September 4, 2013
This is a baby.
This is a baby.

In the further annals of reasons never to bring a child into the barren wasteland of history where we currently dwell, New York magazine has a feature on media elites who stake out social media profiles for their babies. 

“It was just an intellectual capital investment,” ABC News correspondent Darren Rovell tells the magazine’s Daily Intelligencer, after he swooped in and grabbed @HarperRovell. He was quoted later in the article as saying: “When do you become a brand? Some people say it’s for people who have achieved something. I would argue that in some sense you become a brand the second you’re born.”

Perish the thought that you should actually have to achieve something before you become a brand. No, the less the better.

Now, thanks to accounts like these, we can read updates written from the perspective of babies. “Just peed!” Hurray, I think.

Next we’ll have fetal twitters (there was already one for the Royal Fetus, after all) and I’m sure there will be a vigorous debate about whether your Twitter life begins at conception or at viability.

This is another of those modern developments that makes you want to find History and apologize to it for what you’ve done with the place, even though you realize that History contained things like bubonic plague and serfdom. This is just — well, not egregious, but embarrassing, like most parenting decisions.

Add this to the list of things you need to worry about when bringing a child into this world, which now seems to include not just Getting Him/Her/We Haven’t Assigned A Pronoun Yet Into That Preschool Mentioned in the New York Times Trend Piece but also Claiming Social Media Terrain For Little [Google Unique Name's] Incipient Fame.

At my stage of life, there’s not much I can do to prepare. Maybe stake out the really dumb first names that I will no doubt saddle my child with because of their Google Uniqueness, the only quality that matters in a name (Gornfelder-Wakeling, Smigel, Smeagol, Dnieper, Skoll with two little dots over the O, some mispelled anagram of a common word like “Heaven” or “Paradise” (Siparade?) that hasn’t hit the bigtime yet). And snatch up the .com, Tumblr, and Facebook pages. And keep my fingers crossed that MySpace doesn’t fire up again. Or smash all computers, smartphones and Internet devices and scream, “Make this go away!”

And that’s just the first kid. What about the second child, who never gets the fun photo albums because, well, we did that and we don’t need to do it again, and how many pictures of someone teething can you really take without feeling that you’re retreading ground that has already been covered? I don’t care what grotesque thing the child found under the radiator and is now teething on. Diane Arbus went there already.

Then again, maybe this has some value. The whole point of parenting is to embarrass your children so horribly so that they are forced to leave the nest and venture out into the world, and what better way to do that than by making sure that their earliest poops will be preserved in the amber of the Internet for the rest of their lives? And with the best of intentions, too! Well played.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.