Has this blog gone too far?

Just a minute ago, I saw a tweet in my Twitter stream that got my attention. Lindsay Fultz sent a link* to a site called BirthOrNot.com and voiced her disgust. Of course, I had to see what she was so upset about.

Well, to cut to the chase, Pete and Alisha find themselves with child and are debating whether or not to keep the baby. Instead of making this very personal decision by themselves, or with the guidance of close friends and family, they've decided to start an online poll. Keep the baby? Or abort it?

Now, I don't care what your personal feelings are about abortion (and please don't share them with me), but regardless of how one feels about the issue, I think most of us would agree that launching a website with the sole purpose of deciding your child's fate is downright demented.

It appears Pete and Alisha have put some time into the site and they list several facts about themselves to help people decide how to cast their vote. Again, I'm not getting into the details. This is not a post about the pro-choice/pro-life debate, so please don't make it one. This is about taking the new world of blogging and "engagement" too far.

Obviously, abortion is a hot button issue and the couple says they've received hate mail. But they also go on to thank people for their support. Pete and Alisha liken their collection of votes in their poll to the process on American Idol, saying "voting is such an integral part of the American identity."

I know the online world provides us with great new freedoms and worldwide connections. I've always thought that's great. However, I think asking total strangers to vote on a life or death situation is just too much. It's taking the whole social media thing too far.

Deep in my heart, I hope this is some kind of psychology experiment conducted by a student at some college. I hope it's not really real. I hope Pete and Alisha will not really decide whether or not to have an abortion based on how the votes go. I hope I'm nothing more than a sucker who's bought into their prank. But, regardless, I think BirthOrNot.com sets a dangerous new precedent for the web. It makes me a little sick to my stomach, quite frankly.

Is it just me or aren't there still some discussions that should be private? Asking a sea of strangers to make one of the most personal decisions of your life? I think that's just too much. Too darn much.

*For the record, Lindsay's tweet was a retweet from Susan Cope (aka @susanlynncope).

20 comments:

  1. Amber, for a few days now I am getting notice by email when you do a post. I am happy about this. I can now more easily keep up with you.

    Like you I hope the subject in this last post is just some kind of research/experimint.

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  2. Glad to hear it, Jerry!

    Yeah, I really hope I've just fallen for a joke or some sort. Would hate to think such a serious decision was being made based on an online poll.

    Thanks for stopping by, Jerry!

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  3. Yep, this qualifies as crossing the line. Where is their sense of respect for the life not yet born? This is so beyond pushing the limits of what's acceptable re: social media. You put it best, "asking total strangers to vote on a life or death situation is just too much." It is. And it's shameful.

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  4. This is truly one of the most bizarre things I've ever heard of, and in an age where the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck walk the earth, that's saying something.

    Like you, I hope it's just some misguided social experiment.

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  5. Hi Shelly, thanks for chiming in. It just really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Again, not making this a discussion about a larger topic. However, such serious life decisions should be taken much more seriously in my opinion. Regardless of what side of the debate one is on, I'm sure both sides would agree that this is not a situation to be taken so lightly.

    A poll? Please!

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  6. Jayne, I'm staying clear of commentary on your comment as I really don't want this to evolve into a political discussion. However, I hope our minds are set at ease sometime soon and that we hear this was a hoax or research study or something.

    It just trivializes such an important decision...

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  7. oh god, I hope it's a hoax, otherwise there's a chance that a poor innocent baby will be born to those clueless and demented parents. It makes me so sad to think it might be real. Real life is not a reality show competition with judges telling us how well we can cook/sing/dance...besides, this is about bringing another human being into the world. Who would give that incredibly intimate and personal choice to strangers? Sick!

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  8. Hi Patricia, thanks for adding to the discussion. Seems like that baby is doomed either way, right? Either it isn't born because that's how the vote went or it's born to people who lack good judgment and basic reasoning skills.

    I mean, I can almost imagine the couple saying "The tribe has spoken" or "You're fired" to the fetus if they have an abortion! Or, "You are the sole survivor!" when the baby is born. There is a major difference between seeking counsel about a very difficult decision and making it all into a spectacle! This is just too much. Too too much.

    Thanks for weighing in, Trish!

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  9. I am never surprised by the depravity of people, only disappointed that they do not choose better. SMM is just a big collection of people ~ and what people do is to be expected; just disappointing.

    Always enjoy taking a moment to read a thought leader, thank you!

    @KeithThorn

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  10. I suppose you're right, Keith. There are always people who set the bar highest--and the lowest, huh?

    Thanks so much for chiming in and for your very kind compliment.

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  11. When I first read this line, "I know the online world provides us with great new freedoms and worldwide connections." for a moment I thought "provides" was "provokes." I guess that's what was just on my mind with reading your post.

