She made us wait, and there is one hell of a story to tell (we are not quite ready to tell it) but I am pleased to announce the arrival of my beautiful daughter Joni Dianna Shields at 1.40pm on the 16th August 2014.
THE BLOG OF MARK SHIELDS
In the coming month, sooner or later, I will become a father, and from there on in all my responsibilities will have changed. I will have people chipping in their ideas and thoughts on how to raise my child, and I will listen to them, take their suggestions on board, and discard them with abandon. I'll say "I agree" and "I don't agree" to things people will suggest each day, more than likely, and to be honest, that's all right. Children seem to be the one thing that everyone, educated/experienced or not, has an opinion on, and I'm never going to be able to say that my ideas are "right" - I just need to try and do the best I can, and the best Connie and I can.
There is one thing you're never going to see though; a photo of my child on this blog.
That'll surprise you if you follow the upteen photos of my dog, Frank, on Instagram, for he is a minor celebrity. In addition, once your Facebook friends reach a certain averaged age, photos of their kids are almost all that appears on your Facebook feed.
However, Connie and I are united on one thing in this respect - no one, not us and not our family, will be posting photos of our child on the internet.
Why, you might ask? Well, it's about responsibility. Photos of me as a baby are in a drawer at my mum and dads and safely there, not owned by a mega corporation that pays no tax where I am their product. I won't be plastering a person, a human with an identity, online without their consent, because once it's online it's there forever, no matter how much you pretend it isn't. That's something I've came to know well and understand the implications of.
This is going to be hard, though - I mean, it's going to be the best thing Connie and I will have ever done, becoming parents, so surely we'd want to let everyone know that was the case? But it links into what I saying previously about things "needing" to be recorded - someone people will push for a photo to be posted. And yes, there might be one announcing the arrival (and even that one won't be an identifying photo), but after that, it'll be a black out.
Unorthodox maybe and certainly not going to be make family members very happy who will also want to show off the new arrival, we instead suggest that they should privately share photos on sites that the photographer retains the ownership of the photo (like Flickr or 500px). We will sill share photos to family and close friends via those controlled means, but until we are happy with the way the photos will be used, our child won't be online in that way.
If you think about it, it is all to do with ownership. We own Frank, despite him being an important member of the family, and he's just something that we bought. He doesn't have a personality that will, in the future, want to become it's own identity. He's always going to be a dog, and be unwaveringly and completely in bonded to Connie, me and our child, no matter what. He's just too stupid to know any different (that, my friends, is why dogs are so so great, by the way).
Our child, on the other hand, is a mini me, a mini-Connie... a mini-you. They are going to grow up the same as us, worried about everything and confused about the world, striving to find themselves, discover the world and become something that is unique, and I don't like the idea of having put another level of worry on their minds, that there is baby photos out there that are owned by a corporation. I feel that it is a matter of respect. I worry that people who post photos online of their kids at any age, but especially when they are very young, forget that they aren't the latest Guardian post or Buzzfeed article to be Shared, Liked and Forgotten - they are a real person.
However, this isn't a dig at people who do post photos of their kids online, I am not that sancitmonius. You can do whatever you want and whatever you like with your family, I am just explaining my thoughts about the whole thing. Here's a final thought if you're still on the fence. Do you have any idea how far photos online go? No? Well, here's a thing - if you think your photos stop at the walls of Facebook, you're wrong. They can end up anywhere, which means that anyone can look at them. Which means you have to assume that the worst people are seeing them.
And yeah, that's not something I want.