Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”


Having just returned from an eight-day (and partially laptop-less) speaking tour  that has me about ten posts behind, it was nice to have Steve-O-in-NJ deliver a textbook Comment of the Day, expanding on the original post with relevant and useful observations about photography -obsessed parents and photography ethics.

I do object from an ethical standpoint to his tit-for-tat endorsing last line.

Here is his good and thoughtful work in response to the post, “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

What are the ethics of taking 500 pictures of your child? I wish that I could say that the ethics of taking large numbers of pictures are always the same but they are not. I am in the middle of a two-week vacation and I have been taking a large number of pictures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a large number of pictures during an air show, particularly where the opportunity to get a particular shot is very limited. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a large number of pictures at a place like Colonial Williamsburg, where the actors are deliberately dressed up in costumes designed to attract attention. The same ethics generally applies to any event where there are costumed individuals who are seeking attention. The same ethics probably apply to sporting events. Of course the shooting of inanimate objects like in a museum is perfectly all right, subject to whatever policies the institution puts in place and makes known.

As for shooting multiple pictures of the ordinary people in your life, different rules apply. The most obvious is to listen to the objections of those who can voice them. The second is moderation. The third is thinking ahead. The last is discernment.

Ask yourself is it necessary to capture every smile, every diaper change, every moment falling asleep, every this, every that? Ask yourself if any of these pictures will matter to anyone but you down the line. Ask yourself is anyone or anything but your vanity served by putting those pictures on public display? 9 times out of 10 the answer is going to be no.

The Golden Rule should also apply. We all had awkward stages and embarrassing moments growing up. Those aren’t who and what we are as adults. Would any of us want images of ourselves bare-ass naked at 3 or with freckles and braces at 10 or crying over something that seems silly now but didn’t then plastered where anyone could see them? Probably not. Yet most parents seem to think it’s OK to do just that, as well as tell embarrassing stories about their kids, sometimes just to make the kids squirm.

…Sometimes it’s the kids’ right to have the last laugh when the door of the nursing home closes on the parent who embarrassed them every chance they got.


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Family, Social Media

18 responses to “Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

  1. I think we overshare. Everything. Is it ok to take the pictures? Sure. .But what are you using them for? Is it OK to post them all up on Facebook (Where they become property of Facebook due to the agreements you sign when setting up your account)? Not so much.

    But never mind baby pictures. I have friends who post pictures of their daily meals…. As if anyone would care. But apparently I’m wrong, because other friends of mine LIKE those pictures. I mean really… three days ago I saw a picture of a half burnt grilled cheese sandwich. What the hell? It didn’t even look like Jesus.

    Other people post every time they take a crap, or any bit of drama that happens in their lives, every ache, every pain, every stubbed toe or sore muscle, every headache or sad feeling like it’s some sage information coming down from a mountain that we’re going to digest with glee.

    How about the memes? Stupid opinions attached to some tenuously connected piece of clip art distributed like the sharer actually understands a damn thing about it. Or celebrity opinions digested and treated as if they knew their ass from a hole in the ground. And selfies. And DUCKLIPS! Who thinks they look good like that?

    Or sexcapades, heaven forbid we don’t know every item you’ve decided to dram into every orafice on your body, or the size of the batteries needed to operate them! A friend of mine advertised a “Passion Party” on Facebook, and I had no idea what that was, and was repulsed when I figured it out. Women used to gather in living rooms to sell each other candles and Tupperware, and now they do it for dildos and lube. Publicly. Fuckerware parties! What will they think of next?

    It’s like we’re in a dead heat to see who can be more stupid or outrageous…. I took the time to watch “God Bless America” again last week, and I’m always Chilled by Frank’s Rant. It seems like it’s only getting truer.

    • I am now grateful to my poor, hapless father (when photography was involved) for making me virtually photo-phobic long ago. Dad loved taking pictures and was a lifetime incompetent at it. The number of family events marred by long sessions of posing for dad only to discover that he had the cap on the camera or was out of film or had the wrong exposure is seemingly in quadruple figures. I don’t own a real camera, and never think to use my cell phone. I hate photography. I appreciate them when others take them well, but I neither like being photographed not taking pictures of others.

      Thanks, Dad. (Again.)

      • Other Bill

        Man oh man. What a saga. Did he ever get into home movies? Slides and projectors? Kodak single-handedly created unlimited opportunities for familial torture sessions in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties. Serves them right to have been driven out of business.

