Is there ever a time when it’s ok to “air your dirty laundry?” If we are talking about spousal infidelities, partnership betrayals, or perennially messy linen closets, perhaps not. However, parents whose kids go off to sleep away camp know that there are few options, upon the offspring’s’ return, to deal with the dirty laundry that comes home…and pretty much every option includes a public display.
Actually, the unloading of the duffels became somewhat of a tradition in our house. Weather permitting (please G-d), everything gets dumped onto the driveway…backpack, duffel bags, portable drawers, and camper. That’s right; no one and nothing is allowed in the house until bags are emptied, sorted and examined. We make piles: what was once “whites”, darks, too stinky to wash, unused toiletries (yes, unused) and all other unidentifiable stuff that has returned with our precious child.
The neighbors that try not to look your way as you sort through the piles are those whom have not had the pleasure of sending children to camp. They mutter “hoarder” under their breath and quickly hurry along. Those that know what you are doing are too busy doing the same thing to snicker, mutter, name-call or care.
This ritual is the only time that personal “dirty” laundry should be left out on the line for all to view. Unfortunately, the connected, share every iota of minutia with the public world in which we live has somehow given people permission to puke all their personal garbage (a.k.a. dirty laundry), in public.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being able to see what friends across the country are doing. It’s often exciting to watch young children grow up through the eyes of their proud parents. My social network benefits from my favorite recipes, photos of my incredibly cute puppy and phenomenal children. I really do try to keep it all positive, apolitical, and generally family-friendly. Maybe once in a while, you’ll find an “f” bomb thrown in to make a point…it’s just a word, right?
What I object to is the public smearing of a soon-to-be ex-spouse, the negative tirade about a restaurant server who might’ve just been having a bad day, or the overzealous whining about a too-tired parent who brought their cranky baby to a restaurant. I also don’t need to know that you were up all night with stomach issues that would be best discussed on a panel of The Doctors.
Imagine how great it would be for our socially connected communities to greet each other with positive feedback, a daily chuckle or a greeting that holds any expectations for how many “likes” it’ll get. For me, the only dirty laundry I want to share is the mess that comes home every summer, waiting to be sorted, tossed and disinfected.