Monday, January 26, 2015

One Crone's Opinion

This post isn't going to win me friends or influence people. Have to get it off my chest anyway.

"They had it coming" is an ugly phrase that's thrown around a lot, and to my mind it obscures an incovenient truth.

That inconvenient truth is that decisions have consequences, and if these consequences can be foreseen, this somewhat mitigates the damage done.

Harsh? Yes. But the world is a place where decisions have consequences.

Let us take the unfortunate example of a young woman who playfully posts nude pictures of herself on Facebook, or even in an Instagram to her boyfriend. Did she ask herself the important question about the nature of online platforms? What happens when you post a nude photo of yourself on an online platform, even if only your friends or your lover can see it?

First of all, you are assuming that life will never change for you, that the people you love and trust now will always be lovable and trustworthy. This is not a safe assumption to make, even after you're happily married for 30 years, still chumming around with your high school buddies. The Internet is a public forum. Anything you post can wind up anywhere ... do people forget that?

As harsh as it sounds, I cannot summon a whole lot of sympathy for a young woman whose naked photos, playfully entrusted to her Facebook wall, wind up on a pornography site. This woman would not have sat in the hot tub at her health club naked, where it is extremely unlikely that anyone would see her, let alone post a photo of her. Why not? Because strangers might see her naked. And that's a health club. The Internet might as well be Times Square. Would anyone walk naked in Times Square? (If you've seen Birdman, I won't spoil, but ...)

Gentlemen, this applies to you as well. The Internet is a public forum. Your decision as to what you post will have consequences.

At least a young woman who finds her photos hacked is an adult. (Now Anne's really gonna rub people the wrong way.) It really, really, really bothers me when people post photographs of their young children on any kind of online forum. I probably would have done this when the Heir and the Spare were babies. Oh, they were really cute! But wait. Your baby is an autonomous person who cannot ask kindly that you not post photos of him online. Will he want a record of his every baby smile on the Internet? Maybe. Maybe not. Will a pedophile stumble upon those beaming baby pictures and re-purpose them? Unlikely, but still in the realm of possibility. The Internet is a public forum. I'm so glad it wasn't around when my daughters were children.

Now we move on to another touchy topic, the satirists at Charlie Hebdo.Decisions have consequences. You can make a science of it:

Fact: The Muslim religion considers it a sin to create pictures of any human being, most notably their prophet.

Fact: Muslims live in France.

Fact: Some of those Muslims are dangerous terrorists.

If you know these three facts, and you choose to satirize Muhammad, then you should know that this could have consequences. You don't even have to buy into the whole "respect a religion" argument. Nothing says you have to respect a religion. You do need to be aware of potential repercussions from extremists if you satirize the religion.

I'm not saying I don't have any sympathy for the artists and writers who were killed. Of course I do. I'm just not surprised that it happened. When you place something controversial into a public forum, you know who might see it. You have made a decision.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this issue, but to my way of thinking, it's important to weigh the possible consequences of your actions before you act. Call me anxiety-ridden or paranoid if you like ... remind me of the essence of "freedom of speech" if you like. I'll still say that when you're in a public forum, weigh your decisions carefully. Decisions have consequences.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Everyone -- kids, teens and adults -- need to be much better educated about the risks of online posting. "Street proofed," if you will. But a certain percentage of people will always engage in stupid and risky behaviour without thinking through the consequences. Such is human nature, especially among the young. The law should still protect them (to the extent it can in these circumstances).

As for Charlie Hebdo, yes, that magazine is known (if not notorious) for pouring gas on flames. But freedom of speech should still protect them. Some of the journalists/cartoonists had bodyguards so I think they were aware of the risk. Their building should have been much more secure though.

Lucretia said...

You are absolutely right, Anne. And it's a shame that so many people don't consider the possible consequences of their actions, both to themselves and to others, like their family and friends.

Anonymous said...

But, you can't always know all the consequences of your actions either.
The guys at the magazine were well aware of the threat and chose to continue anyway. That's why the guards. Still, should we bow to the crazies who want to terrorize us into adopting their standards? Isn't that opening the door to any person telling any of us how to live?

Anne Johnson said...

Anon, you make a point, but I would question how many crazies there are out there, and what their reach is. Hope I'm not wrong, but for instance the Christian Right is not getting their agenda into law in most cases (abortion restrictions being the exception).

Lori F said...

It only takes one crazy.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully said. Cause and effect.


I considered all of this when I posted my first picture of my gg's..I asked their moms first, and we all decided no or none of them in baths or nekkid..ever..
one of my granddaughters was skimming through her boyfriend at the times pictures ..he said it was ok..and she found some pictures of a girl she knew, family friend and shes not only butt nekkid, she send pictures of her bent over showing her butt..and all of her orifices..freaked her out...he said he had forgotten they were there and needed to delete them..she told me about it and now every time I see this person all I see is her butt..people just because you can take nekkid pictures..doesn't mean you should..sigh*

Stacy said...

I sadly know people who didn't post nude pictures of themselves online but sent it privately to someone they loved and trusted through a text and it was still later to be found online. It's a horrible situation.

I have been finishing a book so I've been unplugged for a bit. I heard something had happened in France but I didn't know exactly what. Anne you are speaking about very difficult subjects and you do it with grace. We all need to be more careful in this digital age. And more aware of our own actions.

Very thought provoking blog. As usual :)