In another instalment of Franca gets defensive about things absolutely no one has accused her of, I thought I’d talk about posting pictures of your kids on your blog.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I got into reading GOMI for something to do when I was still breastfeeding Milo and now I’m sort of hooked. I read a wee bit most nights while Milo watches in the night garden, and I follow several threads.
One of these is about Love Taza. I looked at this blog once years ago when someone said they liked it, took one look and decided it was a bit boring and then didn’t go back. Until I got into this GOMI thread and now I am fascinated, in not entirely a good way. Basically this used to be a blog written by a stay at home wife in New York with a richish husband about her every day adventures. Now however, said husband has quit his job to do nothing very much and they are apparently living off this blog, making $250k a year from sponsorship.
The thing is though, the success of the blog hinges almost completely on the cuteness of their kids aged 4, 2 and a couple of months (and they are adorable), since the blog content, apart from the tedious affiliate link dumps, is all about stuff they do ‘as a family’. And people go properly crazy over these kids: there have been comments from people that they want to breastfeed the newborn and be best friends with the 4 year old, and lots of people saying they were hanging round their area hoping to bump into them.
And the GOMI comments about privacy* (not just re Love Taza, but other similarly successful monetised and ‘professional’ family blogs) focus on how crazy that is for the kids to be so exposed, and to be of such interest to people with possibly not the firmest grasp on what is appropriate behaviour. Another strand of criticism is about the money that is being made in the back of the kids’ exposure. If they were child models or actors, there would be strict rules about the hours they’re allowed to work, and the money earned would be kept in a trust fund for them, but since they are not formally working, just being monetised, no such controls exist. And it does seem a bit of a problem when the entire family’s livelihood depends on the blog continuing. It would be so incredibly hard to stop, even if the kids do decide at any point that they’ve had enough of being photographed.
And the other thing is that they’re probably not going to have the mind space to decide that. Kids want to please their parents and if their parents want them to pose for photos all the time they’ll start thinking that’s normal. And they might start to rely on the validation of comments from total strangers and be really aware of how they look all the time, rather than just doing kid things. Certainly the older daughter appears to be quite the pro at posing.
And maybe also become quite spoilt. This reminds me of an example from another (much smaller) blogger from years ago. She had a blog and Instagram that was completely dedicated to her daughter. She mentioned one day that she read her all the comments she got. Then a few days later she put a photo up of the daughter sulking because her bath water had gone cold, but refusing new warm water being run. And all the comments were like ‘Adorable!’ And ‘How can you resist such a face?’. So what sort of message does that send: you get to act totally irrationally cos you’re cute? What if you’re not cute any more? Maybe I’m overanalysing this because we’re currently deep in tantrum territory with Milo, but it’s hard enough to deal with without the complication of internet enablers (to be fair, for all I know, she didn’t read those comment out or might have told her that they were all saying that she was being silly).
But I don’t know, I have all these opinions and I can totally see the dangers, but at the end of the day I do still take and post lots of photos of Milo, is that really that different? I’ve talked a bit in the past before about why I do post about Milo. He’s such a big part of our lives now, I’m not sure I could really keep this blog going at all of I didn’t cover him, it would just feel quite fake and unnatural. I’ve always talked about stuff I care about and happen to be thinking about at the time, and this isn’t a topic driven blog, and there’s no way I could sustain one of them. And I do use Milo’s real name, mostly because I don’t completely see what the harm is. And if I didn’t have this blog, I wouldn’t have all these lovely pictures of Milo, I wouldn’t be motivated to take them regularly, and sort and edit them quickly if they were just going onto a hard drive. Whether that would be a bad thing is open to discussion I guess, but certainly my family, who rarely see Milo in real life, like seeing the pictures on flickr and Instagram.
I would definitely stop though if I somehow became blog famous and people started making inappropriate comments. And I am very aware that at some point it might become a bit weird for Milo to be on the internet, so I’m keeping an eye out for signs that he might not like it. I’ve seen a few bloggers stop showing their kids when they start going to school so that seems a likely scenario. I’ve also stopped writing so much about what Milo is up to in terms of developmental stages etc. I do find some things about dealing with him quite hard, and I like to complain about them in real life, but that could come across as excessively negative in writing, and no one needs a record of the tantrums they had when they were two potentially being accessible forever.
But the question I’m asking myself is, lots of people overshare their kids lives, not even just on blogs, as arguably am I, is there really that much of a difference just because some people are massively successful in doing so?
P.s. And just for clarification, there are lots of comments on the Love Taza thread I don’t agree with, but the privacy ones seem pretty spot on. I also really don’t mean for this to be a Love Taza criticism fest, I’m just giving them as an example of that kind of blog.
Photo is clickable for source, and unrelated. It came up when I did a flickr search for ‘privacy’