, largely by choice, is more 19th Century than 21st. I worry more about whether the next generation will have a habitable planet than whether they’ll mind their privacy rights. My grandmother, who refused her entire life to learn to drive, bemoaned that “kids these days” weren’t learning proper canning and food preserving–and was horrified that our high school no longer taught the girls shorthand. For my part, I am horrified that kids spend all their time indoors, on their asses. I guess every generation visits their nostalgia on the ones that follow.

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    • That’s a good point, we do want the generations after us to share our values, and they so rarely do. I’m hoping that the new age of being so dependent on technology and having so little privacy will be okay, but I admit I worry about it. I have a Facebook account too, and enjoy reconnecting with old friends on it. But I rarely post on it (other than a link to my blog). I admire your not having a cell phone! They are convenient, but they are also a total pain in the butt because they demand so much of our attention!

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  9. I share your concerns, Ann.

    We aren’t off the grid in any way but my husband and I have thus far managed to keep tech intrusion to a manageable minimum – but that’s because we live pretty far away from more tech-wired friends and family members. Our kids have their own laptops for school work and for some online games during the hols but do not get their own cellphones until they have to go to college. We choose not to have FB, Insta, and certainly now Siri or Alexa and the like – and neither do the kids, of course.

    We do get a lot of flak for choosing to live this way, sometimes some people can barely hide their condescension.

    But we tell our kids over and over that we are choosing not to allow cyber-living to overly invade our lives. And through our long meal times and our gardening with them and the little trips we take, we try to show them what a great life we have because of that decision.
    For now, our kids are happy that my husband and I cook a lot for them and spend a lot of time with them and that we are always ready to hug and kiss and laugh and play with them. However, I’m sure that they don’t always remember that it’s choice we have made and that people don’t really support you for doing that.

    One day, the kids will all leave home and they will have to decide for themselves the kind of lives they wish to build and how much of their life they want to give over. I just hope they choose wisely.

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    • I think you’ve made some very wise decisions about how much tech you’re allowing in your home, and my guess is that ultimately, your kids will benefit from that and probably make good choices about tech as they grow up. I’m sorry you’re getting flak about it, but I have also found that those who are addicted to their devices can’t imagine why anyone would not want to also be addicted, and so they tend to assume that you’re just not bright enough to figure out how to use it all. It is frustrating.
      I believe that when we look back on our life, we’ll remember the moments we spent with our loved ones, and not all the time we wasted staring at screens!

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      • You’re right, Ann. So much of our warmest memories are about the things people said and did, the goodness that came from them. What’s there to talk about if all we remember about people are the grunted responses and the way they were glued to their screens?😁😁

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  10. What a great post, and truly a thought to consider!!! I wholeheartedly believe that we( people as a whole) share entirely too much. I know my grandkids will certainly never know or understand ‘a simple life’, where we keep things to ourselves.

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  11. Ann- your post is very timely. This morning I was reading about how our government computer systems have been secretly hacked, targeted information taken once again!
    We have this happening each day as we volunteer to use our technology devices and we do not stop and read through the long disclosures we automatically click on to access that really cool cooking recipe? Thus, allowing all our IP information to be transferred with our agreement to that website manager somewhere in the internet world. No need for a hacker when we provide this information freely.
    I had a conversation with all my kids and step kids about the danger of leaving websites open, not logging out of personal accounts when not in use, and placing too much personal information on social media sites. You would think I had spoken a bizarre new offensive language! Why would you log off of your account? What if someone needs to be in touch with me at 3am? 🙄
    We maybe have to do what is right for ourselves and hope that through example those small gestures we make they will be observed and deemed important to our children and grandchildren in a new world that looks and operates so much differently than the one we grew up in.
    Stay safe and healthy this holiday season.

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    • My son and daughter are the same way, they think nothing of leaving apps on and staying logged into various accounts, even though I’ve always heard that’s really not a good thing to do. And I agree that most of us are busy trading our privacy for convenience, which is not even close to a fair trade off.
      Most frustrating is how other agencies share our personal information, because we can’t control that. And all too often, it’s our financial and medical records as well! It just isn’t right, any way you look at it!
      I hope you have a healthy and safe holiday season too!

