About three weeks ago, I logged onto my WordPress dashboard and noticed that I had a massive spike in my page views, all linking to one post that I written about a year ago in a fit of anger. Further research lead me to realize that a German blogging news group had linked back to my post about the time I discovered someone was stealing photographs of my son on Instagram. In an instant, my small blog was exposed to thousands of people I had never met, and the thought scared me.
It scared me because now thousands of people I had never met now knew what my son looked like. What his name was. Where we lived.
When I started my blog on Blogger.com, it was to chronicle our adventures living in a hotel for 100 days while we patiently waited for our visas to be approved so we could finally leave the US for Paris. My followers consisted of my mom, my mother-in-law, and probably five co-workers from my old job. I never watermarked my photos and I shared stories about our adventures. I also shared stories about my son, sweet things he said or did, annoying behaviors he exhibited as he struggled through a rough international transition. Those stories were naively shared with the best of intentions; the idea that people are inherently good, and that no-one would probably read my blog.
Without the ability to work once we arrived in Paris, I poured myself into developing my blog. With each post, I became more and more eager to grow my readership, finding instant validation when someone would comment on a funny story I had published or when my mom would say, “I loved that post you wrote.” In addition to posting nearly every day, I attended a major blogging conference, got a Twitter account, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and so on, and so on. As my little blog modestly grew, I met more and more amazing people. Blogging became my everything, and provided me with the ability to connect with people while living thousands of miles from the only life I had ever known.
Right around the same time that my blog post on “Instagram Trolls” was linked, I read a few articles on how people view “mommy” bloggers. I began to think more about the criticisms of sharing your life with strangers, what should be kept public versus private. What truly hit home for me wasn’t the downside of sharing my life or how it might affect MY career, but rather how it will affect my husband and son’s lives. I have less to fear about what I write because I willing put those thoughts and ideas out into the world. However, the stories that I share about my family aren’t all mine…. they belong to my family, to my husband (who is a consenting adult and can provide his opinion) and to my son.
At nearly four years old, he doesn’t have the comprehension to willingly agree to posts that I write about him.
I used to think that just because my blog wasn’t mainstream, it didn’t matter what I posted because only my family and friends would see it. That belief was extremely naive of me, and I am aware of that. I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about the direction my own blog will take in the future.
It has opened up a Pandora’s box of the ethics of blogging… raising questions that I just don’t have a solid answer for. Things like “Should bloggers earn money by showcasing their children in sponsored ads?” “Should mom bloggers share naked photos of their children?” “Do the children of bloggers have a right to privacy?” “Does it matter if your blog is small or mainstream?”
These questions and countless more have caused me to put the red light on my personal blog. I’m not sure whether I will continue my own blog the way I have in the past, take it in a new direction, or delete it.
Mom readers and contributors of World Moms Blog, I value your opinions greatly. What are your thoughts about the ethics of blogging, especially when it comes to our children?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Jacki. You can check out her experiences as an expat in Paris at her blog, HJ Underway.