Monday, August 27th, 2012
I was an ugly baby. At least that’s what my Dad always told me. My mom would say, “Sam, that’s just not true.” But he’d say, “Yes it is. She was red faced and fussy.” This conversation would go on in front of me. But guess what? It was true. At least compared to my brother Kelly who had perfectly rosy cheeks, soft skin, and a sweet temperament.
Fast forward, oh, 40 years, and my slacker brother has a mullet and I’m on TV. So there. Who went from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan? (And yes Kelly, the mullet needs to go. As do the side stripes. The whole look is obnoxious. Snap.)
Hmmmm, which mullet is real? Oh, right, my loser brother’s one in the middle.
My Dad was never trying to be mean. He was illustrating the ugly duckling analogy.
Thing is, I didn’t grow up in the internet age, so this was just a joke within my family. Which brings me to the point of this blog. What the f–k is up with the mean comments about Tia Mowry’s baby? The gist of it is she posted pictures of her baby, Cree, online. A bunch of people started writing in about how ugly he was. Shame on all those idiots. And yes, they are complete a-holes.
But isn’t this the conundrum of the internet age? We have amazing information at our fingertips? We get jobs online? We are able to hold Big Business and Government accountable? But we also take the power bestowed on us to hide behind our keyboards and cut others down. We get to feel important and feed our egos and that primal need “to matter”–all at the cost of cruelty. How sad. Pathetic actually.
At what consequence is this all worth it?
I’ve written before about how we need to check out of our personal technology hell.Our addiction. We are becoming a culture of zombies who scrunch over our phones all day. We ignore our children. We ignore our friends. White and gray matter is shrinking in our brains. But it goes beyond that. A lot of the internet isn’t making us better people. It is making us worse. The Tia story is just one small example of that.
When my editor, Sherry Huang, approached me with this story, she wrote:
What if you’re a cute baby but turn out to be an “ugly” adult? Or what if the “ugly” baby grows up to be a person with a beautiful soul? And what does all this say about us judging people – even innocent babies – by their looks? Babies can’t defend themselves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – the baby is obviously not “ugly” to his parents. Just the sheer joy of bringing one into the world should be enough.
Now I will say, I got a chuckle out of remembering a conversation my mom and I had before she died. We were wondering, if someone has an ugly baby, do they know it? Or is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? And when you meet someone who has an ugly baby do you say, “He’s so cute?” Or do you just stick to, “Congratulations.” Or, “Cute outfit”. Because let’s admit it: there are some funny looking babies out there.
But that is beside the point. I think we all need to examine what our role on the internet is. What voice do we want to put out there? What are our motivations behind it? Greed, Envy, Ego? Kindness, Compassion, Strength? Because this feeding frenzy of negativity is disturbing and disheartening.
Okay, off my soapbox and back to my brother. He is a climber. Not talking social or career. He’s a real, hard-core Alpinist. Goes around the world climbing mountains of rock and ice. He tests gear for Patagonia and blogs for them. He also has a book deal. But for whatever reason, he chooses to look like a deadbeat. Why? I’ll never know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.
He’s the old guy, second from right, creeping out the young kids in the hot tub. Note the side stripes.
P.S. For the record, I got his permission to say all this. And post his pictures. Plus, I’m not doing this anonymously.
Hot tub picture courtesy of NYT Magazine.