Firstly, let me say that what I’m about to post has no real genesis in any one set of parents or persons. Its something that I’ve been talking about with various friends in the past few days, and then even put to friends and followers on Facebook yesterday. So nobody get their panties in a twist thinking I’m referring to that one time you said your kid’s shit smelled like that of a geriatric trucker with a diet consisting solely of convenience store burritos. Just simmer down.
But what’s got me thinking lately is social media, and its place in the family. I am a hard-core user and abuser of several forms of social media. I’ve made some wonderful friends, and have gotten to network with people I probably never would have without Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the like. I heart social media.
But I also know that nothing is gone forever with the Internet. I could delete this blog post tomorrow, but you would be able to find a cached version of it on Google – probably pretty quickly. And while I may have 700 followers on Twitter, for instance, how many of those 700 people do I actually know? I’m fairly certain I can winnow that down to not even a percentage point.
All of this means that I have found myself thinking twice before hitting enter or send when I post about John. I was reminded recently by a friend (via Facebook, natch) of a Quaker philosophy to apply to a statement or sentiment before expressing it: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Such a three-pronged litmus test to anything would avoid a lot of hurt, it was thought.
I think the Quakers were right on this one.
When I posed a question on Facebook last night. It was long, and probably rambling, but the gist was this: Do you worry that your kid – down the road – will read your posts and come away with something less than positive? Will John at age 10 look and maybe be embarrassed at the amount of baby pictures, but otherwise be OK with what I said about him, or will he feel as if he was unloved as a baby, unappreciated, or anything less than the wonderful blessing he was?
The answers were interesting. Some insisted that in this age, with our children growing up knowing nothing of a world without social media, they would be better equipped to deal with the negative their parents might have put out there for hundreds or even thousands to read in their formative years. Others said that they were also more careful, since we don’t know indeed that children 10 years from now will not feel hurt that their parent said something hurtful on the Internet. Another said that now that her children are old enough to have accounts, she is not above addressing certain things via social media if she thinks it will correct a behavior – but that they were allowed to ask for something she said to be removed if they felt uncomfortable by it, which is probably perfect if your child is old enough to verbalize his or her displeasure.
I think that all boils down to one thing: This is a new thing, one not addressed in any parenting book. And much like other new things that came down the pike, parents are left largely to their own devices to figure out what will hopefully be best.
But for me, I think I’ll err on the side of caution, and think like a Quaker when it comes to talking about my baby in public. After all, I’d flat out go mama bear on anyone who bullied my kid on the Internet and talked badly about them. Whose parents do I call if I’m the one doing it?