Here's another one of those power-of-the-internet stories that are either delightful or creepy—I can never quite decide which. Maybe both.
Seems a former television anchorwoman in Missouri named Danielle Smith has a blog about being a mom. It's called Extraordinary Mommy. On her blog, she often posts family pictures, which included this family portrait:
It was taken by a photographer friend of hers named Gina Kelly. The Smith family used the shot as their Christmas card.
I guess Mr. Smith does look vaguely Eastern European, huh?
So recently, Danielle joined Facebook, and got back in touch with an old college friend. Before long, he sent her a message saying he'd just seen a picture. In the window of a grocery story. In Prague, in the Czech Republic.
Of Danielle and her family.
So of course he took a picture of it with his cell phone and sent it to her.
And, of course, she blogged about it...and the story went viral, on Duggit and Redaboutit and whatever. So then she started getting comments from people...most of which were friendly, from people who thought it was cool, or who were outraged on her and her family's behalf, or who'd had similar experiences, or who had photographic or copyright information or legal advice for her. As you might expect.
"However, quite a few [comments] were horrendous and nasty. I’ve been called names I hadn’t heard in years," she writes. "Seriously?...You just felt compelled to tell me my husband is the unluckiest guy in the world because he got ’stuck’ with me? Or that he is ugly? Or something even more hideous about my kids? You think I’m a terrible mom for posting family pictures? I’m a moron for not knowing this could happen?"
Personally, I guess I don't know where to come down on the delightful/creepy spectrum. It's pretty amazing, not only that the picture made it from Missouri to to the Czech Republic, but that it also made it back again.
The picture in the grocery store window, of course, is what stock photography is for. The Czech grocer probably just didn't want to pay whatever small fee he might have had to pay to license a stock picture (or didn't know that's what he should have done). If it were me, though, I just might be complimented, if I were in Danielle's position. I might request that the grocer pay a couple of hundred dollars in good faith to the photographer, and then let him keep the picture up.
Of course people do feel differently when they have small children, and I understand that too.
But the one thing about the story I'm certain of is that perfect strangers have no cause to be rude in their comments to Danielle. People in general really do need to learn to be polite, civil, and considerate on the internet, as well as everywhere else. Not just because they might get in trouble for doing the wrong thing, but because being courteous is the right thing.
The e-world, not to mention the real world, is getting more crowded all the time, and the less we feel like being polite to each other, the more important it's going to be for all of us to act that way.
(Thanks to Vance Cowan)