You all know who I am. Probably. While I don’t include my name on this site (mostly), I don’t think it would be too hard for someone to figure out who “Tenor Dad” really is. After all, I post everything I write through my personal Facebook page, and I assume that nobody else is so fanatically crazy about this site that they share every single post. And I have pictures up of me and my family, which certainly could be used to identify me. And I’m not all that concerned about it. Or at least I wasn’t.
You see, I realize that the veil of privacy on the internet is thin at best, and I know with great certainty that anybody who really wanted to track me down would have no problem. I couldn’t do it, because I don’t have those skills, but somebody could. Or they could ask me and I would tell them. As I said, I’m not trying to remain completely anonymous. What I am going for is not having a story about my children pooping show up first thing on a Google search when a potential employer is cyber-stalking them prior to a big interview. That’s all I wanted. And have I succeeded? Well, when I Google my children’s full names, this site does not come up. So far, so good. I have protected myself from my children’s future employers.
What never occurred to me was that someone might use this site to track me down and kill me, or threaten to do so. And thankfully, no one has. But last week, after the live-on-television murders of two people, a dad-blogger colleague wrote a response to this event, in which he condemned the NRA for the culture of guns in this country. You might agree with him (I do), or you might not, but it was his opinion that you can’t tell from looking, who the responsible gun owners and NRA members are, and who the crazy people about to go on a shooting spree are. I’m not here today to argue about whether the NRA is good or bad, mostly because I do not want to die, but I am here to talk about what happened next.
Within hours, this blogger started receiving anonymous phone calls from blocked numbers, threatening and harassing him. They claimed to represent the NRA, although this is probably false. His site was flooded with hate and vitriol attacking him for his position, and while this is fair game on the internet it seems, these messages were sprinkled with threats against him and his family. It got so bad that, within 24 hours he had to take his site down and block calls to his private phone. He was terrified for his safety and for his children’s safety. All because he posted an opinion online.
What would I do if I hit post today, and an hour later someone called my cell phone and said they were going to shoot me? This thought has never occurred to me. This site is littered with pictures of my children. Should I take them all down? Should I stop doing this altogether? What if I have an opinion at some point? What if you disagree with me? Should I fear for my life? And even if I decided to shut this site down and start blogging somewhere else, anonymously, would that protect me? Also in the recent news was the release of boatloads of personal data from a very secure database. Addresses, phone numbers, sexual fantasies, all searchable by the general public. There is no privacy. Anybody that wants to find me will find me. Where is my hidey-hole?
I posted an apparently controversial article recently that became my most shared piece ever, and it generated a huge amount of discussion (argument) in the comment section. No one has offered to kill me for writing it. Thanks for that. I try to keep the serious issues here somewhat balanced, and offer the opposing position even if I am coming down firmly on the other side. I am not always right. You are also not always right. Things are generally more complicated than “this is right and that is wrong” anyway. Maybe that’s why I have not received any threats. But I am going to take a stand today and say, unequivocally, that no one deserves to have their life threatened for sharing an opinion. Ever. Even if this person holds an opinion that you find despicable and harmful to society, they ought not to be harassed and shot at. They deserve discussion, inclusion, and perhaps education, but an enemy never changed a mind. To change someone’s mind, you need to be a friend.
Please internet, for my sake, and for my friend’s sake, be a friend today.