‘All You Need Is Love’

21 Jan

I mentioned in it in the last post, but the Statesman published my lengthy, very personal piece about taking my kids to see Paul McCartney. When I wrote it, I wasn’t expecting it to be a Sunday features centerpiece, so that was a really nice surprise.

One thing I didn’t really get into in posting this before is that now that my kids are 11 and 9, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how and when I write about them online. I still Tweet about funny things they say and do once in a while, but I’m not a full-time family blogger and as they’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to be a lot more careful about letting their stories be their own and not for public consumption.

Like a lot of longtime bloggers, I was absolutely horrified by a recent piece on the Washington Post by a blogger who has chosen to go another way.  For this piece, I ran the final draft by my kids for approval before I sent it to an editor.  The thing is, maybe even that’s not enough. Can a 9 year old really give approval to have her photo and a story that involves her run online and in print where thousands of people will likely see it?  I think on some level my kids understand what it means to have a photo of them on Instagram or to get comments on Facebook about something. But I wonder and worry sometimes about this larger kind of exposure, the kind that lives permanently online, searchable in archives.  I think it’s up to every writer to figure out how not to hurt the people around them that they write about.  But it’s getting absolutely trickier; I’m finding myself having more conversations with my kids about what is OK and not OK to post online and who will see it.

In this case, the feedback on the article was really positive and my kids were happy with seeing it published.  Which was a huge relief.

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