As someone who has been an avid Facebook user almost since the site launched and whose job has included the professional management of institutional social media accounts for the past six years, I like to think that I’m pretty good at using the Internet.
Maybe my advancing age and (now fatherly?) sensibilities don’t put me on the cutting edge of the most-used social media networks (For example, I hope to live the rest of my life without ever being on Snapchat), but I have a deep knowledge and understanding of social media and web content and all of that fun digital stuff. I’ve even managed to snag the online equivalent of 15 minutes of fame by achieving true “virality” with several things that I’ve posted online. The point is, I have my Internet driver’s license. I’m no idiot.
So when I set up this blog in secret–a self-hosted WordPress site, no less–I prided myself on how cool it would be to have a whole blog full of “new dad” content fleshed out and waiting for my friends and family to feast upon when my wife and I went public with our announcement in the new year.
Last week, I thought it might also be cool to create a Twitter account for this site and start following some other Daddy bloggers and parenting accounts to familiarize myself with the online community of which I am now a member.
As I have for various other personal and professional projects, I headed over to Twitter and began to set up an account. Fortunately, the username @dadhasablog was not taken. Sweet. I began filling out my profile and entered my cell phone as the phone to be associated with the account.
This should have been my first tipoff that something could go wrong, as Twitter immediately started suggesting that I follow various friends and acquaintances that I follow on my personal Twitter account. I wonder how Twitter knows that I know all these people, I casually thought to myself. Oh, well, I just won’t follow them right now. It’ll make things easier when this account is more public and I want my friends to follow it.
I finished setting up the account.
I moved on to other things–like trying to find a suitable theme for this site that satisfies both my visual urge for minimalism and my mental mania for sharing lots of information. About 10 minutes later, I clicked back to my new Twitter account tab, ready to tweet my blog’s first post and beef up my profile for eventual later discovery by others. To my horror, I had some unread notifications. New followers? Well, maybe some of the parenting publications I had followed were already following me back. That’s cool.
But no. It was not the parenting publications. And it was not cool.
Apparently Twitter had blown my cover. Since I had associated my cell phone number with the account, Twitter took the liberty of alerting all of my personal Twitter account followers to the presence of my new account via Twitter notification and an individual email. Who does that?! I’ve never received an email like that from Twitter.
So now my followers were starting to follow my new account…and visiting my new blog that I had so knowingly included in my Twitter profile…and reading my first post, which was detailed enough to make it perfectly obvious which one of their friends was the new Dad with the new blog.
This was not at all how I had planned to share this news. I felt the kind of fear and regret that is normally reserved for situations like accidentally sending an email about someone to that someone.
I quickly deleted the Twitter account and hurried back to my blog to make all of the posts private. But the damage was done. In my haste, I didn’t notice exactly who had followed my new account, but WordPress statistics told me that about 15 people had visited the site.
Then I received a G-chat message.
“I AM SO FILLED WITH JOY!” the message said. “And I will keep my mouth shut.”
Then I received a text message.
“Lucky for you I’m better than Twitter at secrets,” my friend texted, including the above screenshot.
Then I received another text message.
“When I saw the alert, I thought my Dad created a Twitter account,” a former colleague texted. “But when I clicked on it, I was pretty clear what I was reading.”
Luckily, the bleeding seemed to stop shortly after that. Three former co-workers and a friend from college. These people now joined me and my wife as the only souls on Earth who knew about the new soul we had just brought to Earth. I swore all of my new confidantes to secrecy and tried to lower my blood pressure.
Meanwhile, I had texted and G-chatted and emailed my wife so I could confess this grievous sin and seek penance. Afraid that something was seriously wrong, she soon gave me a call. When I told her what had happened, she laughed.
Eventually, I laughed as well, though it took a little longer for me to let Twitter off the hook and blame myself for this debacle. Thanks to my own stupidity and Twitter’s need to drive “engagement,” this blog is now firmly password-protected and Twitter-free until we let the
cat kitten out of the bag for ourselves.
In an always-on, over-connected world, anonymity is impossible and secrets should stay offline.
Just another life lesson to teach my kid. Also, don’t try to keep secrets from me, kid. Twitter will always alert me.