I’m not a very private person (said the woman with a blog about childbirth…) though I had grand plans while pregnant to keep my baby’s stupidly adorable face off the Internet. I aspire to be one of the parents who rarely posts about their kids. One of my high school classmates has had three kids and never once posted a pregnancy announcement– they just kinda show up in her family pics like, “oh, we had another one.” I envy that kind of non-sharing! I’ve loved going through my parents’ collection of old photos to find pictures of me as a kid I’ve never seen before. Will our kids have that?! Or will they just expect that all kids have had their picture taken thousands of times before they’ve even started kindergarten?
My husband calls me a luddite in that I think it’s SO F*CKED how much we rely on technology and how kids’ (and our) brains are warped by social media. For someone who spends a lot of her time and work hours on Instagram, I’m fully terrified of what it’s doing to our society. I cringe when I see birth announcements featuring the baby’s full name, birthdate, weight, etc. Might as well tell everyone their social security number, too! I’m friends with a lot of peripherally work-related acquaintances who don’t need (or probably want) to see my son jammin’ up their Facebook feed. On one hand, I can see him growing up like, “So there’s hundreds of pictures of me online that strangers have had access to?” and on the other, he’ll be like, “Um, duh– it happened to every one of my classmates; that’s totally normal that you wanted to share about me.” Dilemma!!
There are non-Facebook apps that you can have family members download and share photos with that are allegedly more secure (because remember, you don’t actually own any of your own content on your social media feeds! How are we so cavalier about this?!) but my older family members have trouble enough sending a coherent text, let alone downloading a completely separate app with a password they have to remember to log in to occasionally. We decided to have a private Facebook album for family & close friends who are invested in this kid’s life where we do a photo dump of his most adorable moments every couple of weeks. I’ll post a timeline pic of him occasionally so all other parties know he’s still alive (aka my god, Brittney had the cutest kid in the world???) but to my average Facebook friend, there’s not too much baby out there.
Instagram has become another story because apparently I’m the stereotypical Millenial white bitch who loves coffee and her overweight five-month-old. (He’s not fat; he’s sturdy!) The kid is in my stories probably at least once a day, and I feel… fine about that. Turns out, your social media habits pre-kid are probably going to be your habits after they’re here, too. It is absolutely braggadocious for myself and my peers to be putting up pics of our kids on Instagram, but isn’t that why we’re on the platform? I do wrestle with sharing about our joy when I know we have couples in our circle who are experiencing infertility. A person in our community due about a month after me experienced a stillbirth just before 30 weeks and I think of her ALL THE TIME when I’m posting about my baby. I know you shouldn’t edit yourself to accommodate others, but a little sensitivity and self-awareness doesn’t hurt anyone.
The pandemic is one reason I’m more lax about putting my baby online. This parenthood thing can be lonely! Our family members are thrilled any time they get an update about the baby, and it’s much easier to throw it in a Facebook caption to 30 of ’em than send out individual texts (because ohmygod if you’re still replying to group texts in the year of our Lord twenty twenty-one, your phone privileges are revoked forever, GRANDMOTHER.) Including my baby when sharing my mom joys and struggles on Instagram stories has been a true lifeline to a community of support I can’t currently access in person. I’m surprised I didn’t lose hundreds of followers in the first four months when all I did was complain about our lack of sleep. (Apologies, loyal fans. I am a more interesting person than that, I swear.)
If you’re still expecting, make sure you and your partner are on the same page about this stuff. You AB-SO-LUTE-LY will need to have a conversation with your parents and family members about what’s ok to share and what’s not. It is not uncommon to threaten people’s lives if they put information about the birth online before you do. Shut that shit down right now, and if you’re more stringent than me about your baby’s face not going online, you might have to really get tough with those you love. If you’re already a mom and living part of your life online, please join in me not including just the cute milestone moments. Occasionally throw in a selfie after you’ve gotten spit up on. We all know you think you have the cutest kid in the world. I wanna see those postpartum bald spots!!