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Sloane Heffernan: My vicious viral adventure

Posted February 22
Updated February 23

"BTW –The Ellen Show called – They want to talk to you & Quinn." That is the text that I received from my husband.

Hello?!?!?!?!? How could such an amazing development be a “BTW???"

It was less than 48 hours since I posted a video of my daughter Quinn talking about her preschool boy troubles on Facebook, and I had already received calls from People Magazine and CBS News about the videos. In full disclosure, both calls came from friends in the industry.

However, The Ellen Show was different. It’s The Ellen Show!!! For me, it was like a dream come true. Call me superficial, but I always dreamed of having a viral video.

But, as the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for…

I shuddered as I read reactions to the video of my five-year-old daughter. On the Parenting Magazine’s Facebook Page, there were comments that suggested that our daughter should be “removed from our home." Other comments called our parenting into question. There was even one comment suggesting that I must have “a revolving door of boyfriends” to have a daughter that would make “those types of statements” about boys at such a young age.

While there were far more positive comments, the negative ones made me regret my earlier decision to share the video on my professional Facebook page. However, it was too late. I had lost control of the video. It was viral.

“Anything you put on the internet you lose control over," says local author Evan Carroll, who wrote the book "Your Digital Afterlife."

"You want to think about 'what if nobody sees this?' or 'what if everyone sees this?' Be in the state of planning for the worst or best case scenario, depending on which way you look at it,” he said.

Carroll says parents who post about their children on social media should think twice before sharing personal details.

“The first thing I would do is ask: Do I really need to post this content? What do I expect to achieve from that?” he said.

Carroll says parents often are looking for “social confirmation” from their own friends. "It can be really fulfilling to you, [as a mom or dad], but, down the road, it can be potentially embarrassing to your children," he says.

While I must admit, it was a thrill to get a call from The Ellen Show, I will take Carroll’s advice and think twice before posting another video of my child.

BTW, Quinn didn’t fit into Ellen’s schedule. :)

Watch my story on WRAL-TV at 6 p.m., Thursday, for more local expert advice and personal lessons I’ve learned.

Sloane Heffernan is a mom of three and a reporter for WRAL-TV.

1 Comment

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  • Charles Boyer Feb 23, 2016
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    It's sad that something that was clearly just a cute part of a good childhood has to be so mercilessly attacked by some people. Clearly, they're the ones who are troubled, not you, Ms. Heffernan, nor your daughter.