And now, the latest installment of the parental overshare debate. This time, we have - amazing! - a woman who has made it her mission to keep stuff about her kids from ending up on the internet. I saw the headline - noticing that it was Slate's most-read, above even Prudie - and thought, whoa, parental overshare has met its match! And then I read the thing and, no. Parental overshare has, instead, come full circle.
Amy Webb begins with a reasonable-enough premise: parents are too cavalier about what they put about their kids on the internet. Webb objects to photos of a friend's child "in a bathtub and an awkward moment posing in her mother’s lacy pink bra," and who can blame her? "I completely understood her parents’ desire to capture Kate’s everyday moments, because early childhood is so ephemeral. I also knew how those posts would affect Kate as an adult [...]." Indeed. Too few people think about this. And,
It’s hard enough to get through puberty. Why make hundreds of embarrassing, searchable photos freely available to her prospective homecoming dates? If Kate’s mother writes about a negative parenting experience, could that affect her ability to get into a good college?Yes, so many times yes.
And then things get... interesting. Webb segues into a paranoid exposé of facial-recognition technology and its potential. While it's straightforward enough how a high-profile article about how a particular, identifiable child is a brat, or is mentally ill, might impact said child's later life, even if the technology exists to track down the location of random infants, who's interested?
And then it becomes about how they had to choose their child's name as one that was not yet associated with anything negative (although, as a friend just pointed out on Facebook, someone could well be born later with this name and create an unpleasant track record), and then I basically couldn't follow the thing anymore. "On the day of her birth, our daughter already had accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Github. And to this day, we’ve never posted any content." They, I mean, I don't even know what Github is, nor do I have Instagram, nor can I at all figure out what the advantage is to your parents making you-the-fetus a Facebook page or Twitter account. I mean, what does this mean?:
When we think she’s mature enough (an important distinction from her being technically old enough), we’ll hand her an envelope with her master password inside. She’ll have the opportunity to start cashing in parts of her digital identity, and we’ll ensure that she’s making informed decisions about what’s appropriate to reveal about herself, and to whom.Wouldn't you just make your own, when you saw fit, assuming these platforms still had any significance once you reached adolescence? How could this ever, just logistically, work?
But the more important detail comes from the fact that Webb is herself guilty of some of the most out-there parental overshare. Another friend linked to this similarly viral piece, about the spreadsheets Webb would use to keep track of her baby's... functions. The article includes details such as "Poop Scale (1 = Dijon mustard, 5 = pâté, 10 = tar)," and where on that spectrum a particular turd happened to lie. As I've said so many times regarding parental overshare, it's not some kind of state secret who the child of some writer is, even if the parents are not shouting the kid's full name from the rooftops. While this scatological overshare is maybe not the absolute worst sort of TMI, in that it ultimately humiliates the parents and doesn't reveal anything all that special about the kid (it poops, how remarkable!), it's the kind of thing one probably wouldn't be too thrilled to read about one's self.