I realize that as a young and embittered single woman with internet access, I’m supposed to openly shame my peers as they record and share their various life milestones on Facebook. Serious relationships, engagements, weddings, and children are all worthy subjects of scorn because it’s like, Get a room you guys, or at least get your own internet so that I don’t have to be confronted by stability and personal growth every time I log in to hunt down the hot bartender I met last night. Why are you looking at me like that? Fine, I admit it’s practically his job to flirt with me, but it’s different this time. He’s different. We’re not having this conversation again, all right? It’s my life. Go change a diaper and piss off. Where was I? Oh, so I know in my heart that I’m supposed to hate happy, well-adjusted people who post photos of their kids on Facebook. But I can’t.
Imploring parents to STFU or passively defriending someone because their pregnancy nudes caused you to literally vomit in your own mouth is nothing new, but I’m of the opinion that we’re excessively hard on parents when it comes to Facebook conduct. Sure, some of them could use a lesson in boundaries — I completely agree that not everything needs to be uploaded and tagged. I don’t need to see photos of your afterbirth or a slideshow of potty-training experiments gone awry. I have my own disgusting fluids, and that’s more than enough for me. But this is a question of oversharing, and single losers like myself are just as guilty as parents when it comes to announcing when nature calls or posting inappropriate photos (I find duckface photos to be so revealing that they border on pornographic). Oversharing is not a parent’s cross to bear alone.
One could argue that it’s not the nature of the content shared that’s so offensive, but the frequency with which an overzealous parent chooses to do so. Which is fair, but what about your one friend who invites you to all of his shows even though you’ve never even heard his band and haven’t expressed any interest in doing so? What about your well-meaning friend who won’t rest until you drink some Café World Kool-Aid? The person with whom you’ve entered a never-ending, circular Poke-fest? Monotony and not understanding the unwritten rules of social media are not exclusive to parents. Everyone is capable of spamming their friends to death with meaningless content.
That’s the pervasive sentiment about parents on Facebook, that everything they post with regard to their families is irrelevant. “No one cares about your kids.” But remove “kids” from that sentence and replace it with anything else and you have the nature of Facebook — of social media as a whole — in 2012. Do we care about your band? Do we care about Café World? Do we care about the article you published or the trip you took or the sandwich you made? The answer is maybe, but probably not.
So when it comes to babies on Facebook? I don’t mind seeing photos of my friend’s kids if they’re shared in a cognizant, secure way. I actually need to see those pictures. They’re proof that the dude I used to buy pot from or the girl I passed notes with decades ago were able to figure out parenthood — a concept so foreign to me that I’d need Rosetta Stone to decipher it from where I sit now. Seeing my peers with their children is comforting evidence that I’ll be able to navigate that phase of my life; it’s a celebration of the youth I once had and hope to experience again vicariously through my own children someday; it’s a reminder that life happens offline. And if we’re going on a witch hunt because a few bad seeds happen to be technologically unaware parents, don’t we need that reminder?
I know anyone who posts something that isn’t RELEVANT TO YOUR INTERESTS deserves to burn at the stake, doubly so if they have children, but there’s a simpler solution — logoff Facebook for a while. This is the one time that you can control how much of someone else’s life impedes on your own. You can’t stop a stranger on the sidewalk from exhaling their cigarette smoke in your grill and you can’t do a 180 when your cousin starts to recall the boring details of their trip to Boise, but you can look away from the Newsfeed. I promise. It will still be there tomorrow when you’re ready to mindlessly scroll through your own Profile Pictures or search for that hot bartender or whatever it is people are using Facebook for this week.