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  12. Times have been changing at an accelerated pace. Perhaps the speed of change is analogous to warp-speed as often depicted in science fiction. To me though it leaves with a dystopian taste in the mouth. Alexa and it’s equivalent technologies are much more disruptive than they may seem. Your grandson will do well, even if he doesn’t take a fancy to stuff like cursive writing. Do we miss the trees once we became territorial?

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    • That’s a good question. And yes, so much of the change we are adapting to does feel dystopian, and if it isn’t already, it sure could be with alarming speed. No seems to be thinking about what happens when all of this information and spying is controlled by someone who is power hungry and without scruples!

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  13. Excellent. We should choose the information we want out there, and everything does not have to be out there for us to be honest people. It’s not about having nothing to hide, it’s about what we wear on our sleeves. We are allowed to keep things to ourselves. Not everything can and should be discussed in open forum.

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  14. Great article and I agree with you and your readers responses. I have never been comfortable with social media and do not participate except for my blog, which is only interesting to a small subset of people. I know of someone that was recently fired for her views on social media that went viral in her community. Another good TV show on the subject is Next. And I think our parents were worried about us during the 60’s and 70’s. Still here.

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    • I’ve heard of that too, which is alarming. In many ways, social media is more about censorship than it is open expression, because people’s words there can, and often will, be used against them. Odd, since the whole point of social media was supposed to be to give a voice to everyone.

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  15. Ann this is a timely and very interesting topic you bring up. I don’t have any grandchildren yet but like you I do worry for the children being brought into our world. I worry mostly about climate change and the devastating impact it is already having and will continue to have everywhere! Flooding, fires, pandemics, drought, extreme heat etc are all the new reality. In addition, by the time this new young generation grows up there will be very little wildlife that survives. All of it is endangered today. Elephants, lions, orangatangs will be the new dinosaurs! It’s too sad to even contemplate.

    And yes it’s very personal.

    Peta

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  16. At the beginning of my blogging activity, I published with full permission some personal data and a branch of our family tree. Then the person who had also provided a photo and the report for my blog has second thoughts about it and asked me to delete everything related to his family, which I did. Then the person was getting very concerned that his picture was still floating around on the Internet, even though the articles and the photo had been deleted from my blog. It took me four long and laborious weeks to finally make Google remove the photo from its data bank.
    Ann, this little episode, confirms everything you said in your thought-provoking article. I have the same kind of worry about our grandchildren.

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    • That person was lucky you were willing to take the time to really remove that photo! I don’t think people realize how hard it truly is to take anything off the internet, which is why we have to be so careful about what we put on there. Sadly, so many agencies are putting our personal information out there without our permission, and that makes more vulnerable than we ought to be. Thanks for the comment, Peter!

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  17. I often wonder if people think about the information they share online and I always find it reassuring to read that others are concerned as well. Our children and grandchildren grew up with these invasive technologies and I think they’re often a little too trusting. I have this conversation with them on a regular basis.
    For me, every single post comes with a struggle about how much I really want to share, and as time goes on I become more concerned about how my data is being harvested. You really covered the bases in this post and I thank for sharing some great thoughts on the topic, Ann.

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    • Yeah, I think it’s very possible that the concept of being “black listed” could return, and goodness knows we’re all busy providing all the information anyone would need to do that. Like you, I fear the younger generations are way too trusting of how their information will be handled, I guess because they haven’t lived through regimes that were repressive. I haven’t either, but I’m more aware of them at my age. What the answer is, I honestly don’t know!

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  18. Another AMEN! I have the exact thoughts and concerns. I try to keep a balance of living without all of the busyness and limelight. I like to do many things, the “old way” for I see the beauty in it, but sometimes, I must “progress” for the old ways are not recognized. What beauty will my grandchildren miss! ?

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  19. My last ‘real’ job was as Executive Producer for a TV morning news show. It was me and a room full of twenty-somethings. Quite often, as they were posting every detail of their personal lives (even down to what they were eating) on social media, I would bring up all the points you called out here. To which they simply shrugged and told me how nice I looked in my tinfoil hat. I remain leery of our technology, regardless. And, like you, believe privacy is a fast-fading concept…to everyone’s detriment.

