Just when I’d got back on the writing wagon; feeling excited about my New Year’s Resolution to post more frequently… I hit upon a stumbling block that may well be impossible to recover from. All of a sudden my passion for writing has been swallowed up by something far, far, more serious, and I am at a loss what my next move should be.
After writing Unhidden Identity back at the start of November, I have harboured a vague, yet niggling, concern that perhaps I had tempted fate by being blasé about the dangers of the internet. The reason for this initial nonchalance probably rested on the following factors:
I don’t consider myself wealthy enough to be a likely victim of identity theft; if anyone hacked into my bank account they would be bitterly disappointed at what they would find.
Nor do I consider myself pretty or intriguing enough to be stalked; though a friend jokingly warned that I might share Whitney Houston’s fate in The Bodyguard. Not something I’d be too distressed by to be honest if the cautionary measure is to have Kevin Costner follow me around all day.
But I think the basis of my lack of concern is probably because I know of no one who has suffered from the internet, other than wasting away too much time on Facebook. Sure; I’ve been told that putting personal details on the web can be dangerous…but I have never heard of it occurring; so have fallen into the classic case of thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’.
When I set up this blog I thought long and hard about whether to reveal our real names. Considering I had chosen to share funny photos of Sam to enhance my otherwise boring ramblings, I decided just our first names would do no additional harm. It has saved me from referring to Sam as ‘Squigglebum’ or some other such name in an attempt to sound cute yet original. I have refrained from using our surname, and have been as guarded as I can about where we live.
But; except for an invasion of his privacy; I have not been able to come up with any risk that I am putting Sam in by writing this blog. I now realise how horribly mistaken and naïve I have been.
In order to explain to non-bloggers what has happened, I am going to have to go off subject for a bit: forgive me if this sounds insensitive to the seriousness of the situation I have landed both of us in.
On WordPress, on what is known as the Dashboard, you are able to view your stats to see how well your blog is being received. I can also see the specific search terms used by unknown people that have subsequently redirected them to my site. I get a great deal of pleasure out of perusing this list; as they are often very random, tenuous links; and I can imagine the searcher’s frustration at finding themselves at my blog. Here are the ones listed from this last week:
- ‘mummybigbum at wordpress’ – there is no question as to whether this person was indeed looking for my blog: hooray, someone is interested! (If it was you though, please sign up for email notifications as it’ll make me feel more popular!)
- ‘big bum’ – possibly someone looking for me, or possibly just someone sharing my affliction
- ‘huge bum’ – I must admit I took a little offense from this
- ‘facebook stalking’ – hello fellow compadre in obsessive behaviour!
- ‘who is stalking you on facebook’ – not something I’ve ever been bigheaded enough to presume happens to me
- ‘if I accidentally liked something on facebook and unlike it will the person get a notification’ – this was worthy of a big guffaw (see my Facebook Stalking post)
- ‘man out of chicken run’ – I used a Chicken Run image in an earlier post
- ‘oyuncak mutfak’ – which I believe means ‘toy kitchen’ in Turkish, I can’t figure out any connection to this blog
- ‘rosacea promis’ – I have rubbish skin that flushes really easily; with Rosacea being the suspected cause
- ‘rosacea 19 year old female’ – yay it is not just restricted to elderly people; I am not a freak after all!
- ‘acne girl’ – now that is just pure unkind. I am Acne Girl with a Huge Bum. Cheers Google.
- *EDIT* These are the most recent ones: ‘wet mummy’, ‘burning skin ice cube’, ‘bigbumold man(my favorite nude dad)free video’,’bored 14 year old girl’, ‘does papular eczema ever go away?’ – Shows how varied the people are who come to my site.
So those are the sorts of things I have become accustomed to finding under ‘Search Terms’ – a list of random, sometimes somewhat amusing terms.
But the smile has been wiped off my face, and I know that if I continue this blog I will feel a huge sense of trepidation each time I enter the Dashboard. Never ever did I imagine what I would be reading there on Friday night:
Actually I daren’t even write it in case it links this blog more closely to the disgusting, heartbreaking filth that the searcher intended to find. I am in tears again now; not just for what it means to Sam, but for what it means for children in general. Someone; some sick, sick individual; clicked on my blog hoping to see images of a toddler in the nude.
A paedophile has seen photos of my Sam.
The moment I first saw it I began physically retching. Two days on, and tears are never far from the surface. My hands have developed a constant shake.
My baby; my lovely, sweet, innocent little child, who knows nothing of the evils of this world…has been viewed by a paedophile.
It is truly horrific to imagine; yet I am unable to get it out of my head. I have no words to describe the revulsion I feel: you are supposed to be able to write at your best on subjects that are close to your heart…but any attempt at describing this horrendous discovery would fall so far short of expressing my feelings; that to attempt to do so would detract from the horror of the situation.
I have just about recovered from the shock of it and am now left with what remains; disgust, fear, and a dead weight in the pit of my stomach.
I am glad that I have given myself time to think before carrying out the natural reaction of deleting this entire blog. But that thinking time has not provided me with the wisdom of what course to take.
A friend tried to reassure me that the paedophile wouldn’t have lingered long; my blog certainly does not provide the material he was after. But the fact remains that he did see photographs of my little boy; and that upsets me more than I can say. When becoming a parent you make an unspoken vow to protect your child no matter what. The crushing guilt of having put Sam in this position is enough to make me struggle to breathe.
On the other hand, it can’t be said that I have threatened his physical safety: I am fairly confident I haven’t yet let enough details slip about our whereabouts. This didn’t stop me, however, from checking on Sam obsessively for the past two nights. I have only once left the house/garden; and we stuck to very public areas. And I am also extra clingy to the poor boy.
My mum friend, whom I respect and trust to the ends of this earth, has no doubt in her mind that I should make all photos and information about Sam vanish from the web. I know that many other mothers would take the same stance. I just can’t decide whether or not I am one of them.
Another friend is insisting that the chances of this blog coming up in a search such as that are fairly non-existent. We were just extremely unlucky and it is unlikely to happen again. But should I really be taking that risk? What would that say about me as a mother?
I know what my gut is telling me to do, but a very selfish part of my brain is adamant I should carry on as before. It may sound ridiculous, but even though I don’t post as often as others do, this blog has become a hugely important part of my life. It has opened up a whole new world to me. I never before realised how much I miss writing; how much I loath the fact I have left my brain to fester for the past two (or arguably four) years. I have received such kind praise and support for this blog and it has done wonders for my self confidence. Not only that, but it has created ideas for how I want my future to pan out.
I do not usually ask for comments, but if you have the time, please let me know your thoughts. The options I can think of are as follows:
- Delete this blog and stop blogging entirely
- Delete this blog and restart one without photos or names
- Continue with this blog but delete all past photos and do not upload any more
- Continue as if nothing has happened, with increased caution as to providing personal information
In the meantime, I have requested that this blog is not listed as a search result; but apparently search engines do not have to comply. Please can a more experienced blogger/tech savvy person let me know of anything I can do to further increase security?
Thank you for reading; I’d really appreciate your advice.