Thursday, March 20, 2014

Should New Parents Join Facebook?

Cobbler and his family - Abraham van Strij
I mentioned here a while back that one of my wife's sisters was trying to get my wife to get back on Facebook because we were having a child.  Since we do not live near most of our family, many are not able to see our daughter regularly.  Therefore, this particular sister thought that Facebook would be the answer (and only option).  She even said, and I quote:

"Once you have the baby, you have to join Facebook."

Well, the baby is now two months old and we have yet to join Facebook.  And we will not be joining Facebook, in fact!  So, what does that mean?  Does that mean that others will not be seeing the baby grow up?  Does that mean that everyone in the family has to suffer?

No, it does not.  What many fail to realize is that Facebook is not the only option.  There are many ways to share a new baby with family and friends other than Facebook.

For example, we came up with a way to share pictures and the baby's life on the internet -- a blog about the baby's life!

What I really like about making a blog about the baby's life is that it tells more of a story, goes into deeper detail, and can be made private.  I do not think that my child's life should be paraded around the internet to every stranger.  That's an invasion of her privacy, and even though she is a baby, she should have a right to some privacy.

An interesting article about this very topic appeared on CNN.

'Facebook parenting' is destroying our children's privacy
"On the most basic level, we want to be able to tell our story about our lives. But, in the case of our children, a permanent and public story has already been recorded about them before they have a chance to decide whether they want to participate or even whether the narrative is true to their own vision of self."
Facebook has done a great job as well as a great disservice in making the world believe that it is the best way to be connected.  Many post pictures of their children and talk about their children in ways that are, frankly, embarrassing.  Many people do not take much time to think before they post.  It's one thing to share something about your own life to the entire world, but to do so for a person who does not have a choice is another matter altogether.

Creating a private blog is a great way to share your child's life with family and friends.  There is still a danger of saying something embarrassing, yet the audience is much smaller.  Only the people who are interested in reading will bother reading it.  Face it, many people on Facebook state that they do not like the barrage of baby pictures, especially when they are from people they barely know.

Many people on Facebook will put pictures of their children because they feel the need to create a persona of being a good parent.  For example, an article entitled The pros and cons of 'sharenting' in The Guardian stated the following:
But opting out altogether is not that easy, as Natalie Lisbona, who lives in north London, knows. She is one of only two parents she knows who does not share information about their children online. "I wonder where these pictures will end up. I wonder what the information will be used for and how my girls will feel about me handing it over," she says. But she caved in and put up a couple of photos a few months ago. "I suppose I just wanted to prove I'm a good mum," she says. "I worry that by not mentioning my kids, people will think I'm not interested in them and don't do things with them. I put up a photo of them and it got 30 'likes' … I couldn't help feeling proud. But I'm trying to avoid posting anything else. I think the girls will respect me for it when they're older and still have their privacy."
One of Facebook's drawbacks is that people feel the need to prove something about themselves.  Why spend so much time on the internet proving that you are one way or another?

I shared my private blog with many family members who were excited to see pictures of the baby and a narrative about the new baby's life.  I have been able to show her growth and talk about how I feel about being her parent.  It is nice because I am creating a journal of her early life that I will one day present to her.

Yet, what of the sister that said: "Once you have the baby, you have to join Facebook"?

Well, she has not looked at the blog, as it is nigh impossible to contact her without Facebook.  She uses Facebook for e-mail.  Perhaps if she asks, I will tell her about the blog, although she will probably not like the idea of a blog much.  She wants us back on Facebook and cannot understand our aversion to it.  A real shame, perhaps.  Maybe it's just an example of how Facebook has pulled yet another person in.  

If you are a parent and are a Facebook user, take some time to think about what you say about your children on Facebook.  Think about how you would feel if someone else said the same about you.  Or better yet, unhook yourself from Facebook right now and never look back!

Are you on Facebook and have children?  Do you share their lives with others?  Do you get annoyed with other parents who share tidbits about their children's lives that are private?  Things such as their first period, their bad habits, or how misbehaved they were?  If so, please share your experiences in the comment field below.