    I wouldn't say I am as much disgusted with the idea of allowing the world into what seemingly should be a very private matter, as taken aback. Being a private person, I don't get much involved in reality TV, but you could say they've managed to bring reality TV to the blogosphere.

    Might as well get ready ... whether or not it is an experiment, there's sure to be more to come.

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  12. Vernessa, thanks for stopping by to add to our little discussion! Lots of words sprang to my mind when I saw the blog. Taken aback was in there, although floored was closer to the top of my list.

    I suspect you are correct. As with everything, people push the envelope. What was once considered extreme is now commonplace. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if this online poll is just the beginning of a whole new way of bringing personal decision making to the web. Boy, oh boy...

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  13. I'm hoping it's one of those social experiments like the provocative situations staged on TV lately to see how people react. (Can't remember the name of the show -- or maybe I've blocked it from my mind.) Real or not, it's beyond poor taste and into very depressing, albeit not really surprising, territory. A virtual focus group for what should be personal and private. Thanks for another tacky post! (kidding on that last part ;-))

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  14. Mitch: Thanks for commenting. I think the TV show you're referring to is "What Would You Do?". I've watched it a few times and it's always interesting to see how people react. In this case, it seems as though the virtual focus group is pretty turned off by the whole thing.

    Oh, and kidding or not, OUCH on the tacky comment. I don't make the news, I only report it ;-> Take it up with Jerry Springer, eh?

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  15. Awww! It was meant only in the best (most provocative) sense! That'll teach me to try and add levity to a serious commentary. :)

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  16. No worries. It's allllll good, Mitch.

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  17. I wanted to talk about blogs and boundaries for a long time. Here we go.

    Blogs such as yours and mine, where we can help the public in a professional way, is how they are best utilized. You offer amazing words of wisdom and stimulate our minds to think 'outside the box' and my blogs are informative when it comes to talking about color schemes and help direct people towards the best color choices for them.

    My beef? Yes. I agree there are blogs that are more like 'dairies' and when read them you feel like you've invaded someone's private moments.

    What urks me about blogs in my field are the 'Designers' that post a photo (not even their own) and just say a line or two about it. 'Oh look how beautiful the turquoise lamp looks'. Half these Designers don't even have a degree to back up their posts as legitimate.

    Going back to your point, the bloggers who post on such a personal note are using the blogs as a shrink session or like I said before, a dairy, but forgetting that people all over the world are reading it.

    On one hand we live in the USA and we have our freedoms to write about anything our little hearts desire. As readers we have the choice to click off or to continue to read. It boils down to the ignorance of people and the fact that most do not have boundaries. In the case of Pete and Alisha, it's best that they do not reproduce since we all know how that would turn out in the long run.

    For the most part Amber, like anything else, blogs are a beautiful thing but there will always be those handful of knuckleheads that need a good slap in bean. Thanks again for your amazing, original postings! Unlike some of these other cookie cutter blogs with their linky's, garage sales and giveaways. I just click off. I read 'stuff not fluff'.

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  18. Hi Donna, thanks for adding to the dialogue.

    The word blog originates from "web log" and were essentially online diaries when they began. I, too, am sometimes surprised that people share such personal details of their lives, but if that's how they choose to use the medium that's their decision. They, however, are generally of no interest to me. Like you, I like to read blogs that have a more professional or business focus.

    If Pete and Alisha had just used their blog to discuss their personal dilemma, I suspect that they might not be the only ones to have written about an unplanned pregnancy. What makes their site so disturbing to me is the poll and the way they validate the voting process for it. Having a baby isn't like picking a winner for Dancing with the Stars. Geez. Yuck!

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Donna. Comments are wonderful in that the conversation can expand beyond the perimeters of the original post. That gets us all thinking a little more. Oh, and thanks for not lumping me in with the knuckleheads. My bean isn't up for a slappin'! :->

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  19. There is a TV show named "House" that had an episode that revolved around a person who made every decision based on the blog readers verdict. The show ended up displaying the character as egocentric and selfish. That is certainly one way of seeing things.

    I think it is deeper than that however in that in some ways, the young people of today are NOT being instilled with common sense and morals they can stick with, thus they find themselves turning to others for help in something that possibly an older generation has deeply ingrained views passed on from their parents.

    I mean, can you imagine actually not knowing what to do? Keep the baby nor not? That pains me the most.

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  20. The sounds like an interesting episode of House. I bet it was good.

    As you bring up the "younger generation" it reminds me of the many articles I read about workplace problems. Many, many supervisors having problems with recent grads who have no focus and no sense of professionalism. It is certainly plausible that all this online community stuff will have a huge affect on how people interact, especially those who are young now and growing up with all of it.

    Hard to know if all that is good or bad, but as you say, it also pains me that 20-somethings would turn to strangers to make the most important decision of their lives. Ugh.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Deanna!

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