Regular readers might have noticed something strange…. we’ve changed our daughter’s name to Ameli. There are two things I should explain about this action: It’s taken almost two years to come to the decision, and there are plenty of reasons for it.
One is that I’ve been thinking a lot about security and safety. While I believe the concept of stranger danger is flawed, because statistically your child is in greater danger from someone you know than from a random person on the street, I have had another problem on my heart of late: the internet has changed our definition of ‘knowing someone’.
Let me explain. In 2001 I met a guy. A doctor from Chile. We went on a date, drank red wine, ate a delicious dinner, and went our separate ways for the night. During the course of conversation I had mentioned that I write poetry and had mentioned the name of the site my poetry was posted on. I thought nothing of it, and agreed to see him again the next night.
The next night he was different towards me. More intense. It turned out he had stayed up all night, reading the over 400 poems I’d written in two years â€“ through a marriage break-up, a new relationship, the devastation at the loss of that relationship, and the subsequent pain and passion of that. Basically, it was as if he had read my diary in one night, and had developed this deep and intense insight into ME.
He was ready to get get married. He was in love with my passion. He was in love with me (he said.) I knew one night’s worth of chatter about him. And more importantly, he knew one aspect of my personality, and one element of my history, not all of me. Needless to say, I gave it a few weeks, because he was a nice guy, but the enormity of his feelings was too much for me â€“ I was still in love with my ex anyway. And was still researching about the power to get your ex back.
That’s what I mean by ‘knowing someone’.
I realised recently that based on these pages, someone could walk up to Ameli, call her by name, tell her they knew her or me â€“ and actually think they do â€“ put her at ease by recounting things we’d done recently â€“ things that to her mind, only a friend might know.
It’s paranoid. It’s not in my nature to think this way. But there it is.
In addition to this, we tried out a nursery last week, and I was surprised to find a computer desk and laptop for the kids â€“ the two year olds. I realised again how different the world of my children is to mine. I googled her name and had pages of information on her. From her birth, with more than 5 million youtube views, through to everything I’ve ever mentioned here. If the worst threat comes at her from a kid in her class, then thank God for that, but even so â€“ it takes just one child to find out something ‘tease-worthy’ to colour and change an entire era in her life. After this, getting Cyber Security Services regularly is a must for me.
No. It’s weird for me, using a different name, and it will be weird for those who know us too, but I take solace in the fact that my indecision on it has been bothering me for two years, and I have peace in the finality of this decision.
I hope you understand.
A Rose By Any Other Name…
Been thinking about privacy too. Is it really possible and how when we are all constantly sharing online? At least youve put up a good safegaurd now, even though I was so confused!!!
This is an issue I have been pondering lately too. I used to work in a primary school and one of the things I did was to maintain the website. The rule was if you publish a child’s photo, not to put the name with it, and if you publish a child’s name, not to show a photo. But I’ve got pictures of my little girl *and* her name on my blog. It’s not a problem right now because she’s always with me or my husband but I that’s not going to last forever. So I think I will be doing a bit of name changing soon as well.
I believe what you did is just right for your daughter. Since the web is a easy access page its better to take some precaution in sharing information.
The change makes perfect sense, and I can completely sympathize with your reasons. I have gone back and forth, and explanations like yours do make me consider the idea of trying to put the cat back in the bag, as a previous commenter mentioned, but I’m still not sure.
I can definitely relate to the strange concept of knowing someone that you mention, and have had experiences less intense than yours, but on the same vein. It’s rather uncomfortable. At the same time, though, I feel like the nature of life in this era of information makes it such that anyone can find information on me if they want it, especially given that I’m the only person with my name, that I know of – same for my daughter. It almost seems like any attempts at withholding information are futile.
I’m still undecided, but I do think that I’ll be sharing less and less on my daughter as time goes on, in an attempt to respect her privacy.
@Melissa, I totally get that Melissa. My name’s pretty unique too. I used to be all worried about the ‘footprint’ we leave on the web, then I worked for a company who were designing the software for a satellite that was so powerful, it could zoom in on people on the street and see the date on the newspaper they were reading. The day I saw that, I quit worrying about being “found”. There is already no where to hide.
Yes, I use pseudonyms for privacy reasons both the worry and because they don’t really have informed consent, yet. I need to work on better hiding myself, though. I’m the only person in my country who comes up with my name. You can find out everything about me and from me, my family. I’m working on slowly changing that, as well.
One other thing, the occassional nasty comment (which, if you haven’t gotten one from a troll, eventually you might) has far less teeth if they aren’t using someone’s real name.
@Zoie @ TouchstoneZ, That’s so true Zoie. As for me being out the proverbial closet – I don’t mind. It’s my choice, but yeah. I don’t really want it affecting my children :/
A very interesting post and understandable to change your daughters name. Anyone would have been a little freaked by the doctor you met, but you are right people can “know” you just by reading about you on the internet nowadays. x
@Susan Mann, Thanks Susan. It’s funny, I haven’t thought about that incident in probably 10 years. This all reminded me though 🙂 Thanks for the support and for the comment!
I’m only an occasional reader of your blog, but I found this post via Twitter today and decided to comment.
I, too, don’t generally think of myself as a paranoid person, but I did get some odd feelings about the fact that my children were on the internet from the moment we announced their conception (whereas I didn’t even have email until college). I’ve removed all of their photos from my blog and social networking sites and don’t use their real names in public online spaces. I even use a nickname for myself and don’t use my husband’s name or our family name (which is uncommon). I figure letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in. We’re still out there in photos and text that friends have posted, but at least I’m controlling what I can control. (I think)
@CJ, Thank you CJ. I think a few things happened in quick succession in this week that really just… clinched the deal for me, I guess. I never expected the blog to be ‘known’ or to have ‘followers’. Not REALLY, and I felt I couldn’t be OPEN if I wasn’t honest.. but in recent weeks I’ve realised that I am holding back because it’s TOO MUCH. If that makes sense.
Oddly, pictures don’t bug me at all – so long as they’re not of us holding our address or bank details!! 😉
I considered the problem with my name, being rather unique, but decided it’s okay. It’s my choice. I’m not worried about me… I don’t know. Maybe I’ll change my mind on that too someday! 😉
Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!