My daughter asked me to stop writing about motherhood. Here’s why I can’t do that.

Excerpt from this article:

“What’s all this?” she said. The screen was covered with thumbnail sketches of her as a baby, a toddler and preschooler — each paired with an essay or blog post I’d written on the subject of parenting. “Why are all of these pictures of me on the Internet?” She wanted to know, and she had a right to know.

I read through some of my old pieces, and none of them seemed embarrassing to me, though she might not agree. A few years ago, I wrote about a disappointment in her social life — a girl she counted as her best friend abruptly stopped talking to her. While I wrote about the experience from the perspective of a mother trying to help her daughter through a rough patch without succumbing to anti-girl stereotypes about so-called mean girls, she might not appreciate seeing a painful episode from her past splashed across the Internet.

Are You Really in Love if It’s Not on Instagram?

Excerpt from this article:

My friend stuck her phone under my nose. On it was a picture on Instagram of a couple we both know, a photo of one of them pursing her lips over a frothy cocktail in a dim bar, flash on. Underneath, the caption said something like, “Weekly Love Post #72: Fancy cocktails with bae #mygirlfriendisbetterthanyours #weekiversary #sorryshestaken.”

The members of this couple are nice in real life, and they are in love, and that is wonderful, but they are terrors on social media. The weekiversary posts are just the tip of the frozen-barf iceberg. There are also close, glistening photos of their home-cooked nightly dinners (kissy face #shesakeeper). There are unrelenting, near identical pictures of one of them napping next to a cat (heart-eyes #allmine). The content is nauseating and compelling; an endless highlight reel of two people who are strangely uninterested in keeping private, small joys in their relationship private.

Why do people perform their relationships online? Who is it for? I don’t understand the point of regularly writing deeply personal declarations of love, even if it’s platonic friendship love, for thousands of strangers to see. Do people do it to mark territory? To make their person feel good? To show others that someone is worthy of love, but — hold up — you’ve already chosen them?

Our real lives and online lives are merging; they’re starting to feel indistinguishable. Even regular, noncelebrity people cultivate their own brands. Is a relationship real if it’s not flaunted on Instagram? Is the new definition of a commitment-phobe someone who chooses to keep relationships offline?

Parents, I Was Smug About Your Videos of Your Children. I’m Sorry.

Excerpt from this article:

I would like to apologize to all the parents I mocked for taking videos at elementary school performances and soccer games a couple of decades ago when my children — and theirs — were young. I can remember exchanging eye-rolls with friends or with my husband when some mommy or daddy with a big state-of-the-art video camera popped up in the row in front of me at a school assembly, or pushed through the crowd to run up and down the soccer sidelines following the ball.

Who on earth would ever watch those videos, we wondered. How sad, we said to one another, to see the big moment through a viewfinder. We didn’t own a video camera, and we were a bit smug about it; we were the parents who actually watched the soccer game, or the play, who participated in the party instead of filming it.

Parents’ social media habits are teaching children the wrong lessons

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Many of today’s young teens were born in an era before social media. By the time they entered preschool, most of their parents had Facebook accounts. And many parents — new to social media — excitedly shared their children’s personal and embarrassing stories. I have written in the past about how parents must consider the effect this sharing has on a child’s psychological development. Children model the behavior of their parents, and when parents constantly share personal details about their children’s lives, and then monitor their posts for likes and followers, children take note. While most parents have their children’s best interests at heart when they share personal stories on social media, there is little guidance to help them navigate parenting in the digital age.

Everyone Makes Mistakes: Teaching Kids How to Fix Things When Texting Goes Awry

Instagram, texting, kids and cellphones, tweens and smartphones, friendship

Excerpt from this article:

As parents or teachers we can get too focused on PREVENTING digital mistakes that can ruin friendships and reputations. We need to offer mentorship to our kids on how to repair things (when possible). We can model this in our own social media lives.

In my student workshops, I ask kids to brainstorm about how to correct such a mistake. A common problem is an “overshare,” where they have shared something too personal about themselves. Another is when your child shares a friend’s good news—or even a secret.

They know that they can’t put the overshare or secret “back in the box,” but kids’ instincts are to try to limit the damage. Quickly. In these workshops, they suggest taking down the offending post, deleting the picture, and apologizing, or at least letting people know that it was a mistake.

But how can they make it right? In many settings, from youth groups to religious schools to public schools student propose solutions that are concerning or ill-advised. For example,  many kids will try to “spread some lies” to cover up when they’ve shared someone’s secret and that person is upset with them. Another bad idea: “I’ll let them get revenge.For example: I’ll let my friend spread a rumor about me. As a parent and educator, I find myself shaking my head! But,  when embroiled in a social error, kids feel an urgency to take further steps to fix it “for good,” quickly.

These problem-solving techniques came from 5th and 6th graders who are just learning how to negotiate complicated social relationships. Many of these kids are just getting their first communication device, which adds another layer of complexity to the equation. It is important to look at where these kids are developmentally when we consider getting them a smartphone.

We have to help kids understand that rumors, lies, and revenge strategies just exacerbate the situation. Kids are focused on the immediate issue, and often have trouble seeing the larger picture. Sometimes when the parameters of trust in a relationship change, it takes time to fix—and your child can actually make it worse by trying to fix it in one gesture.

Woman sues parents for sharing embarrassing childhood photos

Woman sues parents for sharing embarrassing childhood photos

Excerpt from this article (and this has sparked discussions elsewhere about how this could be the first of many such lawsuits as the children of mommybloggers, who had every embarrassing personal detail shared with the worldwide web, start to come of age):

A 18-year-old woman from Carinthia is suing her parents for posting photos of her on Facebook without her consent.

She claims that since 2009 they have made her life a misery by constantly posting photos of her, including embarrassing and intimate images from her childhood.

…The shared images include baby pictures of her having her nappy changed and later potty training pictures.

…Austrian privacy laws when it comes to social media are not as strict as some other countries – for example in France, anyone convicted of publishing and distributing images of another person without their consent can face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to €45,000. This would apply to parents publishing images of their children too.

I Love You, But Our Happiness Doesn’t Fit My Personal Brand’s Narrative Strategy.

McSweeneysBrand.JPG

Excerpt from this article:

If I want to have a strong brand narrative, my “voice” has to be consistent across all distribution channels. So, yes, that does mean captioning Instagram photos of us with “If I had a time machine I would change everything. EVERYTHING.” And yes, that does mean that when I check into our favorite restaurant on Facebook the caption is just that straight-line-mouth emoticon. And, yes again, that even means pinning cross-stitch patterns that say STARING INTO THE ENDLESS BLACK VOID on my Pinterest page. That’s just strong brand equity common sense.