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Growing Old In a Digital World

April 28, 2014

Grandpa?

Nah.

Grandfather?

Definitely not.

Papa?

Yeah, I think that will work. That’s what I want my grandkids to call me.

Those of you who check in each day to read my ramblings know that the focus of this blog is team building and leadership with a fair dose of computer history and an occasional side trip into home canning.

But, there are days when none of that seems to fit and I write on something else. Today is one of those days. I’ll try to bring it back to technology at the end.

Yesterday was a special day for me. A momentous day. I’m terrible at writing in a journal, but I’m pretty good at writing in my Bible. As this page shows, I write down the important names and dates of my family in the flyleaf of my scriptures.

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I started this years ago. If I’d known I was going to have 13 kids, I certainly would have written smaller. Today I added two entries.

First, I recorded the date under my third son’s name with the notation:

Ordained to the office of Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood by his father.

The Mormon church has a lay ministry. That means that all worthy men and boys in the church hold the priesthood. There’s currently a controversy brewing about whether women should also be allowed to hold the priesthood. I’ll leave that controversy to the religious blogs.

When a boy turns 12 he joins the Deacons quorum. At 14 he advances to the Teachers quorum and at 16 he moves on to the Priests quorum.

I now have three sons who are Teachers. Since I also hold an office in the lay priesthood I got to be the one to ordain him. It’s a uniquely Mormon experience to bless your son in this way.

The second big event that I recorded yesterday was that I also got to bless my granddaughter. My oldest daughter and her husband welcomed a new baby girl, our first grandchild into the world a few weeks ago. Like I did with my son, I got to bless her, this time holding her rather than placing my hands on her head. It was an experience I’ve gone through with my own children over the years. It was very cool to get to bless a member of the next generation. My mother drove down from Washington to be here for it.

So, what’s this have to do with technology, or was this just an excuse for me to brag about my kids and granddaughter?

A little of both.

Most people would consider me technologically competent. I started writing programs in 1983 on an old TI 99 with a cassette tape to store the programs. I write a wildly unpopular blog. I have multiple Twitter accounts. I have a facebook page and a fanpage. My profile on LinkedIn is up to date.

Technologist, right?

Not so much.

I have multiple computers in my home, but only recently networked them. I carry a cell phone and a pocket watch.

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And I don’t put pictures of my kids or grandkids on the internet.

Many people do, and I’m fine with that. In fact, I enjoy reading about my extended family on Facebook and seeing pictures and staying connected. However, for my family, my lovely wife and I decided it wasn’t something we felt the need to do. It might seem crazy. If you read my posts, you hear me talk about my kids all the time. I mention them in my signature block, for Pete’s sake. How can I say I don’t post about my family online?

If you look back through my writings, you will see that I never mention any names. I don’t post pictures. That behavior sounds like someone who’s afraid of technology, not someone who remembers the birth and death of CompuServe and America Online (AOL).

So far, the Internet is forever. I think there may come a day when people will sell “cleaning services” that are designed to go and remove all or some information about you from the internet. We see the beginnings of them even today. I think those services will start out being very, very expensive.

My kids will have plenty of time to fill the internet with their posts and pictures. But, I want to make sure they are old enough to understand the repercussions. I want them to value their privacy and only surrender it when they choose to. Not sell it, or worse yet have someone else sell it for a few extra clicks on Facebook.

I admit that in this I’m a hypocrite. I already mentioned how much I love to follow along with my extended family and friends’ activities on Facebook. Isn’t it hypocritical for me to refuse to do the same for them?

Yes. Yes, it is and if I were forced to make a choice, I’d drop Facebook in a heartbeat if it meant keeping my kids safe for a few more years as they grow up. We do a Christmas letter each year and send it out to family and friends. We have regular family reunions where we get together with aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.

But posting my kids’ names and digital pictures all over the internet? No. I think I’m too old fashioned for that. Hopefully someday they’ll thank me for it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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2 Comments
  1. I have a policy of not sharing photos of my sons online, too. It started with their mom’s, well, extreme paranoia over online privacy. At first, I was just honoring that. But after a while I came to see that my sons, the youngest of whom is now 15, should have control over when and how their likeness is used on the Internet. So they do sometimes post videos to YouTube that feature themselves. But that’s their call, and not mine.

    • We felt the same way. Occasionally a relative will give us a little grief, especially when my granddaughter was born. Her parents are very protective of her privacy as well.

      I wonder if a decade from now we’ll all be trying to clean up our digital life.

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