Let’s pretend it’s the morning of a new nationally recognized holiday. It’s called Idea Day. On Idea Day anyone can announce their intentions and have free Gallup-type polling from the masses. This can be wonderfully supportive and encouraging if you have a good idea. But if your idea is thought of as morally repugnant or just generally idiotic by the crowd, your soapbox is kicked out from under you and the noose tightens around your neck. Obviously, only suicidal bravehearts take the stage on Idea Day.
Well, this morning, Generation Y’er new mom Jules is excited. She is wrapping up the Cutest Baby in the entire world (whose level of extreme cuteness has been documented on international TV and news outlets) to take to the Idea Day celebration in the local town square. Jules isn’t particularly brave, just sure about her idea of starting a blog about Cutest Baby. After all, CB is already world famous and there are tons of unofficial websites dedicated to him. Surely Jules will hear waves of cheers. It’ll turn the day into one big party.
CB has, of course, some irregular sleeping patterns. This morning he was up by 5 a.m. By 7 a.m. Jules is pushing the stroller by out the front door. Noah, Jules’s husband, groggily kisses her and CB goodbye and says he’ll be there after his shower.
Jules skips along; it’s a wonderful morning. The town square is pretty full. Members of the high school band are playing in the rotunda, coffee kiosks are mobbed and there are what seem like miles of vendors set up on the outskirts of the park, selling cookies, cakes and t-shirts. It’s already festive. The sun peeks through the trees and promises a happy day.
Jules waves at the older neighbors she recognizes, maneuvers the stroller through the crowd, finally finding one other new mom who was the instructor for Jules’s pregnancy yoga class. Yono has a famous blog, a very personal and very detailed account about her own pregnancy. Yono is holding her newborn Umi. She comments to Jules that she thinks they are the youngest adults here, besides the high school band members. Yono is suprised that Jules will be speaking this morning. She uneasily agrees to sit with Jules’ stroller while Jules carries CB up to the stage. Once on the stage, Jules can see Noah jogging up to the square.
The elderly community board member Eustice says to Jules that no-one has used the stage yet this morning. “Would you be talking about motherhood today?” she asks. “Yes,” Jules says. “How lovely,” says Eustice.
Eustice waves to the crowd and announces Jules and CB. The crowd applauds, as they know their town’s world famous darling, CB. The band plays a soft tribute of “rock-a-bye baby.” “Go ahead, honey.” Eustice says as she sets up the microphone in front of Jules. Jules steps up on the box.
“Thank you everyone! It’s nice to see you too. Seems like Yono and I are the only young moms up this morning! I’d like to use the stage today to announce my own inspired-by-you Idea. CB has been lucky to have so many websites constructed about him, and so much news coverage, and it’s all been so wonderful, that I thought you may want to hear the official news about CB. Soooo,” Jules takes a breath, “I thought I’d start a blog!”
The band kicks up a celebratory burst of music. But then it’s over, and Jules hears nothing. Just silence. The crowd is staring at her, agape. Then the people start whispering.
Jules tries to spark their memories. “You know, a site, on the internet. Where I talk about CB’s daily doings. Like an afternoon newspaper, but on-line.”
“You know, his funny faces, I could post pictures, and I can tell you about how he smiled at the cat and..”
“Is this going to be where everyone can see it?” someone shouts out.
“Why yes -”
“Aren’t you afraid of kidnappers?” another man yells from the back of the crowd.
“What, why -” Jules catches Yono’s eyes. Yono looks away.
“CB will HATE you!” “Have you no decorum?” “You’ve got mental issues!” “Someone call child services!” “Hang her!”
Jules is shocked. She clutches CB to her chest and looks frantically for Noah. The band is yelling now, not at Jules but at the crowd. Chaos ensues. The executioner is holding the noose in his hands at the left of the stage.
Noah, huffing and puffing, gets up on the stage and grabs the mic: “Calm down, calm down, she isn’t starting a blog! She’s been up for three days straight with our beautiful CB and she’s not herself! I’d never have her do something so crass and disgusting and dangerous!”
