« Home | I need your help with my Halloween costume » | Friday Night Plight » | What I'm Watching » | Saturday: A Three-Act Play » | Movie titles suck » | More Photos » | Happy Birthday to me » | How to tell you're the parent of a teenager: Part ... » | How to tell you're the parent of a teenager: » | A whole week's worth of posts in one fell swoop »

Luckily, I don't have that many readers anyway

Because I'm about to take what will probably be a very unpopular stance.

I guess there's some controversy that's got the blogosphere up in arms. There's this woman who has one of those sites where she says mean hateful things about other people in a desperate and rather unsuccessful attempt to be funny. Is it a slambook? I don't know. One of the posts about this issue used that word a few times but I'm unfamiliar with what those are exactly. Anyway, I'm not going to link to this woman's site because I don't want to add to the controversy by: 1) sending people to her site and thus increasing her stats; or 2) possibly linking my own site to the fray.

But I will tell you what it's all about.

Recently, this woman has taken to making digs at popular bloggers by taking photos of their children (that they have innocently posted to their own sites, as so many of us do) and photoshopping them into what she is calling "parodies." The one that seems to have gotten everyone all distraught this week is in reference to a post that Sweetney wrote about how upsetting it was to take her 4-y-o daughter to preschool and watch the other children react overwhelmingly to the popular girl enter the room while seemingly ignoring her own child.

You can read the original post here.

So then this mean woman photoshopped a picture of Sweetney's daughter and - it's so stupid and not funny that I can't really figure it out - either made fun of the girl's hair, or insinuated that she was developmentally disabled.

I'll save you the trouble of searching for it yourself:

The post read: "Hey Sweetney, want to know why your daughter isn't the most popular girl in class? I think I might have some idea:

Well obviously this hurt Sweetney's feelings and she responded with this short but angry post. And then Amalah - who I adore and read regularly - backed her up with this ranting and irate post. And I've been thinking about it ever since.

So now that you've got all the background, let me get on with my heartless and unfeeling opinion on the matter.

I've been a mother a lot longer than either of these girls, so I probably understand some things that they haven't quite internalized yet. One of these things, which has nothing to do with the internet but can surely be applied to this situation, is that NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LOVE YOUR CHILD AS MUCH AS YOU DO. Part of what we have to teach our children is how to thicken their skin to these people who may do or say mean things about them, and as we do this, we thicken our own skin against such attacks on those who we love more than life itself.

I'm not defending this woman or her site. I think it's mean, hateful, cruel and wrong. I do not think that she has a "right" to do this. I just think you're living in your own personal Wonderland if you don't expect things like this to happen.

Did Sweetney ask for this? Does it serve her right? Certainly not. But did she make it possible? Yes, in fact she did. Her web site did not get popular all on its own. She put her life out there and she posted photos of her child and she talked openly about the girl's social issues. She has to know that there are bullies out there who are going to take advantage of that. It's not right, but it's reality.

Just like it's not "right" that we make fun of celebrity babies, it is the society in which we live. If you jump up and down on Oprah's couch, people are going to say that your baby looks like she's wearing a toupee.

Like it or not, you've put yourself out there. I love Dooce - read her, forward her, quote her - but I don't buy her "I'm just doing this to have a record for my child when she's older" argument. Go read her site. She's not just documenting her daughter's childhood, she's obviously writing to entertain us. She does national media interviews promoting her site. It's a new media world and she is a celebrity in it.

So go ahead, really let me have it now.* Look, I understand where Sweetney & Amalah are coming from. I remember when My Kid was a toddler, and it used to kill me to think of anyone even thinking unkind thoughts about my baby. I get it. But you're going to have to teach your children to deal with bullies better than the example you've set this week.

* bonus points if you can name the movie quote!

While your thoughts might be unpopular, at least they're realistic. It's similar to my feelings about schools nowadays banning tag or dodgeball. I was one of those nerds who wasn't athletic and was regularly beat up for years in elementary school. And I think it's insane to coddle kids and give them the false conception that life might actually be fair. It's a cruel world out there.

Come to think of it, the internet is a lot like elementary school in that, and many other, regards.

But don't you feel that what this woman has done with children who are under four years old is like clubbing a baby seal?

I hear you about thickening skin. I teach Turtle to let it roll off of him when another child picks on him on the playground.

However, when an adult picks on a kid and then posts it out there for the entire world to see...

