Serge Bielanko, friend of the show, got some internet heat recently over this photo he posted back in July. It was one of many in a gallery for an article called Old Work Boots & Camouflage Cargos: How NOT To Let Your Man Fall Out Of Fashion. Not long after his article was published, the photo was featured on Babble’s Facebook page where MOMS ATTACKED.
Serge is a caring writer and loving father. The initial comments were prejudice, hateful and dug into his soul. “What the heck were these people so upset about? Did they not read my article? I’m HER DAD!”, he wrote in a followup piece. Is it fair to judge a person because of a single picture? Absolutely not. But it is a photo… on the internet.
Oh pre-internet world, your ignorance was so fancy-free and comment-less.
We’ve talked about Babble in the past, hell we even talk back on Twitter with virtual noogies for their “moms only” approach. I wonder if these moms who commented would have reacted differently if Serge’s wife, Monica, was pictured in the same shirt and pose. I’d put money down on ‘yes’. In fact, the comments might have been more extreme and judgmental due to the “one of us moms” approach.
The slouched pose, beer in-hand, not-giving-a-f*ck smile, arm around seemingly naked kid, the “DON’T HATE” shirt and quite possibly the worst offender: camo shorts. Aside from these details that could be extrapolated by irrational individuals, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this photo. Nothing.
It’s a father and a daughter spending time together. Since when did that become “wrong”?
I have a theory.
Every person subconsciously and emotionally invests in every photo they view. It’s the classic I/O example of send/receive data; within seconds, thoughts filter through a closed user/image circuit until the results are calculated via the hippocampus. Relational memory is not a bad thing nor is it wrong to judge. In fact, it’s how I was able to view and interpret Serge’s photo as a happy picture. However, that result weighs heavily on an individual’s configuration. Dependent on cached algorithms, the end result either travels to a “happy place” or the “bad room”.
That might have been a bit too scientific.
Poems are the words pictures cannot illustrate, yet every poem is open for interpretation; much like art. The only difference here is Serge isn’t branding this photo as artistic. It’s a photo of him and his daughter used to illustrate an article. You know, maybe he should offer it up to an art gallery because it is a great photo and there’s clearly a lot to say based on the – now 2,242 – comments on his Huffington Post article.
This type of behavior is worse than, say, heckling a comic. There’s no live interaction. It’s pre-meditated, it’s anonymous. As Serge points out, there are equal part – if not more – defenders of the photo. His wife even bites back at those who dare label him as a pervert and a pedophile, “Your views of this photo say a whole lot more about you and your weirdness than it ever does about my husband and I as parents.”
She’s absolutely right.
Serge’s follow up article, linked in the source below, is out of defense. He obviously cares about his family and has even tried diffusing the situation with humor by commenting, “The heck with the kid, I keep looking at the guy in the photo. He is super hot!”
He’s absolute– nevermind.
Bloggers are not celebrities, though some of us might aspire to be. Most of us hide behind a computer screen and share words more personal than 140 characters and more informative than a status update. We do our best to open up our hearts to discussions, all while trying our best to entertain – I can only speak for 8BitDad.
Fact is, good natured people with souls have don’t have the need for thick skin when defending against outrageous personal attacks – especially when a vulgar crime is willfully suggested. They don’t need that defense mechanism because they never practiced how to be an assh*le.
Maybe we can learn from this. Maybe not. I obviously have an opinion, what’s yours?
Should Serge “man up” and take the internet heat or fight back?