My in-laws left yesterday and I am proud to say that I successfully avoided all discussion of my sewing, or lack thereof, for nine days. Please hold for a moment while I breathe an enormous sigh of relief.
But as I was dodging the sewing bullet from my mother-in-law, I realized there’s another element to these in-law visits that tends to keep me on edge.
One of my father-in-law’s favorite pastimes – especially since he retired – is to stalk his children using technology. He subscribes to every blog or YouTube channel we create. He friends or follows us in every social media forum. Seriously, you are retired and I am unemployed. Do we need to connect on LinkedIn?? He is very familiar with where we, and our neighbors, park our cars thanks to Google Maps. He even set up Google Alerts so he knows any time we are mentioned online. He is an Internet hunter, and we are his prey.
Confession: my father-in-law’s aggressive online tracking is one reason I don’t use my full name with this blog. Most of my family doesn’t even know that I have a blog, but if anyone would find it, it’s him.
My father-in-law’s surveillance is all in the name of harmless fun, and because he loves to stay connected to his faraway spawn. I can’t say I blame him – Lord knows I will probably start stalking my kids online by the time they are 10.
But occasionally I get uncomfortable with his technology exploits. Like the time I discovered that he had posted photos of me in my pajamas, with bedhead and pillow face, in a public online photo album, and then proceeded to tag me in them for all the world to see. Not exactly the image you want your current or future employer to find when they Google you.
So when he visits, I am always a wee bit aware that anything I say or do might be seen, heard, recorded, and/or shared.
As an active oversharer myself, I am fully aware of the hypocrisy here. Who knows – maybe I’m just threatened and it’s like an alpha dog conflict. Only it’s alpha internet users.
Fortunately I think I avoided any major Invasions of Privacy on this trip. (Kids are such a great distraction for curious in-laws.) Then again, it’s impossible to know for sure, because occasionally he’ll surprise you. Like the other night when he hooked his camera to the TV for the required end-of-vacation-photo-show. One of the photos was a lovely image of the landscape – trees, water, boats. We all agreed it was nice.
Then my father-in-law got a glimmer in his eye and said, “Now watch this.” He proceeded to zoom in on the photo as far as he could, and revealed that he had actually captured my husband and I in the photo, standing far far away on a dock, where we thought we were alone. It’s not like we were naked or picking our noses (as far as you know), but I was a tad caught off guard to see that he had been watching us.
To my father-in-law, this type of ‘gotcha’ is innocent and fun and a cool way to harness the power of today’s technology.
To someone like me, who tends to be a bit more private (except when I’m divulging my innermost thoughts on the internet), it’s a reminder that the world has changed and I need to save my naked nose picking for my
kitchen car bedroom bathroom.
*Editor’s note: Body parts depicted in my drawing are not sized to scale (i.e., my boobs are not that big).