Eloquent Defense of Kidblogging
Heather “Dooce” Armstrong has had a busy few weeks. The book she edited was released, she went to New York and came back, and she appeared on National Television™.
Hidden in among all that activity is as eloquent a defense of blogging about your kid as I’ve ever read, and it’s well worth reading for not just mommybloggers but for everyone who writes about the people they love.
There are many who find “mommybloggers” and the whole concept of blogging about ones kids distasteful. They dismiss is out of hand as exploitive. Typical mommybloggers that I have met are not that, though. They don’t cross over into a kind of “stage motherhood” — I feel like that’s when it gets hinky. If you’re pushing your kid to be entertaining. If you’re neglecting your responsibilities as a Mom to service your audience. If you’re more a blogger than a Mom, I think something is broken, and you will have rather more to answer for when your kid grows up and says “what’s this blog thing.”
If you’re simply using your family and friends to entertain, and losing sight of what it means to have family and friends, then that’s broken too.
It’s worth a read: Newsletter: Month Fifty and Fifty-one
But I guess there are some people who are very uncomfortable with the fact that I and many other women are writing about our children on our websites. How dare we violate your privacy like this, how dare we endanger you like this, we obviously care more about ad revenue than what this is going to do to your adolescence. And I have been asked countless times if I am at all worried that you will totally resent me for the details I have shared here. Of course you will you resent me. I have no doubt that you will spend years of your life resenting me and being embarrassed that we have the same last name, despite the fact that I have and will spend years of my life writing love letters to you on the Internet. Despite the fact that I have declared to millions of people that you are the most amazing thing that has ever happened to my life.
You will resent me for your curfew and the fact that I will not let you leave the house in that mini-skirt. You will resent me for showing up to your school in my pajama bottoms and for raising my hand in a PTA meeting when I hadn’t brushed my hair. You will text message your friends to tell them that I am the most horrible person on the planet because I’m forcing you to study for your exam in the morning. You are going to think that I cannot possibly understand what you are going through, and you will slam the door in my face.
Will you resent me for this website? Absolutely. And I have spent hours and days and months of my life considering this, weighing your resentment against the good that can come from being open and honest about what it’s like to be your mother, the good for you, the good for me, and the good for other women who read what I write here and walk away feeling less alone. And I have every reason to believe that one day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about their own children, and you’re going to be so proud that we were brave enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard, frustrating work and we’re not going to sit around on our hands waiting for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter.
May 12, 2008 8:55am
Good points Sassy. Though my understanding is that Dooce does sanitize and fictionalize in a way that works for her and protects her daughter.
I know that Dooce knows the risks of blogging family, given her long track record and real-world pushback from family, friends, and random internet jerks.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle between your point of view and Dooce. Everyone finds their own level of comfort and intimacy with their audience, along with candor and details about family/friends.
May 12, 2008 8:37am
I have to be honest I don’t buy her explanation. I do find it distasteful, in the way that I find most too-personal blogs distasteful. The problem with blogging about your children – especially young children – is that the kids don’t get to choose whether or not they want the intimate details of their lives exposed to strangers on the internet. I guess I wouldn’t mind posting general, sanitized info about my kid, but there is a point where it crosses into the realm of weird to me.
The reality is that Dooce is not doing this for wholly cathartic or altruistic means – she is attempting to build a careeer out of it. And like anyone who writes a tell-all book about their own family, she risks some pretty major issues from her subjects.