There is, it’s true, something scary, or sad, about this picture. But it’s not the shutdown. It’s that a father took his son out for a walk in the neighborhood and sent a funny snapshot to his wife, and she put it up on Instagram, and someone else put it up on Facebook, and someone else put it up on Reddit, and within a matter of hours, bam, there was the toddler on the NBC Nightly News, fair game for commenters around the nation.
Now, when I look at the picture, I do see lost innocence. But it’s our innocence as parents, learning first-hand what it feels like to have an intimate moment, an inside joke, exposed to the corrosive air of public opinion. Our children, fortunately, are oblivious: to the shutdown, to the comments, to the fact that the zoo is closed, to anything but the pleasure of climbing on a gate while taking a walk with your father in your favorite monkey hat. The picture doesn’t show the little boy’s face, but I promise you, he’s laughing."