Random header image... Refresh for more!

What If I Wrote a Blog About You?

Would it be cool if I started a blog about you?  I won’t give your name (though I’ll provide enough identifying pieces of information that everyone will know it’s you).  In this blog, I talk about how awesome you are.  I talk about your accomplishments at work, or I’ll tell funny stories such as the time when you thought a dog biscuit was a cookie and you ate it.  Sometimes I’ll post pictures of you and other times I’ll post videos, just funny things that I capture with my phone.

The thing is that you don’t blog, so if I didn’t do this, no one would know just how incredibly awesome you are.

I mean, sure there are assholes who come by and write crappy things about you in my comment section to be hurtful.  But that’s just the Internet.  I mean, those trolls don’t know you; they can’t see that you are just twenty kinds of fantastic.  So you shouldn’t let those comments bother you because those people can suck it.

Back to you.  And this blog.  About your awesomeness.

Okay, I’m not going to start a blog about you, but that was all I could think about when I read this article from CNN that Esperenza sent me.  We were both drawn to the same quote:

On the most basic level, we want to be able to tell our story about our lives. But, in the case of our children, a permanent and public story has already been recorded about them before they have a chance to decide whether they want to participate or even whether the narrative is true to their own vision of self.

And I guess that caps off everything I was trying to say in those last few posts about why I don’t post about the kids (part one and part two).  About the concept of ownership; and whether thirteen is too young for them to truly comprehend what it means to put your information out there on the Internet, whether that information is in the form of a story or facts or pictures.

It goes back to that phrase “the chance to decide” — and taking away that choice from someone else.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a blog about you without your permission, and the reality is that I can’t really get permission from the twins because they don’t really know what they’re agreeing to.  But it goes beyond pleasantries or control for control’s sake.  It brings in the reality that we don’t know how other people use that information.  What assumptions are made about the kids based on what I wrote or what pictures were uploaded vs. what the other person observed on their own.  What sort of people to you understand the twins to be… before you’ve ever met them.  And good qualities may be equally damaging as what we perceive to be bad qualities.  What if they don’t see themselves in the same way?  What if my vision limits them or puts pressure on them?  What if other people start having expectations for them not based on their own interactions with the twins but based on things I write?

I think the exact same things — by the way — in writing about Josh or writing about myself.  I think about it in terms of celebrities or other public figures.  Or people who become public figures because they’re thrust into the media due to circumstance.  I think about this shit all. the. time.

Many commenters on that article missed the point: the authors were pointing out that adults want control over their privacy.  We want to have control over our data.  We freak out when we perceive others trespassing on our privacy.  We would be upset if someone out there was writing about us and posting our personal stories.  So really, it doesn’t make sense when we write about others; including children. When we post stories about others people or pictures of other people; especially when we can’t really get permission.  Even if it’s an amazing picture that we know others would enjoy looking at, or a really funny story they’d enjoy reading.

Lest you think that I am better at circumspection, I just want to point out the numerous stories I tell about the twins.  They’re all ones that they’ve approved me posting, and I stay away from their hard limits (oooooh, all fifty shades of them).  I step over the line.

What brings me back on this side of the line is the thought that the twins could turn around one day and start a blog about me.  They could write a blog giving me a funny nickname so my name wouldn’t be Google-able, but you’d know it was me.  And they’d post about how awesome I am.  They’d talk about the new book I’m writing, or tell you funny stories such as the time I forgot to pack pants.  And sometimes they’d post pictures of me or videos.

And yeah, the same trolls might come by and write terrible things about me in their comment section, and I’d have to read them and swallow hard and think about how I wouldn’t have to deal with those types of comments if my kids weren’t writing about me.  And sometimes they’d post stories that would make me really anxious to know they’re out there.  And sometimes they’d post photos that they love but I find really unflattering.

Knowing that there is the possibility of payback keeps me on this side of the line.


1 Magpie { 05.28.12 at 10:19 am }


2 k { 05.28.12 at 10:42 am }

I write about my kids. And you’ve really got me thinking. I don’t write about anything embarrassing or anything I would consider that they would be opposed to (they are six and at an age now where they could agree to things being posted, but I’m definitely going to ask them what they are or aren’t comfortable with). Mostly what I write about them talks about the things that make me so proud – things I’d shout from the rooftops, tell everyone at work, that sort of thing. But I’m definitely much more aware now, and I’ll be combing through my blog for anything that may need taking down, or at least password protecting so I can keep it for myself.

