Thursday, March 18th, 2010...8:46 pm

Blog Your Baby

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“Can I blog your baby at South by Southwest?” asked the curly-haired, tight-jean-wearing, pink-camera-holding hipster in the ally behind Yard Dog.

“Sure,” I replied – who wouldn’t want to blog my baby?

He leaned in to snap the photo and Nora leaned into me, wary of strangers, especially in a new and relatively loud place. I ended up in the frame too, I’m sure, thus detracting from the blog of the “baby.” He didn’t ask for any identifying information, thus sending the anonymous picture of mother and daughter out into some undefined territory of cyberspace.

As soon as the camera turned around, a colleague’s girlfriend, who we happened to run into, marched over and said, “You should have said no. You’re a teacher.”

I’m not sure if she was kidding or not. I don’t really think she was. And as I walked laps around South Congress with Nora, checking out the one man band, the sidewalks littered with postcards enticing walkers to the next big show, the windows filled with abstract art, skull-shaped candles and costume jewelry, I got to thinking. Should I have said no?

I didn’t start to question it because I am a teacher. There is absolutely nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a teacher going out to a music festival with her daughter and husband. I was dressed appropriately (I always am), I wasn’t drinking (I had just had my second pointless root canal of the week); there was nothing for me to be “worried” about. In fact, I saw a student and her dad when I was walking with Nora. They were excited to see me out celebrating and enjoying the same things they do.

No, I started to think about blogging my baby. I read an article this weekend in the New York Times about the lack of privacy on the web, the many ways that researchers have begun to figure out ways criminals could use information from a variety of social sites to recreate someone’s identity. It is freaky. This is an issue I’ve thought about before, and that I’ve tried to get my students to think about as well. I have used this video twice this year for different activities, each time thinking about the digital footprint I am inevitably creating for myself and for Nora. In a way I am making choices about her privacy before she even knows what the word means or why it might be important.

Every time I have doubts about putting my life – and my child’s – out there for others to see, I think about all the ways in which I benefit from this open way of living. I have learned from countless other mothers who are doing the same thing. It allows family and friends to know Nora more than they ever could have before. I get to process and really think through the issues and frustrations and joys of my life. As I’ve said before, this, I believe, makes me a better mother.

At a friend’s wedding recently the toasts featured touching readings from the diaries the groom’s mother had kept for her children. I had never met the groom, but those entries made me cry, not only because of the sadness of the mother’s early death, but because I could tell from those entries what love that mother had for her son. If nothing else, I hope Nora one day reads these and senses the same thing.

The Internet is changing the definition of privacy. We know way more about each other than we used to. Sometimes that can be dangerous and sometimes it can help to make the wide world seem a bit more close and comfortable.

So I’m glad I said yes to the South By Southwest blogger. And I’m going to blog my own baby too.

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