To share or not to share: privacy, social media, and DXing

DXing can be a very social hobby.  With annual conventions, message boards, and email lists giving DXers a chance to be heard worldwide at the click of a button, it can be hard to keep anything to yourself.

Advances in technology in the past decade has made it simple to share anything and everything about DXing on multiple social media and file sharing platforms.  One could post a dial scan video on YouTube, photos of their shack on Facebook, or a reception report on a propagation logger.  It can bring people with like interests together in an inviting environment, as well as allow new people to discover what DXing has to offer.  It’s easy to be social in today’s world.

But for some, there is a fine line between being an open book and retaining what little they may feel is left of their privacy online.

In our everyday lives, deciding what to post on social media likely has some boundaries that common sense dictates what you should or not post.  This includes not posting things that may lead to identity theft, such as social security numbers, tax returns, home addresses, or medical information.

DXing, on the other hand, is fairly unique in regard to being tightly connected to the very things that some may feel hesitant to divulge to others.  A typical reception report posted on social media often includes the DXer’s name, their current location, and an exact mileage calculation from a known FM transmitter to their receiving location, which is often their home.  While other DXers use this information to discuss current happenings in the hobby and possibly to determine potential DX in their neck of the woods, it all can put people out there and make them more visible in the public eye.  This information may not reveal your deepest secrets to others, but it could be cause for concern for some.

So, what should you post and keep private?  It is all personal preference.  While one DXer may post his home address in his email signature seen by all in an email list and feel comfortable doing it, another DXer may not even want their picture anywhere online, even in a private email.  There’s no right or wrong way to handle this situation, and I respect any and all choices others make in regard to their boundaries with posting on social media.

Personally, I fall in the middle of the spectrum.  When I started to DX in 1999, there was no social media.  I largely had no digital footprint in terms of DXing at all until around 2004, when I started to frequent the TV/FM Skip Log, occasionally posting when I got DX.  I debuted this site in 2006 and for years, my actual first name was part of this website’s title.  I changed that in 2016 in an unrelated-to-privacy website rebranding (for the record, my name is David).

Perhaps the biggest challenge in regard to social media privacy I faced as a DXer was when I joined several FM DXing-focused Facebook groups in the early 2010s.  Up until then, I was only known by first name in DXing circles, and I also wasn’t sure if I was ready to allow certain elements of Facebook (i.e. profile picture, employer, etc.) available to be seen to others in these groups.  At the time, I kept my DXing “world” largely disconnected from my family and real-life friends “world” on Facebook, so merging the two took some confidence.  However, it was a seamless move and I am glad I did.

So what are my personal limits for what I share online?  As previously mentioned, my Facebook is fairly open in terms of what you can find, but some of the things you won’t see on this website are my last name, home address, or a photograph of me.  Why a decreased level of sharing on this blog?  It is simply due to this website having a wider worldwide audience than my Facebook page.

Overall, there’s nothing wrong what a DXer shares online.  It’s all up to the individual, and there’s no right or wrong amount of information that should be shared.  I wouldn’t be offended if a DXer vowed to stay off social media completely.  Everyone has their own reasons for choosing what they do.  As long as you are comfortable with what you post online, then that’s all that matters.