a) a discussion I had with someone re: creating a facebook account for your unborn child
b) the tragic suicide of a prominent US advertisng agency exec that I learnt of recently and have since been following online
So I have been thinking a little bit about both these things and I suppose that this post is just a brain dump around both a) and b):
a) Pre birth digital foot prints
So you are going to have a baby, is it ethical create a facebook account for your un-born child? On one hand, it is nearly inevitable that the said child will one day have his or her own facebook/bebo/whatever social network account.
So one could argue that it is a new parents obligation to be pro-active in creating a safe environment for their child, but does this rule apply in the context of the virtual world?
My opinion is that like baptism and circumsition, let the kid make up his/her own mind. Let the child choose whether they want their own facebook profile. I feel quite strongly about this given the facebook terms and conditions that are pretty clear in stating that they can do whatever they want with your data once you have signed up.
b) The suicide played out online...
Recently, a well known DDB executive based in Chicago (tragically) decided to take his own life. Being quite a high profile chap within the advertising industry meant that the whole tragedy of his death was played out online, particularly in the blogosphere.
I have no opinion in regard to this fellow and his actions, I don't feel qualified to comment. I do naturally feel extreme sorrow for his wife and two daughters.
Reading the heated comments on the RIP post by agencyspy was very interesting. Agencyspy seems to be an anonymous blogger with heavy opinions on the local US advertising agency industry. He had previously been very critical of the fellow who had taken his own life in an earlier post. He was apologizing and almost suggesting that he may have played a part in the suicude.
A flaming match between the sympathizers and the cold hearted ensued. One particular comment really caught my attention:
"At first, it struck me as odd that so many of Pauls family would be posting on this obscure industry blog. Cousins, In-laws, etc. Weird, right? Then I realized something. They are just googling him. Google Paul Tilley and all this crap comes up. Fucking internet. When Pauls kids are teens these fucking posts will still come up. We will forget and move on. They will forget and move on. But not the internet. From now on, most everything we do and say is recorded for all time. So now maybe we should all think about what we do and say."
Whilst the extremety of the language in this post is not ideal, I think this guys makes a good point. He is effectively talking about the digital footprint of someone in their death. Similarly to the example of a facebook profile for an unborn child, this fellow has no choice as to what information about him is posted.....