I find it fascinating how the rise of social media has changed how we as women lovingly brag about our children, and I ponder the consequences which come along with this new trend of plastering too many details of our non-consenting children on the Internet.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media as much as the next millennial. I love to share vacation pictures, concerts I attend, and I was most certainly the cliché bride posting a thousand photos from my wedding that no one outside of our immediate family would probably care to see. So why is it that since becoming pregnant, I have become radio silent on the internet? I suppose it’s the mama bear instinct or maybe just the overprotective first baby jitters, but frankly, I’m not sorry. I loathe the pressure we as women feel to express our love in a public way and am bothered by the culture it seems we have all assimilated to the fact that “if it didn’t happen on Facebook, it’s not important.”
I never posted a perfectly crafted picture of a onesie with a letter board saying something clever like party of three coming November 2019 when I had passed the long-awaited 12-week mark. My husband and I never did a video gender reveal to put on our feed because we thought it to be much more special and intimate if we found out together as a couple and then called our parents and siblings after. I never even mentioned my pregnancy on any social media outlet until I posted pictures from my baby shower at seven-and-a-half months, knowing I would inevitably be tagged in posts from loved ones anyway. I was made to feel by a few of my peers that it looked like my pregnancy was a secret and as if I wasn’t as excited as the next mom who chose to tell the world via a creative social media update. I even had an old childhood friend ask my husband and me if my son was planned when she came across the shower pictures because she never saw anything about it earlier.
I don’t pass judgment on those who regularly update the world on the new milestone their baby just reached or how their child did well at their little league game because I know it’s coming from a place of love and pride. To be quite honest, the hypocrite that I am loves to see those adorable posts. It’s just not my style to be so forthcoming. However, I think it is unrealistic to say I will never post a picture of my child, and I certainly know I will not carry on with my beloved social apps as though my son does not exist. Still, I ponder, why do we, as well-meaning mothers, feel the need to show public admiration for our children so frequently, and in doing so, at what costs? Furthermore, how do we find the balance between respecting our children’s privacy while also not appearing as though our children are not, in fact, the most important, prideful aspects of our life? I believe no one really has the answer, as this is a new-age problem. I digress, this is not a dilemma our mothers and their mothers faced, and I think we as a society do not fully know the consequences of social media as it is still a relatively new phenomenon.
Precautions for Over-Sharenting
Whether you are like me and hesitant with the amount of information you put out there or you like to post ten times a day, there are precautions you can take when it comes to over-sharenting. I came up with three simple rules to follow when posting about your child to ensure that you are not unknowingly compromising your little one’s privacy or safety for the sake of a Like.
Never mention your child’s full name. I know this is a hard one, as I can relate to the number of hours and thought it takes in coming up with the perfect first and middle to go with your last name, but your “friend,” or more accurately, your lab partner from high school really doesn’t need to know.
Never post your child’s school or daycare. This one is tricky, as I’m sure it’s very tempting to tag yourself at your daughter’s school for the mother-daughter brunch, but I promise it still happened even if you didn’t tell your 432 followers about it.
Birthdays, this is a hard one. Of course, you want to post the smashing of their fist into their 1st birthday cake, but if you must, post a few days later. The world shouldn’t know your child’s exact date of birth. Identity theft is real, and 18 years from now, you don’t want such private information about your child accessible to the world.
I will be the first to admit I did not follow these guidelines when it came to myself pre-pregnancy. Although I pride myself on the fact that I don’t post my entire life all over the world wide web, I have been guilty in the occasional oversharing. I suppose I hold myself to a higher standard when it comes to my son. We can’t control everything that happens to our children, and I know I will undoubtedly make mistakes along the way, though how much of my son I expose to the world is something I can control. By the same token, as much as we will appreciate those pictures and videos of our babies when they are all grown up, might I suggest we all put down our phones for a minute, live in the moment, and not through our screens. As our mothers say, we won’t get this time back.
About the Author
Nikki Gilbert is a Jacksonville native and a proud new mom. She moved to Tallahassee for school in 2010, where she met her husband before later settling back in her beloved home town. Nikki is a massage therapist for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the season working on pre and post-game recovery. Her interests include spending time with her family, boating, cooking, traveling (preferably to the mountains), discovering new music and arts markets.