Noah holds up a hand to the executioner and guides Jules with the other off the stage. Some of the larger band members form a tight security circle around them and escort them back to their house. “We thought it was a great Idea, Miss Jules,” one says. They all barely escape with their lives, and Jules dreams of joining the CB blogger ranks are crushed forever.
Let’s come back to reality now. Lots of people are ‘mommy bloggers’ (I’m not one of them). There are dozens of sites that rank mommy blogs. There are entire conferences, marketing plans and outreach initiatives all centered around the phenomenon. But that’s not in ‘reality,’ exactly. That’s in a place we social media folk like to call the bubble.
In the bubble, most people are under 40. The most active bubblers are under 25, although their bubble is blown up by mobile computing (using cell phones) rather than machine computing (using laptops or desktops). The bubble is up 24/7 and most people in it treat ‘content’ like oxygen. So a mommy blog would fit right in. Stepping outside the bubble is the problem.
Outside the bubble are unconnected folks and the majority of people over 40. Now, you will probably balk at my age limits because you are over 40, you are in the bubble and you’ve been getting high off FriendFeed for months. If you ever find yourself in electrical-storm-forced rehab, you may wake up to see that most of the human race over 40 year of age, even in western society, thinks, on some level, that the internet is evil.
And, like from bars and cults, b-movie horror flicks and pictures of your boss in a speedo, children should be shielded from all things evil. People who believe this will let you know it in no uncertain terms. They will tell you internet predators have a national service they subscribe to that alerts them when any new mommy blogger appears. They will remind you that nothing on the internet never EVER disappears, naturally, so posting your child’s baby pictures will only educe hate when said child turns 15, etc. So you shouldn’t be one of those reckless, crazy people who put their children out for the slaughter, right?
Privacy is changing. Media outside the bubble bemoan the myspace pages of millions of teens across the world, yet somehow millions more are signing up daily. These kids post the most embarrassing pictures of illegal activity you could imagine. When asked whether they think this content will harm their chances of getting a job, they shrug and say they hope to apply to companies with a young CEO. Why? Because eventually every CEO will have once had a myspace page with silly pictures on it.
Internet predators come in many different shapes and sizes. I wouldn’t worry about the kinds you see on tv news shows. Your baby needs to be using chatrooms to attract those. The child porn types may eventually find the cute pictures of your baby naked, so I’d probably skip posting the bath time collage. You can always make your blog password protected. Almost every website has some sort of password option on it. For example, I only let friends see my family pics on the photo-sharing site I use.
These warnings remind me of my ears. When I was 18, I got the second holes pierced in my ear lobes. “Now you’re going to look silly as a 40-year-old with two holes in your ears,” my mother admonished. “Me and all the other 40-year-olds,” I said. I haven’t hit 40 yet, but I still enjoy having more ear estate for my bling. In fact, many of my peers pierced profusely and still sport their studs. It’s now a common practice for kids of both sexes to have multiple piercings. For my mother, this was on the same level as a regrettable boyfriend tattoo. For Gen’s X & Y, surplus holes are normal.
My point is, if you want to start a mommy blog, go ahead. Your children will expect it. They don’t see privacy like we do. They are growing up on the internet’s stage. Everyone’s mom will have blogged about them at some point before they turn 18. “Most embarrassing baby pron blog pic” will be a standard category in the senior yearbook. These kids will need the skills to survive when the bubble houses everyone, not the self-chosen few. If you are worried about bad guys, on your blog change your kids’ names, change your state, and don’t use your last name. Avoid blogging about specific places or your local people.
The warning that is more appropriate for the potential mommy blogger is this: Blogging isn’t what you think it is. A very tiny few bloggers get any kind of recognition. Most blogs have less than 20 readers. You need to ask yourself why you want to blog. Is it to keep a record of precious moments? Why does it need to be kept on-line? Is it to share pictures with family and friends? Why not collect email addresses and send newsletters? Fame and fortune will not come to you and your precious offspring. You may connect with other moms just like you, which would be the best realistic outcome – and a huge benefit, of course! Blogging is fun and you don’t really need a reason to do it, but just be prepared for the Eustices and the Noahs and the Angry mobs that think otherwise. Make sure you are solid in your thought process so you have the confidence to tell them to eff off.