      • THE Bill

        I despise having my photograph taken. If I see a camera I will step out of the frame.

        There are maybe a handful of me as a child growing up, not counting school photos. That coupled with me having almost no memory of childhood before 2nd grade and its even spotty after that makes reminiscing a bitch.

    • junkmailfolder

      I think the over-sharing and subsequent liking between Facebook friends has a quid pro quo aspect to it. I like your inane posts, you’d better like my inane posts. When 500th selfie of me with my kissy face gets 20 likes, I don’t feel so weird or silly for being self-absorbed, vapid, and assuming everyone is interested in my life.

      It’s like a dark, downward spiral into self-obsession, and it only results in people feeling even worse about themselves because they begin to rely on others for their sense of worth.

      If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of most social media.

    • crella

      Great comment, Humble, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a race to the bottom. Who can be more vulgar in more ways….I love your renaming of ‘Passion Parties’ . When I read in more than one place that they were becoming common, and sometime bachelorette party events, Infound it shocking.

  2. I like Steve-O-in-NJ’s last rule: discernment. That qualify is seriously lacking in today’s technology-crazed environment. Discernment is a virtue, tied closely to wisdom and is a huge component of good judgment. Quite possibly, it is wrapped nicely into ethics and the Golden Rule: Even if you have taken 13 million photos of your daily lunch, should you post it for all the world to see?


  3. I think I am a bit at odds with most of the commenters here, including Jack. I actually enjoy capturing images of moments in my life. Images of people, places and events that help me to remember – if I have taken a memorable picture, that is, which is probably as rare a feat for me as for anyone else who does not have the aptitude for, and who is not aspiring to, “professionalism” (whatever that is). Sometimes, I want to share the moment – not every time, not every moment. If I’m seen as generously transparent, and transparently generous, good. If I’m seen as self-absorbed and exhibitionist, screw ’em, because I know I am neither. I can live with others’ mistakes, including their mistaken impressions of me.

    No, I don’t enjoy capturing moments of my or others’ pain and humiliation, or moments that I expect to review later and laugh about for whatever reason. But sometimes, those captures happen. Sometimes, they are instructive. More often than not, my lousy photography gives me plenty to think about for making the next shot better. I would like to think I have never shared a photo I took that was inappropriate to share for whatever reason. I am willing to believe I have goofed on that account; but I don’t remember being told so. I wish I will be told so, if ever I do goof.

    • I don’t think you are at odds with the comments. I think the issue is over-publishing photos of things people have done, putting them in a bad or embarrassing light, without that person’s consent or approval. My wife absolutely hates having her photo taken and is (more often than not) horrified by the image (I don’t know why, she is a lovely, lovely lady) so I respect her privacy. The Golden Rule dictates that when someone says he/she does not want his/her photos floating about the internet, then that wish should be respected. People don’t respect that wish, though.

      We have a continuing conversation with our 12 year old son about social media. He doesn’t seem to understand or comprehend that once something is out there, it is almost impossible to get it back. That photo of the boys drinking beer poolside while doing dumb things will come back to haunt them. A prospective employer, a university admissions person, a future girlfriend’s trigger-happy father, etc. will see that photo and the results are not going to be good. That Youtube video your friend makes about his 8th grade teachers and how much they make him crazy will be seen by a student’s parents and reported to the school’s administration; the result is that the high school he really wanted to attend will revoke its admissions offer because the junior high school expelled him for social media policy violations. That third grade home room teacher, who really likes to hang at the pool on the weekends, is going to have to explain why the boys in her class are showing photos of her lounging on chaise, even though she didn’t put it out there – some idiot at the apartment complex tagged her in his photo.


  4. A comment on a Facebook post caused a huge family rift in which my future daughter-in-law was told by “family” to unfriend me immediately or she would be banished from her “new found family”. Technically an orphan, her mother died when she was 5 and 2 years later her father deserted her. She was moved from relative to relative but none accepted her and her little brother as family. This happened in a foreign country. When she got involved with my son we welcomed her. She told me on several occasions that ” God had given her a mother by bringing me into her life “. All was well unto she gave birth to a son. “Family” meaning distant cousins at best came from everywhere. When I was upset that a woman claiming to be her aunt that refused to care for her as a child wanted my grandson to call her Nana, the same thing he calls me, the sh** hit the fan. She chose the “family” that didn’t take her in over the woman that took her to every appointment, washed her hair and body when she was on bedrest during pregnancy, did the laundry, cooked meals, washed dishes and met all other needs while working full time. I was not allowed to comment that her “aunt” was not “Nana” to my grandson on Facebook. She was told to choose and she didn’t choose me. She may not be my daughter by birth but I ask “who is the asshole” in this story. Is it her or is it me?

