We had a baby last year. Her name is Zuni Dawn and she’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
But you wouldn’t know it from looking at my social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, she doesn’t exist – beyond an obligatory announcement of her birth.
It’s not because we don’t care. We love her more than anything in the world and have seen our lives transform into an obsession of firsts, smiles, cries and ignored concerns about lost habits, interests, and social lives.
We made a conscious decision not to make her a Social Baby. Not that we don’t see a thousand things a day worth sharing. The world should know about the miracle of new life, unique development and facial expressions that our Zuni blesses it with.
But you know what? Babies have done this since the dawn of time. She’s not unique in that respect. The only unique thing is that it’s the first time we have experienced it.
So why not bless the world with this miracle? Here’s why you won’t see our baby on Facebook.
It’s ruining my feed.
This isn’t a critique of friends who post baby pics. I love your baby and couldn’t be happier for the joy you’re experiencing. Seriously – every one of you.
But in aggregate you’ve turn my feed into an endless baby’s-r-us-cum-JCrew commercial. I’m not judging you. Just explaining our very personal decision.
I know I could block you. But you also share good content. And I do care about your lives. If Facebook could produce a baby filter we might all be happy.
Life is about them, not us.
There is something intensely private about the product of two people who are made for each other experiencing the world for the very first time.
I feel that Social Baby photos would be more about us – “look at this perfect baby we produced and how much we love her” – rather than her – a new human full of amazement, experiencing some subtle and complex moment in the context of her broader existence.
I want to teach her about what it means to share her thoughts and experiences with the world. I don’t want to make that decision for her.
Those awkward baby photos.
We are among the first generation to be having babies since Instagram was born. I don’t want to look back at our ‘insta-baby’ in the same way we consider other tragic periods in modern child-rearing, just because “we didn’t know better”.
I have no idea what happens to a baby photo once it’s uploaded to Facebook. Do you?
Remember those awkward baby photos your dad pulled out at your 18th birthday party. Were you nude, or looking creepily at someone supposed to be your childhood sweetheart? (I did both).
Well for Social Babies, Facebook owns those memories. It’s not for your dad to pull them out for a private showing on a borrowed projector. It’s for Zuck and his team to do whatever they want.
What is Facebook doing with all those baby photos? Facial recognition? Age detection? Racial profiling? Location tracking? I have no fucking idea. They may not either, yet. But they have the data and can do anything with it.
The minute I upload a series of shots of my baby, I’ve given her up for life. If I upload a photo a month for the first 5 years of her life, she’s lost all decision rights about her image and privacy.
That’s her decision, not mine. Is that Michael-Jackson style paranoia? I hope not… Just thoughtful parenting.
It’s not all smiles.
Raising a baby is fucking hard. It’s not all smiles and swaddles and month-anniversaries and #grateful hashtags.
Sure, that’s some of it, but only after magnitudes more of sticky nappies, sleepless nights, screaming, burping, farting, feeding. So much feeding. But oh, a cheeky smile.
Social Babies don’t show any of this. In the same way we curate the best moments of our lives for social media, only to land in an endless cycle of happy moments devoid of the brutal realities of real life and hard work, Social Babies are a simulacrum of actual child rearing. It’s fucking hard! Mostly thankless. Should I say it again??
There’s an app for that.
Some people do care that we have a baby. So deeply it hurts them to be away for a day, let alone months. But not everyone of my online friends, that’s for sure.
I’m forever grateful for the support of our family, and want to include them in our journey. You know what? There’s an app for that. Maybe multiple apps.
We use TinyBeans and it’s awesome. Our immediate family, spread across continents, feels instantly more connected. We share a few photos a day, and they love every one.
Do my friends want to see them all? No way. Do we share enough to keep crazy grandmothers happy? Probably not. But we find a happier medium than trying to please all parties on a single platform.
Our baby is real. We love her in every way. We love sharing the journey with our family and friends, just not with Facebook.