Should you ask for permission before posting your sibling’s picture online?

YES you should. Now, continue reading to hear the story.

My brother had posted a family photo recently which had the entire family, including me, smiling in our living room as part of a small family celebration. Even though we were all decked out in nice clothes and I had makeup on and so I looked ok in the picture, I still considered this to be a private event and a very private picture. I found his action of posting online to be disrespectful, infringing on my privacy and completely uncomfortable. When I raised this issue at home, my dad defended him, “Doesn’t family have rights to post pictures online? Are we strangers to ask for permission?”

You see, I’m a private person with 150 followers, all of whom I’ve studied, worked with and have interacted with personally in real life. My brother, on the other hand, has more than 500 followers and worse, none of them are in my social circle. People have different ideas of boundaries, different uses of social media and different intentions behind their social profile. For me, I was appalled to know random people were looking at my picture.

Didn’t you upload your pictures on a dating app a month ago, you might ask. I did. And I revoked access within a day because it made me so uncomfortable. I put up a brave facade that women shouldn’t feel uncomfortable putting themselves out there. If my brother feels at ease uploading his face on a dating app, so should I, I fight. However,  years of being shamed for putting on make-up, for putting up my picture on Facebook – what would men looking at you think? you attention seeker, my mum’s slut shaming is etched in my brain. I’m deeply uncomfortable with being in the limelight or even having pictures of my face online. Also, the recent weight gain in the past year of Covid lockdown has made me insecure. I’m not at ease with my pictures nor with my appearance at the moment and you have to respect my feelings. I don’t want to put up fake pictures of me in filters on my Instagram so I’d rather not put up any at all.

However, even if I’m comfortable with my body, even if I make my dating profile live, to uplaod pictures online is my decision and my right. It is a consequence I chose to face. However, I didn’t choose to be seen by 500 people whom I don’t know. Moreover, my pictures are edited, curated and filtered by me to reveal what I’m comfortable with. My unguarded smile, the slight slouching because I’m chilling in my own house is not for the world to see. My weight gain is not for the world to see, at least not till I’m comfortable with it. Being a family member does NOT give one automatic rights to posting pictures. This also applies to friends for no matter how close you two are, it is a form of respect and love to just flash your phone screen at your friend and give them a warning that, “hey, i”m going to put this up on my insta story.”

We are really thick friends, ours is not a superficial friendship like yours, my brother brags. In this day and age where anything online is permanent, when social media is more than curating memories, when insecurities are high because of the constant perfection we see on SM, it is imperative to ask for permission. It is love, friendship and respect to ask for consent before you upload. It doesn’t belittle your friendship, it only strengthens. If this is new to you, then acknowledge that you might not have been practising the best habits before and change. I didn’t know about this when I started social media either but I know it now and I’m trying to adopt it.

Finally, one of the reasons why I had this big argument with my brother in front of my family(and get branded as an arrogant bitch who talks too much) is to teach my parents about privacy online. Before they post other people’s kids on WhatsApp status for cute birthdays, they should be thinking twice too.

ASK, no matter how close you two are. ASK, because it is the other person’s right not yours. ASK for consent and permission are cool, respectful and kind words.

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