3 loribeth { 05.28.12 at 10:46 am }

Definitely something to think about…

4 Tigger { 05.28.12 at 11:43 am }

I try not to write anything I think Cole would be embarrassed to have his future employer or girlfriend/boyfriend read. At least, not yet. 🙂 I try to keep in mind that we didn’t have to deal with this when we were kids, but that our children have a digital fingerprint from the day they are born – literally. His birth story was posted just a few hours after he was born, while I could still remember it all. I think I was actually working on writing it WHILE I was in labor, so I could keep all the timing straight (which is good, because I don’t know it now!).

There is a website called “STFU, Parents” and it’s about parents who overshare or “mommyjack” on Facebook. I now try to keep THAT in mind when writing posts there or uploading pictures. I do not want to be THAT parent!

5 gwinne { 05.28.12 at 11:57 am }

I see your point. But I also feel like what I do–blog under a pseudonym–means that it would be difficult for my children to ever be tied to the information I write about them, also pseudonymously. And while I’ve posted a couple pictures of Tiny Boy, I never post a pic with LG’s face.

Where the issue comes in for me is in writing creative nonfiction. I have a book length memoir (that I hope will be published eventually!) that is basically LG’s conception story. But, really, it doesn’t say much in there that she doesn’t already tell people herself: that she doesn’t have a dad. Some day she might be mad about it, but that’s a conversation I’m willing to have.

6 Aisha { 05.28.12 at 12:48 pm }

sigh. I feel like crap now.

7 sharah { 05.28.12 at 1:50 pm }

I started to comment, and then it got epic. I have a different take on this, and I wrote about it over at my place

8 Elizabeth { 05.28.12 at 3:21 pm }

This got me thinking a lot. What Aisha said… And also Sharah’s post… Regardless, I think I will have to drastically revise the way I blog… Lots to ponder.

9 Elizabeth { 05.28.12 at 3:22 pm }

And how did you know about that dog biscuit incident? (that really happened to me once!)

10 stephanie { 05.28.12 at 3:30 pm }

How is blogging different from novels or essays about our children? I think of some of my favorite writers of the printed word. Or the documentarians. Photographers. Painters. Many selecting their children as their subject. I would find the arts less interesting without the introspection on family life. It’s true that Facebook allows you to quickly type “My son took a shit today1!1!” without thinking about the consequences. And maybe that should be tempered. But the family as subject is as old as I can imagine and a very enjoyable one for me to boot.

11 a { 05.28.12 at 5:31 pm }

I guess all I have to do is remember how embarrassed I was when I knew my mom was telling her friends and coworkers about my antics to realize that I don’t want to do that to my daughter. I don’t have to worry too much about her reporting on me, because of the way her father is (slightly more than a little paranoid of sharing personal information).

12 jen { 05.28.12 at 5:55 pm }

I have such mixed feelings about this. My blog saved my sanity. It only seemed like a natural progression to blog about E once he was born. However, I obviously don’t want to take away his options for privacy in the future. Hmm.

13 Ann Z { 05.28.12 at 11:42 pm }

Huh… I guess as the daughter of a pastor, I’m pretty used to having a parent regularly sharing stories about me with an audience on a nearly weekly basis for my entire childhood. I only remember one time being really upset by it, but that one time, I was REALLY upset (I was also 15, so I was maybe a little over sensitive). I never really made the connection – well, it’s different, of course, there was no cute nickname, and no digital history (no, that’s not true, some of his sermons and devotions that have stories about me have been published on church websites and in email newsletters).

Funny thing, though, my answer to your opening question is”yes”. I hate making myself the center of attention, but wow, do I crave recognition. Having someone write something good about me, where I wasn’t actually involved, troll comments and all, sounds lovely. Yes, I realize that’s beside the point, since the point is making sure the subject has a choice. Speaking of which, Zoe has recently asked me to post videos of her cooking. She then asks me how many people have viewed them. In our case, I’m not posting as much as she would like. (Like mother, like daughter, I guess).

