Last month, I wrote about the 'Feel Free To Delete Me' trend, which involves parents insisting that their friends stop following them if they have a "problem" with an abundance of kid content in their newsfeed. The best thing about that trend is that it's based on an attitude perceived by parents that I don't even think exists. Some people are so insecure about their posting habits, they assume if they don't get a lot of 'Likes' (or 'Reactions'), it's because their friends hate them, or they at least hate their updates. Oftentimes, I sit back and reflect on how my adult contemporaries and I have all turned into permanent teenagers, questioning whether or not someone we barely know or haven't seen in several years 'Likes' us, but I do try to see the humor in it, too. Once I'm able to stop focusing on how depressing it is that we all care more about Facebook than spending time creating, volunteering, or connecting with people in real life, I'm able to notice some funny patterns, like moms who fictionalize petty Facebook drama to the point of collectively yelling at or condescending to their friends.
It's somewhat baffling that things that happen on social media can seriously impact our real-world relationships, but for some people, Facebook IS real life. If you're not depicting yourself in a fully-fleshed out way on Facebook, with regular updates on love, work, kids, etc., how can any of your friends be totally sure you're not a serial killer? Everyone knows that feeling of searching online for an old classmate, love interest, or potential new friend and coming up oddly empty. You want so badly to praise the person for managing to live in this world without having ANY social media presence that Google can detect, but instead a small voice inside of you says, "What the fuck is this person hiding? What's wrong with them?" If you're truly untraceable, you're either supremely cool—you don't seek validation from the internet because you're too busy living your awesome life, and I mean that sincerely—OR you're suspect of quite literally anything. There's one girl (now a woman) I went to high school with who I can never find online anywhere, and instead of feeling like a creepy stalker who's desperately trying to determine if she's using a married name, or just has too common a last name to search, etc., I'm staring at my screen going, "What happened to YOU, you unsearchable weirdo?!"
We've all become convinced that instead of a person choosing not to live her life on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, Pinterest, or whatever other platform just launched that I'm unaware of, she's dead, in prison, or in witness protection. One time, the only thing I could find about an old friend was, in fact, her mugshot, and it made me feel super sad. Why couldn't she just get an Instagram account so I could feel like she has more going on in her life than getting arrested for driving on Valium? It's almost like social media, in one quick decade, has gone from being a distraction that some people might participate in, to a lifestyle choice to which we all must adhere. If you ever hope to get successful at a number of professions, you now need to have not only a website, but a social presence, as well, or your career could legitimately fail. Considering the benefits of social media from that angle (not to mention the ability to stay digitally connected with friends and family, among other things), most of us choose to engage on at least one social platform, leading to a recent perception that those who don't participate at all are modern day, self-exiled outcasts.
Because of this, people have started taking social media far too seriously, and they respond to interactions far too defensively. This added weight creates unnecessary insecurities, and it's how parents can come to assume that their friends don't like seeing pictures of their kids, even if no one has indicated as much. It's also why some parents have become extremely judgmental not only of how other people parent (ranting about breastfeeding vs. formula, car seats that aren't installed correctly, or the use of cell phones on playgrounds) but also of how other parents use social media. Bizarrely, one side-effect of more than a billion people using Facebook is that it's created a new way for parents to snark at each other about how they're using the internet. Are you a mom with a Facebook account, but you're not a huge fan of posting tons of photos of your baby on the internet? Well, then, shame on you! Bad mother!
There's a certain audience segment on Facebook that believes if you're not displaying your love for your child with daily photos and stories, you're telling the world you don't care about your kid and you don't take parenting seriously. In fact, if you're a recent parent who isn't doting on her child via constant Facebook or Instagram updates, your home may need a visit from CPS—especially if you've recently posted pictures of your dog, your friends, or, god forbid, yourself sipping a beer at a bar. If you're still actively posting on Facebook since becoming a parent but you don't post frequent updates about your little one every day, who are you, the Devil? WHAT are you, a sociopath? Do you want people to think your child isn't well-loved, or is developmentally delayed? Or worse, ugly? This is what some Facebook-happy parents will have you believe, according to today's column submissions. They're overly critical, patronizing, and they don't really seem to know WTF they're talking about. Let's check 'em out!
1. Good Parents Vs. Bad Parents
Do you know if you're a "good" parent or not? Most parents struggle with this question every day, but now there's an easy detector to help you figure it out! Just scroll back through your Facebook feed, count the number of status updates pertaining to your child, and apply Laurabeth's "90% or you suck" formula. Boom, you'll have your answer. If you fail the test, don't worry! You can become a good parent whenever you decide to stop selfishly discussing politics or bunnies on skateboards with your friends and start bragging about your little cutie pie's latest achievements. Otherwise, best of luck to you becoming a GOOD parent. Until your posting habits illuminate the greatest love in the world—the love you have for your child—please spare everyone else the "quality parent" charade.
2. Priorities Police
First of all, Demex is Shay's son name. Okie dokes. Second of all, who the hell is Shay to criticize people for posting selfies and writing about their job? Just because kids are a huge part of parents' lives doesn't mean they have to be a huge part of their Facebook lives. Sometimes parents don't want to post about their kids because they just like keeping them offline. Sure, it's annoying when parents get dramatic about how they're not going to allow their child's image to be coopted by advertisers or stolen by pedophiles, but that doesn't mean a person HAS to post about their kid on social media. Some parents fly under the radar and prefer to keep their online identity focused on them as individuals, rather than shine a light on their private family life. Some people have bad relationships with their kid's family. Whatever her friends' reasons, Shay might want to reserve her opinionated posts for topics of actual interest. Scolding people about their priorities based on how many selfies they post would be like qualifying someone's parenting skills based on naming their son Demex. You can do it, but it's not advisable.
3. Mom Harassment
Don't be that person who bullies friends into posting more pictures of their kids. That's as bad as demanding that "mamas" post maternity photos, which also happens all the time. Instead, let your friends post what they want and be grateful for them! Don't pile on in the comments or indirectly accuse a friend of not showing off her precious baby girl on Facebook like it's a crime. Besides, if you're really that curious, and you're legitimately close friends with someone, you can text them directly and request a baby update. 🙂 If you're not, why are you posting weird demands on the person's Facebook page?
4. Trolls With X-Ray Vision
Wait a second. I thought the moms who "love their kids the most" are the ones most likely to stage baby photos. Did I get that wrong? Because otherwise why do parents schedule photo shoots for their kids for what feels like 12-15 holidays a year? Honestly, if we could start a rumor that correlates staged photos to "poor parenting," that'd be great. Let's work on that. In the meantime, Dorothy and Trisha are mean girls who should stop gossiping and analyzing the smiles of children. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there's another expression moms like to throw around: "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all." If you take the time to look up someone's profile and your only takeaway is that her daughter's smile is "fake," the person who deserves to be Facebook-shamed is you. Funny how that works, isn't it? People crack me up.