did i overreact

Friday, May 10, 2013 by Meg Malone

Pretty recently, I was going through an old friend’s photos on Facebook when I saw these pictures of me. They weren’t tagged, but I had no idea they were even online. Now, I’m not talking about racy pictures or photos taken from a hiding place way. These were like, pictures taken while I washanging out with my friends and goofing around.

The big thing was that I just felt that theydidn’t show “me” the way I worked to convey myself to people. They were old pictures and I was a very different person and I didn’t like these lingering photosmaking me feel kind of uncomfortable. I just didn’t want them living online.

Now, this is a friend of mine I hadn’t talked to in a couple of years. These pictures were maybe like five or six years old. And yet, I wrote this whole long message about how I would really appreciate if she took down those pictures of me, even though they were untagged. It made meuncomfortable knowing that they existed and I didn’t have final “approval” over them, mainly because they were from so long ago.

My friend was totally sweet about it and took them down. However, it’s probably worth nothing that this is not the first time that I have done this. That’s what is making me worry that I have a tendency to overreact to these pictures that probably to other people don’t seem like a big deal at all. How much control can I have over other people when it comes to their pictures… that happen to have me in them?

I don’t think there’s really a right answer because we just keep having to adapt to the newtechnology culture. It’s not like most pictures go get developed and you have one hard copyanymore. It’s so much easier to take pictures and now people have cameras all the time. Could I (and should I) set rules in public about if they can share pictures they take with me in them?

That said, my face and my body are mine and I do feel like that even in public or under totally everyday circumstances, it entitles me to a degree of privacy about what imprint of me is online. My new rule of thumb is to ask people before I post pictures of them. Yeah, a lot of times we’re out in public and I’m not necessarily doing anything wrong, but I wouldn’t want to make someone feel the way I did during my moment of picture discovery.

But also, won’t I kind of go crazy always thinking about what pictures of me might be on the Internet? Do I really want to make myself sick over monitoring my online life as constructed by other people? I am someone who gets stressed out pretty easily, so I don’t know if it’s just meoverreacting or if being worried about how your friends post pictures of you is something other people go through.

I’ve really thought about it, and I believe if I picture online makes you uncomfortable, you have every right to ask for it to be taken down. People have different standards for what they think is cool online, so you are free to express those - and hopefully they care about how it makes you feel. While I definitely don’t think my friend did anything wrong and I kind of feel I may have overreacted and micro-managed her a little, I still feel like what I did was reasonable. But I’m curious – what do you think?

Do you think I overreacted? Have you ever asked someone to take pictures of you offline? What do you think is the best way to have that conversation? Do you ask people’s permission before you post pictures of them on your social media?