Privacy Isn’t A Setting

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A few days ago it dawned on me precisely what bugs me most about some of my family members. To be fair, it’s probably in my top ten things that bug me about them. It’s not just the fact that their combined I.Q. is my shoe size (I’m a nine, in case you were wondering.), but their flagrant use of personal information and photos on social media makes me cringe. Their motto seems to be “put it on social media, and that will make it true”, when in reality, photos are often artifice.

A year or two ago a “friend” pointed out that I have zero photos of myself on Facebook. She had actually gone through every single album of mine (Who DOES THAT?!) before messaging me to demand that I send her a photo of myself “because we’ve been friends for so long and she has a right to know what I look like”. I nearly laughed myself onto the floor at her audacity. My response went a little something like this: “I’m an EXTREMELY private person. I utilize social media for work and to keep in touch with close friends who live far away, but that does not mean I owe anyone the rights to my private life, and that includes personal photos.” In response, she claimed she was “super private too”, which is laughable because she is constantly posting photos of herself, as if she’s trying to prove something. I went on to describe myself as a “little old lady with blue hair and no teeth” and further stated I was “somewhere between age 10-100 and she could choose one she felt best fit the profile.” She hasn’t spoken to me much since, and I’m good with that because the truth is, it’s not a deep, personal friendship, nor has it ever been. She’s mostly an acquaintance, despite “knowing me” for over twenty years. This chick couldn’t tell you a damn thing about me without Facebook to remind her, so I wouldn’t exactly call her a friend. The fact that she feels the need to report that her new dog farts more than her husband is really unnecessary. I cannot imagine saying or sharing something like that on social media. It’s inappropriate, but to each their own? :/

My best friend Marion flew from Germany to meet me after we’d been friends for several years. She had zero clue what I looked like, other than knowing I had long dark hair and light eyes, and that I’m very fair on the complexion side. When I met her at the airport, it was like we’d been friends forever. My hair color has changed so many times during over 20+ year friendship, and she will swear up and down that I’m stunningly gorgeous. I’m concerned she has cataracts. 😛 I simply do not see what my friends see when they look at me. They will all say I’m not what I describe. Other than stating my current hair color, height, and the best description of my eyes I can give, there’s no other way to say “short and pale”. There’s a reason that when I wear heels, they’re at least 3-6 inches high.

But I digress; privacy is crucial to how I live my life. I write the truth, I speak my mind, I say precisely what others think and may not have the courage to say, but I don’t even mention my cat’s names on here. I made that decision for privacy’s sake, and because a friend started calling them Cat and Kitten and I thought it was cute. Suffice it to say, they have very unique, creative names that I’m proud of. When someone does happen to hear their names and the story behind them, they’re impressed. I am always complimented for my creativity in pet names. Fluffy, Mittens, Pumpkin, Princess, Muffin, Buttons, Cookie, etc., that shit does NOT fly with me. I also don’t use human names for pets. It’s a rule.

When I refer to a guy, I often use his middle or last name. That might very well be what I call him in every day life, but again, it’s very much a privacy thing. I’m not posting photos of him and invading his personal life, or bringing direct attention to his place of employment. If you’re in a relationship with a writer, you know you’re going to be written about in some capacity somewhere along the line, but you also need to know ahead of time to be on your best behavior before I break out the Taylor Swift songs. 😉

I’ve written about a lot of people in passing, and I’ve never named names. My brother’s name is not a secret, but that’s an entirely different story and YES, I struggled with that SO MUCH. Ultimately his health is so much more important than my protecting him. Spreading the word about what he’s going through and getting him some much-needed help is far more important. He has yet to have anyone approach him and ask if he’s my brother, so I think he’s good, at least on that level. The fact that he no longer looks healthy might have something to do with that. 😦 As for the rest, not so much. It seems people are much more apt to helping an animal than a human-being. I’ve never understood that. It makes me cringe to see how much humanity humans have lost.

I don’t remember exactly when I started my Instagram account, but I can tell you that it’s original intent was for my work as a makeup artist. It isn’t attached to this platform because they’re separate, for obvious reasons. Thus far, it is full of photos of flowers, food, a few makeup items, and one or two cat photos. Like I said, not my original intent. But again, I struggle HARD with posting photos of my completed work on myself, often deleting forty photos every day I put makeup on because they’re “not good enough” or because I’ve deemed the angle “weird”, which it usually is. I don’t mess with the filters, either. If you don’t look good the first time, then retake the photo and keep going until you get the most accurate portrayal of your work. Thus far, I’ve shared exactly two photos with close friends, and no one else. Posting it online crosses such an immense personal line for me because privacy is mandatory in my life, and once you throw yourself into cyberspace in such a manner, privacy is dead and buried. It becomes a setting, and nothing more. I’m not okay with that.

