Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nobody's Business But My Own, Some Friendly Readers, and Oh Yeah, Anyone with an Internet Connection

I am late to the party. Miss Zoot posted last week about a topic she wished was covered in the BlogHer Mommyblogging panel, but I didn't see it until mothergoosemouse, Mom Writes, and Mayberry wrote about it today. Warning – unexpectedly long post today, so I'll insert some gratuitous cuteness in photo form along the way.

The topic? Privacy in regards to blogging about one's children, family, and friends. I'd been hoping that Mir would get a chance to address it at the panel, since she has kids old enough to read, but since there wasn't time, I'm thrilled we get a second chance to see what others think about the matter.

SwingDaddy and I share pictures of us with Q, but generally no one else. I like having an "abstraction layer" of nom-de-blogs and occasional vagueness to protect those who have not specifically chosen to be written about on the web. I'll post links where relevant to friends with commercial interests, but not their personal wedding sites and such unless they've given permission. I go ahead and post our dance troupe photos, since our dancers are already donning theatrical costumes and performing in front of hundreds of people in public venues.

In regards to sharing stories about children, I'd been thinking along very similar lines to what Dooce answered at the "Here to Autonomy" panel: In the first few years of life, babies sleep or don't sleep, nurse, eat, cry, make messes, learn to walk and talk. Everyone goes through it. As they hit three or four, their stories become more individual, and it's time to apply increased discretion. I distinctly believe Q has a right to privacy.

Here's my take on the questions from Miss Zoot.

1. Do your kids know about your blog? If they're too young to know, do you plan to keep it open to them as they get older?

Q is too young to know. He just knows that his dad and I spend a lot of time in the office near things with bright lights and cool buttons. As he gets old enough to understand, I'll definitely tell him. This is a kid who got his first email address as a newborn, for heaven's sake.

2. If so - do you worry they may get embarrassed later? What would you do if they asked you to stop writing about them? What would you do if they wanted you to take it down all together?

I imagine that he will be embarrassed sometimes, as all children are occasionally embarrassed by their parents, and I would stop writing about him if he asked. At this point, I don't know that I myself will want my earlier postings available to the world forever, so I can't say that I'll keep things posted to the web, do or die. That's a little extreme, and who knows how he or I will feel five, ten, or fifteen years from now.

3. Do you think our kids will appreciate the archive of their childhood? Do you wish your parents had done the same?

I think that he'll certainly appreciate some of it. He might not care to know how much he used to barf as a baby. I bought my first scrapbook to dutifully capture those "magical baby moments." When I was trying to decide whether pasting Q's Halloween picture and our family Christmas picture on the same page would be ok, I realized that scrapbooking was not for me, and started blogging.

I love the memories that my parents have saved for me in various forms. I like having selectively good memories. I have no wish that my parents had recorded the bad memories too.

4. Do you go back and re-read your past parenting milestones? Do you realize you forgot a lot?

This is horribly unsentimental, but I mostly re-read to see what worked in writing terms. I haven't been posting for long, but I re-read some posts and find I'm pleased at how the crisp the memory feels. Other stories are muddy, and it makes me think of ways to improve future posts.

5. What about your children's friends/teachers/moms-of-friends? What if they found your blog? Do you tell your child not to tell anyone about it or are they free to talk about it? Do you worry their teachers or other parents will think it's weird?

My family, friends, dancers, and moms group know my blog address. Not everyone reads it, but I'm always tickled that some do. My colleagues at work know I blog, but no one has asked for the url. I'd probably give it out if asked, but I'm not volunteering. I think of my blog like a newspaper column, so I don't write what I wouldn't say in front of a crowd of people. I don't worry that people think that blogging is weird. We live in Silicon Valley, after all.

The blog has become a wonderful channel of communication with our families. Every morning, my parents get online and see what's new with us. Well, at least they read SwingDaddy's blog, since he chronicles Q in great detail! All of his grandparents get to see the latest pictures and hear the latest stories. My parents lived so far away from their folks when my sister and I were little, and long distance phone calls were pricey. It means a lot that we're getting to share Q's childhood with such immediacy, with blogs and video calls.

Wow, and this was going to be a short post tonight so that I could go to bed early.


Mamacita Tina said...

...and I just ran across your blog, so I guess I'm the one with an internet connection, that is until I read more in the future and become a friendly reader. Any rate, hi.

It's good to think about those questions as we blog. Our parents love reading about the kids' progress and funny antics. I don't believe in people bashing like I've read on some blogs, after all, it's out there for anyone to read.

Kristen said...

I've commented about this on some other blogs, but I feel like I write my experience, and since my kids make up so much of that, I'll inevitably write about them. If they reach an age where they ask me not to reveal certain details, then I would honor that request just like I would in any public forum. But I'll always write about MY experience of interacting with them, since I'm writing about my life, and those interactions make up a lot of it.

Mayberry said...

Long, but well worth it... thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! With you guys for parents, Q will probably have his own blog by about age 6.

Mir said...

I was really hoping we could address that during the panel, too. (Heck, the things I wish could've happened during that panel... well, nevermind.)

I've actually been thinking a lot about this. While I don't share pictures of my kids, I do share information they might find embarrassing. The argument could be made that some folks who plaster their kids all over the internet in photo form are still affording them more privacy than I do for mine.

I'm not convinced there's a "right" answer. Right now, my kids still (proudly) tell people I'm a writer, and Chickadee in particular is happy to volunteer "She writes about us on the internet. People think we're funny." I'm sure the day will come when the blog is suddenly mortifying, and then I'll have some decisions to make.

In the meantime, Q is entirely too cute to keep all to yourselves. I demand that you continue to share pictures. ;)

lara said...

so far as pictures go, i found out through a random "did you know..." email that someone had posted childhood photos of me on a child actress website. this is someone who didn't even know me personally, not, like, a family member or something. i believe he had the rights, because the photos came from my management company from the time who technically hold the rights (i believe) to the photos. i didn't really care either way (in fact, i think it's kind of cool), but it was a little strange, to be sure. if it had been my parents, i think i would have cared even less, if that's possible. but then, i'm a pretty open person by nature (see my blog for evidence). :)

Lady M said...

Thanks everyone, for getting through that long post and for sharing your thoughts!

Mamacita Tina - Nice to meet you! I'm looking forward to dropping by your site too.

Kristen - That is a really good point, separating what is *your* experience. As the kids get older and able to articulate more feelings and opinions, our perspectives of the same experience will start to vary more too.

Mayberry - Haha! Blogs or whatever the name for them becomes in the future.

Mir - Good thoughts on whether knowing what someone says/thinks or what they look like is more revealing. Our corporate directory has an option where you can choose whether you want your picture posted or not. I like it when other folks post their pictures, so that it's easier to recognize them when we meet in real life - but what they say in their emails is probably a whole lot more revealing! Our picture posting will probably slow down as Q gets older, but not yet, don't worry.

Kari - I've seen that child actress picture of yours - cute! And yes, since you're really open in person and in your blog, it isn't revealing any secrets about your character. ;)