Matt Brennan believes there’s a fine line between adorable and dangerous and suggests parents think twice before posting THAT picture of the kids on Facebook.
It’s been almost two decades, but I vaguely remember the horrible, awkward ball of hormonal atrocities that come with being a 16-year-old guy.
For current men in our 30s, one positive is that our mothers and girlfriends had to make a conscious effort to embarrass us with old baby photos. A perfect storm had to occur for those childhood photos to see the light of day. You know the ones—the photos that we spent our teenage years trying to wish out of existence.
That perfect storm looked something like this:
- Girlfriend needed to be over, and at least one parent (usually mother) needed to be home.
- All parties involved needed to be suffering from total boredom.
- Mother couldn’t be busy doing anything more important.
- Either girlfriend or mother needed to come up with the cockamamie idea of looking through old photo books.
- Laughter ensues at your expense.
My how times change. It doesn’t have to happen this way anymore. A simple Facebook search can accomplish just as much, and that can happen from the privacy of your girlfriend’s own computer. As any teenager can attest, the only thing more mortifying than being laughed at while you are there, is being laughed at when you aren’t.
I wonder if the parents posting naked baby photos or otherwise potentially compromising shots to Facebook consider what this will do to our children as they continue to grow? It’s a decision many people take lightly in the moment, and when you look at what you’re actually doing, I’m not sure why.
Let me preface the point I’m trying to make here with a disclaimer. My wife and I are those people. Our cute kid largely dominates both of our individual Facebook feeds. He’s fricking adorable. But I do try to remain conscious of what we post.
I want our friends and family to know how unbelievably cute he is. I don’t want to scar the kid for life. I don’t want to cost him future opportunities. That would just be mean, and despite rumors to the contrary, I’m not a mean person.
Without naming names, I have seen the bathtub pictures posted on Facebook. I’ve seen the photos of the kids wearing onesies that support a parent’s political views. I’ve seen other potentially compromising pictures that involve someone too young to decide for themselves whether posing for that shot is actually a good idea.
Here’s a quick checklist you can use next time you’re wondering if you should post that shot:
- Is your kid’s wee-wee showing?
- Are they wearing a “Nader for President” onesie? (Or any other candidate.)
- Are they holding or showing interest in your cigarette, cigar, bottle of beer, or hard liquor?
- Are they looking at a Playboy?
If the answer to any of these is yes, you may want to reconsider your urge to post.
Our sons’ future girlfriends won’t have to work so hard to embarrass them. Everybody’s whole life is recorded in some fashion digitally, and it’s easily findable, as long as people are motivated enough to do the legwork. Without thinking about it, there is a significant chunk of parents out there providing the fodder for future blackmail, or at least a hearty laugh at our children’s expense.
Let’s look past the girlfriend scenario for a few moments as well. These pictures will be just as accessible to future classmates. Junior high kids aren’t exactly known for their compassion. If there’s something they can use to give a kid living hell, they probably will. No wonder bullying has been such a hot topic lately.
What about when your kid wants to be admitted to college? What about when he wants to enter the workforce?
People who know how to use Facebook will be the gatekeepers of these future life situations. If your parents’ political viewpoints and the political viewpoints of a prospective e employer don’t align, does that cost your kid an opportunity?
Your kid is your little mini me. Isn’t it cute if they reflect the viewpoints you’ve come to hold in your adult life? Sure it is. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share with the whole world. Chances are there’s somebody out there who shouldn’t see it.
Likewise, I know your kid probably loves the bathtub. They probably love playing with those little rubber toys and look cute as hell when they do it. Mine does.
It’s tempting to post every moment of parenting A-Roll to Facebook. Maybe it’s harmless. Maybe it’s not. I’m not saying these kind of photos will for certain cost your kid an opportunity, or make their life a living hell in some way.
I’m just saying that as a parent, it’s something to think about before posting them.