(Photo posed by model unrelated to this article)
Tiffany is a mother to seven, including two sets of twins and two foster children, and lives in rural NSW. She blogs about her family and about her daughter Ivy’s autoimmune disease at My Three-Ringed Circus.
If there were no internet and no blogs, my life would be very insular.
One of the main reasons I started to write online was because of my isolation, and yet isolation seems to be the order of the day.
There have been a lot of blog posts flicking around lately on writing about your children online, and how disclosing information is not in their best interests - which might be true.
There have been bloggers who condemn the very things that I write about. Talking about Ivy’s illness online - well, that cheeses some people off, apparently.
In fact, as far as they are concerned, no parent ever should reach out into the online world looking for answers and like-minded people who are going through a similar thing. Apparently that’s wrong.
It’s okay for them to write about their own conditions online because that’s their choice; adults can garner as much strength from their online community as possible because they are talking about themselves. But a mother trying to get through life with a chronically ill child? Forget it. Writing about the child, however discreet it may be, is taking away their right to privacy. Which might also be true.
Not that I’ve ever been ‘discreet’ about my kids, anyway. No pseudonyms, no ‘only taking photos of the children from the shoulders down’ (well, sometimes, in the name of art), no trying to hide their identity.
Is it okay to have a photo of your kids in newspapers and magazines and on the TV but not on the internet? That’s bizarre to me - especially when media today has taken a large turn towards being online.
People talk about sick weirdos but sick weirdos are everywhere, not just on the internet. Some of the most well known pedophiles are priests, television presenters, actors,teachers, doctors, neighbours; people who you should be able to trust.
It’s just not as simple as switching off your computer and never posting about your children anywhere online ever again. There are sick people everywhere.
Aside from that, it’s really not that hard to track down a person, work out who a person is. Even if you don’t photograph your kids’ faces or if you use aliases, you don’t need a lot of information.
Look at child abductions and pedophilia rings before the internet was a thing.Evil has always existed throughout time, so why are we suddenly blaming ‘mummy bloggers’ for making things worse?
When we fill in paperwork for daycare or enrolment at school, when we fill in forms at the paediatrician’s office, that is willingly giving away information. That is giving away your so called ‘privacy’.
The minute we open up our lives to a person we expose ourselves and our families to another human being, who could go and tell another family member, a friend in the playground or a colleague, and soon everyone knows your story.
Privacy? Please. Unless you are prepared to keep your children home and never go out into the world at large there is no privacy.
For the record, I don’t want to expose my kids to anything that will harm themany more than the next person. I ask permission to write about my older kidsand have recently sought the same from Ivy and from Noah. Although I’m not too sure they understand what they are agreeing to yet, they know I have a blog and that I like to write about them.
My family (including my husband) have been largely supportive (and proud) of my six-year blogging habit. They are supportive of how it has helped me connect with other mothers who are going through similar things, how it helped me come out of my shell again after losing my baby, and how it has opened up a world of (albeit small) philanthropy and helping other people, and how that gives me a feeling of worth. Darn it, I’ve even made some real-life friends out of it. If every single person who ever wrote something about their child on the internet suddenly removed all trace of their thoughts, would the privacy rate go up? Would bad things stop happening? I doubt it.
Human beings are social creatures; sooner or later someone would say something to another person and the cycle of disclosure would begin again.
So will I continue to write about my kids online? Probably.
Will I continue to photograph my children’s faces and share them over Facebook? Yes. Because without the connection of other humans (and for some of us, that connection is mostly through the internet due to proximity, uncertainty, life skills and availability), what is the point of existing at all?
Why have life when you cannot share it - your hopes, your fears, your triumphs (my children) your low points? If it doesn’t matter to anyone else but you then does it really matter at all?
My children are a large part of my life and their tales are mine too.
Read more of Tiffany's writing on her blog, My Three-Ringed Circus.