Anonymous Mom: I’m Addicted To Posting Pictures Of My Baby On Facebook

woman looking into computerAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

A few weeks before our son was born, I asked my husband to agree not to put photos of him on Facebook. He thought I was crazy, rolled his eyes, and dismissed me from the start. It didn’t matter to him that people find too many baby photos on Facebook annoying. He couldn’t care less that we have too many “friends” on Facebook that we hardly know. And he wasn’t at all concerned about pimping out our kid for a few “likes” on Facebook. I, however, saw the risks. Facebook validation can be addictive. And we are both junkies.

My husband prides himself on being funny. On too many occasions, I’ve gotten a call or text from asking if I’ve seen his Facebook status. “Did you see what I wrote? People are going nuts!” I’m no better, though. I showcase my social media skills with social or political commentary, then sit back and wait for people to praise me for my brilliance. It’s because of this tendency that I was determined not to use our baby to indulge our narcissism.

But lying in that hospital bed looking at the first photo of our newborn baby boy, I couldn’t see the harm in sharing just one picture of him to announce his arrival. Besides, he was so adorably perfect. It would be rude and unfair not to share him with our Facebook family. So we jotted off a quick digital birth announcement, posted the photo, and waited. The “likes” started pouring in. As we watched the counter grow higher and higher, we grew more confident that, yes, our baby was awesome. Although we thought he was beautiful already, now we KNEW it. The likes don’t lie.

After that first photo, I was hooked. I’d experienced the thrill of Facebook “likes” and I needed another fix. The sporadic photo couldn’t hurt, right? After all, people WANTED to see him now. Soon I had to keep sharing my gorgeous boy with the world.

I’d see other babies getting “liked” and would start jonesing to stay in the game. I was strategic. I wouldn’t post too often. Overexposure could dilute his perfection and people might not “like” him as consistently each time.

Like the PR rep for an A-list celebrity I would contemplate the best times and days to release a photo. And, of course, only the best photos made the cut. I grew annoyed when other people posted his photo because I wanted total control over his digital footprint. Other people couldn’t be trusted to screen out all but his most perfect images.

As I grew more obsessed, I’d look at other people’s baby photos and wonder why they got more likes than mine. Did they have more friends? Was their child more adorable? Or God forbid, more loved?

Rationally, I know that this is insane. But that is the power of Facebook. It turns us into celebrities in our minds. It’s narcissistic by nature and our worth is measured in “likes” and comments, as a celebrity’s worth is measured by how many magazines she or he can sell. It’s why people are driven to posting grand, sweeping, Oscar-acceptance-style thank you statuses on Facebook. And it’s why some of us share photos of our children.

Does recognizing this mean I will stop? No. Like I said, it’s addictive. And I’m a junkie.

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(photo: Dundanim / Shutterstock)

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  • Paul White

    I limit myself to one or two pictures/vids a week of my son. If that’s too much for someone, screw ‘em. It’s hardly an overwhelming amount.

    • Emmali Lucia

      I like that. I wish everyone had the “One or two pictures (Of anything) a week” limit.

    • Paul White

      Well, one or two of the kid, one or two of the pets…I’ll do albums once in a while because they don’t clutter hte feed so much too.

    • Psych Student

      I think that’s perfectly reasonable. The point of facebook is to share what you’re doing, so a couple pictures of various aspects of life a week seems good. And much less annoying that hearing my friends are playing 85 different games.

  • Katie

    “It turns us into celebrities in our minds. It’s narcissistic by nature and our worth is measured in “likes” and comments, as a celebrity’s worth is measured by how many magazines she or he can sell.”

    I am really sick of people making these kinds of sweeping generalizations and “us” observations like this is just what happens to everyone who uses Facebook. If you were an attention whore to begin with, then yes, that’s what Facebook is. For the rest of us whose self-worth is not determined by likes and comments, it’s just for keeping up with family and friends. It’s not an automatic popularity contest– it only is if you care if you win.

    • alice

      lighten up, francis.

      it’s a common tool in writing to adopt an overarching WE, a majestic plural, or just a generalized colloquialism. you don’t have to get your panties in a bunch.

      the “WE” are the readers that identify with the author. if you don’t, no worries mate!

    • Katie

      I get that, but sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. Maybe it is in this case, but I’ve heard way too many people justifying their social media obsession and competitive feelings with “oh, everyone feels this way!” Especially with feeling inadequate when looking at pinterest, for some reason, but that’s another story.

    • chickadee

      I find that use of ‘we’ to be irritating as well. It’s a common rhetorical technique of emotional writing versus objective writing and yeah, it tries to build a bond with the readers. The problem occurs when the reader has no sympathy for or experience with the writer’s position and then gets alienated and/or annoyed because the reader is getting lumped in with people with whom they do not agree.

