internet and privacyIt’s difficult to believe that the music from my generation is now part of the oldies station and I can say, “A text was found in the bible, a tweet is a baby bird’s call to its mother, and I googled over Russel M. in my class.”  If there was a bad photograph I tore it up and it was out of my life forever. If I wanted to keep something private I wrote in my diary and locked it with a key.  Truth be told, my diary was stolen by my brother and read by his friends; payback came when my friends and I found his porn magazines hidden under his mattress (oh, the days of Penthouse Forum!)

Today, the challenge lies in trying to reclaim and redefine our respect for privacy. Facebook, Twitter, email, YouTube and apps that run our lives are coming at us full speed ahead.

Where are the boundaries, where is the privacy, and where the heck is Miss Manners telling us all how to behave?  Oh right, she has her own website, PR and Book agent and you can’t download her column unless you subscribe to the Washington Post, but I can send her a friend request. I get it, why shouldn’t she take advantage and spread the Gospel.  Honestly, I don’t want perfect children (too late for that) and I don’t need them to go to Harvard (they were rejected)…I just want them to learn respect.  Respect for privacy, respect for others, respect for themselves in a world where Respect isn’t just a song by Aretha Franklin and available on iTunes for 99 cents.

How can we teach respect when politicians, leaders of the world, sports heroes and celebrities behave poorly and then hire a PR strategist to reinvent themselves so they can write books like, “How I Fucked Up and Became a Television Host?”

How do you teach respect when we live in a world where we speak our mind, post it, tweet it and can’t take it back?  Above all, can Mark Zuckerberg please tell me how to relay, “Please respect my privacy?” without using the blocked settings on Facebook?

We all know what you are doing and it’s not just Big Brother anymore: it’s Big Sister, Mother, Father, Aunt Suzy, Uncle Al, Step Sister Kate and Big Cousin, three times removed, Jack.  I want the Respect My Privacy App, which alerts you when you’ve been Googled, bad-mouthed or when an incriminating photo appears on someone’s wall (it’s been removed by the way).  It will also alert you of those with stalker tendencies (Googling your past lovers over and over–he’s still married) and those with “OSS” (Over Sharer’s Syndrome).  OSSers post play by plays about their eating and bathroom habits, amazing kids, political leanings and religious views. No one wants to go down the OSS Hole; it’s just way too deep.

We need Miss Manners and the Winklevosses to stick it to Facebook and answer their own list of FAQ’s (f**king asinine questions) such as, “ Is it ok to post my child’s GPA and SAT scores?” “Is telling someone they look fat in a photo abusive?”   “Must I like friends posts even if I don’t like them?” and “When my child tells me that the photo of the red solo cup is filled with coconut water do I believe them?”

I don’t have all the answers but I know we can all use some guidance.  It’s a voyeuristic world and we need to catch up to the times and make sure that before technology is light speed ahead of us, that we update our values too.  Respect and privacy don’t have to be lost in the mix and by the way, it’s ok to be your child’s friend and it’s ok to see what they are up to.  There’s no lock and key but there is a password and it’s our job to keep up with the times, to keep teaching and reminding them the value of respect and the need for privacy in a day and age when it is all for the taking.

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