The Parent Blogger Bubble- should we “STFU, parents”?

it’s a bubble man!

I was reminded yesterday in a very real way how “artificial” the freedom to happily chat about our kids with each other as part of a lively online community often is. On blogs, Twitter, Facebook, G+, occasionally even Skype and *gasp* the actual telephone or at events and meetups  a lot of us chat to each other about all sorts of stuff but the predominant shared topic/interest is parenthood.

To me this sort of discourse seems incredibly normal now after over 3 years of blogging as a parent blogger but an incident last night reminded me that outside of our bubble, this isn’t that normal at all. I was at a client entertaining event in a local hotel, with around 100 clients and contacts invited. I was chatting to a particular client that I last worked on about ten or twelve years ago. I chat to him every year at this event, and have done so for about the last 6 years. At length.

So when he asked me how things were going, I automatically replied without really thinking, “Busy at work but busier at home. We now have three 5 and unders running around!” The client is only a handful of years older than me but I was subjected to a long and awkward silence, followed by a “Yes, well, I tend to forget that people have lives outside work.” and we hurriedly moved on to something less important.

It made me think really. Within talking distance of where I sit in our open plan office, we have 8 other people with kids. One or two of them have grown up kids but the vast majority have kids of primary school age. And yet discourse about the kids is limited, very limited to the point where there are a couple of people who have kids the same age as the boy and I don’t even know their kids names. Fair enough to a degree; you can’t really chose your work colleagues short of choosing not to work somewhere but that’s a bit extreme in my book.

I suppose given the kind of storm STFU Parents has kicked up, the question whether we are all oversharing in our community is quite a relevant once. I don’t think I was particularly oversharing, when I said my 3 kids kept me busy outside work but was I was oversharing in the sense that STFU Parents means in my recent post called Bodily Functions. That was intentional, done for shock and comedy value, so that makes it okay doesn’t it?

At the end of the day, nobody forces you to read what you read on blogs. Some bloggers live their private life in the public realm via their blog, for whatever reason. Sometimes they’re brave, sharing experiences to help others, sometimes it’s cathartic, sometimes it’s attention seeking but I don’t think by nature of the medium it can be oversharing; people know what they’re getting when they read a parent blog after all.

All I have to do now is reconcile this degree of conversation with the complete lack of conversation that appears to happen in my bricks and mortar life. Wish me luck!