Although I remain anonymous, I read all of the comments on Facebook and the RichmondMom.com Junkies forum. I love that some of you readers have asked me to come forward with an identity; I think its natural to want to put a face to a post. One post commenter even offered to buy me a glass of wine at one of the Wine Down Wednesday events (and thank you very kindly, you may already have!). The RichmondMom.com community is kind, insightful, and a wealth of information and resources. I have joined you personally, and anonymously, and I thought I would explain why I write in the latter.
When Kate approached me about writing for this column I jumped at the chance. I’m a writer by passion and trade, and was muddling my way through the single-mother subject matter IRL. When I thought about it, it just felt right to write. When she asked me to upload a picture my heartbeat slowed a bit. Not for vanity sake, but because people might know me. And by know me, I really mean judge me. So I uploaded a picture of the back of what could be my – or anyone’s – head. By the time I posted my first blog, the blood was barely creeping along my veins, and I asked her to please keep me anonymous.
Some people get braver when they’re behind a keyboard, but I actually am more fearful. The Internet is forever. Nothing, no matter how strict your privacy settings, is completely private. It’s easy for a text or email to be forwarded to a third-party, and just ask the likely now-fired person at Kitchen Aid, social media can be confusing.
I didn’t walk away from a safe relationship. The potential repercussions of speaking openly, that is, with a name attached to my words, were too great to bear. But most important to me of all, my little one is too young for me to ask if it’s okay with him that I blog about him.
I don’t want my son to have to answer questions that are based on my life’s choices. He’ll have to do that enough when he doesn’t have the latest gaming system or the coolest shoes in class. I don’t want a classmate to come up to him quoting a blog piece that I wrote on a subject matter that is painfully personal to him. One day we’ll talk about the blog, and I’ll show him all of the posts. But not right now.
This week there’s been ado in the media, and particularly among the mom blogging community about STFU, Parents. If you haven’t heard about this, here’s the skinny: STFU, Parents is a snark blog column featuring emails, Facebook, and really any type of content you can imagine, shared without permission on behalf of parents, by members of their unsupportive community everywhere. Let me be clear: people’s “friends” are screen shot’ing Facebook news feeds (or forwarding emails they receive) from parents who share information about their kids, and sending them to STFU, Parents to be dissected and made fun of, and then commented on. That blog gets thousands of hits per day and was just featured on the Today show.
Blog owner Blaire Koenig’s tagline is: You use to be cool. Then you had a kid.
Before we get mad at Blair, consider that she’s just providing an outlet for something an entire Internet full of people are united in hating: the parental overshare. Overshare is loosely defined, by me, as any sort of information you put out online but someone doesn’t care about. It’s the new TMI.
Social media, blogging, emails – we reach out to people for a variety of reasons. Maybe we’re proud of our little ones, maybe we’re voicing our political opinions, and maybe we’re sharing the latest amazing meal we’ve whipped up in our kitchen. But out there exists the haters, and the people who would rather get a cheap laugh at our expense than to scroll to the next update or mute our feed.
I accept that there are people who don’t want to know about my child, and so I’m not friends with them. I can accept that there are people with contradictory political views than mine and I read them, appreciate their right to an opinion (however crazy or sane), and move on. I don’t de-friend, or threaten to de-friend, over normal, non-questionable commentary/pictures, and I certainly do not put anyone on blast for making them.
I’ve read that social media has made us fat and mean. I’m not so sure about the first one, but the second one feels to me to be true with exceptions of course, dear readers. I’ve got my own social media posting procedure, and work from there. And until my little one’s okay with it, I will remain,
Yours very truly,