So earlier today I saw this blog post, a very nice & thoughtful blog written by a clearly concerned mom. Out of respect for her (like I respect my fellow bloggers) this is the link to her mea culpa. Like me, she’s got a small blog and frankly I’d have been overwhelmed by this if it happened to me.
She’s trying as hard as she can (and aren’t we all) to raise responsible young men & tries like we all do to keep communication open between her and her kids. I know it’s hard. My stepdaughter is 20 and sometimes I want to reach through her facebook page to North Carolina and yell at her “are you seriously ok with putting that picture/post out there?” And sometimes I do.
But in reading all the comments (and I hardly ever read those, because most days they want me to choke someone for idiocy) I kept seeing people bringing up the same thing. She’s shaming the girl who posted a picture she thought was questionable, while posting pictures of her kids that others thought were questionable.
The biggest lesson from all of this, is that you cannot control what others think of your pictures or your comments. And it’s not right for others to blame you for their own thoughts.
This was my response to Mrs. Hall, and I don’t know if she’ll approve the moderation or not for it. But even if you don’t read her blog, read this because I think sadly, too few people ever think long-term about what they are putting online.
Sadly what’s happening across the board is all the wrong lessons are being learned from your blog Mrs. Hall.
I was linked to the original post by fellow bloggers, one who raved about how awesome it was because she too had sons. And another who was shocked and appalled that you seemed to put all the impurity involved on the girl.
I have three daughters, a 20 year old stepdaughter, a five year old, and a 10 month old. I don’t want them to go around in the world thinking that the impure and sexual thoughts by anyone, male or female, is their fault, based on their clothing or actions. And that was the first takeaway I got from reading your blog.
In your response midway through the comments you were shocked that it was receiving so much attention. I too have a small blog and my mom is one of my most frequent commentators. I get the surprise when something goes viral. Someone along the line will probably say you wrote it in a way shaming girls to draw attention to your small blog and gain attention, exploiting the current rape-culture debates where blaming the girl for her semi-sexy pose and not wearing a bra provoked your son’s thoughts is like saying a rape victim asked for it because she wore a certain skirt.
I’m a Pollyana-type optimist that you truly meant your post from a caring and heartfelt place.
However I think everyone’s taking away the wrong ideas here.
I think the real teachable moments are things other commentators (here and on the original) have mentioned: Nobody is responsible for what anyone else thinks. Yes, to a degree it’s a natural hormonal response for boys or girls to think someone else is cute or “hot” based on the image of themselves they present. Confidence is always an attractive quality. And yes, I am a HUGE fan of modesty – not for the sake of keeping others from having impure thoughts – because that cannot be controlled – but because frankly I’m sick of seeing everything that anyone has to bear. But, you know what? That’s my issue. Not someone else’s.
Another teachable moment missed was you talking to this girl, or her mom, and letting her know that even a speck of glitter on her carpet may show, and her mom may not be aware of what she’s posting.
My point is this – the greater takeaway from this is that once something is posted online, it’s online FOREVER. The internet does not have a global delete button. Somewhere, in someone’s cache files, are the pictures of your sons, that you posted, on the beach. They’re out there now. And there’s nothing pedophiles and internet trolls love more than photos of kids, of any age, half dressed for their own stimulation – be their stimulation sexual or they just get their kicks being jerks to folks online.
Like it or not, some of these creeps have google searches set to show them new pictures when they’re publicly posted, as yours were of your young & innocent boys. For safety reasons I never post pictures of my kids on my blog, and never mention them by name. I’m open about who I am and unlike others won’t post anonymously, because like you, I stand by my words as something I believe strongly in.
That’s the ultimate lesson here – for all bloggers and children (and their parents). Once it’s online, no matter who posts it, or where, it’s out there. You can’t control who approves of it. You can’t control who disapproves of it. You can’t control who ultimately sees it — whether it’s future employers doing a social media search before they offer you a job, or a creep looking for pictures to stimulate themselves.
The only thing you can control is what you put out there. And we all need to learn and teach our children this, above all.