So to see my family posting hideous photos of their newborn genuinely makes me cringe (I’m not exaggerating. I know cute when I see cute. That baby is NOT cute.). Why do people feel the need to post announcements on Facebook to thousands of their “closest friends and family”? Anyone can snatch up those photos, especially the ones that had personal info on them in the background, and the baby’s wrist band, and track you down. It’s a simple fact. If I could zoom in on them, which I did not because I don’t care to do so, what would a stranger do? If that occurred to me, why did this NOT occur to them with a newborn in their arms?!

When did birth announcements go out of style? Is it too hard to mail a fucking envelope? I would NEVER publicly put a newborn on display like that. Not online, not en masse, and certainly NOT because I feel the need to show off. I’ve never posted a photo of my Goddaughter for that precise reason. Not her baby photos and not a current photo. She is a CHILD and it is my job to PROTECT her. The Internet is a place of exploitation; it does not promote the healthiest “sharing” experience for photos of babies and children. Let’s call that my detective brain, but it’s also common sense, which is something sorely lacking in today’s society. I’d rather be slightly paranoid than the stupidest person on the planet.

My cousins needs to STOP. Give the kid a few months before you show me photos (Upwards of sixty per day. Honestly, he hasn’t gotten better-looking since being born on Friday and hasn’t done anything even remotely interesting, so please save the photos for yourself! Stick them in an album until he’s thirty.), and PLEASE, pour me a double shot of Kentucky’s finest bourbon first because, EWWW! Yes, I have very high standards on newborn cuteness. They’re called “my baby photos”. If you can’t compete with them, you’re not a cute baby. These are the facts. I’m just being honest. I truly lack the ability to lie and tell you your baby is cute. My face will give it away in half a second.

It’s wonderful that the baby is healthy, despite being born three weeks early. My cousin actually looks like he’s going to puke in a few photos holding him. Again, I feel like there should be some semblance of privacy there. Keep SOMETHING to yourselves. He’s not the one posting them though; it’s his wife. Whatever she wants, he acquiesces to. I find it unnerving.

I had to make an executive decision to block everything from here on in because I cannot abide by what they’re doing. On top of making me uncomfortable from a privacy perspective, you’re letting people know precisely where you are at all times. We don’t live in the safest world and it’s important to be smart about what you post and how you go about it. Announcing “Home from the hospital.” was one of the stupidest things I’ve seen him do, but I ignored it. I’m going to ignore a lot from now on because these are not people who enjoy the truth. They’re people who want what they want, when they want it, and genuinely seem to enjoy burying their head in the sand.

The other decision I made was to prioritize my health, and in doing so, I will not be attending the Bris. My cousins don’t know this yet, but after being told it would be the end of this month earlier this year (the due date was the 25th), that was what I’d prepared for. First babies are usually on time or late. Based on his healthy weight and size, I can only assume the due date may have been miscalculated since my cousins’ labor was induced due to high blood pressure. Instead of the Bris being the original date I was given, it is this Friday. In the middle of the day. I am battling migraine after migraine with no break. I am dealing with too much pain within my body. I am NOT okay to be in a space with the nearly 200 invited guests (I shit you NOT! I’m baffled by this. 100% a “Facebook event”. I’ve decided to not respond at all. They won’t even notice I’m not there.) and a newborn. I can’t do that to myself.

I will go on my own, at another time, and bring them gifts. Forty-five minutes, maybe an hour, and I won’t have to deal with an over-crowded apartment and loud noises. I fully intended to be there for him, but his parents and all of his siblings will be there, so he should be fine. I absolutely won’t be missed. If he’s annoyed, angry, or disappointed, so be it. I asked myself if he’d drop everything to be present for anything in my life and the answer is no, he wouldn’t be, so I shouldn’t feel an ounce of guilt. In the year and a half I’ve lived here, we have not seen each other once. The one time I asked him for help, he said no, after having said he’d do anything for me because I’m family. We live thirty minutes away from each other. Clearly I’m not much of a priority. Any time I’ve suggested doing something, he’s told me coming up this way “makes him anxious” or he’s made an excuse, like saying he wanted to do something with me, but he’d only “fall asleep” while doing it. Really?! I’m great company, I’ve never had anyone fall asleep on me, When his wife decided we should all do something together, I wanted to tell her that I’m no one’s third wheel, because that is genuinely how I feel. I can spend an hour with you, but I’m not meeting a couple for dinner unless I am bringing someone with me. Yes, I can go alone and I’m fine in doing so, but do I want to deal with a couple and their nausea? Not so much. Do that with your couple-friends, not with family. My cousin should be allowed “out to play” on his own without a babysitter/chaperone. How much trouble can he get into with me?! #1- We’re related. #2- I’m NOT going to steal her husband! Refer to #1. #3- Couples should have healthy individual relationships with other people as well as relationships with other couples. #4- Please refer to #1. If she can go out on her own with her family, then he should feel confident to do the same. Pretty soon, he’s going to be BEGGING for breaks from being trapped at home with a wife, dog, screaming child, overbearing mother, and overbearing mother-in-law. Call it a hunch. I’ve just become extremely unsympathetic and incredibly unavailable. I refuse to go over there until his mother returns to Florida. If I have to spend five minutes in her presence, she won’t survive it.

