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Hashtags My Kids Can’t Know I’m Using

Photograph by Instagram

I can list a ton of moms who exploit the worst parts of themselves for laughs on Instagram. But what happens when your kid sees that funny staged photo of you passed out with hashtag #bestfridayever. How do you explain that?

Is it totally irresponsible parenting to be irresponsible on social media? What do we do when our brands, our virtual identities, are in total conflict with objective realities? What happens when our phony online personas are an assault to our moral compasses as real life moms?

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I wish my brand could be earnest and promoting #GirlPower and #SelfEmpowerment but it's just not really "me." It's me in my objective reality, but it's not my virtual identity.

My online persona, like those of most everyone, is a fabrication. She is an alter-ego who has little to do with my own reality. She's a brand. She's a performance art piece of social proportions. Images, hashtags. What you see and what you don't see are all studied, curated moments to promote whatever it is I'm selling, and I sell a lot of stuff.

Some days it's my web design and branding work, others it's my art or textiles, and we can't forget my health and beauty blog or my writing, right here. Except for my client-related work, which is all authentic, the personal work is edgy, funny, irreverent, with questionable taste and mostly celebrating a massive lack of boundaries. I've gotten pretty good at it.

As if it's enough not to know how to be as a parent in real life, I now have to analyze how to be a parent, in my virtual life.

People think this is me. As in, "this is a snapshot of my life!"

It's not. I mean it is, in that I am part of the creation. But that's just the point. It's a creation. It's a brand. It's for work. Selfies make me cringe. But I have to do them.

A large part of my second identity, my virtual reality is my distinctive tone. A touch of self-annihilation here, some more self-deprecation there. Pepper this with hashtags like: #totalasshole #losermoment and we've got a woman flexing some super low self-esteem. My cyber bullying of my real fake self is an attempt to temper the inherent narcissism of social media. A good self-jab is really just a phony way to say, "I'm not really this important."

Sometimes I give my "consumer" a curve ball—a modified on brand hit of digging myself, a #selflove riff of sorts so as not to come across as too self-hating and miserable. For instance, to promote Groomed LA, a health and beauty blog promoting positivity, I'll post a photo of me working out and say something like #BringingBigBootyBack or #AssForDays. With big asses being en vogue, this is me showing off.

Problem is, my daughter Aria, 9, now scrolls through my Instagram. She checks out photos of her dad and stepmom and their dog. We look at cool calligraphy together. I emphatically do not want her seeing hashtags that have to do with booty (big or otherwise), self-deprecation or embarrassing egocentric selfies. The thought of her seeing a mom cutting herself down or boasting about a big ass makes me sick.

Lately this whole line of self-questioning has started to overwhelm me. As if it's enough not to know how to be as a parent in real life, I now have to analyze how to be a parent, in my virtual life. It's all very confusing.

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Sometimes I wish I could just go radio silent. But I can't. My business, and those whose social media personas I manage, rely on it. I have to stay on top of all things social media. I need to stay in the flow. But with my kid on my Instagram these days, l think hovering somewhere in the #safe #middleroad might be the smartest way to go.

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