Monday, 9 September 2013

Am I a rubbish mum for sharing photographs of my child online?

As I'm a blogger, it's quite difficult to know where the line is and whether or not I'll cross it. Being a mummy blogger is even tougher.

While I'm William's mum, I don't own him. He's going to be a 'grown-up' one day, with ideas, opinions and thoughts all his own.

Being a mum is a huge part of who I am, I'm not wholly defined by it, but it has changed me. William, to go one step further, is my life though. I think of him constantly and I'm driven to do my best by him.

My blog was never started for everyone else - with a name like Write Like No One's Watching, you'd guess as much. But, over time, I found myself with readers and friends and so a dialogue was formed.

I'm a sharer - it's what I do. I don't have a problem with honesty. I'm very open with what I believe and where I stand. Mainly because I like that in a person myself - transparency works for me.

But am I sharing too much of William?

You know his name. You know roughly where we live. You'll know, if you do a search on here, when he was born. You know what he looks like.

I blog, I use Facebook, I use Twitter, I use Instagram.

And William features on all of these. He's probably the star of the show.

So am I a rubbish mum? Am I denting his privacy?

It's a tough one to answer.

There's a long-held belief, at least for some, that a photograph captures part of your soul. A lot of indigenous cultures feel that way and so photographs don't represent a memory, or a happy moment. I read articles about how I'm stealing my son's digital identity, or not allowing him his privacy.

I have rules about posting certain photographs - naked ones, potty training, unnecessarily disgusting ones (I am of a firm belief that no one needs to witness a poosplosion in photographic form). I have rules about sharing certain content - such as easily missed details like addresses, or school details or William's particular beliefs or thoughts on a subject.

There will come a time where I will ask him if he would like me to stop. And if he would like me to - I will. I can privatise my blog or delete it altogether. I can't undo the web of information that spans the internet, but I can do my best.

William made his first digital debut, a few minutes after he was born on Facebook. The photograph had 72 'likes' and 52 comments. All from family and friends. And, judging from my timeline at the moment, this isn't unusual. Proud parents do it every day.

In this age, where we are interconnected by the world of social networking and the web, it's impossible not to have footprint somehow, somewhere. We even know how many children are called what name and we use that information to narrow down our choices.

Technology has given us a lot. We can share photographs of our baby, we can video call family on the other side of the world, we can order a takeaway from a variety of different establishments within a certain radius to our postcode.

Yes, there are some bad people in the world, who think racism, sexism and homophobia is the bees knees. These people are idiots. But they exist regardless of the internet.

So yes, you can enjoy a photograph of my son. You can read about his many antics. You can comment if you would like to. But that doesn't mean you that you know him. You can't reach out and touch him though. And no it's not naivety on my part. It's just choice. It's the reason why I don't share photographs of other people's children without their consent. Or the reason why I don't splash every detail of my life on here. The internet only sees the things that make the cut.

Aside from his gorgeousness (said with the confident belief of any parent) and the fact that he likes blueberries and dogs, you don't really know much about him as a person.

But, if there's one thing we can agree on with parenting, it's that we disagree for the most part. But in a world full of neglect, abuse and lazy parenting, I don't feel too bad in sharing my pride in my little boy.

It reminds me of being a working mum in a way - I'm not there all of the time. No. No I'm not. But I do provide a hell of a lot for my son. I appreciate every single second we have. And sometimes I share them too.

I'm just lucky to be able to share them with such lovely people.

And if you don't want to - that's fine. It doesn't make you any less proud. Or any less...anything.

It's one of the many decisions that you make when you become a parent. Breast or bottle? Work or stay at home? The internet is part of that too.

You may also want to listen to Alice and Tim who were on Woman's Hour today, who discuss this in more detail. I really enjoyed listening to it. 
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9 comments

  1. It is a difficult one isn't it and i question myself in the same way. I have friends who won't even put pictures on facebook, which with privacy settings, can only been seen by family and friends. I don't know the answer though but i try not to be too paranoid about it.

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  2. It is tough, I put photos of my girls on but, like you, draw the line at certain photos. I don't put their names on anywhere public online as they're pretty unique names. I am certain that people judge me for this but Hubs and I agree we are happy to do it and that's all that matters for now. Thanks for sharing :-)

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  3. In answer to your question: no. It doesn't make you a rubbish mum. As parents, we make decisions about our kids and ourselves every day and all we can do is make the best choices we can. You share photos of William based on considered thoughts

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  4. I would wholeheartedly say No, it does not make you a bad parent. Think about the children you see on tv and in films every day, are their parents bad because they thrust their child into the very public eye? I would still say no (although Miley Cyrus and Lindsey Lohan's parents may have some things to answer for)

    Honestly though, 99% of William's future friends will be in the exact same position he is in. The date he lost of his first tooth and the photo of his first day at school will be immortalised in digital format and how wonderful is that really! I'd love to read about myself as a child, to be able to share in the little things I did as a child that made my parents smile but have long since been forgotten. Personally I think he's very lucky you're putting in the effort to capture his life x

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  5. We live in a digital age and our kids are going to be a lot smarter at this than we are! I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find a child of this generation who hasn't appeared on Instagram or Facebook! It all comes down to choice! I stopped uploading pics of my kids when they outgrew that cute bath stage... now I would be lucky to get a foot into the bathroom with my oldest. I think as long as parents are sensible about what they put 'out there' then there is no harm is sharing their smiles (and tantrums too) with our social media world. xoxo

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  6. Funnily enough after hearing Alice talking about it on Womans Hour, it made me really question myself too. When I started I didn't share any photos of Mads but gradually I began to find my blogging voice and photography and that I am an oversharer! ;)
    I like to think that Mads and LL will be similar to me as they have been bought up by me, and that they will appreciate the blog, I know that if my Mum had done something like this for me I would have adored it.
    But if they ever said they didn't want me to do it, or they were embarrassed I would take it down in a second. Until then I will still have the odd wobble about whether I should be posting as much I am sure. I also would never post naked ones, or too personal ones either. x

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  7. I've started to think a lot about this subject with Ethan. At the moment I feel comfortable writing about him, but as he gets older I may well change, it'll be depending on him. x

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  8. This agonises me a lot too, I often find myself wondering have I put out too much on my blog, when it wasn't even really meant to start out as too much of a parenting blog. I think that if I was starting now, I may have not named the boys and may have not shown faces...

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  9. Feel the exact same! It doesn't make you a rubbish mum at all!

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