A close friend, who is very secure in herself, casually mentioned to me that any woman would be intimidated by me being close with their husband. She’s fine that her husband and I talk. She knows he’s like a brother to me and that I have zero interest in him. A wedding band on a man’s hand is like a big red EUNUCH sign on his forehead. LOL. While I find that utterly baffling (other women being intimidated by me), I took a good look at that particular side of my family and realized that compared to them, I am basically a supermodel. One cousin asked what foundation I was wearing in a recent photo because “your skin looks so flawless.” When I replied that I wasn’t wearing foundation, she asked if I’d used a filter on the photo. No, I hadn’t. Without outright saying it, she let me know I looked a little too good, and again, I thought it was so bizarre, so yes, I could understand the comment my friend made, if we weren’t related! Basically, my cousin is an extension of my brother. I don’t see either of them as men; I see them as little boys. They could have twelve kids a piece and they’d still be little boys to me, and eunuchs. There’s no sexual component to being friends with a sibling or a cousin. I find that utterly ridiculous. However, I’m not going to argue with a petty woman or my cousin who thinks she’s his savior. If he wants a relationship with me, he’s going to have to work for it.

On a much sadder note, late Saturday night my Great-Aunt, the last of sixteen siblings on my Dad’s side, passed away. My five cousins are deeply upset, as they should be. The funeral is today and then Shiva begins for seven days. Four of my cousins are sitting Shiva and I have agreed to do it as well. My Great-Aunt had a rich, colorful life and was an interesting, groundbreaking woman. The funeral is going to be a fight because four of my cousins are arguing with their Uncle about the cemetery choice. I agree with them; she would have preferred a Jewish service and a more religious burial. She sacrificed a lot being married to my Uncle. She left her Orthodox Jewish family and rigid tradition to marry him. However, she still lit Shabbat candles on Friday night and baked lasagna and made meatballs every Sunday. She never truly forgot where she came from.

I spent most of yesterday fielding their issues, trying to help them, taking a call from the lawyer’s office, etc. I’m amazed I didn’t have a stroke. By the time I was ready to make dinner, I was a shaking pile of lunatic. Her funeral is in less than nine hours and I’m still awake, typing this, unable to sleep, dealing with severe pain in my upper back and ribs.

So yes, you get written glimpses into my life, and I do share photos here and there, but the chances of me posting thousands of photos simply to show off or look like an idiot are slim to none, and slim just left town. I have yet to find a single reader that thinks “Man, she doesn’t write enough about herself.” The comments I get that are the most profound are when I am as honest as I’ve been today. Or when I am writing about specific subject matter.

If you’re close to me, you know who I am. If you’re a friend or a family member I deem worthy enough to have a relationship with, then you know I have nothing to prove. People always tell me they love me because I’m always real, all across the board, and they don’t have to question if I’m different outside their presence. I’m just me, in all my craziness. It’s okay to be low-key and real. It’s okay to be private.

Am I judging my family for oversharing like they’re the fucking Kardashians? They’re new parents, and they’re stupid, so yeah, maybe a little, maybe a lot. Do I think what they’re doing is dangerous? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that it is unsafe. However, I’m smart enough to keep my mouth shut. When it comes to babies and parents, their first thought will be that I am jealous. They won’t hear the knowledge and intelligence in what I am saying, they will simply think I want what they have. Do I want to be a moron who doesn’t know when to stop? Fuck no! Do I want to tote around a hideous little child that everyone keeps saying is adorable and handsome? G-d NO. When I have children, I don’t think anyone will have to lie about their looks. I’m good breeding stock. 😉 And yes, I just laughed at my own joke.

P.S. Apparently I’m not the only smart person on this planet. A sweet friend of mine just posted a photo of herself and her infant son at the beach. For his safety and protection, she used a filtering app to shield his face with an emoji, so the only thing you can actually see are his lips, and nothing more. I praised her for being SO smart and protective as a Mom and she agreed with me that it’s the highest priority. So, she got to share the photo, which is a sweet photo of mother and son, but she in NO WAY exploited her infant by putting his face all over the Internet. Brains, class, and beauty. Yes, we’re out there. 🙂

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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