Now, I know that I am a low-key, laid-back type of mom. Ridiculously so, even. I have this belief, before all of the downloaded ideals that we have to over-parent the business out of our kids, that we all grew up to be just fine. We played in the neighborhood for hours unattended and ran around in our “play clothes” climbing trees and building forts like something out of Lord of the Flies until the street lights came on. We ate junk food like they were never going to make it again, played Atari and Nintendo until we had permanently calloused thumbs, and watched violent cartoons like Transformers and Thundercats fight the good fight on Saturday mornings while we stuffed our faces with Count Chocula. There was a certain bliss back then in simply being a kid.
Now there are just too many rules, too many taboos, and too many things to fear or stress about in parenting. It is exhausting and overwhelming.
But I read this article today and found the mom that officially takes the cake in the wound-too-tight-for-the-world parenting. Not a bite, not a slice, but the whole entire cake. This piece had me rolling on the floor laughing from start to finish though not because it was intended to be comedic in any way. If you do not have time to read it, no worries, I will paraphrase throughout.
This is a spectacularly well-written piece about how it is a terrible choice of parents to portray of any facet of your children’s lives on the internet. While I certainly do not agree with most of the sentiments in the article, I am not here to share my viewpoints on the subject– just how crazy that I believe her personally to be. Yes, I said crazy.
Please, take this journey with me, will you?
The picture had been uploaded to a Facebook album, and there were 114 shots just of Kate: freshly cleaned and swaddled on the day of her birth … giving her Labradoodle a kiss … playing on a swing set. But there were also photos of her in a bathtub and an awkward moment posing in her mother’s lacy pink bra.
The bathtub?! A little girl posing in her mother’s bra?! The horror! The HORROR! How will this child face the world after it is discovered there is an awkward picture of her at 2 or 3 in a lace undergarment? Her dreams of Miss America? Dashed for pornographic images, I suppose. What will become of this poor child?
That poses some obvious challenges for Kate’s future self. It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college? We know that admissions counselors review Facebook profiles and a host of other websites and networks in order to make their decisions.
And here we were…thinking that we were just posting adorable photographs of our children on the internet and now we have been informed that we are actually making it hard for them to make it through puberty. Wait, isn’t that our job? I distinctly remember my mother breaking out the old albums every single solitary time that I drug a boy home. Isn’t embarrassing our children all a part of the fun of parenting?
Besides, let us be realistic for just a moment. If a child is being teased in middle school, it is not going to be for a toddler photograph of her in her mother’s pink bra, it is because she doesn’t fill it out her own pink bra by thirteen.
Now, onto the most interesting part of this: the fact that this woman believes that there is a distinct possibility that sharing “a negative parenting experience” may very well lead to rejection by college admission officers thus destroying their fragile future.
Help! I fallen (on the floor laughing) and I can’t get up!
Seriously? No, seriously? That cannot be a thought that she actually feels justified in, can it? Who would think that? How insane do you have to be? Do admission officers check applicant’s Facebook? Um…wouldn’t you in that position? Now, do they check the applicants parents’ Facebook? Hmmmm…this seems a bit more doubtful in nature. What really baked my noodle was the thought that they are they going to go back 16 years and deny admission for the time that the parent posted that they wanted to sell their toddler on the black market for shaving the cat. Wow, just wow. When it comes to justifying reasoning for an ideal, I think this one is reaching at best.
Now for my very favorite part. The section where I went from thinking that this woman was a bit quirky -if not a little kooky- to thinking she was more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket (brace yourself):
Knowing what we do about how digital content and data are being cataloged, my husband and I made an important choice before our daughter was born. We decided that we would never post any photos or other personally identifying information about her online. Instead, we created a digital trust fund.
The process started in earnest as we were selecting her name. We’d narrowed the list down to a few alternatives and ran each (and their variants) through domain and keyword searches to see what was available. Next, we crawled through Google to see what content had been posted with those name combinations, and we also looked to see if a Gmail address was open.
We turned to KnowEm.com, a website I often rely on to search for usernames, even though the site is primarily intended as a brand registration service. We certainly had a front-runner for her name, but we would have chosen something different if the KnowEm results produced limited availability or if we found negative content associated with our selection.
With her name decided, we spent several hours registering her URL and a vast array of social media sites. All of that tied back to a single email account, which would act as a primary access key. We listed my permanent email address as a secondary—just as you’d fill out financial paperwork for a minor at a bank. We built a password management system for her to store all of her login information.
On the day of her birth, our daughter already had accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Github. And to this day, we’ve never posted any content.
All accounts are kept active but private. We also regularly scour the networks of our friends and family and remove any tags. Those who know us well understand and respect our “no posts about the kid” rule.
When we think she’s mature enough (an important distinction from her being technically old enough), we’ll hand her an envelope with her master password inside. She’ll have the opportunity to start cashing in parts of her digital identity, and we’ll ensure that she’s making informed decisions about what’s appropriate to reveal about herself, and to whom.
I do not even know where to begin in my complete and utter shock by everything in these statements. I suppose I will start with the most ridiculous process in choosing your child’s name that I have ever heard in all of my existence. Do you know how we chose my son’s name? He is named for his grandfather, James (we chose the modern “variant”, Jameson: son of James) and his middle name because it sounded beautiful rolling off of the tongue with both his first and last names. Bing, bang, boom.
Bear with me now, while I paint this picture for you: these two were burning the midnight oil -like they were researching a cure for cancer, for goodness’ sake- plugging in potential names into Google and other similar sites to ensure that their precious child did not share a name with a dead transient hooker or junkie murder suspect. We only want clean names in this family, dear! Of which, they were perfectly willing to discard if a name was flagged for “negative content”. Romantic people, aren’t they?
Then, after partaking in one of the most unemotional and robotic methods of what should be a fun and joyous bonding experience for pregnant couples, they took directly back to the internet to begin setting up social media accounts for a fetus. Yes, you heard me (I am literally dying right now as I type this), I said that they set up Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram along with a private URL and a Gmail account for an unborn fetus -on which they post nothing– so that one day they may dole out portions of her “digital identity” to her as they see fit (I am almost crying onto my keyboard at this point).
That is it. Call up the people with the butterfly nets and tell them to ready a padded room. These people are just crackers.
I understand making a conscious decision to keep your children’s images off of the internet. However, when you take it to such an extreme you sound like a certifiable loon in my personal opinion. Can you imagine being a family member and getting an irate phone call about a family event in which Suzie No-digital-identity may be in a photograph that you had the audacity to post? You know, since they “regularly scour the networks of our friends and family and remove any tags”. “We are very upset that you didn’t respect our ‘no posts about the kid rule’! Haven’t you ever heard of facial recognition software?!”
This is just another prime example of how we, as a culture, are overthinking this whole parenting gig. As parents, it is our job to keep them alive, keep them as healthy as we can, and get them to adulthood with as little emotional damage as humanly possible. Everything over that is pretty much icing on the cake.
Put the laptop down, name your child after your favorite flower or where they were conceived, and worry about social media when your child is actually old enough to even know what technology is, much less how to use it responsibly.
Stop worrying about your children’s future so much that you actually forget to enjoy their childhood.
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.