I started the Agenda when my son was six months old. He’s now five. My daughter is two. The Agenda turns five this spring. The experience of becoming a parent and becoming a media entrepreneur at the same time is useful — it provides perspective and forces ruthless prioritization.
The Agenda now reaches about 1 million people each month. As you’d imagine, we deal a lot with online trolls. Most are harmless, but we’ve worked with CMPD on two cases. It’s a unique feeling to have random people obsessively hate you. But it’s part of working in the media industry.
About a year ago, my wife and I decided that I shouldn’t post photos of our children. At first we decided that as long as their faces weren’t showing, it was okay. Then we decided my account should be private. But as the Agenda continued to grow, we made the choice to be extra safe — I wouldn’t post photos of our children at all.
I remember where I was when I deleted digital memories. I was in my kitchen. I opened the Instagram app. I then swiped through about 100 posts of my children, hit the “…” in the right corner of each one, and pressed delete.
It was fun to view each post. I laughed at my son’s golf shot at the Leatherman driving range (he loves the automatic teeing machine). I smiled at my daughter in her tutu at the Whitewater Center looking sassy as hell (she refused to take it off).
All are now deleted.
At first it felt sad. Then, liberating. I was done sharing photos and videos of my children.
I’m not alone in thinking through what experts call “sharenting,” which happens when an adult in charge of a child shares details about a child on the internet. A recent study estimated that sharenting will account for two-thirds of identity fraud cases for young people by 2030. It’s a new problem facing parents — how much of my children do I share on the internet?
Had it not been for the Agenda, I would have kept sharenting. Early parenthood is hard. Posting photos and videos on Instagram helps connect with other parents in a relatable (often funny) way that makes the experience better.
It’s weird how unnatural it feels to see my children experience something and not take out my iPhone to capture it.
I didn’t realize it until I stopped — but taking photos of my children was mostly about me. Most parenting is boring. It’s mundane. So posting fun photos and videos gave me something to do. It was also me virtue signaling — look how good of a dad I am because I do all this fun stuff with my children!
The truth is, I am a good dad.
It’s satisfying to be able to write that sentence, not because somebody liked my Instagram post, but because I believe it.
Last Saturday night, I went to Flour Shop with just my son. Emma and I are working on a restaurant ranking, and I wanted to visit the restaurant one last time. We arrived at 5 p.m. All the tables had reservations, so we sat at the bar. The chef came over and made a fresh tortellini with my son. A few minutes later he brought back the cooked tortellini with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Of course, my son refused to eat it because the pasta was green (facepalm). Instead he ate nine squares of Flour Shop’s homemade bread.
A year ago, I would have captured all of this on my iPhone and posted it to Instagram with a funny caption.
After dinner, we walked across Park Road Shopping Center to Jeni’s. He ordered their milkiest chocolate flavor with rainbow sprinkles in a cake cone. We sat on the big wooden bench outside the ice cream shop. He scooted up next to me, rested his head on my chest and said, “Look, you can see two stars, daddy!” I looked. He was right.