    • Other Bill

      Sorry about that, Colleen. It’s probably the old baloney that “blood’s thicker than water.” Which is one of the worst rationalization generating myths out there. I suspect your daughter in law has made a massive mistake. Parenting can be a thankless job.

      • You are so correct. Sadly these relatives are not “blood relatives” but neither am I. She is from a different culture (Dominican Republic) which never seemed to be an issue until she had my grandson. I thank you for your understanding.

        • Other Bill

          You’re welcome. I think in Hispanic cultures, male babies are little gods. So you’ve got that to deal with. I suspect if your grand child were a girl the “relatives” wouldn’t much care whether she called anyone anything. Hang in there. Eventually your daughter in law and grand son will figure out which side of the bread is buttered.

  5. Steve

    I like to take pictures of my family and the things we do. My memory doesn’t work correctly anymore. I can remember in detail pages of technical information verbatim from 15 years ago but some of the friends I would hang out with on a daily basis and guys I would work with for years are forgotten, not just names but their very existence. One of my guys, he is medically retired now has lost memory of almost his entire life. I know these cases are extreme but the majority of the population will suffer some memory loss eventually, photos can help bring back not only the memories captured in that photo but it can spark a whole stream of other forgotten memories. Do they need to be shared? I think it depends on each subject or story of the photo, how broadly it is shared is another consideration. I think as with most things in life it has to be in moderation.

    I have thousands of other memories captured in photos on many hard drives, I rarely go and look at any. With Facebook I do and there are what may be some embarrassing pictures of my kids on there, the picture of me and the kids in the huge oversize spa tub with bubbles over flowing may be embarrassing one day to my daughter and son, we were in swimsuits as we use it like an outdoor hot tube, but you can’t tell in the photo. it is posted on Facebook to family, I find Facebook to be a great way to store and organize my photos and I love the memory feature that randomly selects photos that you have posted in the past and highlights them on your page.

    I will say that for a time when i thought about the memory loss I got obsessed with capturing every event or vacation we did, I forgot to actually be part of fun and to make memories for my kids, moderation.

    I hope that my kids will forgive me for any pictures they find embarrassing in the future, I think they will, they know I love them and that I never want to forget a single moment with them.

  6. I don’t like being in photos either. But, I also don’t mind too much if a serious hobbiest takes some… to a point. Really it takes a lot of shots before you get a good one. When I was younger and using real film, the costs of developing helped keep a lid. For every ten or twenty shots I might get a good one, but the brilliant photos I ever took could be counted on my fingers. Hobby articles havelong said, take a LOT and throw most away. And even if you keep the better ones, the world at large just wants the brilliant ones. 500+ says anyone interested will be numb and the images will have no meaning.

    And with the sad risks of stalking and creating bias in emplyers/schools/etc? POsting that many is irresponsible. The parents should take them down, maybe offering the daughter a chance to select 10 that should would fins aceptable to post because they’re proud of her strength.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Digital photography has allowed us to shoot and shoot multiple pictures in the hopes of getting “the one.” It has also allowed us to just shoot and shoot period. HD cameras on our phones have allowed us to shoot anything that catches our eye whenever it catches our eye. Zoom lenses allow us to shoot anyone or anything without anyone noticing. The problem isn’t the technology, it’s how we choose to use it. I’ve been guilty of all these sins. I once shot 400 pictures of one woman in one weekend, I’ve shot stuff that just caught my eye like a flower or a mural or a passing emergency vehicle, and I have shot things and people from 1000 feet away simply because I can. I won’t do the former again – shooting and posting that many pictures of one person just makes you look obsessed with that person, no matter who it is. On the fly pictures are OK, but posting too many just makes you look distracted. Spycamming for its own sake is something I think should be discouraged. It’s one thing to attend a concert and zoom in close on the performers, or zoom in close to capture otherwise inaccessible detail work on a building. It’s another to wander Central Park, looking for sunbathing or relaxing women to capture without their knowledge. Yes, it’s probably legal, no one lying out in a public place like Central Park has a reasonable expectation of privacy, but it’s questionable, creepy, and just plain odd to zoom in on a bikini-clad stranger, and just what do you intend to do with that picture? Any technology is open to abuse.

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