Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
Look we get it. You’re a new dad. You’re all excited. You can’t wait to show your kid everything, especially that Facebook trick of reminding people what they did a year ago. In about six months, you could really spice up Max’s Facebook page with a few in utero shots.
You’re full of hope and love and you want to change the world. Completely understandable. Parenting is like that. At the beginning, anyway.
And there is no denying that giving away nearly all your Facebook shares is a class move. That kind of generosity is going to come in handy when Max and any other kids you have want to borrow the car. Or when their school needs something for the bake sale. Or when you need to endow a building to get them into college.
But here’s the thing. You can’t talk to your kid like that. No matter how good your intentions, you have to communicate with her, and the rest of us, in a way we can understand. And that open letter? Not so much.
Here are good things to say to your newborn daughter: “Hello Max. Look at the ball! And there’s the dog! Woof. I love you, Max!”
Here are bad things to say to your newborn daughter: “Consider disease.” Or “Our experience with personalized learning, internet access, and community education and health has shaped our philosophy.”
Kids, in our experience, don’t much like being used as an excuse to do something grownups wants to do. When they’re younger it’s not so bad: there’s a time-honored tradition of leaving a dull party because parents “have to relieve the sitter.”
But it’s not really benchmark parenting practice to make kids the front people for a political campaign they didn’t choose, no matter how cool it is. Have you not read The Hunger Games? In fact, they’re not crazy about being used to advance other people’s aims at all. Christopher Robin was genuinely miffed about making A.A. Milne famous.
Kids really just want to be kids. And we should let them. One day Max might take your zeal on board, but for now, she’s going to have her hands full with taking in and expelling her foodstuffs, not poking her own eyeball, and attempting to stick those wiggly suckers at the end of her legs in her mouth. Let’s just let her work that stuff out, while you go ahead and do what you want to do, OK?
I admit, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to say to kids. That’s why camp letters are always full of bad jokes. But if you’re going to write to Max, I’m going to go out on a limb and say she probably wants a letter that sounds like you are writing to her, not like your PR team is writing to your customers, via her, no matter how noble the verbiage.
Finally, I regret to inform you that even your daughter probably won’t have the attention span to make it all the way through that letter for quite a few years. It’s possible many of us fully grown humans did not make it either. Although come to think of it, if you read it aloud to her enough, it might help her sleep, which is really important, so it’s not a total loss.
With love and warmth
Other Facebook parents.