Saturday, 7 July 2018

#sorrynotsorry

So Kay and I have, for the most part, figured out how to keep the little man clean, happy, and fed – although we’ve been told on numerous occasions that just when you figure it out they will change entirely.  Both of us are completely in love and spend any small amount of free time we have staring at him in awe. We obsess over his adorably thick head of hair, we melt when we smile at him and he smiles back, and our hearts burst when I sing to him and he coos as though he’s singing along with me. Having a child is every bit as amazing as I thought it would be and so much more.

Some of the things we are still figuring out are the best ways to keep him safe. I mean, there’s the obvious things, like not leaving him unattended at the mall, strapping him into his car seat correctly, and making sure we are following the recommended sleep suggestions (which could really take up a whole post on its own), but something we’ve really struggled with is our son’s online presence.

Kay and I didn’t feel quite right about plastering his photo all over social media and we asked our family and friends not to do so as well, at least until we figured out how we wanted to handle it. It’s not that we don’t want to share him with the world - if it was up to me I’d walk him out to the edge of Pride Rock and have a baboon present him to a crowd of African beasts, while a world class symphony led by Elton John serenades everything the light touches. Fortunately, it’s not up to me because nobody in their right mind should entrust their newborn with a baboon, but I think I’ve made my point.

We grew up before the time of Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Snapchat. We were young adults when Facebook became a thing and we consented to our information being used and shared with the world – even if we didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time, we were able to make the choice for ourselves. The feeling that we have is that by putting his image out there again and again, we are robbing him of something our generation had, and the new generation has much less of- privacy.

The majority of our friends and family have been entirely respectful of our wishes, but inevitably we’ve had to remind some people once or twice or had to ask people to remove photos from social media – but we truly do understand where people are coming from. We are more proud of him than any grandparent, or aunt, or uncle, or best friend could possibly be, and posting pictures of him and seeing the public comment at how adorable he is, or watching that “like” count go up would be extremely gratifying and validating – but then almost as quickly as we posted it, the photo would fade from our memory, and his image would be in cyberspace forever, totally out of our control, and most importantly, out of his control. Kay used the analogy of a teenage crush visiting you at home and your mom hauling out the baby pictures while you’re finishing the touch-ups on your hair in the bathroom – except instead of just being embarrassed in front of his teenage crush, it’s everyone he will ever meet.

It turns out, sharing photos is just as effective through private messages between friends and family.  It’s also just as gratifying as social media for me, when someone asks me if I have pictures of my son, and I get to say “DO I?!” and pull out my phone and show them the 50 most recent photos because my entire library is just pictures of him. I’m not even exaggerating, just because I don’t wallpaper my digital wall with him, doesn’t mean I don’t take pictures of him. I take pictures of everything he does; of him smiling while mom plays pattycake with him, or screaming as we give him a bath, or a picture of a dirty diaper because I was so impressed with how full it was.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that times have changed – that social media is a significant part of our lives now. I’m also not so ignorant that I don’t know what privacy settings are. Nor am I blind to the irony that I write a blog about some of the most intimate parts of my life. These concepts have been carefully considered in our decision to keep our son’s face absent from the word of social media, and at this point in time, it’s really his choice that we are protecting. 

We’re not so self-righteous to believe that this is the right decision for everyone, and I am the first person to hit like on pictures of my friends’ kids, so there’s truly no judgement from us on how everyone else chooses to share their own children with the world. It also doesn’t mean that we will always feel this way, or that we will never share pictures of him on social media – but until then, we remain unapologetically and ironically #sorrynotsorry.

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