      It’s a way of seeking validation for a position that is perceived as unpopular, like the fb obsession and the baby-flooding of social media platforms…if we are *all* doing it, then you can’t criticize *me.*

  • alice

    “The likes don’t lie”

    hahah. i thought this article was hilarious. and spot on.

    i hate overshares of babypics on fb, but i hate even more the lame mommy rationalization that it’s somehow about the “friends” who really want to see their babies. nope. it’s about the mom’s. always.

    if more of my friends just came out and said what you just did, i’d start enjoying their overshares more!

  • Rachelle

    This is a hilarious post because I am guilty of posting (numerous) baby pics on Facebook. I rationalize that I keep as many baby photos off of my personal account and put them into a private group I started for those who really gave a f*ck about my baby (friends and family who aren’t in my city/country). Okay, sometimes one/some of the photos is/are really friggin cute and it somehow finds its way onto my timeline. Fine. I’ll take full responsibility for it. And yes, sometimes it’s about getting a bunch of those thumbs up because my daughter and my iphonography skills are above par (yes, I’m totally being full of myself).

    But let’s be honest. Most of those photos get on Facebook because I’m just. Plain. Bored. So humour me, damn it.

    • Véronique Houde

      I’ll forgive you as long as you reign in the woe is mom comments lol :P Just kidding! I love ya sis ;)

    • Psych Student

      I think it’s great that you’ve made a private group for the pictures. Friends and family who care can see it and the rest of your “friends” can see the occasional picture. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with the occasional picture. It’s just the same as putting up an occasional picture of whatever activity you’re doing.

  • chickadee

    I suggest disconnecting from Facebook before you end up on STFU Parents. I can pretty much assure you that people feel obligated to like your baby pictures simply because they’re visible on their feeds and it’s the thing to do. All of my baby-making friends post pictures, I hit ‘like’ whether I think the baby’s cute or not, and I move on.

    • Alex

      I’ll add that for many of us who AREN’T on Facebook all day every day and have many baby-making oversharing “friends”, a lot of it comes down to a matter of timing. When I log in (which is probably the first time all day and might be the first time in several days), maybe I’ll look at or “like” the first dozen or so baby-related photos on my newsfeed. After that, it’s just too much and I’m not going scroll down to “like” everything that’s been posted since I last logged in.

      So if you happen to post a baby photo shortly before I log in (or whatever algorithm Facebook uses to arrange the order of its newsfeed posts), then you might get lucky with a “like”. Otherwise, feel free to take it personally and enjoy your self-created mompetition.

    • WinWin

      I am pretty sure many (not some) people do that. I love looking at pictures of my closest friend’s babies and even comment regularly. But when it comes to extended family or “friends” I rarely meet, I just click “Like” and move on. I know for a fact many people don’t even do that. Many of my friends complain that they are tired of hitting like and just ignore the pictures now.

    • chickadee

      I’m going to go use Tea’s ‘unbabyme’ function. Then I won’t have to see 8 billion photos of ‘monthaversaries.’

  • mary

    I can totally relate. More so now because my SIL just had a baby as well, so its a personal little competition (in my mind) on who gets more likes on their pics. I’m winning (hehe) but I think it’s because I also carefully plan the execution, whereas she started with 50+ pics of her ultrasound, and it has only grown from there. When I start to feel like I am getting carried away, I think about my other friends with babies and ask myself, would I care if they posted this pic or just roll my eyes? If the answer is the latter, I am able to stop myself.

  • Tea

    I admit, I use unbabyme because for a while, too many friends had babies at once and I was sick of 8 photos of little billy destroying a hotdog. I like the app because my friends still have their fun, and I don’t have to look at photos or say that I think 20 a day might be enough baby. Sometimes I toggle it off just to have a look and see how little ___ is doing, and turn it back on.

    Besides, they all put up with a cat or two a week, painting/studio session photos, and some of my DIY projects, fair is fair.

    • Carm

      Ooooooh what’s unbabyme?

    • Tea

      It’s a plugin for browsers that removes pictures with “Baby” keywords and replaces them with cool pictures

      It can also be used for political keywords, or any keywords you want.

    • Valeri Jones

      Awesome app. I used this for a while after I had a miscarriage because I had a ton of pregnant friends and it was too painful to see their weekly Baby Gaga updates.

  • Sarah

    I think this is a bit over-thought? I post pics of my baby every week or two. I have a ton of family and friends that have never met him and live far away. I don’t see how its any different than posting pictures of yourself. If people don’t want to see the pictures, there are a lot of options for ignoring them. Its a good feeling when people like and comment on his pictures, but its not the end-all-be-all.

  • Ana

    Not to sound cliché, but you should find a hobby. Put that mental energy and competitive streak to good use. It’s easy to log onto facebook, but you would feel better if you had something to show for your efforts other than “likes”. What’s your passion?

  • AS

    This is HILARIOUS! I, too, am addicted to the ‘baby likes’. I do limit myself to about one picture a week (sometimes more, sometimes less) though. I see people posting kid pictures everyday and I think it takes away from the joy of seeing them. I usually stop looking if that is the case. (Now, INSTAGRAM is another story, I think it was designed specifically to post daily pictures of cats, babies, and food). The truth is I do have a large extended family who enjoy these posts as they rarely ever get to see my child. I also have friends that ask for more. I’m sure not everyone enjoys it, but whatever, it is kind of what Facebook is there for….if people didn’t post stuff, there would be nothing to look at.

