The "Reasons My Son Is Crying" Tumblr is just six days old, but the young boy whose tear-streaked face is now burned into the brains of thousands of people across the world may have one more reason to cry once he grows up.
First, some background: the premise of the blog is pretty simple. The parent (MSN reports that the man behind the creative new Tumblr is comedian Jason Good, though this is unconfirmed) of what appears to be a one- or two-year-old boy posts photographs of the child crying, accompanied by short captions describing the wacky circumstances that brought him to tears.
It’s a goldmine of hilarity with gems like "I played the wrong Jungle Book clip on YouTube," "He asked me to put butter on his rice. I put butter on his rice," "I wouldn’t let him eat Buzz Lightyear’s head" and 31 other examples of the silly things that lead kids to cry.
It's a side-splitting concept, and one that is resonating with huge numbers of Internet users, as some of the posts have more than 1,000 notes (for the uninitiated, Tumblr notes can be either "likes" or "reblogs") and the site has been written up by Time.com, Gawker, Mashable, the Huffington Post and a number of other top media outlets.
But it may have a darker side. The son at the butt of all the jokes will one day be old enough to apply to college, or interview for a job, or be bullied mercilessly by his peers. And this site, which he clearly has not sanctioned or chosen to be a part of, will forever live on through the permanence of the Internet.
It's hard enough being young without having an entire site dedicated to displaying every snotty-nosed tantrum you ever threw as a toddler. And for it to go as viral as this one will only add fuel to the fire.
And it could also have negative consequences for the father, as people have sued their parents -- and won their cases -- in the past over social media and online incidents.
Take the case of a woman in Germany who posted an unflattering photograph of her 24-year-old daughter wearing a bathing suit on Facebook, then proceeded to post comments making fun of the way she looks.
The daughter sued her mother over the situation, and a judge ordered that the picture be taken down and that the mother pay her child $750 in damages.
And 16-year-old Arkansas resident Lane New sued his mother in 2010 for allegedly stalking and harrassing him on Facebook in another case that sets the precedent that this type of behavior can lead to legal trouble for the offending parent.
And the whole ordeal is made even worse by the fact that the gall of the parent in actually posting the personal pics on Tumblr is likely a big part of what makes the site so appealing. Many parents would love to find a way to take out all their frazzled child-rearing emotions, and someone has found a way to do it. But at what cost?
The site seems to have been propelled to viral-ness via a posting on Reddit, where commenters debated whether it is an ethical breach on the dad's part, or just a harmless gag.
One Redditor parent suggested looking at the situation from the boy's point of view.
"I think people talk big about treating kids with respect, but if you were a 21 year old and someone was talking a picture of you every time you got upset so they could put it on the Internet and make you look unreasonable and foolish, you'd be mad. I know I wouldn't like it. Not trying to vilify the parents here. I'm not such a great parent I can judge everyone else. Just saying: I didn't find it funny at all."
But many saw it more as a hilarious labor of love than a potential seed of trauma.
"Yeah I laughed at this I didn't see it as being negative. Quite the contrary it is cute," one Redditor wrote. "I think the kid and the dad will have a great time laughing about this. Come to think about it, making light of it and not getting angry and yelling is a much better approach. The way kids work if they could be crying one moment, then easily distracted and they next second they could be laughing."
It will be at least several years before the boy of "Reasons My Son Is Crying" fame (infamy?) is old enough to conceive of suing his father, so perhaps pops should think about taking the site down before his boy gets out of diapers. Unfortunately, the damage may already be done.