Monday, May 20, 2013
Thoughts about the little face in this blog.
I think a lot about a lot, often to the point where I need to really step away from my thoughts, because I feel crazy that my mind just won't stop. And because blogging is a part of my life, I think about that a lot too. And lately I've had Henry's role in this blog on my mind. I wonder what it would be like, to grow up and to be able to look back and see one million photos of yourself in one online place, stories and thoughts, and every little bit of every little thing.
I've always tried to be very aware about what I post in regards to him. Never anything embarrassing, no weird stories he may one day hate, never an inappropriate photo, never a potty-training snap or even a bare-bum picture. No judgment for anyone who may have different boundaries than I, but for me it's a firm no. And lately I've just been thinking about all of this, and the fact that Henry really doesn't get a say. It's not his choice whether or not to be displayed in this space. He doesn't get a say in regards to whether or not he'd want a photo of him posted here every week, or letters I wrote to him while pregnant shared with the world. And although I feel like I'm careful with what I put out there, how do I really know that his older-self won't be upset about his role here? After it's all said and done, Henry's level of what's comfortable and what's not may be completely different than my own.
Sure there have always been writers and more recently, bloggers. As for me, I've been sharing my stories and life with strangers online since the 90s- but regardless, with the shift in social media, this is new territory for everyone. We are the first generation to be so entrenched in online documenting in such a way...and there's no guidebook to this Facebooking, Instagramming, blogging world. There are no rules to help us navigate, there aren't many people who have been blogging this whole time and now have a 30-year old that can say "it's fine, I don't mind having my entire life documented for the world to see." So we are all figuring it out on our own, yet together. And let me be the first to say, I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Sometimes I worry that it's all too much. Sometimes I think it's really, really dumb to be "as online" as I am. Pointless, even. If it's all about documenting, they why don't I get myself a private blog and document my heart out? Why have an audience? But then I receive an email from a reader, telling me how much she connected with something I wrote, or I see a tweet letting me know how my recent post resonated with them, and it makes sense. Even for that minute, it makes sense. And so the see-saw goes back to the other side, and I forget about all of it, and I feel okay.
Every time I sit down to write about these things I tell myself to stop. It's all been said, right? But lately this topic of children on blogs and Instagram keeps popping up in my mind. How do they feel about it when they can't yet tell us? Are we doing a good enough job of protecting our children from not just other people, but from feeling uncomfortable later? Like I said above, no one did this before us to tell us how it all turns out. So we guess. We have no idea what the repercussions are for all of the little ones whose lives are so publicly documented. For me, part of that guessing is being extra-careful and respectful of Henry, and always keeping him in mind when I share things either here, or on Instagram. For other people it means never showing their child's face in a blog post or having a private Instagram, and for some it might not mean a lot, and their filter may have much bigger spaces in it.
I hope one day Henry enjoys looking back at this blog, reading the entries about what his Dad and I were like before him, what it was like during my pregnancy, and looking back on little snapshots of his life when he was a baby. I hope it's a gift. But in the meantime I will respect the little voice that doesn't have a say yet, the best I can (although then my over-thinking mind says, "but are you doing enough?").
So I ask you, have you thought about this? We all have different readerships and audiences, different boundaries and ideas of how to balance it all, and I'd love to hear your input and perspective!