Digital Future

Claiming My Daughter’s Digital Future

So it’s a girl. It’s official. Finally. Now IT has a name.

It’s nice to put a name to the sonogram. (Even if the sonogram is creepy as hell.) No more “hey, baby” or “what’s your face.” Oh yeah, we’re ahead of the game. We have a name already. Although it’s caused considerable trouble in our family. (I’m currently not speaking with my father.)

Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful name. It’s all hers.

But the question is, how long will it stay hers? I’m not the only Ryan Riley in the world. There are dozens of them. And they all got to my name online before I did. I have to use some variation of my name on almost everything: Gmail, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

It makes me wonder what her digital future looks like.

So although I’m sure I’m about to get judged pretty hard, I’m going to admit that one of the first things I did when we found out we were having a girl was claim her online identity. My daughter is only 22 weeks and 3 days old but she already has an email account, Twitter handle, Facebook profile and Instagram Feed. I stopped short of getting her name domain. But I’m seriously considering moving forward with that, too.

I didn’t setup Snapchat because, well, fuck Snapchat.

The Plan

My wife and I are obviously not going to give a baby access to social media. That’s not the plan. We’re not going to have our three-year-old daughter on Twitter bitching to @realDonaldTrump about his latest act of stupidity. (Dear God, don’t let that man be the president when my daughter is three!)

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We do have a plan…

Gmail: We’re the only ones that know her email address. We’re going to use it to document her life. We’re going to email her just as we do anyone else. If there is something we want her to know, we’ll send an email. If there is a picture of her when she’s six months old that we want to share with her, we’ll send it to her email. Any moments in her life we feel she’ll want to know about, we’ll email her.

Then when she’s older, we’ll send her the login. She can open it and go through her life. She may think it’s lame or she might think it’s amazing. Who knows. We’re thinking of it as a modern form of scrapbooking.

Twitter and Facebook: There’s no plan. Twitter is dying, I’d be surprised if it lasted. Facebook is for grandparents and people in my generation who have invested too much into it to stop. So the likelihood that she’ll give two shits about either is slim. So we’re not going to do much with these. If they’re around and she cares, great. She’s set up. If they’re not around–no skin off our backs.

Instagram: We’re going to use this to share photos with friends and family. We’re going to lock it down and only accept friends and family. We’ll share photos of her, videos and stream cool stuff live for everyone to see. This one is more for us. If we can knock out everyone at one time, we’ve just saved ourselves hours.

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My Analog Past and Her Digital Future

When I was a kid, getting your own landline was a huge deal. I remember one Christmas my parents got me and my sister our own phone numbers. That was hot shit back then. Anyone could call me at any time. I could stay up all night chatting with chicks.

When was the last time you had a landline? It’s probably been about 15 years for me. But I live and die by my cell phone and the Internet. Kids today are on every social network. They live online. I’m not so naive as to pretend that my daughter’s future won’t include some version of an Internet.

Will Facebook still be around in thirteen years? Or Twitter? Or Instagram? Hell, will email even be the communication of the future. Probably not. I would say that it’s likely none of these will still be around. We might revolt against the Internet in five years and landlines somehow make a comeback. I don’t know. But I want to make sure that I still up-to-date because one thing we’ve learned about the Internet is that it can be a scary place. And although I can’t protect her all the time, but I have to try.

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