I started my blogging adventure at a relatively late stage. While most parent-bloggers are initially inspired by newly born babies, my passion was kindled by the unexpected challenges of fathering teenagers, more specifically teenage boys. I thought that a worthy effort at detailing my (way too many) opinions, my experiences, and my challenges with the boys, would be fun to write, and maybe even interesting to read. But what I didn’t predict was the dudes’ reaction to my new career.
Their rules came down swift and clear: No pictures, no Facebook likes, no names, no identifying details, nothing that can connect them to my heavily spammed yet rarely visited neck of the web. In addition they implored me to not tell my adult friends about writing the blog, and to also keep it from family relatives. In short, the whole thing was to remain secret, and I was doomed to be the ghost writer of my own life.
Frustrating, right? Of course it is. Yet I respect the boys’ wishes. They may act like hyper-conscious teenagers, but this is still their privacy we’re talking about. They are allowed to set their limits, and dictate what they’re okay with. And they are not okay with daddy musing about their lives like they were some fictional characters in a TV dramedy. They oppose sharing with the world details they disclose in private, or even making public distant memories from their diapers-and-puke days. At least not to anybody who may know them.
Sometimes I feel like a sleazy tabloid paparazzi in my own home.
The other night Dude1 started telling me about a conflict with a lab partner in school, regarding sharing some answers to a homework assignment as “payment” for doing the lion share of the lab work. It was a moral dilemma, and I got interested and involved, but then my son stopped in mid-sentence. “Wait,” he said. “Are you gonna write about this in your blog?”
I said I may, but promised there would be no identifying details. How am I doing so far?
Now, on special occasions I do tell some of my grownup friends about my blog, but only after they swear secrecy under fear of dire retribution that may or may not involve skills that I learned serving in the Israeli army (oops, TMI…). So far operation Dadding Dudes is unexposed, and to judge by my blog’s stats I am doing an excellent job, keeping as stealth as a US drone over Afghanistan.
As I am now aware of the dudes’ privacy sensitivities, I can’t help but notice the ubiquity of parent-bloggers out there in the wilderness of the web, who spread open their daily lives in excruciating details. You get to see pictures, full names, locations, and direct descriptions of the most intimate moments that their unsuspecting babies and toddlers share with mommy or daddy, the people they trust the mostest in the whole world. All splashed across the screen, exposed to the world.
As a writer, and a blogger who wants readership I understand that pictures and intimate details make a more interesting read. A great appeal of blogs is the legitimate and legal opportunity for straight-out peeping that they provide, isn’t it? But it does raise some questions.
Is it right to subject your family to this emotional voyeurism? Is it fair to invade the privacy of your children just because they’re too young to understand what you’re doing, and express their objections?
We all realize that what we put out on the web is there to stay. It may be on page number 7238 in a Google search, but nevertheless it’s there to be found. And when those cute little babies grow a little, and move out of your house into the internet, they, as well as their friends, are going to find out everything that you are sharing with the world today. They may not like you very much when this happens. They may feel angry, or betrayed. And they may be right.
Since throwing myself into this business I grew to believe that by separating my online and offline existence I may miss on some easy opportunities to market my blog (through friends and family, Facebook friends, google circles, and all the rest), but at the same time I’m doing a better service to my kids. In addition I have to rise to a higher challenge, and try to make my blog interesting to people who don’t know me, and without exposing too much. It’s not easy, and I continue to fail, but I keep on trying…
So, young parent-bloggers, listen to the dudes! Be careful what you post. Fast forward a few years, and imagine your kids as tweens, or teens. Remember how sensitive and self-conscious you were at that age, and pause before you push the “Publish” button.