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.
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.
Who knows what kind of social networking tools will be popular by the time my infant son is old enough to use them. I can only imagine the challenges I will face in communicating with him as technology continues to develop and he becomes a teenager. As for now, my biggest concern regarding myself staying relevant in the world of communication is the inescapable entity known as Twitter; as it relates to the readers of The Dadabase.
Up until recently, I didn’t take Twitter very seriously. But back in May when my personal blog, Dad from Day One, was picked up by Parents.com and transformed into what we now know as The Dadabase, I quickly learned just how relevant Twitter had instantly become (and/or needed to become) to my life.
I saw how quickly a seemingly average blog post of mine could get some immediate, widespread exposure because a handful of readers out there decided it was worth sharing on Twitter. As of this week The Dadabase has begun consistently averaging over a thousand views a day. That’s not to say, “Dang, ya’ll! Look at how awesome I am…”.
Instead, it’s quite the contrary: It only makes me incredibly aware of how huge a role my readers play in growing The Dadabase, as well as, my personal mission to positively re-brand fatherhood. My ability to grow a following is pretty similar to the way Inspector Gadget would catch the bad guys: He faithfully and passionately did his job, but it was his niece Penny and her canine friend Brain who actually made things happen. I am simply the Inspector Gadget of the parenting blog world.
This morning I caught up with my friend Joe Hendricks at a Starbucks here in Nashville. He is a professional photographer whose work has been featured in many posts here on The Dadabase and I highly respect his business advice. Naturally, he started asking me about how I am utilizing Twitter, as a writer. Well, the truth is I wasn’t.
Within a few minutes I realized I didn’t even know what the word “hashtag” meant. I guess I assumed it had something to do with a person labeling their Ziploc baggy of marijuana… turns out I was wrong. Even worse, I had no idea that Twitter has an “@Mentions” tab so that I can see where my Twitter followers have shared and responded to my Dadabase posts. It was thanks to the “@Mentions” tab that I was able to see that my most popular posts became that way because they were my most re-Tweeted posts.
So I spent about an hour today going back to reply and thank all the people who helped spread my writings further in the blogosphere. I never realized there were that many people I didn’t even know who were sharing The Dadabase with other people I didn’t even know. But I am extremely and sincerely grateful. That is so awesome of you who have been doing that. So, thank you!
Another thing I did was change my Twitter profile picture to feature my son, instead of the bizarre red panda that had remained since 2009.
It is so important to me that I respond to every single one of the comments I receive here on my blog; even when a reader openly disagrees with my perspective. I see now that replying to comments here on this site and on Facebook are only part of it. Now that I have been better educated on how to use Twitter, I promise to be more involved with my Twitter followers.
You see, I am only so tech savvy. I’m not yet cool enough for an iPhone or an iPad or a new laptop (though I desperately need one because the MacBook I use was already outdated when I bought it new in 2006). But now I am being forced to be cool enough to use Twitter. So pardon my progress as I figure this thing out.
I am always excited to hear from other parents out there who are going through the same stages of parenthood as I am. Additionally, I feel honored to be part of this global network where I can start a random conversation here on Parents.com, which is then promoted through Twitter, and then the rest of the world can choose to chime in if they find it engaging enough. And now as of today, if you reply via Twitter, you will officially hear back from me, nickshellwrites.
In the age of Facebook and Twitter, I never have to tell my son to “like” me or “follow me.”
Since learning to crawl, Jack uses every opportunity to make use of his newly acquired skill. He’s like an SUV in human baby form. If my wife or I are sitting down on the floor with him as he is playing, he will make an effort to go out of his way to purposely crawl over our legs- if nothing else, to prove to himself he can handle it.
He obviously is always up for a new challenge. Tossing the TV remote controller a few feet away from him is no longer an inspiring incentive. Crossing the room is no longer that big of a deal to him anymore. Instead, Jack’s newest self-induced challenge is to crawl from one side of the house to the other. But not for an electronic device or the newest, coolest toy he could imagine.
Instead, I am his motivation.
When I come home from work every day, after greeting him and my wife, I typically go two rooms away to brush my teeth (I’m sort of obsessed with personal hygiene) and change into some more comfortable clothes and a hat. By the time I’m done, I look up, and there he is:
So proud of himself that he journeyed the baby equivalent of the length of a basketball court to get to me. And of course, I’m always so proud of him. The best part is the big toothless smile on his face every time. It’s always a highlight each time he does it.
Sometimes when he follows me across the house, he doesn’t stop crawling until he runs into my ankles. And then he just stays there with his forehead leaning against my leg and his cold, clammy hands on my toes. Other times, he will squeeze through between my ankles, offering up an obligatory grunt as if it’s a tight fit for him.
Honestly, when he follows me around the house, Jack reminds me of a little puppy or a kitten; who can’t talk, but who can show his affection and admiration by his gravitation towards me. And yeah, that makes me feel pretty dang cool.
So while it’s always cool to realize I’ve gained a few more Twitter followers or a handful of “likes” for that day’s Dadabase post, nothing can compare to a little blond haired baby boy who thinks I’m the Shazbot.
He “likes” me the most and is one persistent “follower.” And I just never want to let the little fella down.
As you may have noticed at the very top of the post, it no longer says “Six months.” That’s because today, Jack is officially 7 months old!