I remember when I first started The Dadabase three years ago on May 23, 2011, one of my main agendas was to positively rebrand fatherhood in media. I was very forthright about it in my very first Dadabase post, “Welcome To The Dadabase“:
“I admit that much of my inspiration as a daddy blogger is to rebrand fatherhood as the glorious thing that it is. I’m tired of dads being represented by goofy schlubs who don’t remember their wedding anniversary until the last minute and who don’t know how to behave in public without making a mess of something.”
Since May 2011, I have been publically documenting when companies get “dad ads” right (like Robinsons) and when they get them wrong (like Robitussin).
If part of my role in media as a daddy blogger has been to help make it taboo for companies to bash dads and continue portraying them as bumbling idiots, then I feel my job is about done by now.
The ad proclaims, “For all the times they’ve answered our call… Isn’t it time we celebrate Dads?”
I feel like Dove has finally hammered the final nail in the coffin as far as putting to death this idea that dads are unnecessary or useless, as media has had a habit of portraying things for the past several decades.
For dads, it has always come down to respect.
Plus, I feel that things are balancing out now to where companies realize they literally can’t afford to bash dads like they use to.
History has now shown us that a diaper company who releases an insulting dad ad must expect major social media backlash. The Huggies backlash of 2012 will forever serve as bookmark in the hard lesson of dad-bashing advertising.
It’s so easy these days for anyone to be labelled a bigot or a racist on Twitter; because after all, it makes news headlines now when it even appears someone might possibly say something out of context that could slightly hint at them being either of those things. (See Stephen Colbert.)
Similarly, there is now an army of very involved dads who won’t hesitate to “Twitter shame” the company if tcompanies dare make the boneheaded move to portray a dad as a bonehead.
Like me, many of these dads immediately publish a blog post about it to spread the word that “so-and-so company” hasn’t gotten the memo than in 2014, you can’t get away with that stuff anymore.
If Facebook itself were a game to be won, it would be very difficult to determine the winner. It would be even harder to become the winner.
Here’s what I mean.
I would think that the true “winner of the game of Facebook” would be the person least perceived by their friends as a narcissist, yet somehow isn’t secretly a snoop.
Maybe I should create a Venn diagram? (See below.)
Let me just say, I definitely am no Facebook winner.
However, I don’t want to be identified as either a narcissist or a snoop… but if I outright deny that I’m neither, doesn’t that just prove I’m a narcissist?
Since last June, I have made a point to spend less than 5 minutes a day on Facebook- and my life has become better for it. (Narcissist comment?)
Basically, I’m usually on there just long enough each day to post pictures of our family, see if I received any new notifications, and take a look at a friend or family member’s profile if I’m wondering what they’re up to. (Narcissist comment?)
But even then, I could easily see how I could be perceived as a narcissist. I mean, seriously- everyday I post a new picture of you, or a selfie of our family, or a story about you.
To some, I very well could be that annoying guy who is perceived as trying to make it look like he has the perfect family and the perfect life, thanks to the stage of the everlasting talent show/high school reunion of Facebook.
While I’m grateful for what I’ve been blessed with, I quickly and openly recognize that my life is far from perfect. (Narcissist comment?)
However, I do believe in the importance in being a positive influence in society; which to some, can come across as being a show-off or self-obsessed.
And then on the other side of the spectrum, if I’m not a narcissist, am I a snoop?
If I’m not a person who is perceived as tooting my own horn all day with happy pictures and stories, am I instead the opposite- a person who is quietly snooping on everyone else, without giving out too much information about my own life? (Because that’s not fair, right?)
I wonder if I can get away with admitting that it can be very challenging to scroll down my Facebook feed without having some kind of judgmental thought about someone who is clearly crying out for attention; whether it’s a negative rant, a duckface selfie, or a “look at my awesome life!” update.
Full circle. Am I that happy narcissistic person? Or the snooping friend? Or am I simply both, by default?
I’m not good at playing the game of Facebook. I’m better off just sitting on the bench- throwing in enough sporadic comments and pictures that are positive and that don’t mention questions or comments regarding politics, religion, or food; that way I’m still contributing without oversharing and inviting people to unfriend me.
All I know is to keep doing what I do: Open the window to friends and family to let them see what is going on in my life, which is you and Mommy.
It’s true. I’m now embarrassed by some of the things I’ve written to you over the years- and I wish I could say I’ll never say something stupid again.
But if I said that, I would be conceited, which would contradict the part about maturing as a parent.
One of the most relevant lessons I’ve been teaching myself is “how not to say things that will end up making me sound judgmental of other parents or to be offensive to them.”
And I tell you- that’s a very tricky lesson to learn.
Ultimately, it’s dang near impossible not to step on someone’s toes.
I’ve discovered that even by talking about the possibility of you being an only child can offend other parents who are unable to have another child.
