Monday, May 14, 2012

Lying in Wait

Last Friday I met some of my coworkers for Happy Hour after school. Since it was a last minute decision, I emailed my wife to let her I was going to be a little late. Of course, it turned into a happy TWO hours, so I didn’t get home until much later than expected.  But that was fine, because thanks to facebook, she already knew I was running behind schedule.

Turns out I was “tagged” so she, and the rest of my friends and family, knew that “Ellen Connors was with Mike Wood and 5 other people at Bin 100 Restaurant at 4:36 on Friday”  - which for me wasn’t a problem -  but I couldn’t help but think that it could have been! What if I hadn’t told her where I was going? What if I had lied and said I was staying late to grade papers or something? What if I had blown off some other friends or obligations to go to a bar?

Not that I would lie (or grade papers) but still, don’t I have the right to? And even more importantly, don’t I have the right to some “private” time with my friends without the rest of the world knowing about it?

Apparently not.

As much as I love facebook, I have been finding it more and more intrusive lately. Not so much for me, as really all I do is post pics of my son, make snarky comments on my friends’ walls, and share funny status updates. But without even trying, or prying, I’ve been learning things about my friends that they would never willingly share.  I know that James is listening to ABBA on Spotify, Jeff just read an article about Posh Beckham’s bikini body, and Renee “likes” camel toes.

Interesting stuff, no doubt. But do they really want me knowing their business? And do I really want to know?

Apparently yes, on both counts.

But while I could go on and on about privacy and the over-sharing of personal information, I only mention them to get to my real point, which is that thanks to social media, lying is becoming almost impossible in today’s society.  Or, to be more accurate, getting away with lying is becoming almost impossible

For example, when I returned from the aforementioned happy hour, my wife was there to meet me at the door. I could tell she was upset, but since I wasn’t that late, I knew it wasn’t with me.  Nor was she angry that I was hanging out with Ellen Connors. Turns out she was freaking out over our daughter’s sudden change in prom plans.

The original plan was to go to a trusted friends house for an after prom party/sleepover, but that had recently changed to having a different group of friends coming over to our house instead. We were fine with either option, though my wife was secretly hoping they would end up here. But it wasn’t just disappointment that got her so upset when Plan C was sprung upon her, which involved Julianna going to a party at an unknown “friend’s” house, the details of which were vague at best.

So vague that it was pretty much decided before I got home that Plan C was not an option. But my wife was visibly upset that she was, in the words of my stepdaughter, “ruining her prom!”

In my wife’s defense, she had a variety of reasons for not liking the new plan. For one thing, not knowing the parents, or even the kid who was hosting the party, she was concerned about what might be going on at the house.  Plus, there was her own experience as a prom goer - such as the time she lied to her parents about going to a friend’s house, only to get caught at a hotel party.

But in my stepdaughter’s defense, I felt she deserved credit for being honest. I tried to explain to my wife that Julianna could have very easily lied and told us she was sticking with Plan A, and then gone wherever the hell she wanted. But she didn’t. She was being truthful, even though she knew the facts would sound sketchy to a suspicious mother

Now, I know she’s a good kid with a fairly decent head on her shoulders – but – she is still a teenager, and as much as I’d like to believe her sense of honesty stems from how well she was raised, I know it’s probably more a response to the facebook phenomenon than quality parenting.

With all the tagging and instant sharing of photos and automatic check-ins at locations, there’s nowhere, or way, to hide anymore.  Sooner or later (and most likely sooner) your whereabouts will come out, which makes lying about them a much riskier proposition. And by default, truth becomes the more viable option.

So I worked on my wife all night and finally convinced her to let Julianna go to the party – and since we’re telling the truth here, I should add that I did so with much trepidation. Because I’m “just” the step-dad, I really don’t have much say in certain matters, and by speaking out so strongly about this, I was really putting myself at risk.  If I talked her into changing her mind, and god forbid, something happened to Julianna, it would have been my fault. My wife would have divorced me and Julianna’s dad would have killed me.  But I spoke up anyway. Not because I thought it was so important that she go to this party, I just didn’t want to send her the wrong message.  She’s never given us any reason not to trust her, and it didn’t seem fair to start now just because we were less than honest in the past. Plus, I didn’t want her to feel like she had to start lying to get her way – not that facebook would let her get away with it. But still…


  1. You are married, dude. Your privacy only goes so far. And by "so far" I mean "no where" as far as your ever-patient wife is concerned.

    I find it helps if you don't show up on film though.

  2. Good point. For a few days I changed my privacy so I had to approve every time someone tagged me somewhere. It was too annoying, so I decided not to bother. Luckily, I have nothing to hide from anyone. If I ever do, maybe I'll change it back. ;)

  3. This article was fun to read, both the parts about FB privacy and step-parenting!