*This post was really really difficult to write because of the things I had to share but it’s important to raise concern and promote online accountability.
My favorite social media has to be Instagram for its appeal to have a quick glance into your friends’ lives and continuing on with yours. Once I left Facebook for good in the spring of 2012, I found a great community of like-minded moms that I interact with daily much like previous Facebook activity but without the judgement and shaming. You would never expect even something as innocent as a photo-sharing app could make you reevaluate your kids’ online presence. That changed when I was alerted about the seedy underground world of baby role-playing.
This isn’t the first time I heard of baby role-playing on Instagram because I remember seeing it before and still kept my account public thinking nothing of it. From my minor investigative skills, I just deduced it was lame teenagers using stolen baby pictures to pretend to be parents to other people’s kids after stealing photos and post up on their own accounts. A “virtual adoption,” if you will. The “innocence” of baby adoptions, ironic in and of itself, is taken far into the world of promoting abuse against children and violating their family’s memories. This is about sexual baby role-play. Once I saw the screen shots of some discovered role playing account, I dug deeper. I read the comments. I checked the followers list and read those comments. I cried. My heart hurt and for my children who are prominently featured on my Instagram. For every photo of myself or non-children, there are probably four of just my kids. I quickly made my account private and hastily declared I’m removing every picture of my kids ever, including this blog.
I hate to say it but I’m a little torn. I feel so sick this is happening to innocent children and I made a decision to prevent that as best I can but what is my blog if I have to hold back from my “real” life? That sounds selfish to me. I feel selfish and vain and responsible if my kids’ lives were used in inappropriate contexts like the victims to baby role play on Instagram. As I raced to my computer to delete every picture of my kids in any and every blog post, I couldn’t go through with it. It’s not Instagram, I questioned. It’s not like I’m popular enough for someone go to my blog and crop out my babies pictures for their role-play accounts. Does it even matter? I also questioned the motives behind why I blog and how I decide to share that. I hate that there are very sick people, who do victimize innocence but I also realize that’s the responsibility I take up when I share my life. I hold myself accountable for making the decision to share my kids stories, emotions, faces, bodies to the rest of the world when they haven’t provided that consent to do so. I take that hypocritical epiphany to be a much more mindful blogger and Instagram mom so I can protect and prioritize my kids as kids instead of online (visual) content.
How do you handle your online presence?
*Update: the accounts that were brought to my attention have since been deleted but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new accounts being made or promoted. Sign the petition to try and stop these accounts but as long as they have a smart phone and your public account, they can take your photo as easy as clicking a button.