Whenever I'm asked what's changed about parents' posting habits on social media over the years, I think about a growing sense of entitlement. Back when STFU, Parents launched in 2009, parents were comparatively reserved. They were, on average, more concerned with how their friends interpreted their status updates, sometimes to the point of apologizing for potentially over-posting about their kids. Facebook wasn't jokingly referred to as "Babybook" yet, and new parents were still getting comfortable with how they showcased their family lives. But as time marched on, and more Facebook users became parents, too, there appeared to be a massive swell of baby content. No matter what time you scrolled through your feed, babies and toddlers would appear. Not that people were actively trying to *avoid* baby pictures, but it became clear that Facebook was no longer just a place for college kids and people in their early twenties to congregate and goof around; it was a place for people to adapt and live out each stage of their lives, semi-publicly. And with that adaptation came a whole lot of baby updates.
Gradually, parents wondered less about what their friends thought about their incessant baby posts. The collective attitude went from "I hope you like this!" to "I don't give a shit whether you like this or not." I'd argue that the pinnacle of this behavioral shift was in 2012, when the Unbaby.me app came along and masqueraded as a legitimate tool, rather than the fleeting fad it turned out to be. It was a joke, a satirical comment on the "Babybook" concept, and something most people -- parents included -- recognized as playful, harmless internet fodder. You could set the application to replace baby photos in your newsfeed with whatever you wanted: pictures of bacon, beer, puppies. It was funny to everyone except the select parents who were entirely unamused. To those people, Unbaby.me just confirmed what they'd long suspected, which is that a percentage of their friends are baby-hating monsters (or at least, monsters who hate seeing baby pictures in their Facebook feeds). Their insecurity manifested as hostility, and a trend to preemptively tell off their Facebook friends emerged.
Out of nowhere, parents were declaring that their friends could just go ahead and delete them if they "hated" seeing baby pictures so much. The status updates were unwarranted, yet widespread. And they haven't stopped getting posted since, all of them amusingly similar despite their unique origins. I don't know why certain parents feel the need to post these declarations, which tend to be a cross between aggressive demands and exhaustive explanations, but they seem to stem from a sense of parental pride. Or what parents perceive to be pride, expressed in the form of self-righteous obsession. Sometimes, parents just want to be given a pass to post as many photos of their kids online as they want, so they work themselves up and tell their friends to "feel free to delete them" as a result. It's weird, it's off-putting, and unlike Unbaby.me, it's a trend that isn't going anywhere. Let's check out some examples.
1. No Shame: An Explanation
The submitter wrote, "I sort of wanted to reply, 'We all suffered through your pregnancy; I'm sure we'll make it through his infancy.'"
2. Are You "Tired" Of Being Ashley's "Friend?"
If I read Ashley's update in my newsfeed, I would immediately take her up on her offer. She's talking nonsensically about things making sense. She's essentially threatening to destroy her friends' newsfeeds with bad poetry and incessant photos of her baby, living every day like it's Valentine's Day. Ashley's the kind of person who inspires a full-blown Block-a-thon.
3. Just Sayin'
MOAR PHOTOS! Give us the goods, Diana!! Facebook scrolling isn't the same without a bunch of new updates about Noah! I want to get the feeling that all of Noah's mommy's fingers have fallen off, there are so many new updates! There's never a point at which a person can know TOO much about a precious gift from God, you know? Eating habits, pooping habits, scenes from various pumpkin patches...all of Diana's friends are blessed to get this information and more just by opening their Facebook app on their phones. Stay loud and proud, mama! You go girl.
4. Embrace Potty Posts Or Go F*** Yourself
Hey motherfuckers, don't tell Kristen what to post on HER Facebook page! She's a GROWN-ASS ADULT, and anyone who has a problem with her detailing her son's potty training can kiss her stinkin' ass! If you don't want to hear about Kristen's son's potty habits; if you aren't interested in scanning pictures of a child's plastic potty filled with urine; if you don't have any RESPECT for a mother's right to say whatever the hell she wants on her own Facebook page, well then, by all means, please delete yourself! Thanks a lot, ignorant people!
5. Friendly FYI 🙂
'Rowan Overload' sounds like the baby birthday equivalent of Coachella. It's going to get reeeeeeal crowded on Facebook, y'all, because the Ro- to the -wan is having his very first birthday, and you know it's gonna be lit. Christine will be standing by to document the whole thing, of course, not just for her personal memories, but to share on Facebook with all of Rowan's biggest fans. To all you haters out there who don't like seeing Christine's never-ending stream of posts about her impressive baby boy, she's got one word for you (which happens to be Rowan's favorite word): BYE. You should go ahead and Unfriend Christine right now, because Rowan is the best thing that ever happened to her, and she probably won't miss you anyway. 🙂
Meghan is one of many people who have inspired an upcoming STFU, Aunts & Uncles column, because we already get enough of this attitude from parents to start hearing it from second-degree relatives, too. Know your place, Meghan! No one is telling you what to post or not post about your niece. Do everyone a favor and just update with the assumption that your friends are perfectly capable of un-friending or unfollowing you without explicit permission. Go on and try it; I promise it can happen without direction or warning. Facebook makes deleting people from your life so quick and easy, no one even really has to know.