Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a story about the Dutch royal couple that edited their own Wikipedia entry to doctor some information about a detail in the past of the princess.
Now, I have my complaints about our at-your-fingertips society and what these information-exchange Web sites imply about the nature of public discourse in the 21st century. I suppose one plus side is that nowadays it is rather unlikely that any of us will ever be inconvenienced by a door-to-door Wikipedia salesman. Nonetheless, the site is ubiquitous, and influential, enough to make royals want to make sure they put the proper spin on their existence.
This got me thinking: how might a dispassionate third party (in this case, I suppose, a “Wiki”), describe me this Internet depository of facts? And, as the royal couple discovered, it is bad form to tweak your own Wikipedia entry. Then I came up with an interesting idea, one that might be instructive for all of us as a work/life balance exercise, and one that directly involves a loved one.
Ask your children (or a young person close to you if you have not yet been blessed with progeny) to compose your Wikipedia bio. When I ran this project by my 11-year-old daughter, here is what I got in my in box:
THANKS TO MOMMY FOR SOME BIG WORDS SHE HELPED ME WITH AND SOME SPELLING.
Tom Stern is an American businessman and my daddy. He does a lot of stuff I don’t really understand. He has this cartoon character named CEO DAD that is kind of like him, except not. In one of the cartoons, the dad tells his youngest child that if she does well at school, he will promote her to first born. I do not get why this is funny, but the grown ups laugh about it. Also, in one cartoon the dad makes nametags for his kids so he can remember who the heck they are. My dad actually did that once, but he promised me it was a joke.
TOM’S EARLY LIFE
Dad grew up in New York, and so my grandparents talk like they are from somewhere else. I love my grandparents, but sometimes I hear Dad talking to Mommy about how they brought him up with unreasonable expectations. I don’t know what that means, and it is one of the things I needed Mommy to help me spell.
HIS MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Dad talks on the phone all day, and he gets all crazy sometimes telling people about deals and money, but if I talk to my friends for even, like, a second, he says I shouldn’t talk so long on the phone! Nice one, Dad! So, I don’t really know what my Dad does, but he keeps telling me it paid for my braces. I wish I saw my daddy more because when I see him we laugh and play a lot. But that is his own fault if he wants to be such a grown-up dopey-head and miss out on playing and fun stuff.
One time we were driving in the car, and Dad heard a song come on the radio from when he was little. He said it was by someone named Harry Chapin, and it was called “The Cat’s In The Cradle.” He pulled the car over to listen to it and sing along, and then I had to give him a Kleenex to blow his nose. He said it always happens when he hears that song, it makes him feel congested.
Oh, well. He is my dad, and I love him even if he gets a stuffy nose when he hears dumb songs on the car radio.