They say it takes a village to raise a child, but how does one define a “village” in 2013? Back in the day, a village meant the fifty families that lived closest to yours. But today, with the help of modern technology and social media, a “village” can stretch as far as a person’s Facebook feed, which is both a blessing and a curse. Messages that used to be communicated face-to-face, over the phone, or through a neighborhood newsletter are now distributed via a simple status update. And now that “village communication” is as easy as hitting Publish, some people, especially parents, have a tendency to take things a little too far.This can play out in the form of promoting baby registry “requests,” protesting a lack of childcare at certain events, fundraising for adoption or fertility treatments, or outlining exactly what to buy a child for Christmas or for his/her birthday. But the most irritating form of all is the list of “visitation rules” parents post on Facebook in order to prepare their “village” for meeting their new baby. This is a polarizing subject that’s been debated and discussed on STFU, Parents before, particularly because there are so many variables to consider. Personally, I’m of the belief that there’s no reason to post a list of “rules” at all, even if the rules are reasonable requests such as “wash your hands before holding the baby” and “call before coming over.” To me, these requests can be made in person, via email, or over the phone. How many of a person’s 500 Facebook friends are planning to come over to see the new baby, really?
However, proponents of Facebook visitation notes say they’re an easy way to communicate with annoying relatives who are likely to drop by with a bad cold, a lit cigarette dangling from their lips, and a lack of self-awareness that leads to overstaying their welcome. While that’s all well and good, I still can’t understand why it’s necessary to tell a group of adults what to do (or what not to do) in a sweeping statement on social media. If you already know Crazy Aunt Rita is notorious for visiting new babies when she’s drunk, why not preemptively tell her — and only her — not to visit? I don’t see the benefit of posting a mass message about something that’s bound to only affect a handful of people, and possibly rub some of those people the wrong way. Plus, since when is it appropriate to crowd-source meals, dog walks, and chores from friends on Facebook? If you’ve just given birth and your friends want to help out, great. But if no one’s volunteered, wouldn’t it make more sense to reach out to close friends and family personally to request those things? Or does being a part of someone’s Facebook network automatically make you a member of their “village”?
Ultimately, a person’s attitude toward post-labor visitation updates seems to be based on personal experience. If you’ve had a baby and got frustrated with friends and family not doing as they “should” in some capacity, then you’re likely in favor of the visitation status update approach. If you haven’t, you probably think that approach is passive-aggressive and the message could be conveyed in another way. The irony, of course, being that some parents don’t want any visitors at all, while others are begging their friends to come do their laundry and give them a foot massage. In today’s world of overprotective parenting, who can keep track of all the rules, anyway? And, more importantly, who cares?