What’s a sharent? It’s someone who overshares about their kiddos on social media.
Like, I could probably teach a master class on sharenting (and the PowerPoint would be nothing but pictures of my insanely adorable, gregarious and almost annoyingly photogenic kiddo).
Over the Thanksgiving break, Elenor and I took our son, Harvey, to visit his Guncles (gay uncles) in Los Angeles, and we made a day trip to the beach. He’s a big fan of water, so when we showed him what we called “nature’s bath,” he. went. nuts.
All the smiles. All the giggles. And right along the gorgeous Malibu coast at dusk.
You better believe that between the two of us we published more than a dozen photos (which is actually showing some restraint given that we took probably three (to 12?) times that many).
Smiling at an oncoming wave. Looking out into the sunset. Holding hands with his mamas. We captured it all. And we shared it. (Wanna see?)
It felt natural.
We’re part of the largest generation in human history, we grew up with the rise of the digital age of sharing, and we’re procreating like bunnies (not El and me, specifically, but, you know, millennials).
I bet baby photos are even starting to outnumber cat photos on the internet. And I love it!
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t super annoying to some. In fact, there used to be a thing called unbaby.me that would change all photos of babies on a person’s social media feeds to a item of their choosing (dogs, oceans, bacon). That’s how irritating it can get.
I have to admit, though, that it’s not my online friends’ annoyance that has made me question how much of little Harvey I share with the public. I figure I probably share a whole host of annoying things, so I’ve always trusted other adults to unfollow me if they’re not sponging what I’m spilling.
It’s his privacy. And the idea of creating a digital footprint (tattoo?) of his life.
I’ve thought a lot about this over the past two years (starting, literally, while he was in the womb) because I’m a pretty open person. I’ve, uh, sort of made a thing of sharing my personal experiences, but all along the way, I keep trying to calculate the benefits versus the risks.
Of course, even though we share a lot, we think about future Harvey looking back and try to make sure we only embarrass him within the expected parental ranges. No nudes. Mostly smiles. Always appropriate in case he wants to run for office (seriously).
Yes, people who never share/store digital information about their children online are creating some barriers between the internet bad guys and their kids. On the flip side, at different points in my postpartum anxiety journey, I sort of wanted my friends/community to know what Harvey looked like in case he were ever in trouble. And, of course, there’s the joy of sharing his journey with the family and friends we don’t get to see as much as I’d like.
So, while his privacy is probably my main concern and something I contemplate a lot — pardon my temporary pessimism (realism?) — I’m not sure that’s something we can control that much these days. The cautious me isn’t counting on it, anyway.
The way I see it, our connectedness and visibility will likely only increase in time. So, I’ve decided that instead of teaching Harvey how to avoid the internet, it’s probably better to work on showing him how to use it thoughtfully.
Marina Gomberg’s lifestyle columns appear on sltrib.com. She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at email@example.com.