14 Annissa { 05.29.12 at 12:41 am }

I don’t blog about my teenager very much …. I blog about my two middle ones because I want to bring awareness about their rare medical issues…. and well, the baby of the family is just too darn cute. I understand and respect people who don’t use names or post pictures… if I could start over, I would definitely do the nick names…. but now, It’s a little late. I donno….. If my kids ever asked me to stop, I would respect that…

Happy ICLW from #3

15 Mina { 05.29.12 at 3:18 am }

There is something in the air or what? I have just deleted all of George’s photos from my blog and fb. And then I read about this topic more and more. Are you hearing me think (on the rare occasion that I do nowadays) and write about it? 🙂

Seriously though, I have been having thoughts on the same line lately, and I do think that our generation is prove to oversharing. The thing is that we do not think about what we overshare and it usually is not only about just us. I know at least three cases of anonymous blogs that were found out by IRL persons connected to the author and it did not turn out nice. I hate to think what teenage George would have to say about the stories I share about him on my anon blog. What parents think is cute and endearing is often considered embarassing and silly by children (I only revised my opinion on the topic after I turned 30).

I tend to agree though with Sharah when quoting Dooce, that “the story of a baby is the story of any baby ever told”. There are variations, of course, that make the stories unique, but over all, the main plot is the same. Until we come to the point where the story is no longer the same. And this is where we have to be careful.

Very good post. Plenty of food for thought. Thank you for articulating so adroitly what was bubbling in my head. 🙂

16 Elly { 05.29.12 at 11:53 am }

I blog about my children, but really it’s more a journal for my family and friends who are too far away to be involved in our daily lives. It’s not searchable on the search engines and for a while it was password protected, but that became problematic. My blog (the one linked to here) that is my firewife blog also talks about my children (troubles 1 – 3) and my husband (Ace) because my blog is about life as the wife of a firefighter and the joys and journeys and the difficulties that come with it. There are very few people who know me in real life who read my firewife blog and I try very hard not to make it all connectable to me in real life (well really connectable to my husband) and everyone has a nickname. But there are somethings I won’t blog about on a public blog…like my daughter’s first crush. That will go in her scrapbook/diary that belongs only to her and isn’t for public consumption. (And I also think it’s important to listen to what your kids say about your blog. My daughter asks me to post silly pictures of her on my facebook and my son will remind me to tell a funny story about something on my non-firewife blog. Maybe it’s not so much MY blog as OUR family blog…and maybe it’s time to let my daughter start to write some of her own posts!) But good food for thought.

17 KeAnne { 05.29.12 at 12:07 pm }

I feel guilty because I never even thought about not using my son’s real name even though I didn’t use mine for a while. I did that because his name is more common and less identifiable than mine is. I try very hard to be mindful about what I post about my son because I don’t want it to come back to haunt him and I suspect that as he gets older, I’ll blog about him less and less and ask his permission about what is ok. And some stuff happened this weekend that I REALLY wanted to blog about but can’t because it would definitely humiliate him later on.

I appreciate this thought-provoking series you are doing. It’s providing a valuable gut check for me.

18 Hannah { 05.29.12 at 12:50 pm }

Think, people: If you just want to remember life details, keep a journal. Make a scrapbook. You can still share that with friends and family. You only need to keep a blog about your kid if you WANT the attention of strangers on the internet.

19 Corey Feldman { 05.29.12 at 2:53 pm }

I write about my kids and I hope they read them someday and see the love that is there. My Egret the Elephant children’s poems/stories was originally based on a friend. But it has since morphed into the feminine aspects of my own personality. Plus every writer pulls things from their life. I even added my children into this series, using their names. G-d willing if they are ever published, or even if not, I hope they treasure them, and read them to their own kids some day.

20 Bea { 06.26.12 at 10:08 am }

Probably a good metric to use. It’s the old golden rule philosophy over again – the do-unto-others that crops up in not only most religions but in most moral teachings of any kind. Blog-unto-others. I am not wholly comfortable with parent blogging, although I have told some stories. I do blog for family from time to time but I don’t feel like it’s too different from emailing videos or discussing their exploits on the phone. At any rate, it’s not the only way they come to know these kids, so that’s a big difference, and I do feel I need to put something extra in to make up for the distance.

I also think it’s inevitable that parents shape the way the world receives their children, especially at the outset, and that applies to some extent to anyone you introduce anywhere, so that tempers my reaction. But I don’t tend to blog about Mr Bea in a way he’d hate (sometimes he might sigh and roll his eyes, or blush, but not actually give me a take-down demand – at least I don’t think) and the same should really apply to the youngsters.


(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author