I have this Facebook "friend." We'll call her Anne. Anne is a stylish, beautiful adult woman who commutes by train each day to work. Lately, it seems, every one of her days is plagued by the offensive odors and appearances of others. She simply can't handle it when a woman wears clogs, and she seems ready to call the police the second a poor, hungry soul so much as takes out an unwrapped sandwich on the train.
How do I know all this? Because she doesn't just rant about it on her Facebook page -- she also provides photographic proof. In other words, she'll snap your photo if she doesn't like you and splash it all over her page for the world to see and mock. It may be legal to do this, but that doesn't keep it from being a totally tacky thing to do.
Some of her photos are relatively harmless. She'll catch someone wearing a leopard skin mini skirt at 8 in the morning, snap her from the waist down, and caption it with: "Walk of shame?" Or she'll photograph the countless ways women wear Ugg boots with whatever pants she feels don't "go" with the furry shoes. Silly, Joan Rivers-type nonsense.
And then sometimes I scroll down my Facebook homepage and find photos of what look like families sitting side by side on the train, ravenously tearing into cartons of Chinese food. And I am horrified. Not because I've eaten on a train (after 12-hour work days with basically no lunch break, you bet I have), but because it feels like this woman is invading these people's lives and, worse, inviting others to make nasty comments about them based on a snapshot of something they did for 10 minutes that day.
She isn't doing anything illegal. When you're out in public, you shouldn't have any expectation of privacy. That means you can be walking your dog and someone can catch a bird pooping on your shoulder and totally post that baby on his wall or Tumblr and you'll just have to deal with it. Such is life in this day and age.
But that doesn't mean we can't still be courteous and mind our manners online.
Do you think it's okay to take and post photos of strangers on Facebook and other social media sites?
Image via David Goehring/Flickr