I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diversity in the homeschool and mommy-blogger world. Not SAHM or working mom, not breast-feeding or bottle feeding, and not (at this moment, at least) about religious or secular lifestyles. I’ve been noticing the wide range of attitudes people have about privacy, as seen by how they refer to and present the details of their lives and families in their blogs.
Here’s a shocker for you: the names I use for members of my family in this blog are not our real names. They are, however, names that each of us answer to at least two dozen times a day, so you are getting to know us by name, just not by our legal identities. (Daddyman being kind of a no-brainer, sure, but a nod to the awesome Smrt Mama, regardless.) My husband’s and my names are generic and semi-anonymous, so we deliberately gave our kids slightly less boring names, and I’m 100% confident (because I just tried it) that googling just my girls’ first names by themselves will result in finding an old blog of mine from back when new mommy hormones were making me overly trusting. (Which I need to go fix, I know.)
Some parents use their full names, and their childrens’ full names, and even their birthdays and towns they live in, and they are not all doing it out of naiveté like I was, either, but by active choice. An old acquaintance from high school is a top mommy-blogger, and she just totally lays it out there. She doesn’t type about super personal/controversial stuff, so the potential for retribution/embarrassment is pretty much nil, but still. (She *is* dealing with small-scale celebrity, though, and the ever-present public eye that comes with it. Yes, I like having a growing readership, but I’m not envying her getting accosted by her asethetician!)
Other parents give themselves and their children pseudonyms, as I have, but some seem to have gone too far. DD#2? Really? I’m sure she wouldn’t object to you calling her by a name (instead of a number and a gender), and maybe tell us something about her personality too. Not that ‘Big D’ is all that personalized, but I *have* been calling her that for years now, so there’s that, at least. (Ok, sometimes – rarely – I call them Thing 1 and Thing 2, but that’s a whole different story, by today’s birthday boy, no less, and joke, besides.)
Pictures complicate the situation. Some folks show no pictures of their children at all, others just the back of their heads and/or side/non-identifying views, and some use their daughter’s smiling face as their blog’s button! Some show just the parent-blogger’s face, and some no images of writer/writees at all. Some, like me, show our kids’ faces, but not our own, possibly because we are always the one behind the camera (or in dire need of a shower).
Location is another biggie. Sure, someone can write fairly anonymously from NYC, but from Vermont, as I am? I’m not well-known in the homeschool community here, but, as my kids age, and we get more involved, we likely will be (just by being active), so we might well get identified that way. (Not sure though; mountainous state + bad weather much of the year = not getting out and about over long distances as much as we might, even if the state is on the small side.)
I’m kind of torn, to be honest with you. I have given this URL to some friends and family, and identify some folks by real name, because I want this to be integrated into my life, you know? Keeping my blog totally separate from my community would keep it from being as valuable to me as it could be. In contrast, I want to be able to be straight about things here; my choices, my opinions. I don’t want to censor myself beyond the bounds of public decency (if only Northern, liberal ones, but still), as that, too, would sort of defeat my purpose in writing, and, likely, yours in reading, as well.
So, personal friends and family know our ‘real’ names, and might use them here once in a while, by accident, if not by intent. I also acknowledge that face recognition technology, either the organic kind found in the homeschooling mom who it turns out lives down the street, or the electronic kind that I’m sure Google has cooking up in their lab, might out my kids or I in a glance or a keystroke.
Oh well. I refuse to be paranoid about it. Cautious, sure; no amount of connection with an internet community (even of friends and family) is worth my family’s safety, but insulating ourselves utterly from community and connection can be damaging too. I’ve been learning a lot about my fellow homeschoolers and their lives in the last few months, and I’ve brought a lot of good ideas and materials into our lives as a result. You also keep me sane when I need to talk to a (theoretical) adult audience about things I’m pondering. (Love you, Daddyman, but sometimes your eyes glaze over!)
Ergo, I’ll continue to talk about things that I feel need talking about, try not to embarrass anyone, and, generally, endeavor to be relevent and non-stupid. I do this both for you, who won’t care otherwise, and also for my kids and family, who deserve the respect of having their stories told and pictures shown in a worthwhile and appropriate manner.
(Yes, if my life were far more interesting, I could be as outrageously funny and morbidly fascinating as My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours, but this blog isn’t about catharsis as hers is. I’m here for connection with you and documentation for me. I want this to be something that I *want* to look back at in ten years, to see what we were thinking, and how much we’ve grown.)
Pretty please let me know if you think I screw this up or get this right. I want to know!