Undersharing IRL and Oversharing Online

I went out for lunch with some co-workers recently, and one of them asked me what was new with my son.

It took me entirely too long to answer.

I was parsing through his normal daily routine in my mind, trying to filter out things that would be too typical, or too braggy, or too boring… and managed to filter out all the things he was doing, so I had to mentally start again. I think I finally said that he’s still daytime potty trained, and had unfortunately latched onto the shooting and blowing-up parts of Star Wars as his favorite things lately.

In the couple of weeks since then, he’s started reading words on the regular, so that’ll be the next big thing I talk about — because, hell, I’d be remiss as a parent if I didn’t brag about my not-yet-four-year-old son reading probably a couple dozen words, if not more.

Point being, I tend to undershare in person, mostly because I am personally not a fan of being a captive audience myself. Granted, my co-worker did ask — I wasn’t volunteering out of nowhere — but I still didn’t want to go on and on about the minutiae of parenting a four-year-old. She’s been there; she’s done that. She just wanted to let me have a turn to share, and I appreciate that — but, in person, I’m not sure what to share.

Online is a different story. It’s generally understood that — on Facebook, at least, and sometimes Twitter — people are going to post pictures of their kids and talk about their latest recital or t-ball game or teething or first steps or whatever. If you as their “friend” choose to read it, awesome. If not, you can scroll past and shake your head (or block them from your feed) and choose to end the interaction with them being none the wiser.

I blog about my kid sometimes. I tweet when he says something funny. I post cute pictures to Instagram. I even throw my Facebook friends the occasional bone.

He’s not a “normal” kid. He’s tall for his age, and academically beyond his peers — OK, he’s smart. But everyone thinks their kid is smart, right? Everyone’s kids say cute things.

Someday, when he’s older and understands the Internet as a place where people interact (instead of just a place where toys and other packages come from), I’ll ask him before I post about him, much like I give my husband a measure of privacy by not posting much about him. I may have to take parts of my journal offline at that point, because I’d really hate to miss recording something just because it’s not for public consumption.

At any rate, where I’m going with this is that my son is a pretty typical kid right now, doing typical cute kid things, which I try to share in moderation as appropriate. I just can’t seem to dredge up the more interesting typical things in person. I suppose I should have a mental list going, kind of like an old-school photo wallet that I can unfold and show off on command.

Most parents don’t have this problem, do they?

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