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    • That’s been my experience too! They don’t even take our warnings seriously and the idea that anyone would uses their information in a dangerous way isn’t even on their radar. Plus, why do people think others want to know every detail of their lives? Seriously, most people are just busy living their own lives and don’t really care what you had for dinner last night or how many tomato plants you put in this year. And as for privacy, it is going to be a thing of the past, I’m afraid.

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  20. This was a great post! The world is so much different than the one we grew up in. We do need to keep our privacy in many regards. Like you, I am very careful about what I share, and what I do not share. I, too, worry about the grandchildren . I guess we have to find a happy medium and then be very watchful.

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    • I’m just hoping that somehow or another, our grandchildren will figure out that a little privacy is a good thing, and so it doing something in person, rather than virtually. All we can do is encourage engaging with nature and actual people as much as possible, critical thinking skills, and trusting their own judgement. After that, it’s up to them and we have to hope that it will all turn out okay eventually!

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  21. Your topic hit a nerve, Ann. Spot on! I find myself annoyed seeing targeted ads – whenever I look something up on Google, I know it will come back to me with ads plastered everywhere. I did see “The Social Network” and it was an eye-opener.
    I could say a lot about sharing personal feelings. It was something I did when I started my blog, even going so far as to write about my grief from decades earlier to describe it. I also shared a lot about my very young children. It was cathartic, and later on I deleted most everything about my kids. I was just learning about blogging and although it seemed foolish to share so much, it did lead to new pathways for me. I touched a lot of people with my openness. I am much more cautious these days.

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    • It’s a fine line to walk for sure. Sharing emotions can be a good thing, because it tends to help others who are in the same situation. That being said, sometimes it’s best to be fuzzy about the actual details, because we don’t want to infringe on anyone else’s privacy. But I think it’s a call that we each have to make for ourselves, as one person’s comfort level with sharing can be very different from another person’s. And that’s okay, too. I’m going to have to watch “The Social Network” as it sounds very interesting!

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  22. That is an interesting topic, and I do wonder why some people share personal words written specifically to them with the whole world to see. I try to limit the exposure of my family on-line but it is just to protect them. My Instagram and Facebook accounts are private and I rarely accept a friend requests from unknown people. And I don’t have Alexa or something similar. I guess everyone is different in how they handle their privacy.

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    • I think they are different in how they handle it, but I have to say that you and I have a lot in common in that department. I don’t share much on Facebook other than a link to my blog, and there are certain topics I don’t write about on my blog for a variety of reasons. Thanks for the comment, Svet!

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  23. Ann, you’ve raised some valid points here. I suppose the older generation has always been concerned over the changes occurring that affect the younger ones. And the older I get, the more I, too, question whether we’re going in the right direction — or if we can even turn things around this time. Perhaps we’re raising an adaptable generation? But I agree with you that some things shouldn’t be fodder for the masses!

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    • I really do hope it leads to adaptability! And I agree that all generations worry about the ones coming up after them, so that’s nothing new. I do think we’re living through the “technology revolution” so that alters things, and I think it will change the world we live in profoundly, in both good and bad ways. I just hope the good outweighs the bad! Thanks for the comment!

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  24. I’m with you on worrying about the grandchildren’s futures, especially because of social media. My daughter seems to always be on her phone, even though she thinks she isn’t! But I wanted to clear one thing up – I am one of those who post photos of what I cook and eat, and if it’s a fabulous meal at a restaurant. I, as well as other food bloggers, don’t do it thinking the world cares, but the rest of us do care. It’s an interesting bonus to becoming a food blogger, having a “friendship” with other cooks, whether professional or not. I’ve even met some in Texas, France, and england. We’ve “known” each other for almost ten years, and know a lot about each other, I’ve watched their babies and puppies grow up, and we all appreciate food photographs, styled or otherwise. Today I took a pic of a bunch of beef bones and other goodies I was about to roast to make a good beef broth for my prime rib roast jus. Other cooks will find it a happy photo, because they know what I’m up to! So I just wanted to give you a different perspective. I was a caterer and private chef for years before I started my blog.

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    • That’s a very good point, Mimi, and thanks for bringing it up. As a food blogger, foodie, restaurant owner or critic, etc., I can see where posting photos of meals is absolutely appropriate. (And of course with your blog, photos help us see what the recipes should look like!) When I say I don’t want to see a photo of someone’s meal, I’m referring to the people who routinely post a photo of whatever they happen to be eating, where ever they happen to be eating it. To me, that’s over-sharing. But I completely understand that not everyone would see it that way. Thanks for reminding us that there can be lots of reasons for posting photos of our meals!

