Social media, more often than not these days, tests our patience and our sensibilities.
Let’s face it, we’ve all had to decide what is and isn’t cool to post. Trial and error hasn’t always proven pretty. For instance, those early days of social media were downright goofy as we all tried to discern what, exactly, constituted oversharing. And let’s not forget those prolific mommy bloggers turned social media influencers who felt compelled to provided real time updates on their children.
Who among us did not have to exercise some serious self control or toss aside the offending device? Hands please? Fortunately, the social media developers engineered the trusty ‘mute’ option.
Color Me Gobsmacked
So, you can imagine my surprise this past week when I saw an op-ed from Jennifer Weiner titled ‘Should Any Parents be Instragramming Their Children?‘ She teased with “we’re all selling some kind of story about ourselves, and using our children to do so.”
Do go on, Jennifer. We’re listening…
The question, she mulled, is “whether anyone’s children — influencer’s or not — belong on a parent’s social media feed at all?” She continues:
“Scroll casually through your platform of choice and you’ll see kids. Kids protesting on Pinterest; kids posing on Instagram; kids socially distanced proms and graduations on Facebook. Kids of people you know I.R.L. and kids of people you don’t. Kids who most likely haven’t given their permission for you and me to see them…”
And, you’re just now thinking this through, Jen??
Apparently Jennifer was one of the army of mommy bloggers a few years back who felt compelled to fill her social media platforms with her daughter’s photos. She posits the motive was to tell a story about prosperity, happiness and ease. “A photo of well-scrubbed kids on the first day of school says My children are thriving. I’m a good mom.”
But then, she writes:
“as my daughter got older, as she went from a sleeping, pooping blob to an actual person, and as the world soured on so-called mommy blogging, the sharing got harder to justify.”
Ah, yes. That ‘souring on mommy blogs’ — it sure felt like forever coming, didn’t it?
So, I confess, that social media shift filled me with schadenfreude. Karma and all. Apparently, the last few months, though, have led to a backsliding of sorts, with ‘sharenting’ coming back into vogue. And hence the headline question about this particular social media habit.
And, yet, I’m a bit perplexed as to why it’s taken so long for Jennifer and her peers to hold up the mirror and question this behavior.
Still, I’m glad she’s now getting the picture.
Furthermore, she’s doing more than to simply second-guessing the consequences of ‘sharenting,” she suggests others do the same.
“…So many of us have gotten used to posting and consuming and sharing those images constantly, endlessly and thoughtlessly. Maybe, at the very least, we should be giving it a little more thought.
Uh, huh! Yes, please!
Social Media’s Impact
So, this little trot down mommy blog lane reminded of the blog posts I wrote years ago. Those were the days I navigated painful social encounters with friends and colleagues who made their children the central topic of conversation. This, mind you, was in the early days of blogging, before social media exploded into multiple platforms. Accustomed to being overlooked, I was grateful, as I wrote in this post, On Friendship and Hardship, for the opportunities to converse more deeply with those whose lives more closely resembled mine.
This post, Non-moms and Moms Bridge the Infertility Gap, may give Jennifer and her social circle more to consider about another ‘sharenting’ social media impact.
And, to those today who are where I was then: remember the social media mute button is your friend.
A Path Forward
Lastly, a shout-out to my friend and fellow blogger, Lesley Pyne, who describes how she continues to find joy two years on in her latest post. As part of her book anniversary commemoration you’ll see she is temporarily reducing the book’s price for those looking for a way forward.