On the day of the climate strike last year, my mother proudly shared a photo of my sister and me holding our picket sign on her public Instagram account with a couple of hundred followers. We didn't think much else of it, until my Facebook feed began to blow up with notifications: SBS News had picked up the photo and posted it to its Facebook, with more than a million followers. It was soon inundated with comments labelling my sister and me everything from "uneducated" to "virtue signalling little turds".
It was a social media blow-up that we had never asked for, and could never have imagined. But Mum had asked for our OK to post the photo, so while it was far from pleasant, we were able to withstand the abuse because we both felt confident in the way we were portrayed. I couldn't imagine how the same situation would have gone if I hadn't given permission for mum to post that photo, and watch it subsequently be plastered across the internet.
My mother, like an increasing number of parents, is no stranger to posting what seems like every event in the lives of me, my sister and our dog to her social media followers. (Mostly our dog.) Family friends joke that the weekend doesn't start until they've seen at least one photo of my dog failing to spot me out on the water at rowing. When we go on holidays, relatives back home await reviews from the "hot chocolate critics", where mum will share our ratings on our beverage of choice, a theme for some years.
This is all harmless, and will be nice to look back on one day. But as my sister and I grow up and get social media profiles of our own, the debate over whether mum can photograph, post and tag us has become much more contentious. When I saw Apple Martin's annoyance at her own mother's unauthorised photo sharing (albeit, with 5.3 million followers to my mother's few hundred), it felt like deja vu.