The Official Blog-Policy On Children. The Official Cost Of Fame.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

What would your life be like, Cat Valente once asked me, if you’d known at twenty-three what your blogging would do to you? 
Would you choose it again? 
We gazed at each other in silence, unable to imagine.  We’d both thrust ourselves into the public eye at an early age.  So much of our lives had been shaped by the concept of well, I’ve shared this much of my personal life, might as well share the rest.
We had exposed ourselves, becoming D-list celebrities.  People knew things about us that we never knew. People hated us for reasons we could no longer control. People had seen some ugly opinions that, over the years, we’d come to walk back or even be ashamed of.
A life of privacy?
Who could imagine?

I had made a “funny” blog post that had hurt some transsexual friends of mine, and I felt just awful for propagating such puerile, hurtful shit.  I really just wanted a break from my blog, to not even have the temptation to look at comments or see my friends’ list, and so late at night I “deleted” my LiveJournal.  I’d return a few days later, but for now I just didn’t even want to think about it.
I awoke to thirty emails.
I awoke to two blog posts in LJ drama communities, discussing what a drama queen I was for exiting the Internet, people having Google-cached the original hurtful posts and having posted it in their own journals, huge debates on about seven or eight journals about whether people were right to be mean to me.  The drama got worse, to the point where I had to reactivate my journal and then explain what happened, because God knows that walking away without explanation was proof that I was a drama queen.  Then I explained why I’d left and where I was going, and people used that as evidence that I was a drama queen.
A week later, I was googling “theferrett” to try to find an old blog post of mine, and Google’s suggest field filled in “theferrett deleted his livejournal.”
That’s when I realized this was not the kind of life I could leave.  Not if I wanted to keep writing.

About once a week, I wonder what would happen if I lost my job.  All my friends tell me employers will Google you now, to see what kind of employee they’d get.  And I don’t have any choice, at this stage.  I’m poly, I’m kinky, I’m liberal, it’s all out there.  I’ve got thousands of inbound links.  If they don’t want some crazy dude with sex humor, well, I’m fucked.
Maybe the D-lister fame would help hook me up.  I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I was twenty, in college, I wrote for the college newspaper, and I had a twenty-year-old dude’s sense of humor steeped in Howard Stern and George Carlin, a lot of semi-intellectual shock jockiness.  And I wrote some ridiculously exposing things that made me campus-famous, and when I got a website six years later, I said, “Well, why not put those up there?”  And my blog became an extension of twenty-six-year-old me, who was prone to oversharing because it got a laugh.
Twenty years later, I’m still dealing with the ramification of those decisions.  My life has been bent, warped, around that.  Some of it’s good.  I get to do good.  But I also have no choice.  In a very real sense, I’m chained to a life decision I made before the Internet was even really born.  I threw myself in before the ramifications could have been fully known.
Now, you can see all my worst moments with an hour’s worth of search engine time.  You can find out about my one experience with a hooker, which is still this blog’s most popular essay.  You can find out about the abortion my girlfriend got.  You can find out about my most embarrassing blowjob.  I had to take down my friends’ names, because they kept showing up on their employers’ Google searches, because this blog is not huge but goddamn it’s big enough.
I’m used to it.  But let’s not pretend it’s not stressful.  And let’s not pretend there aren’t days I would prefer not to be reminded of those, and oh!  Here’s a comment from a stranger, telling me oh yeah, he knows all about that blowjob, isn’t that great?

This blog has been a little kid-heavy as of late.  Me, writing about my kids and what I want for them as a parent.  Rebecca, in the hospital for cancerous tumors.
But I don’t name children except on very rare occasions.
Yes, I named Rebecca, but I only did so after her father did (and Eric has an audience far larger than mine).  And I did not give the names of either of my daughters in my “Dear Daughter” essay; in many ways I’m glad the picture the Good Men Project chose, inexplicably, to use in their reprint gave it the visual of some other guy’s kid.
I believe that in this world of the Internet, things that are archived have a way of coming back to bite you.  And I think that as a parent, one of the best gifts you can give your kid is their own destiny – a few family photos shared here and there, sure, fine, but that funny essay on the time little Johnny spread poop all over the walls?  No.
I’ve been chained by some bad choices, but they were at least my own bad choices, even if I often want to fly back in time and punch twenty-year-old Ferrett in the face for shaping my life in this one inextricable way.  My kids?  Other kids?  Maybe they’ll choose to be Internet superstars, and if that’s the case I’ll throw a link or two to them.  Maybe, like my younger daughter, they’ll see the exhaustion that comes from being a public persona and have a small Facebook account that they check every three weeks, and a dusty Tumblr.
Whichever it is.  That’s their choice.  Not mine.
And so I might blog, but never with identifying characteristics.  Not by name, unless it’s so publicly known (or universally positive) that it’s going to not affect them.
I’ve lived a life warped by inconsequential fame, with occasional side trips into worldwide notice.  I would not wish that upon someone who didn’t choose it.  And children deserve as much innocence as they can get, dammit.


  1. Shelley
    Aug 20, 2013

    I’m back for another read. The entire time I read this post all I could think about was my friend Bill Powell. Perhaps you know him as William Powell author of The Anarchist Cookbook.

  2. Shelley
    Aug 20, 2013

    Whoops, I agree with your post. I ask permission to use pictures and names of kids before posting.


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