I dunno... this one might be a little different.

I agree with some of your points! Well, maybe all your points, but I'm just not a lover or avid reader of the blogger's you mentioned. ;)

I'm thinking about posting about this also. As a society, we DO find it funny and fine to make fun of celebrity babies. Why the insane outrage and disbelief that some celebrity blogger-babies got made fun of?

You are speaking realistically. While the parody might not be pleasant, it is not as earth shattering (especially as exaggerated by Amalah) as one would believe. I won't name names, but on some of these blogs they are very much pandering to their audience in either portraying themselves as neurotic lunkheads who find life a challenge only to be flooded (and I do think this is the deliberate intent) with hundreds of consoling commenters reassuring them of their wonderfulness. One hates to say it, but they should have some real problems to learn the meaning of difficult. It was nice reading a rational, more seasoned voice, on this issue. Thank you.

I'm with you, babe. A little thick skin wouldn't hurt.

My understanding of the situation was that the picture that was parodied was not from the site, it was from a private Flickr account. So, part of the outrage from some people (myself included, although "outrage" is probably too strong of a word) is the violation of what is supposed to be a "safe" place. I try to have a thick skin, and often fail miserably, but the idea that someone would take the effort to pull a picture of my child out of a protected photo album for the purpose of making fun is just...really bothersome. Take potshots at me if you want, I made the choice to put my neurotic self out into cyberspace, but please don't ridicule my children, who don't deserve it.

why are you doing this? why?

Do you think if a woman wears a short skirt and gets raped it's just too bad for her because there are terrible people in the world and she should have known better?

Because that's what your argument is sounding like.

I'm sure you wouldn't be so cavalier if it was your child's image that was being altered and mocked and posted and reposted all over the internet.

PS --- How do you like anonymous comments? Now imagine if I anonymously started picking apart your whole life. Still okay with it?

Sooo....you & Amalah are allowed to post your opinions about it but I'm not?

If anonymous comments bothered me, I wouldn't keep a blog.

Oh the drama! I think it's great you tried to bring a voice of reason to the situation. Bravo! I feel bad that Sweetney's feelings were hurt and her child was targeted but come on, it could be a LOT worse. With the details of their lives that so many people share on these blogs do they honestly believe their privacy is protected? Puhleeze. I'm single w/no kids but I have found through online dating sites that you can figure out who someone is with very little information (because I like to google my prospects early so I can get an idea of what I'm dealing with). I say you're all lucky you haven't had some complete nutjob stranger who lurks on your blog show up at your front door. It may sound paranoid but it's true...

Either that, or you would just not allow people to post anonymous comments. That's an option too, but obviously that's not the point.

I totally totally missed this whole thing.

I read Amalah's site somewhere regularly (like once a week) but I don't read Sweetney's site so I was very confused.

I don't get a lot of things about Mommy Bloggers (because I'm not a mommy), but one of the things I really really don't understand is how upset they get when one person dissents via a comment or an email. I hate to say it, but it smacks a little bit of entitlement. They welcome all the loving and cyber-hugery comments but get enraged at the occassionaly not in 100% agreement comments. Like Sweetney just commented above.

Maybe this isn't the point.

I told you I was confused.

It's harsh to realize that by being out there, we set ourselves and all those we talk about as targets for the feeble minded.

Free speech? Sometimes sucks.

You called it as it is. I just wish it wasn't like that....

Okay, it is never okay for an adult to make fun of a kid. HOWEVER, I do agree with many of your points, Kalisah. I am always absolutely astounded when I hear someone say that some particular area of the internet is supposed to be "safe". NO PART OF THE INTERNET IS SAFE. None of it, at all. Not email, not anything. Everything you put out on the internet is just as easy for the bad people to find as it is for the good people.

You know, we teach our kids not to give out any personal info to strangers but there are a TON of bloggers who are posting pictures of their kids, the kids' real names, names of pets and relatives, names of schools and teams, all kinds of info that ANYONE can read and do anything with that they like. I just don't get that, at all. I'm not saying we all need to live in fear, but the truth is that ANYONE can do ANYTHING with EVERYTHING you post online.

Free speech doesn't suck, but it certainly can be uncomfortable.

The best way to prevent attacks like this is to stop sharing the details of your life with the entire world.

Left Brain

Incidentally, the Beauty Brains have moved. Please check out our new site at http://thebeautybrains.com

Post a Comment