Last Saturday, friends began sending me links to the article in the Wall Street Journal about a Chinese mother's method of raising her children. These links were the first flakes of snow. On Sunday, strangers that I follow on Twitter started responding. I began formulating a response in my head on Sunday night, and after the kids got on the school bus, I wrote a quick post. Parenting politics is a regular feature at Apt. 11D, so it was a natural fit.
The rest of the week was a full fledge storm of punditry on Tiger Moms — Today Show segments, blog posts from Huffington Post to every mommyblog, full page articles in every traditional newspaper. Even the foreign policy blogs found an angle. And it hasn't ended. David Brooks had to add his two cents this morning.
The commentary in the snowstorm had its interesting moments. How much should we pressure our kids to do well academically? Do we worry too much about self-esteem? Should parents be tough sometimes? Those are all good topics for discussion.
At the same time, I feel a bit used. Chua certainly exaggerated certain aspects of her book to gain the attention of an agent and publisher. The WSJ certainly removed any remaining subtlety from the discussion. Pundits who failed to read the book (myself included) made the discussion even more two dimensional and created a snowstorm of coverage, because controversy sells. The public likes to hate bad guys and readership numbers soared. Chua's message could be reduced to a sentence and that works in the media world that needs its soundbites reduced to 140 characters.
I'm a very small player in the media circus, though I do think that I have some power in bringing certain issues to light. This power, no matter how minor, comes with responsibility. I'll keep talking about Tiger Moms and the next topic du jour, because there must be something about these topics that taps into national concerns and frustrations. I understand that people need to vent. But I also wish that we weren't being lobbed soft topics that have been carefully constructed by cynical pubishers and editors. I'm tired of being manipulated.