  • Amber

    Facebook doesn’t turn anyone into anything, it just gives you a platform to show everyone what you really are.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Ding ding ding! Amber gets it.

    • mary

      No no no, its a platform to show people what we want them to think we are. I often scrutinize pictures before I post to make sure they get my very best angle, while I am sitting in pajama pants and coffee stained shirt. I have a friend who is about 250lbs, but you would never, ever, ever know from the pictures she posts on facebook. All you see is face and cleavage.

    • sometechguy

      I think Bill Cosby summed it up best, talking to a guy telling him that “cocaine intensifies your personality.” Bill’s response: “Yeah, but what if you’re an @sshole?”

  • The Author

    Happy to see a few readers get my humor. This was tongue and cheek, folks.

    But anyone who pretends not to get a little thrill when someone likes something they post on Facebook, baby or not, is lying.

    • chickadee

      “Tongue in cheek.”

      (I failed to get your humor. Sorry. Probably because you sounded like people who actually exist.)

    • The Author

      Yes. Tongue-in-cheek. I’m just glad I spelled tongue correctly. I did, didn’t I?

    • chickadee

      I’m sure you are just using humor again there in your spelling comment, but you need to make sure you use idioms correctly. Otherwise it sounded like you were referring to cooking ingredients.

    • lea

      “But anyone who pretends not to get a little thrill when someone likes something they post on Facebook, baby or not, is lying.”

      If you say so.

    • alice

      “But anyone who pretends not to get a little thrill when someone likes something they post on Facebook, baby or not, is lying.” – - true again. and i’m surprised so many people refuse to accept this, as if by acknowledging what facebook *IS* you have to acknowledge your own pettiness for patronizing the site.

      facebook’s entire platform is a social show-n-tell. if the expectation weren’t to draw interaction (cough cough: euphemism for begging attention) then you’d be writing in a journal and posting photos to tumblr,photobucket,etc. while keeping your close friends updated via email or telephone.

      b-b-b-but: then you couldn’t also (essentially) spy on all your acquaintances and learn personal things about their lives in a totally nonorganic way! that’s not petty at all! :)

      “janie, congrats on your pregnancy! i learned about it…on facebook!”

      but you’re petty for admitting that you like all the virtual high-fives you get from your updates? right.

    • The Author

      Facebook is narcissistic and voyeuristic by nature. That does not make all its users its users inherently narcissists or voyeurs, but its entire purpose is to see and be seen. Like you, I’m surprised people get so defensive about this. Why the denial?

      I actually only post about one photo, give or take, a week. My article -though absolutely inspired by the guilty and irrational pleasure I take in seeing “friends” (notice the quotation marks) “like” (notice the quotation marks) photos of my child- was satire, hyperbole, and “tongue-in-cheek.”

      A little self-awareness about how we use and respond to social media, especially concerning our kids, is a good thing. One is far less likely to end up on STFU Parents if he or she recognizes that there may be some selfish reasons for sharing photos (or anything!) on Facebook. It’s when you start thinking you are only sharing because the majority of your audience really wants to buy what you are selling, that you will have a problem…

    • mary

      Yes! Thank-you for putting into words what I was thinking!

  • Zoe Lansing

    Personally the more pictures someone posts of their kid the less likely I am to “like” them.The same is true of constant statuses about kids.I don’t want to enable an oversharing addiction!And I will NEVER “like” a post in which a parent refers to his/her own child as “the cutest baby EVER!” or something equally obnoxious.I’ll decide for myself if I think your kid is cute,thank you very much!

  • Psych Student

    Ok, I hear the people who say that if you post too many pictures, it’s overboard and I agree. However . . . Anonymous Mom . . . you are *freaking* adorable! The way you write about this is just too cute. And if you really are working to spread out how often you post, maybe it’s not so bad.

    • The Author

      If you think I’m adorable, you should see my baby.

  • CrushLily

    I just hate how badly the photos are composed and lit. One friend had 38 photos of her son at his birthday party. Most of them were taken portrait style but uploaded as landscape and the rest were out of focus. At least I presume they were, I only got through 10. The only reason I looked at them was because somewhere in there was my kid – well, half in there because he was mostly out of shot. And focus. For someone who takes so many photos, she doesn’t seem to get any better at it.
    I have another friend who seems to only take indoor iPhone photos with bad light and I am always surprised her son is not out of focus in real life.
    Now I’m in my second year of parenthood I only upload photos when we are all dressed nicely and I am wearing makeup. So every blue moon and all that – but it always prompts some lovely validating comments!

  • getreal

    i just think y’all are a bunch of busy body bitches.

  • Cilkasmith

    Some Moms would be suffered the problem for share a Picture of our sons and daughter.

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  • sss

    Omg this is so sad…. :-(
    If this is what my life comes to one day, kill me please!