After three years of anonymity, the blogger behind STFU, Parents finally planned to go public as a guest on the Ricki Lake Show. The New York Post jumped the gun, though, featuring an unflattering spread of 30-year-old blogger Blair Koenig the same day as the show. This morning, Ms. Koenig also appeared on the Today Show as well (both videos are below).
I’ll admit it: I was prepared to dislike Ms. Koenig. I’m really tired of the Internet’s “take down” culture, and STFU, Parents is a classic example of it, highlighting the “oversharers” of social media.
To my surprise, I found Ms. Koenig very likable in her interviews and was pleasantly surprised by her ethics: everything is anonymous (they are not sent to her in an anonymous state, but she makes them anonymous), she only uses social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and places the posts into categories including “mommyjacking,” “sanctimommy,” and “woe is mom.”
As nice as she seemed, I still am not a fan of the site. While she may call some of us moms “sanctimommy,” she definitely qualifies as “sancti-childless.”
In the discussions about her site on both Ricki Lake and the Today Show, the missing piece by far is this: community. When Ms. Koenig complains about “having” to read 15 status updates about a child’s fever (why do people not understand the “close window” option on their computers?), she doesn’t get the fact that many parents, particularly first time parents (as I imagine her friends that inspired her to start the site were; Ms. Koenig is 30 and the site is three years old so I’m assuming the first time parent thing), are frightened when their child has a protracted fever. Sharing on social media sites is a way to vent, get advice, and get comfort and support while it happens. We don’t often live in multigenerational households these days, and this means that in the middle of the night with a child spiking a high fever we have no voice of experience to turn to, and in today’s culture, we reach our friends via the internet and social media.
This doesn’t mean that people aren’t stupid and share too much; of course they do. We have built a nation of oversharers thanks to pop psychology and talk shows, and I don’t imagine it will stop anytime soon. But when the folks interviewing Ms. Koenig bring up the tired line that it’s about protecting the children from their oversharing parents because of the (entirely false – over half of what was online in the early days of the web has already disappeared) adage that “everything on the internet lives forever,” and she agrees, well, I can’t help but feel like the site is sanctimonious itself.
I’ll say this, though: I cannot WAIT until she has children.
NOTE: In the first version of this post, I incorrectly credit Ms. Koenig herself as saying it’s about protecting the children when it was actually the interviewers that said this. My apologies to Ms. Koenig, and it’s been corrected.