Yesterday I started out the day feeling like my faith in humankind had been renewed a little. At lunchtime, I was horrified to discover that people--at least on the internet--can still be still pretty awful and disgusting.
If you read this blog, you know that I use the flickr web site to share my photos. And I know many of you do, too. Just recently I added the "flickr stats" tool that they offer--you have to sign up for it but it doesn't cost extra--and yesterday I checked out my photo stats, out of curiosity.
The stats feature tells you which of your photos are most popular, and how many views each has recieved. When I opened this feature, I was suprised to see that my number-one photo had gotten more than 2,000 hits. It was a picture of my three-year-old son, lying on our new wood floor last summer in his underpants. Showing off our home improvement project.
Upon further examination, I found that all of my top photos--dozens of them--are photos of Arlo in his undies or otherwise partially clothed, and the amount of traffic is sickening. I hope I don't have to actually spell out why, because I just can't bear to actually type it. Even writing this post feels dangerous to me now, because I'm afraid that some cyber-sicko is going to stumble upon this post and it will clue him in to the fact that I apparently have a very sexy four-year-old son. (I'm sorry, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little when I typed that.)
Before yesterday, I had already gone to the trouble of restricting access to certain shots of the kiddos--naked babies in the bath tub--but, being the wide-eyed optimist that I am, it didn't occur to me that I should lock down the pictures of my little boy in his Elmo undies, playing with the hose on our driveway. I am now working to sort through all of my flickr photos to lock down any photos that might be alluring to the pervs out there--and let me tell you, it is a grim and sickening task. I would just lock down my whole flickr account--and still might--but I have reasons for wanting to keep some photos public, so I'm trying to be selective.
All I'm saying is, please be careful when you share photos of your kids. Children like to be naked, and they like to play in their "natural" state. It's okay for you to think it's cute (as I do), and for you to take pictures (yep), and even for you to share those pictures with your friends and family (guilty!). But learn from my naivete, and please take care to restrict access to those photos if/when you do upload them.
I don't think there is probably anything I can do about the pedophiles who have probably already downloaded photos of Arlo. I can only take comfort in the fact that he has not actually been harmed by this incident, and that he will never have to know about it. His innocence hasn't been ruined, but in a way, mine has. I can't look at my own child the same way now, knowing that someone (thousands of someones) have looked at him with impure intentions.
To me, that's a crime.
P.S. If you have any ideas for how I might handle this, or somehow take action, please feel free to comment. I plan to contact flickr, but I doubt if they can do anything.