Yesterday I had the privilege of getting to guest-post at Don Miller’s blog. It was dad-related, so I’ll re-post it here. (Thanks, Don and Jordan!)
There’s a hot new website — they still make those, you know — called Fitocracy. It’s a site for tracking your day-to-day fitness achievements. How many push-ups did you do? How fast did you run that 5K? How long were you on the elliptical? You log in your workouts, it assigns points based on your exercises’ degree of difficulty, and you watch the points accumulate. Once you reach a certain number of points, you move up a level. You unlock achievement badges. And because it’s as much a social media site as anything else, your friends and followers get to see how well (or poorly) you’re doing.
The guys who started it, Brian Wang and Richard Talens, grew up playing video games. They knew how addictive gaming could be. What if the pleasures of gaming — new levels, new achievements, a flurry of points — could be applied to exercise? After all, exercise isn’t always fun. You don’t always see immediate changes in your body. There are no power-up noises that ding when you meet a goal. In an activity where “real” results are hard to see, Fitocracy creates them and gives them to you as soon as you log a workout. It’s pretty brilliant.
So brilliant, in fact, that I keep trying to think of other hard-to-quantify activities that could benefit from the same approach. Sure, we need to be healthier. But what else could we improve? I write a blog about fatherhood. What if we could inject the immediate returns of gaming into the long-haul experience of being a good dad?
Log your activities, dads:
+100 points for jumping on the trampoline with your kids
+200 points for playing Barbies with your daughter, even if you have no idea what you’re supposed to do or say
+175 points for participating in a living-room dance party (50 bonus points if the music is by The Wiggles)
+150 points for each story you tell at night before bed (add 50 if you made up the story yourself)
+75 points for each game of H-O-R-S-E you play in the driveway (add 50 if you purposefully lose)
+25 points per diaper changed, bottle given, and post-feeding burp achieved
+10 per high five or fist bump given
+500 points for talking to your kid about sex before he figures it out from his friends
+500 points for coaching your kid’s sports team
+500 points every time one of your kids is kind to someone else because he’s seen you treat people that way
Those points could add up. You’d see average fathers unlocking achievements — Super Dad, Not-Entirely-Lame Dad, Sporty Dad – on a weekly basis. We’ll call it “Parentocracy” and get moms involved, too. (They would earn points so fast they’d need special secret levels.)
Could Parentocracy be a way to get dads home from work faster, or off their recliners, or away from their smartphones? Could it be a way to make them more active and present in their kids’ lives?
The sad thing is: probably so. Sometimes you have to dangle a few carrots in front of us to get us to do the right thing. (As if our kids’ futures aren’t enough carrot already.)
So there’s the idea, Internet geniuses and coding nerds. Get to work.
There’s a Tumblr blog about pretty much everything, and fathers aren’t excluded. A few of my favorites:
My Dad is a Bro. (Nothing says parenting success like raising a kid you can shotgun Natty Light with.)
Dads on Vacation. (Because a dad’s, ahem, coolness ought to be preserved photographically.)
What other parenting-related Tumblr blogs do you follow?
Baby monkey Nala is a black cap Capuchin who was born in April of this year. She was rescued from a veterinarian and is being used to help two autistic boys in Las Vegas. She’s the star of Baby Monkey Cam, and I’m pretty sure she’ll become a star in your home, too, if you let her.
Here’s baby Nala taking a bath:
Show this to your kids. 🙂
I missed this news because I don’t pay too much attention to the theology-blogging world since closing my O Me of Little Faith blog, but it seems infamous Seattle pastor/movement leader Mark Driscoll has launched a new website called PastorMark.tv. It’s supposed to be sort of a clearinghouse for all his online content, from sermons to videos to blog posts. Which is a good idea. No problems there.
According to this announcement from Mars Hill, Driscoll’s church, it’s also a place for his wife Grace Driscoll to write about “being a godly wife, mother, and friend.” OK. That’s cool, too.
It’s also a place for Driscoll’s daughter, Ashley, to post book reviews and write about “how to balance the pressures of high school and staying faithful to Jesus.” That’s–
Oh. Wait a second.
This bothers me. Not the idea of a high schooler having a blog. I think blogs are a great outlet for young writers, for expressing opinions, for exploring ideas. I’ve talked to our middle-school daughter about blogging. I think she would love having a small, private blog for her friends and family to read. But there’s a difference between my daughter and Mark Driscoll’s daughter.
1) Driscoll is very well known. In some circles he is revered. In others he is hated. As a theologian and preacher, he is a lightning rod. He can’t say anything without stirring up a storm somewhere, and those storms always find their way back to him.
2) The theological blog world loves a good fight. There are trolls under every bridge, on both sides. Driscoll gets attacked by them constantly, but he doesn’t care. He’s fearless and hard-headed, and that’s part of why people like him so much.
3) Driscoll can shield his family from the punches he takes as a blogger and on Facebook and Twitter. But can he still do that after opening up space for his daughter to blog on his official site? I don’t know.
As a dad, that makes me nervous.
As an author, I have a modest public persona, in small circles. It’s not huge — I’m not even in the same stratosphere as Driscoll — but there is no way I’d let my daughter blog in an official capacity as The Daughter of Jason Boyett. Not now, not when she’s a freshman in high school, not when she’s an adult. She can start up her own blog if she wants. She can do her own thing and build her own platform. But have a teenager write as an extension of my personal brand? No way would I burden her with my own work.
It’s not because I don’t trust her. It’s because I don’t trust anyone else.
Personally, I’m glad I wasn’t blogging when I was 14. I’m a little embarrassed at stuff I wrote about when I was 24, but at least that was pre-Google. But that’s not the issue. What IS the issue is how hard it is to be the child of a pastor. Even if your dad isn’t the kind of pastor who’s featured in the New York Times, the families of pastors are under constant scrutiny, constant pressure, constant judgment. We all know “preacher’s kids” who have imploded. A well-adjusted preacher’s kid is almost a surprise these days (even though I know quite a few). What must it be like when your dad is as famous a pastor as Driscoll? And what will it be like when your famous dad invites you up on his platform?
Ashley Driscoll isn’t my daughter, but it makes me worry for her. I don’t even use my daughter’s name in public online forums like this one, because I don’t want her (or her friends) to be able to Google it and find a bunch of stories I’ve told about her. Same goes for my son.
If Driscoll is the one elevating his children to celebrity status, he’s inviting people to invade their privacy. When you use your 14-year-old daughter as a model for how young women should follow Jesus, you lose the ability to plead for grace when she, well, doesn’t follow Jesus quite like everyone thinks she should. If your daughter is blogging about modesty, all her clothing choices are up for debate. If she’s blogging about dating, her offline choices in boys are open for criticism. This is absolutely not right for people to do—I undoubtedly would have needed even more years of therapy if my high school clothing had been open to public criticism—but they will do it. When you turn your children into celebrities you have forfeited your ability to protect them when people treat them…like celebrities.
Bingo. Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager with an audience of thousands, with your every thought recorded for eternity and compared/contrasted with that of your controversial father — well, that seems like hell.
Not a good idea. I hope I’m wrong.