If you spend any time monitoring the hair-trigger world of online parenting you soon learn that it’s more convoluted than the Israeli-Palestine conflict. It usually begins with something quite mundane - in this case it was an interviewer who asked Zoe Foster-Blake why she posted so many pictures of her son, Sonny, on social media.
Then came the quick pepper of return fire: Foster-Blake allegedly snapped, “I spend my life with this child; it would be weirder for me never to post a photo of him. And we are as sure as shit not exploiting him.”
Media organisations readied their artillery, fingers trembling on CMS backends all over the country.
And when it came it was Sherman marching through Georgia. “The moral of the story is this: we don’t know what impact all this “sharenting” is going to have,” opined News Corp journalist Angela Mollard in a piece admonishing the Foster-Blake family for their addiction to posting pictures of their little guy, who, at the tender age of two, isn’t so hot on the consent front. Hamish and Zoe, she wrote, risked warping their son’s sense of self by exposing him to the world so young.
For a moment, the guns fell silent as each side considered their next move.
The next move turned out to be nuclear, coming as it did from one of the country’s most loved motherhood commentators – Carrie Bickmore. Last night, The Project host defended the Foster-Blakes, insisting that celebrities often post their own kids as a way to ‘control’ their image, rather than let that image be exploited by paparazzi. “I started posting my own pics so I could control what pics of my children were being put out there,” Carrie, who has two children, explained.
It was tempting, on first read to add my own guerrilla gunfire to this hypothesis – and to the whole ‘sharenting’ skirmish as a whole. There are plenty of celebrities who keep their kids almost entirely under wraps, other than from the most ruthless paparazzi – such as Sam and Lara Worthington’s two sons, who we almost never see, or Madeleine West’s six kids, who she goes to great lengths to shield from the spotlight, even as she makes her name as an author about motherhood.
On the other hand, there’s barely a kid on earth who won’t find themselves on social media before they can speak. Sonny Blake is not going to be any more ‘exploited’ than any of his peers in the scheme of things.
But I’d only be prolonging the sharenting sh**storm and we on the parenting front line are so, so weary of the mummy wars.
Do what works for you. Post pics, don’t post pics, post only to Facebook not Instagram, ask your kids’ permission in advance (my preferred method, though that’s way easier with a 10-year-old than a 2-year-old), watermark your posts, post a few, post a lot. It’s your choice and no one else’s business.
Look at that, I just negotiated a ceasefire in 450 words. Easy.
Sharent, don’t sharent. No one carent.