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Shut up! I vlog for the good of my family!

September 21, 2015 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , , , ,

[ahem… read in an attractive promotional video voice]

Let vlogging become your "rags to... some extra money" story, your capitalist fairy tale come true. 

Does your family have the magic to make the dollars? Probably not, but we won’t stop you from trying! Either way, you can be the proud owner of a family business, the start of your own baby corporation, MEinc. You sell, we buy. You still lose.

Life will be dictated from your eye, through the lens of your camera. You capture pieces of time, containing the pertinent, the sublime and the mundane, then present these masterpieces to the world. You’ll train your entire family, including yourself, like dogs, to respond to the electronic click of the newest smartphone. As your children age, and gain more cognitive awareness, you’ll be able to manufacture situations in order to capture the moment you need want. 

However, as your online fame grows, creating a natural atmosphere should come second, or not at all, to the presumed desires of your fans.

Lastly, it’s not exploitation, it’s the family business and everyone is onboard. Are you an attention seeking, asshole parent for shamelessly posting vids of your child's meltdown? Let the internet decide! 

So spare all that “irreparable damage to your kids” mumbo jumbo, friend! They don’t like what you’re selling over here? Well, not only do your sponsors not agree with them, neither do your 940K loyal fans. Haters can politely fuck off!

[end movie voice over… phew]

Most of us would never sell our children into the more nefarious services of the black market (whew). Neither do we have the general megalomania to ruin our children’s lives with beauty pageants or ultra competitive sports (abusive sociopathic coaches included). What about forcing them into the entertainment industry? No? Who here thinks Joe Jackson is guilty of abuse beyond a few verbal and physical beatings? Ah, maybe it’s not exploitation if you become financially successful.

Now, I’m under no delusion that, given the ambition and circumstances, I could replicate financial exploitation on a Jackson scale. Still, when I look back on my life several years from now, I may regret not exploiting our child for some kind of gain. I mean, the Internet literally stares any egocentric asshole with a connection in the face, begging to be used.

“Gee, honey, remember when we joked about using wee Gozer’s cherubic face for baby modeling?” We didn’t. Or, rather, I didn’t. Maybe I dropped the fucking money ball with that one. Fate will probably forgive this lapse in narcissistic self-aggrandizement, and my daughter will become filthy rich on her own. Right?

However, the more you come to terms with the idea that your kids aren’t your golden ticket to fame and fortune, the more you may just have to take matters into your own hands. Lucky for all of us, low ambition and a general lack of creative genius won't prevent us half-assers from turing our private lives into online currency: the love and hate of fans and trolls. One only need to stock every breakfast, school pick-ups, gossip, breakups and bath time on the shelves of your Youtube channel. You may even earn a supplemental income by shoving a camera in everyone’s face 24/7. Daddy loves you, baby, now make him and mommy some dollar bills.

Alright, that might be a bit precipitous, a tad harsh. Certainly, there is some value in being able to Youtube a diaper changing, a feeding or some dad shooting up his daughter's laptop, if only to put your own stupid parenting in perspective. Or, to reassure yourself that there are, in fact, other idiot parents out there, screwing up as much as you. I certainly enjoy the solidarity.

There’s also serious entertainment value. Batdad makes me chuckle.

But, there’s no way that shit isn’t somehow insidiously intrusive. Sure those videos are funnyish now, but what happens in a few years when the preteen/teenager doesn’t want to be fucking recorded anymore, least of all by nosy dad/ mom?  

If the parents, who engaged with their families in this way, were doing it all for pure entertainment or some kind of tortuous payback, with no camera, it would somehow be awesome. Heroic, even. 

Yet, this endeavor is not without its narcissistic value. No vapid justification is going to convince anyone that you’re kid’s best interests come first. It’s about getting attention and satisfying that first impulse we have as toddlers. The impulse that says, “Look at me, goddamnit! I'm doing something!” Truly the internet has allowed our collective ids a venue of free-range play. 

Look, I sympathize with this impulse. I indulge in my own narcissism here. 

And, exploiting your family isn’t all bad. Surely, we can think of good family business models, where the exploitation is more about something qualifiable. Like cheap labor, convenience, building character in your children and teaching responsibility. Invaluable resources and life lessons, all.

So what if it creates rifts and family drama. This is what life is all about: love, hate, parents, kids, brothers, sisters and the struggle of independence from your first owners: your parents. And, parents finally free of their progeny: the harbingers of war.  

All this conflict is good for us, it makes us stronger and strengthens familial bonds. None of this, however, goes on camera, so the camera cannot intrude and the anonymous audience is largely silent to our drama. 

Now, before you jump down my throat for calling out these supposedly heinous parent vloggers, I already admitted to partaking in this narcissism myself.

Indeed, most of us revel in a little online love, here and there. And, posted baby/ toddler pics go long way to increasing your stock in the online markets, whether you want it or not. We secretly enjoy seeing the responses, the likes. I do. Also, social media makes it possible for us to stay connected to friends and family that might otherwise drift away. The lazy person's way of staying in touch.

So, as I stumble off the back of my high horse, I’ll say that there is, at least, some personal value in using social media as a platform for showing off your private life.

However, I remain wary of that line we cross when our actions in the real world become products of how we want to be seen online. If social media becomes an enterprise built on obligation, such that you post to maintain your status, then some essential quality of life is lost. Even with your 50M views, 2M followers and sponsors, it may be time to reassess everyone else’s level of commitment.

Or, just tell the naysayers to fuck off. Vlogging is paying the cable/ Internet bill, buying a weekly bottle of whiskey and putting one of your kids through 1.5, maybe 2 years of college. Instate tuition.