I read a blog post recently that was so categorically inflammatory, that I simply could not believe what I was reading. Then, ironically, one of my tweets in response to the initial piece was picked up in an article published by a Yahoo blog.
Whenever I tweet something, I never assume that anyone beyond my followers, or maybe some others will read it. Therefore, I don’t necessarily anticipate a wider audience, or expand my prose beyond whatever the 160 or so character limit will allow.
Following my brief statement on the article, I did a brief perusal of some of the comments on the piece. I saw several comments along the lines of the article being intentionally bad, so that it could garner clicks for ad revenue, a so called bait piece. Now :that: made sense to me. This perspective, along with the information that the blogger refused to reveal any personal information, such as “her” age or other details was sufficient enough for me to assume that this article suffers from what I like to refer to as the bloggers dilemma. As a paid blogger, you have to produce a certain amount of content by your deadline. Additionally, employers keep track of SEO (search engine optimization) data, some moreso than others.
To be honest, I have never heard of the parent (in the corporate sense of the term) company which hosted the initial piece. However, assuming they are some sort of lifestyle blog, I assume that they are much more interested in articles that take advantage of SEO and other traffic driving measures to increase ad revenues as opposed to articles which focus primarily, or mostly, on the underlying substance.
Political sites are a great example of this SEO vs. substance debate. They want to capture enough of an audience, but don’t always focus primarily on the facts, those things which can be readily verified by an objective third party.
Blawging differs somewhat, in that it is primarily based upon legal developments, both statutory and following individual case decisions, which are constantly developing. However, I have done non law related blogging, and I therefore understand the nature of the dilemma: I don’t have anything particularly interesting to write about, yet I have to write something sufficiently interesting for people to actually read.
Blog posts relating to parenting decisions, then, allow for the perfect storm to drive traffic through the roof. It’s simple, all you have to do is choose anything related to children or parenting, arbitrarily decide what you subjectively think is the correct answer or philosophy, in any case and for everyone, and then dispense with saying why everyone else is wrong. Sound familiar? An article about cosleeping in which an infant was depicted as lying next to a rectangular butcher’s knife comes to mind. Or the TIME magazine cover featuring a mom breastfeeding her 4 year old child. (For the sake of transparency, I did not read the TIME article, as I do not generally subject myself to sensationalist journalism, if you can even call it journalism to begin with).
I know the blogger’s dilemma well, because since having additional free time with which to produce content for this blog, I have not been extraordinarily motivated to write on anything in particular. Generally speaking, those news items in which I am interested, I share via Twitter, and more often Facebook, with my literal 2 sentence opinion on the matter. This works well because I am friends with people who understand my background, political stance, legal training, and general philosophies on things. Therefore, the discussions that flow from these topics are interesting because they allow for an open forum whereby I am familiar with the general political perspectives and backgrounds of my friends. Also, perhaps due to my legal training, I do not feel personally insulted when someone disagrees with me. It’s a little reported on fact that not all people think about things in the same way. Go figure!
This time, however, as my reach went beyond those who know me personally, or at least from social media contact, I received a string of tweets which so eloquently demonstrated what I personally believe to be at the root of the problem with all pieces related to parenting that follow the “this is the best: here’s why everyone else is wrong” approach.
Namely, I honestly do not care how other people choose to parent their children. I do have some caveats, and I will get to those. However, generally speaking, so long as your children are fed, safe, and not neglected or abused, your parenting does not affect me in the slightest. I know for a fact that no one is parenting at me.
Of course, in the case that your child hurt’s my child or says unkind things to my child, I will even go so far as to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that your child is engaging in typical developmental beahvior, but not without helping my child to advocate for his or her position, and I will not ever allow my children to be bullied nor become door mats. The only other time I will ever question another parent’s decision is in the case of abuse or neglect.
However, those incidents are few and far between, and as such, I tend to stray away from articles that engage in this sort of bombastic display of superiority, even in those cases when I may agree with a particular parenting school of thought.
Formula feed or breast feed; stay home or work at home or outside the home; tough love or coddle; helicopter parent or free range– our country has yet to internalize that if it is your child, you and only you (and your relevant spouse/partner/co-parent) are the ONLY ones who should have input on your decisionmaking. For the record, those negative tweets which I received seemed to accuse me of the corporate attorney lifestyle which I outwardly rejected, and continue to reject. I am a full time homeschooling caregiver. The professional blawg work that I did/do, is completed during the time of day when my children are sleeping. That being said, I do not feel any need to justify my choices to anyone, just as I wouldn’t if I were truly in the corporate legal world, as so many of my friends are, because it is simply none of anyone else’s business.
Anyone can say what they want, but nobody outside your nuclear family knows your dynamic as well, or what other factors go into the decisions you make. Those who wish to impart the wisdom of their parenting philosophies are more than welcome to use them on their own children and adjudicate whether it is best to impose themselves on others who are simply trying to do the best that they can. If you really want to help someone, in the truly altruistic sense of the word, then actually offer your help to them rather than attempting to put them down by assuming you know anything about their child or their parent:child relationship.
In sum, rather than artificially inflating the level of content on this blog, I refrain from writing anything. However, I do realize that a blog cannot be built upon nothing, and so, I leave you with those things with which I have been the most interested lately, and encourage my readers to engage in the path that brings them the most happiness and meaning in their lives. I assure you that regardless of the individual course, it will not be built upon stepping stones of putting down or otherwise chastising others.
Slow parenting in the age of instantaneous-ness, what a concept.
See also, How Legos Are Made.
This one just made me laugh, from George Takei’s facebook page. I often lament that so much of what is reported these days does not constitute actual news.