Anonymous 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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