Monday, March 23, 2015

Safe spaces, "30-something moms"

-Is there a "safe spaces" epidemic on campus? I'm skeptical.

-Via one of the parent-writers I wrote about in that overshare article a while back (and more on her post in a moment), I see that there's this amazing Emily Bazelon article about parental overshare from 2008 that I don't think I'd ever seen before. How had the internet not pointed me to it earlier? I'd first blogged about the topic in April of that year, and this piece was in June, but I guess I wasn't particularly glued to that beat at the time. It's an interesting piece because it gets at the professional-ambition/livelihood angle. There's a difference (if not an infinite one) between a parent who shares tantrum-stories for "likes" and one who does it to pay the bills. Sharing on Facebook... ideally isn't done in a way that humiliates a child, but is the modern-day equivalent of a family album, and 

As for her post, the gist of it is that her detractors, "30-something moms," don't get how tough it was for those a decade older to know where to draw the line regarding online privacy. This seems plausible-ish, and appeared, at first, to be leading to a mea culpa. Which... sort of? She says she's changed the way she posts and now shares less, but then adds that she doesn't regret outing her child's condition: "In the case of mental illness, or any illness, advocacy trumps privacy." She goes on to explain that sharing didn't hurt her son - quite the contrary:
Because I spoke up, my son got effective treatment and is now back in a mainstream school with friends who are totally fine with his bipolar disorder. In fact, they—and I—admire his self-advocacy and think he is brave for speaking out and sharing his story. We were also able to connect to an amazing community of mental health advocates. No one has ever approached us in the grocery store and said, “I know who you are. You’re that mom and kid who talked about mental illness after Newtown. You are horrible people.” It doesn’t work that way.
What she doesn't say is why it was necessary for her to speak up to such a wide audience in order to get this help. If silence and stigma are preventing you from reaching out... to doctors, teachers, friends, family members, etc., about a concern along these lines, then that's a problem. What I'm having trouble picturing is at what point it becomes necessary to reach out to the world at large.

And she also doesn't seem to grasp the harm people are worried about. It's not necessarily about being shamed at the supermarket. (Note that her theoretical example involves her being harmed, not her son.) It's about her son perhaps one day wanting to enter whichever social, romantic, or professional setting as someone whose full medical history isn't easily Googleable. There are a lot of facts about just about any of us - not just illness, certainly not just mental illness - that we have no reason to be ashamed of, but that might not want to lead with. Parental overshare doesn't leave these children with the choice.

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