By BETSY HART
So there I was reading a front-page Wall Street Journal piece on Wednesday titled, Snippy Things Folks Say About Your Home Are now Also Online, and I sorta panicked.
The article by James Hagerty and Kevin Delaney focused on the real estate market. New Web sites encourage potential buyers to go into a home and then review it (rip it to shreds?) for cyber-space. One property reviewer on the Web site ZipRealty wrote under a pen name after going through a home for sale, "the house was okay but your bathrooms could be cleaner." Ouch. Another wrote about a "swamp" in the back yard of a home; someone else described a bedroom the size of a "coffin."
Apparently, this is a huge business, and it’s driving real estate agents nuts. Talk about a market leveler.
So then I got to thinking that if someone is going to complain about bathrooms in a house for sale, it’s not going to be long before a snoopy visitor to a friend’s home just can’t resist blogging along the lines of "Do you know what so-and-so has in her medicine cabinet?"
Or what about the snooty dinner guest who just can’t help but blab about some tacky element of a dinner party? Remember Mary Tyler Moore? She had a reputation for giving the most boring parties on the planet, and that was before the blogosphere.
I can soon see online reviews from uptight parents about a child’s bratty play date. You hear about teenagers ripping each other to shreds with such cyber-gossip. Can the rest of us be far behind?
And then I thought _ uh-oh _ what about what goes on at my house? I mean, it seems anyone and everyone is fodder from potential bloggers these days.
It’s not that I give boring parties, pretty much because I don’t give parties. But there’s other material.
My brother, who lives two doors down from me, has threatened that every time he walks into my kitchen and finds some container sitting on the counter without a lid he’s going to pour it out, no questions asked. And he does. I always lose the lids, and I just don’t really have a time limit for milk to sit on the counter, and this drives him nuts. Perhaps appropriately nuts. So every so often I lose a gallon or so. There — now you know.
Here’s the fact of the matter: I am a notoriously lousy housekeeper. I read recently that women who work have messier homes than those who don’t. Gee, do you think? Of course, that’s just an excuse. I could clean the kitchen; I just don’t want to. I’m not saying it never gets done; I just wouldn’t want a secret video of it taken late on a typical morning to end up on YouTube.
The "audio" would be a problem, too. First, I have music constantly playing throughout my house, but it’s essentially either a) the soundtrack from the hit musical "Wicked," or b) something from Rod Stewart. When you think about it, that’s kinda weird.
Then there would be the audio that would feature me yelling at my kids. It’s not all that often, really, and I’m a firm believer that sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. (Sometimes it’s not, and then I apologize.) I’m just saying I live in a neighborhood where the homes are really close together, and there are times I’ve agonized that the windows were open and who knows what the neighbors thought?
Of course, they probably thought it was necessary, too. But I wouldn’t want the recording flying around cyber-space. Nor would I want much documentation out there about how my kids sometimes talk back to me!
I actually remember making a tape recording of my mother yelling at us kids when we were little. Fortunately, like with most things, she had a pretty good sense of humor when we played it back to her. But now that sequence could be all over the cyber-world, and I don’t think she’d be laughing about that.
And I really don’t want to see any critiques posted anywhere on the Web about my cooking.
It’s not that I’m really that nervous (paranoid?), but with kids, and their parents, and friends, I do seem to have a lot of people coming and going from my home. Given today’s world — and today’s cyber-world — I just wonder if maybe it’s best for any of us in that situation to casually start asking people to at least leave their camera phones at the door.
(Betsy Hart is the author of "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids — and What to Do About It." She can be reached at www.betsyhart.net or betsysblog.com.)