I post a lot of scandalous photos online these days. Naked booty photos. Pictures taken in the bathtub. Topless shots captured during mealtime. Sometimes my videos feature a person dancing around in nothing but a diaper.
A diaper? That's right. The photos and videos aren't of ME - they're photos of my kids. I take and share a lot of cute baby photos, and some of them feature partially clothed, shameless infants. Before I was a mom I thought my friends who posted naked pics of their children were exhibiting poor discretion. After all, there are sickos out there who like that sort of thing for the wrong reasons, why give anyone an opportunity to prey upon our children, even privately over the internet? Now that I am the proud parent of (objectively) The Two Most Adorable Babies Ever Born, I find myself sharing intimate moments, captured on my iPhone, with all 370 of my closest acquaintances on almost a daily basis. And when it's not a photo, it's an anecdote that no adult human being would want a parent to share. Diaper drama, jokes about how much toilet paper a toddler can eat, self-gratifying one-liners suggesting my kids are the source of both misery and joy (which they are). And all this is, from what I see, fairly normal behavior among people of my generation. We share everything about ourselves but also everything about our kids.
As if they aren't people.
As if they'll never see or care that we shared it.
Recently it struck me that this really is a phenomenon that has occurred only in the last decade. And for a moment, I forced myself to imagine what I would feel like if MY mother had, in the 1980's, been posting about my childhood on social media.
A photo of me naked in the bathtub. A video of me torturing my newborn sister. My first, awkward day of school. A joke about my first playground "boyfriend." A worried post asking her friends if I was normal for doing or not doing X. More photos of my sister than me, or vice versa. Comments from her friends about how cute (or not!) I looked in my Christmas dress. What would "I need a big glass of wine after this day with my daughter!" tell me about her experience as my mom?
What would the now 33-year-old me think about that exposure? Would I feel violated, as if my young self had been on display for strangers to assess and judge? Would I resent my mom for keeping so little to herself and using me as a way to gain self-gratification and attention? Would the moments captured online lose their preciousness?
When I post about my family on social media or even on this blog, I don't think of it as a bad relational move. I don't think about what my kids will feel if they read through the posts and photos years later. But maybe I should. Even though they're adorable and sometimes frustrating and sharing all of that makes me feel more connected with other people, perhaps that isn't more important than their privacy, their PERSONHOOD. By sharing so much of our experience, I treat my kids as if they are pets, as if they are mine to expose and display instead of God's precious individuals that have feelings and preferences of their own. Just because they're too young to object, that doesn't mean I should assume they're alright with their lives being made public.
Do we post too freely about our children? Would be ever be so bold as to post the same things about our adult family and friends as we do about our kids? What's an appropriate level of sharing when it comes to our littlest people?