What you post on the Internet stays there, if not forever then at least for a very long time. So what may seem like a moment of merriment can turn out to be an embarrassment that hangs around far longer than you ever imagined.
For the record, I am not lecturing careless, renegade tweens and teens who have heard this diatribe countless times over sexting, inappropriate posts and other online bad behavior.
No, this time the screed is directed at parents who post videos of their children online in the hopes that their child's adorable, brilliant, engaging antics will go viral.
Let's be fair here. When we, as expectant parents, buy that first video camera, we say we're going to chronicle the great firsts in our child's life. First solid foods, first steps, first words. In reality, we are hoping to get the goods on the kids. Catch them doing something so incredibly embarrassing that when played years later at a graduation party or wedding rehearsal dinner, nothing but uncontrolled laughter and red faces will ensue.
I am in possession of several such videos, including one depicting 2-year-old twin boys playing with the toilet, splashing the water and opening and closing the lid. (How it ends permanently disqualifies me from Mother of the Year honors, but it's still pretty darn funny.)
But these home movies, as they were originally called, were intended to be just that; to be viewed in your home by a select circle of family and friends who were either too polite to tell you that your kids weren't really that entertaining or who knew that if they watched now, they'd get you back when they had kids of their own.
But today, it's almost impossible for a day to go by without seeing the latest viral video of kids being kids. To be fair, the baby laughing hysterically as his dad rips up rejection letters is pretty darn cute and the kid's a baby, so how likely is he to be recognized or held up to ridicule when he goes to preschool?