The Facebook wedding: where privacy and private lives are blurred

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Picture your living room at home – the room setup, the wall colour, the furniture. You might have a coffee table in your living room – place it in your mind’s eye. Are there books on the coffee table, photo albums, perhaps? Let’s just say for arguments sake that there are a stack of photo albums on the table with photos of recent holidays, family events, birthdays, anniversaries – basically anything semi important or monumental one would want to document. Now picture a large screen, perhaps the size of a movie theatre screen, but instead of a movie playing on the screen, your personal photos are being projected live in front of hundreds of watching eyes. How does that make you feel? Shocked? Embarrassed? Or maybe proud? Welcome to the world of Facebook albums, those series of mindlessly uploaded photos we knowingly or unknowingly project out into the world. But let’s go back to our imagination game. Let your mind drift to your upcoming wedding, a day no doubt that will go down into your personal history of monumental occasions. So – to Facebook your photos or to not? What is the correct method of conduct – the middle road? And do you want to take it or break tradition? This article will tackle some of these important 21st century dilemmas, helping you make important decisions over just how public you want to go.

A great feature of Facebook, and one that keeps us coming back time and time again, is that, like many things in the world today, it is instant. Updates occur in real time – all the time. Having evolved from the early days where many users were known to inform the world of hugely important facts, such as the fact that they were tired or hungry or – newsflash – tired and hungry, today live status updates still occur but a lot of the time they are used to represent the person who posted them in a positive light. Which brings us to our next point: Facebook, in general, is a tool for showing the world the best parts of our lives and as a byproduct, downplaying the boring and negative aspects of it. Weddings, as we know, are joyous occasions, and occasions we feel proud of, so it is common for brides to want to share their big day with their friends, even if the majority of their so-called friends on Facebook, are only that: so-called. So what to do? Do we share our photos or do we not? And if share our photos on Facebook what are the implications?

Well, for starters, let’s just remind everyone that not everyone is interested in your wedding photos. Yes, it’s true. As much as they mean to us, to the 538 friends we have on Facebook they may be irritating. People may like to see one or two photos of us and our chosen partner, if for no other reason than to nudge themselves in glee and think to themselves, gee, I can’t believe she ended up with him. Most people have no problem with being a voyeur, most people actually enjoy having that little window into the lives of people we never see except on a screen. But try putting up hundreds of photos of your wedding day and people will likely get a bit narky, especially those who aren’t in a positive relationship of their own and are not as lucky. For those people there can be nothing worse than logging into their account and being met with not one or two, but image after image of your smiling self, wrapped around your smiling partner.

So, to upload photos of your big day onto Facebook and by doing so have them looked at by a good number of people you never even speak to, or to keep it quiet and celebrate modestly, only sharing your wedding photos with close friends and family? There is no black and white answer, no hard and fast rules. But there are a few guidelines. Number one: only post images online if you yourself are comfortable with them being seen by more people than you realize. Number two: try not to shove your smiling faces onto other people by posting hundreds of wedding photos. Yes, we all have a choice whether to click through them, but let’s face it: how many us wouldn’t want to see who our best friend from grade 2 ended up marrying. Number three: Realise that posting images online makes them public – more public than we might be comfortable with, and number four: post carefully, because the images you choose will likely be scrutinized by at least a few jealous people. And lastly, number five: ask yourself the question, which is more real – photos posted on Facebook, or photos you can hold in your hand and keep on your coffee table?



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