In a culture where we update Facebook every time someone sneezes, it's hard to believe there were some of us raised in families where the rule was "what happens in this house stays in this house." But a fundraising plea for a sick teenager that came across my computer screen this week has me wondering if sometimes oversharing isn't the better way. What if it was going to save your kid's life?
Joseph Viggiano's parents hope so. The 13-year-old from Florida (he's a cousin of a friend, which is how his plight caught my eye, but I don't know him) was diagnosed with a rare liver disease this year, and the doctor who can help him is in Chicago. Only problem? His family doesn't have the cash to make it all happen.
So they're taking a risk on the Internet, a risk I see more and more often these days.
They're sharing their story -- their son's health, their strapped finances, the whole kit and kaboodle -- with the world, in the hope that it can save their child's life.
I can't say I blame them, or any other parent who goes the Internet route when their kid's life is on the line. That's what being a parent is about: doing everything you can for your kid, even if it hurts.
Just poring through Joseph's story, my heart hurts. The 13-year-old has portal hypertension and portal vein thrombosis, very rare in a child.
Here he is a teenager. He should be having a blast doing normal teenage boy things this summer. Instead he sits playing video games because he isn't allowed to do anything else -- the risk is too great.
It's probably the best reason to air your family's "dirty laundry" on the Internet, right?
But believe it or not, I'm the rare blogger who struggles with the tendency to overshare on the Internet. As recently as two weeks ago, I hemmed and hawwed before updating my Facebook with a notice to the friends and family that my grandfather had passed away. I settled on making the update because I was being inundated by private messages, and this was simpler than answering them one by one. Still, I was uneasy about the personal nature of the questions that I knew would follow.
Part of raising kids in the digital age is trying to adhere to the values we were raised with before the Internet -- and all the wonderful possibilities it brings for our families -- came around. I do see value in keeping some things private; there are dozens of topics I will never touch online.
But if my kid's life is on the line, I'd lay it all out there in a heartbeat.
How about you? Would you be willing to do what the Viggianos and other parents have done for their sick kids?
If you want to help Joseph Viggiano, check out his family's You Caring page.
Image via YouCaring