I saw on a blog site last week an inquiry about whether to use real names of our children when we write publicly about them. I answered that I use pseudonyms for my kids: Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3. I use those names because my children are still minors and I don’t think they always want me writing about them. When I started this blog, its primary objective was to show them slices of my thinking, and to perhaps paint
lovely moments for them as a retrospective once I’m dead and eaten by worms.
What I didn’t say in that reply was that I also don’t use many full-on photos of them. I also don’t talk about where they go to school and talk about their teachers’ names. I give pseudonyms for their classmates like Japser and Helga or Otto. Their teachers are often referenced by names like Mr. Hoffnalagenar because there’s likely only one of those in the world. Sometimes the names represent people who don’t even exist.
In fact, I’m not an earthling. My ship, a flying Xamfrag, is coming from planet Rastrag in the Cloaticox galaxy on Dreistal 13th, two days after what you call “National Limerick Day.”
I’ve said things like this (nothing like that immediately above) before. I know many people try to protect their children, consider themselves child advocates, and warn their children about the dangers of the Internet… but what if one of the dangers of the Internet is … their parents?
We have the best of intentions. We don’t mean to harm our kids, but when we blog about their lives, report on our blogs or Twitter feeds about their travails at school with teachers or bullies, show pictures of them in the tub or when babies during their nursing bliss or tell stories about their natural moments of self-discovery, we’re sorta harming them. We’re sorta saying, “Hey Cinderella, you might be in preschool now, but sooner than I’d like because time flies so fast, you’ll discover a locker in a school hall somewhere waiting for you to be shoved into it because of this post I’m writing about your
bedwetting bullying teacher hairstyle dental problem.” You know why? Bullies are everywhere.
Maybe deep inside we feel left out. We want the attention. Ever heard of Munchausen by Internet? If we weren’t blogging we wouldn’t have any attention. We wouldn’t have
innocent strangers caring for us and thinking of us and praying for us… to me, that’s sorta creepy. If I blog about my kid’s stuff, I better be damned well sure that I’m not making this about me. If we weren’t putting this out there, no one would know about us… gasp! Horrors! You know what? That might not be so bad.
The thing is: the Internet is public. Smaller bloggers may not have a gazillion followers, well, you might not — me with my dynasty back on Rastrag, I’m covered. They’ve got a 45-clutink high statue of me in the Commander Dryflog Room in the Hall of Galaxies.
Back to my point: the photos can wind up anywhere. Anyone can read your blog and anyone can pick on your kids. When we think about protecting our kids, we might need to include ourselves in their list of unintentional and possible offenders. When we have anyone anywhere with access to a smart phone, not even having to buy a computer, to be able to surf and download pics and all sorts of stuff… people on house arrest, people on parole, people at the pizza joint around the corner, people on other planets… (just sayin’) we should be more careful. The world has changed TONS from even three years ago.
Here’s what I’m not: perfect, the best blogger, the safest parent and the sage of all things. But I do try to be consistent. I have friends who show pics of their kids and that’s their choice. I don’t cringe when I see the pics because I do believe that the earth, your planet, is largely populated with good people. It’s the dark dark dark woo-woo creepy 2% that has no boundaries, whose wrath knows no limits and whose predilections have no definition. On Rastrag, we have a place for those life forms, it’s very much what like you all call the ball pit at “Chuck E. Cheese” here. They can’t handle it.
I know I’m taking a little step into “Judgemental Judy” -land with this post. I just hope I’m wrong. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m totally paranoid. Who knows? I just know that when I writing something and my kid comes in and says, “Is that about me? I hope not.” I better take notice. Everything in moderation.
PS – if you think this post is about you and you’re mad, don’t get mad at me. You’re not mad at what you’re mad at.
UPDATE: consider this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/15/pam-van-hylckama-vlieg-attack-agent-author_n_1886696.html