Artist Makes Selfie Toy To Shame Parents About Their Infant’s ‘Privacy’
Well, folks, we have another blazing hot entry into the “I guess I see what you’re saying but still you are not making any sense” competition. Our contestant today is a young Dutch designer who has created toys that allow babies to take selfies that then automatically get posted to Facebook. She says that the toys are an artistic statement against sharing images of infants online without their consent. Without the infant’s consent? Right. And that is where you lose me.
A recent graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, 24-year-old Laura Cornet has created a line a infant toys called “Newborn Fame” as her graduation project (it’s no baking soda volcano, but I’ll let it pass). She was inspired to create the toys after her Facebook feed became overrun with pictures of her friend’s babies. Cornet was uncomfortable with that because, as she told CNN, “…the babies didn’t agree to having their photos put up online.”
Part of the line of Newborn Fame toys is a mobile that takes selfies. CNN further describes the way this works:
The mobile, with soft toys shaped as a Facebook logo and Twitter bird, hangs above the crib. When the baby reaches out to it, the device takes a quick snapshot or a video and automatically posts it on social media.
And this is where Cornet has missed the mark for me. On the one hand, I can see where having a mobile with the logos for Facebook and Twitter is a clever social commentary about the prevalence of social media in children’s lives. Ha! Good one. But a mobile that instantly post selfies when a baby “reaches out to it” doesn’t really prove anything about babies and consent. In fact, isn’t this more intrusive when the only people in the house who don’t shit their pants (i.e. the parents) aren’t able to control when the photos are happening?
Babies can’t give consent. Because they’re babies. And people have been making decisions on the behalf of babies since always because if you let babies make their own decisions they will do poorly. Have you ever taken financial advice from a baby? Those assholes will ruin you.
Take a look back at old black and white photos of babies from years ago. Do you think any of those babies had any say about being part of that picture? Or wearing that god-awful sailor costume? No. People have shared images of their babies for as long as there have been images of babies. Those images have a much greater reach now than they ever have, of course, but the issue is one of parental judgment, not infant consent. Cornet says, however, that that is part of her point. From a story at Dezeen:
The tools aim to plainly demonstrate that an infant has no idea that it is providing information about itself to an audience, in the same way as when a parent does it for them.
“If you show it like this, people say: ‘the baby doesn’t know what he’s doing, it is awful that it just puts everything online.’ But when a mother does the same thing, it is suddenly accepted; while the baby has no say in that.”
Except that the parent is a grown-up who is not only capable of making choices for their baby, but is supposed to make choices for their baby. Do infants have a right to privacy? Absolutely, within reason. Parents are still going to pull open the back of their babies’ diapers in public to see if they’ve pooped. Parents are still going to share their babies’ sleeping habits. Parents are still going to dress their babies in whatever they feel like putting them in. Why? Because babies are balls of meat that we are just trying to keep alive. Babies don’t feel embarrassed. And therefore, I invite the members of the infant privacy movement to please get over yourselves.
If we’re talking about safety, that’s one thing. I don’t think anyone would recommend that someone post: “My baby is dancing around naked at the fountain on Third and Jackson! We’ll be here for another hour!” But don’t try to take away our newborn photos. There is zero zip nada nothing wrong with them. People want to share images of their children with other people. Asking babies to drool for consent, or hiding them away until they start posting their own pout-lipped selfies at the age of thirteen, doesn’t strike any blows for privacy. But if, after you’ve had a baby, you want to tell people that you’re not sharing photos of your little one until they are able to give consent, then you feel free. I guarantee your social circles will shrink.