Jan 25 2013
The author of this Globe article argues that parents need to be far more thoughtful when they blog about their children. With the efficiency of archiving sites like the WayBackMachine, some things will never, ever disappear from the web.
Recently, The Atlantic ran an article by Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the plague of “parental overshare”: the reams of articles and blog posts by parents whose favourite, if not sole, subject is their kids. She cites a New York Times blog post by Beth Boyle Machlan about her daughter’s obsessive compulsive disorder in which she describes intimate details of a therapy session, and the recent controversy over “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” a post-Newtown piece by a blogger named Liza Long who pegs her own troubled 13-year-old son as a potential mass murderer, illustrated by his photo. […]
Without question, Weiss’s writing – her daughter’s body and eating habits are unpacked in agonizing detail – invades her kid’s privacy in a way that would be libellous if children had any rights. Bovy argues that charting a child’s issues, be they as banal as bedwetting or as serious as threatening one’s mother with a knife, also makes them susceptible to negative outcomes later on. A vivid description of a knife-wielding incident in adolescence forges an electronic footprint that can’t be scrubbed away. These tales of youthful indiscretions might pop up during a job interview or a college application. In giving away our kids’ present lives in public, we may be sabotaging their private futures.
I am so thankful that my mother, a writer, was not an “over-sharing” mommy blogger. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have details about my potty training, my teenage angst and that awkward incident with my first boyfriend posted online for all to see. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl.
And sure, one could argue that these are rites of passage that everyone lives through and therefore there’s no need for concern. But when people are spending big money to create online personae and branding to promote messages or products that they believe are important, it’s hard to breezily dismiss the impact of an unwanted online biography.
Imagine if someone were to Google your name to then be faced with the opportunity to learn about either your perspective on tax law or your very awkward first kiss. I’d like to think that people are more interested in the exchange of ideas, but the tabloid industry reveals a very different side of our human nature. We really do need to careful when we post about ourselves and others.
(I think I might call my mother and thank her for choosing to write fiction rather than about me and my brother.)
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