Forget pornography, incel chat rooms, or Youtube channels dedicated to Minecraft, the real dark side of the internet is “parenting blogs”. Billions of identical places filled with identical content, their columns always feel a little like confessions of meth addicts dictated before a judge. Amid the pleas to not hold them accountable for the contents of their missives are the unmistakable signs of addiction – an addiction to their kids doing, or saying something cute, dangerous or rude enough to turn into a blog.
“Please God, if you just let Timmy put a fork in the toaster this week I won’t ask for anything ever again,” they seem to be saying.
Of course, they would never call their child “Timmy”. Blogging etiquette implies that while one is mining every action, aside, comment and disgrace of one’s children, one should never outright shame that child by actually putting their name to the blog – though, in fact, every other detail is naturally present. No, the rule is that the blogger should always refer to their children by their age. “7 ate all my face cream”, they will say, like friends of the family won’t immediately recognise “7” as being the same Suzy who last week had to go to the hospital with numerous members of the Paw Patrol lodged in her facial cavities.
You have to feel sorry for parenting bloggers though. They all clearly have to walk a fine line between painting their lives as perfect while also suggesting their children have driven them to massive debilitating alcoholism. Cute nicknames for their partners like PH (Perfect husband) or YM (Yummy mummy) are accompanied by harrowing tales of faecal matter that always end at “wine-o-clock” with a huge glass of “mummy’s juice”.
PH or YM are always doting to the level of an 80s sitcom partner, but are also generally hapless and incapable of keeping their lives together on a minute-by-minute basis. While children swing wildly between being little gurus, wise beyond their years, dishing out philosophical quotes in 140 characters or less, and terrors who are even now crayoning up the bathroom wall – no middle ground.
But the worst part of parent blogging is the seeming disregard for the fact that their children are people, who will one day want to shape how they are perceived in the world for themselves. Suzy is more than a toddler full of hilarious stories and will one day go back and read the things her dad put on the internet for likes. Dads, it seems, will put whatever it takes there to get likes. While most of us are familiar with the dangers of posting photos of our kids online, Daddy blogger is doing it for a free case of energy drink.
The internet is full of photos of hungry, exhausted, and tearful children howling over whatever small thing broke the camels back on a day when they just needed a nap, neatly captioned with, “He is crying cause I won’t let him wear his red shoes. LOL”. While behind the scenes relationships with PH and YM are breaking down faster than mummy after the second bottle of wine-o-clock.
Of course, their excuse for posting those photos is that they are “keeping it real” and giving us an insight into their actual, wild, messy, chaotic, but deeply fulfilling lives. But are they really? Is the advice they are giving really valuable, or are they just carefully curating an image for free nappies, and a case of cheap wine a week? And will their children ever thank them for it?