On Wednesday, NY Mag's Daily Intel ran a short post titled “Media Elites Are Creating Twitter Accounts for Their Babies,” profiling the Twitter accounts of somewhat famous people’s babies and the terrible monster-parents who created them (accounts and babies). As you expect might from a piece about parents branding their babies with the searing hot irons of social media, it was often blindingly infuriating.
Exhibit A: ESPN sports business reporter and media elite Darren Rovell, on childhood:
"When do you become a brand? Some people say it's for people who achieved something. I would argue that in some sense you become a brand the second you're born."
Most of the parents interviewed justified their insane habit of tweeting observations about the world in the “voice” of their pre-verbal infants by explaining that they only meant to “secure” an online identity for their children, should the kids ever want to claim it.
For instance, if your daughter is a cutie named Jynx Maze and, 16 years from now, wants to register a Twitter account under the name JynxMazeCutie (for…a history project about the Internet, I guess?), she might be dismayed to find that the handle has already been claimed by a porn star.
By securing their children’s Twitter accounts early, the parents might argue, they are able to prevent the names from being used for embarrassing purposes.
Like blatant shilling for free cheese doodles:
Today is National Cheese Doodle Day. I love when my dad @darrenrovell buys me doodles.— Harper Rovell (@HarperRovell) March 5, 2013
joking about phone sex:
So I don't get it: the nice lady I randomly dialed said, "Hey baby, I want to talk to you," and mom got so mad. #whatsa900number— David Hounshell (@DavidYHounshell) March 27, 2013
gossiping about sluts:
I think I win. Just saw Slutty Batgirl. She wore see through black outfit with strategically placed batsign. #halloweenbingo— Rose Carney (@rosewcarney) November 1, 2009
and just being fucking pretentious:
The world is a wonderfully noisy place. Full of sound and glory signifying everything.— Madeline Carney (@MMCarney) October 6, 2012
Locking down email addresses (and—why not—Twitter handles) for your kids is fine. (What Millennial doesn’t wish that their parents had had the foresight to stockpile CompuServe screen names and laserdisc players for their children's future use?)
The problems arise when the babies’ personal social media consultants/parents assume their offspring’s identities and begin tweeting as them.
“…We got carried away and started tweeting sometimes inane stuff including at other babies,” said Nightline anchor Dan Abrams, whose son @EverettAdams is a self-described “baby and social media addict.” :(
The most heartbreaking soundbites in the post came from CNBC reporter John Carney, who, through a series of increasingly disturbing adorkable confessions, painted a bleak portrait of modern parenting as conducted onstage in a showboat-y #babybrag hell of one’s own design.
Here is Carney waxing poetic about the thoughts that raced through his head the moment he first laid eyes on his newborn daughter-content:
"Instantly, when she was born, I was like, Well, this will be funny: I'll tweet about being born!"
From that malformed seed sprouted a tree of terrible ideas, its schemes for unfunny Twitter performance art pieces thunking to the ground like overripe fruit.
"As a writer it occurred to me that it'd be very funny to talk in her voice about things that are going on."
It was not. It was, occasionally, eerie as his baby daughter displayed a wealth of adult knowledge on subjects seemingly several years beyond her ken:
Vodka alla penne was wildly sucessful. Side of blanched asparagus perfect. 2006 barbera d'alba worked out better than expected.— Rose Carney (@rosewcarney) January 17, 2010
Near the end of the piece came the saddest quote of all: Carney’s admission that he preferred composing tweets in the trademark style of his newborn baby to her actual company. Because she was boring.
When kids are really young, you spend a lot of time with them but they don't really do very much. Tweeting in their name was a way of adding a little bit more excitement to those early months.
There's nothing wrong with calling dibs on a social media account under your child's name if it gives you comfort and makes you feel like you have a stronger grasp on at least one aspect of parenting (though, given the rapidity of the technology cycle, it's unlikely they'll ever thank you for locking down that Myspace account). There is something deeply weird about using it as a new public platform to assume your child's identity and write first person accounts of POOPING and PEEING on things.
Today show correspondent Jenna Wolfe told NY Mag she signed her newborn daughter up for Twitter in order to "give her a little voice in the loud world of social media."
Maybe let her learn to talk first.