What is it with People?! From Shoe Size to Public Tragedy, You Always Have the Right to Limit the Sharing of Your Personal Details.

Good afternoon, everyone.  Today I had my first encounter with a quite strange individual on Instagram.  His undue comments, see below, loosely tie in with what I originally wanted to talk about today, the Las Vegas shooting.

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We live in a society where people currently feel they are entitled to information about total strangers and are subsequently personally affronted when that privacy door is slammed in their faces.

Before I get to my sentiments about the Las Vegas shooting, let me tell you the guy was affronted about me not wanting to share my shoe size.  Mr. Shoe/Foot Fetish was a bit pissed that I didn’t want to give him this little detail about my body.  Although all comments related to this little spat are deleted after he asked if I minded (Yes, I mind being asked.) I gave the following response:

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It’s simple, right?  I do not owe anyone any part of my personal life that I do not wish to share.  I don’t owe someone details about what I had for breakfast.  I don’t owe someone a sneak peek or my sentiments of my financials.  I do not owe anyone an explanation of my military service and subsequent troubles getting the VA to understand the anxiety-related chest pains I’ve dealt with for the last 12 years.  Yet, there are times I CHOOSE to share this information.  The key thing is I’m talking about choice.

I don’t condemn people for wanting information in the wake of a public tragedy but the more we continue to presume, via our social media presences, that small details of others’ lives are ours to know the more I see this problem seep in how tragedies are documented and discussed.  I feel so awkward listening to some interviews and news stories; the exploitation of people fresh in their personal grief aggravates me.  This morning, in particular, it was hard, as a mother, to hear a small boy on tv give testimony about how he was without his mom now.  Seriously, right now he needs the safe embrace of loved ones, not the media coming in to repackage his trauma, pulling at fellow Americans’ heartstrings.

I say these things because I’ve been in similar shoes on two occasions.

After losing my friend, Bart, in 2002, I watched, with utter disgust, how the media camped out in his neighborhood.  My friends know I didn’t handle it well and I cussed at those local reporters.  None of us expected he would die so young or that he would become a murder victim.

In the other situation, away from prying media eyes, I sat besides my parter in 2004 (we’ve been exes for quite some time) as strangers asked him if being shot changed his belief in God.  Are you freaking kidding me?!

The fact people are willing to ask such things is not an overnight phenomenon.  It’s the small questions over time, chipping away at personal boundaries–real and imaginary–that encourage and emblazon others to think no question is off limits.

So, to the person who asked me about my shoe size today, I had good reason to tell you know.  I had more than one reason to tell you know and I only gave you one response.  You weren’t even OWED a response!

To our Las Vegas shooting victims, I apologize for any infringement you suffer in the wake of this intimate and public tragedy.  I will watch the news, with a critical mind, and I will cringe when I see those vignettes that border on the inappropriate.

For everyone still wondering those things that I’m seeing, here’s one tidbit from The Washington Post.  It is frustrating to see that question, Do you know someone who died?  

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I want to close with some information I found from the organization Trauma Intervention Programs’ “When Tragedy Strikes” regarding dealing with the media.  You can always say no.  You can choose how to share your sentiments.  You can choose who in your family is interviewed and who is excluded from interviews.  You have the right to complain about the process and persons involved in interviewing you.  You have the right to know how your story, as you’ve shared it, is being told.  I am touching on so little of this process, but we are all people with the rights to our personal lives and you owe nothing to anyone else that you do not wish to give.



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