And of course, she asked "why", because for all I know, she photographed the toilet. And I told her "you must never take a photo in a bathroom". I figure it's one of my better pieces of parenting wisdom. Because no matter what the intention, digital photos have a way of making their way around.
I took a moment to think about how lucky I was that I grew up without Facebook and the internet, so my mistakes could stay tucked away in the memories of me and my friends. That's not a luxury Helen and Connor have. This blog, for example, will need to come down at some point because they will be creating their own stories on their terms, and won't want my version of events in the public domain.
And reading Dataclysm, by Christian Rudder, is a reminder of just how public our lives can be. The author takes data from Facebook, Twitter, a dating site that he created with friends and more, and pieces together all sorts of information about people - information that people may prefer to remain unlinked and largely unknown.
The photo Helen took of me was deleted. And hopefully there will be no bathroom photography sessions in the future. But more hopefully, my children won't end up in a tough spot because some mistake they made gets broadcast more widely than they would want.
This post was inspired by Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, where he analyzes online data to find out that people who prefer beer are more likely to have sex on a first date. Join From Left to Write on October 9th as we discuss Dataclysm. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.