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  25. I agree Ann, but at the same time, I think (as you alluded to/showed) each generation seems to have its own set of things the previous generation thought shouldn’t have been done away with. I’ve gotten into so many ridiculous arguments about cursive writing that I now wonder why I wasted my breath.

    I also agree that privacy has nothing to do with whether you’re doing something wrong. It’s a matter of just not wanting someone to see what you’re doing…because, um what for? lol

    Anywho, I do hope that we all get to maintain some sense of what we each deem important as we move into a different era of living.

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    • Yes, I don’t really understand the movement to save cursive writing either, as I just don’t think it’s all that important. A generation growing up with the idea that any sort of privacy is totally unnecessary does bother me, because I think that can have a really negative impact on society, but I could be wrong about that. And you’re right that each generation feels threatened when they see the way they have always done things fading away. All we can do is do our best, and hope for the best, as we move into the future!

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  26. Ann, great points about privacy and the best we can do it try and form an open discussion with our children about this. When my son was younger he was one of the last in his group allowed a smart phone and we talked about social media in particular. I said, although it seemed remote to him then, just never post anything he wouldn’t want his future employer to see. Something must have sunk in has he mainly shares his own music and a bit of travel, and he just got his first job for a big company as part of university course! As for Alexa etc. The mind boggles! I’m so in agreement that we are paying for spyware in our homes and will never have it! Also, I too am baffled why there are so many food images … but that goes for the endless tv cooking shows! An obsession it seems which I just don’t get!

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    • I think that’s smart! I talked to my kids about it too, even pointing out to my daughter while she was in college to delete any photos of college parties from her Facebook page, because a future employer might not bother to take a good look and realize that the photo of someone acting foolish wasn’t actually of my daughter. I’ll never understand the need for a virtual assistant that is constantly listening in on my conversations at home, either. As for photos of food, they make sense for food bloggers and restaurant owners, etc, but otherwise, I think it is over sharing!

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    • Sadly, I think it is. Sometimes when I bring it up to those who are younger than me, their response is, “I don’t have anything to hide, so what’s the big deal?” Or even, “I’m not important enough for anyone to be tracking.” I think they would be surprised….

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  27. A very thoughtful post Ann.

    We always have this kind of discussion in my family. We find it difficult to digest that our privacy is for sale. Moreover there is not much awareness on the issue either. Someone somewhere is always watching us.

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  28. Oh I worry about my grandchildren also all the time the big things and the little things. Their perspective on life is going to be very different from ours. And in our mind that’s not a good thing. But my perspective on life is a lot different than my parents’. However, I like to think that I have kept their values that they taught me and then I have passed this on to my children and they pass it on to their children. That’s all we can hope. 🙏❤️

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  29. My biggest concern, which I’m sure is ‘shared’ by many, is that so much of what is being ‘shared’ is the opinion of the tribe the person identifies with. There seems to be less willingness to consider the merits of and discuss other opinions. There is also the danger that comes from sharing when it comes back to haunt the person later!

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    • Those are very good points! Because you’re right, anything shared is out there forever, even though we tend to forget that. And i agree that people are much less willing to listen to anyone they disagree with these days, much less admit that that opposing points of view have any merit whatsoever. And that is not a good thing, for any of us. Thanks for the comment!

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  30. I worry about all kinds of stuff when it comes to the world our grandchildren are going to inherit. I don’t like to think about it, Ann, because I get so anxious and panicky. And then I tell myself that I can’t control much of that. What I can control is whether they feel loved. *Sigh and big breath.* So I focus on that. And I think it’s the most important lesson they need to learn anyway. ❤ ❤ 🙂

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  31. A very thoughtful post! I worry a bit too about privacy and I am amazed what people share. I share limited personal information on my blog and FB page, but I really think that most people are not interesting in every aspect of my life or what I had for lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I was always taught that if we’re going to expect someone to read what we’ve written, then we must either inform, educate or entertain. Meaning that we have to give the reader something worth their time. I think that goes for sharing on social media, too!

      Like

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