If I talk about our family’s plant-based lifestyle, it can be perceived that I am trying to convert other people to “unhealthy eating habits which keeps your family from getting the nutrients they need.”
I do try to be as respectful as I can in my interactions with people in real life and social media; the latter of which is much more difficult.
In fact, trying to regularly participate in social media while talking about parenting topics especially can be harder than attempting to get through a Chips Ahoy cookie without eating a chocolate chip.
Therefore, there is now a very relevant Internet meme which features Michael Jackson eating popcorn, stating: “I Just Came Here To Read The Comments.”
It tends to show up in the comments section of controversial blog posts.
Navigating the comments on social media has become almost ridiculous by now. I noticed last week at the bottom of a parenting article on MSN, they now have to offer up a list of “reportable” tags for comments:
There’s now a category for spam, exploitation, profanity/vulgarity/obscenity, copyright infringement, harassment or threat, and even threats of suicide.
With that being said, I try not to offend those in the world of parenting… but these days, it’s not always easy to know who the actual Internet trolls really are.
I just have to tiptoe and tap-dance while being ready to duck and dodge potential tomatoes being hurled my way.
I have mentioned before, that since having you, I seldom get my picture made by anyone (including myself) if I’m the only one in the picture.
Most of the time, if I post a new picture that would have been a selfie, I take a picture of both of us instead.
Couplies are the new selfies.
Who needs to see a self-taken picture of a married, 32 year-old dad on Facebook? No one.
Who needs to see a self-taken picture of a married, 32 year-old dude with his cute 3 year-old son on Facebook? Well, now, that’s a whole different story…
Therefore, I’m familiar with taking couplies- sometimes with Mommy, but mainly with you. In fact, I went back through every picture I’ve ever taken in the history of The Dadabase, so I could make a collage of some of our couplies.
Then, I put a logo for “Nick Shell’s Couplies Photography,” as if I was promoting a legitimate business for taking selfies. (The font I used didn’t have an apostrophe… I promise I didn’t make a typo.) However, I’m not sure anyone on Facebook got the joke, though…
The main reason I like couplies with you is because I think it’s cool to see the growing resemblance between the two of us.
Granted, your lighter skin tone and blue eyes will always set us apart, but I love how each time we take a new couplie, I see the “father-and-son-ness” more and more.
I made this special “couplie collage” for us, as if the term “couplie” wasn’t already annoying enough.
Which, speaking of, both the words “selfies” and “couplies” greatly annoy me- and I assume the word “grouplies” is also on its way into social media/pop culture usage.
But if couplies is the word I have to use to document this fad in my time capsule to you.
And so we will continue infiltrating peoples’ Facebook and Twitter feeds with our couplies. If we really want to be cool, though- we would take a couplie while making duck faces.
This letter was supposed to be a funny one about how I’m a typical dad in the way I hide your toys when you refuse to put them away when I ask you to.
But seeing that this is my last letter of 2013, I want it to have a more retrospective perspective.
So I’ll save my originally intended programming for next week and/or next year.
Instead, I can’t help but think of what this year, 2013, has taught me on this gloomy and rainy December night; letting this all soak in.
It’s been an interesting year for me in that it’s been like a dichotomy.
Three months into the year, I became a (new wave) vegan, which proved to take an epic psychosocial toll on me; yet physically and psychologically, I’ve never been healthier, and more at peace and in a state of gratitude.
(I have even sworn off caffeine for the rest of my life, as well; because I see it as the most unregulated addictive stimulant in the world.)
One of my favorite bands ever, Third Eye Blind, sings one of my favorite songs ever, “Motorcycle Drive By.” My favorite line of it serves as a bit of a motto to describe the private challenges I’ve dealt with inside my brain this year:
“And there’s this burning like there’s never been/And I’ve never been so alone/And I’ve never been so alive”
Before it sounds like I’m throwing myself a pity party, let me just clarify. I’m not alone. I have you and Mommy. I have family. I have friends. I have plenty of meaning in my life.
I have joy!
But there’s an undeniable disconnect that I suddenly became aware of during the weeks following my denying of animal products for nutritional sustenance. It was like cutting myself off from the rest of the world. I by default ostracized myself from what is normal in society. After all, I no longer participate in that historical human shared experience.
Then a few months later, for all practical purposes, I did something similar when I “quit” Facebook.
I went from spending a minimum of 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day scrolling through my Facebook feed, commenting and corresponding, and accidently instigating polarizing conversations based on my opinions that half my friends agreed with, while the other half didn’t.
Plus, I confused a lot of people whenever I used sarcasm.
So since June, I have made a conscious effort to spend only 30 to 60 seconds (!) a day on Facebook. Perhaps, in a sense, it’s selfish to my Facebook friends, but for this 2nd half of the year, the only news on Facebook I have known about is what shows up at the very top of my news feed; which is what the free market of my 960 Faceook friends decided was the most relevant that day.