Everyone has someone that they’re ‘friends’ with on a social media channel who posts reams and reams of photos of the same thing… that you just don’t give a shit about. For some people, it’s horses or cars or terrible memes. For others, it’s their pets or their home or random dance videos. But the one that seems to provoke the most derision? Spark the most bitter conversations and dismissive of comments? Babies and children.
Of course, come the first day of term, we all expect to see photos of little darlings lined up and posing for their parent’s camera, ready to be printed afterward and popped in an album. But, particularly with new babies, plenty of people choose to post them every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes thrice.
Unless this is your child or relation, you probably don’t need hourly updates on the status of a fresh human being who in reality, does very little. I have delivered plenty of eye rolls as I scroll past another photo of a wrinkly newborn with a screwed up face, and, even been known to hit the ‘hide’ or ‘mute’ button as a result. I’ll even go as far as to say that I’ve bet you’ve done the same.
But then, I had a baby. And my viewpoint on it changed.
Whilst I’m not someone who necessarily floods my personal social media with pictures of my son to a permanent feed or grid, my Instagram is parenting focused. My son and other children and other parents are exactly what I do post about (even if not always in photo form). And duh, I run the very parenting website you’re reading this on, so yeah, I post baby and toddler pics. I share daily updates, many with photos, to my Instagram Stories as temporary snapshots for those who follow me; but those who do can choose to view them or not. My personal social media profiles do have some baby/toddler photos, but they’re not a daily occurrence.
Needless to say, none of this (you know… parenting!) was in my life plan. But it has shifted my views on those for whom it was, and those who do choose to post a stream of baby photos.
Where I used to consider baby photos a pain point for those I followed – somewhat under the impression that I was following them, not their kids, DUH – I now don’t feel any annoyance at all.
There wasn’t much time to consider how I would approach posting on social media post-baby when I was expecting. It wasn’t something his father and I discussed. But the first few times I took my son out in his pram or held him in public to give him a cuddle or a bottle, I felt an overbearing sense of pride. I wanted people to see him, because HE WAS FUCKING INCREDIBLE!
Don’t get me wrong, even now he’s firmly camped in the terrible twos, I still think my son is the greatest and most beautiful and cleverest child ever to have lived. What parent doesn’t?! But I like seeing photos of other people’s children too. My perception on it has changed as I realise: I consider raising my son to be the most important job I’ll ever have. His progress and happiness will be the most remarkable achievements I’ll ever make. If others feel the same, or even similarly, then of course they’ll want to post cute pics and progress pics and family pics because… that shit is great. It highlights their successes and their growth.
So maybe my posting of parenting updates and photos is annoying to some. Maybe yours, however frequently you choose to do it are floundering in the likes or losing you connections or attracting eye rolls and exaggerated sighs. But you know what? That’s OK. Those people viewing your photos won’t add anything to their presence online anyway.
When people post content or photos online of subject matter that doesn’t interest us, we don’t need to feel annoyed about it. We can choose to mute or unsubscribe or unfollow or unfriend, of course, but it’s OK too just to understand that your posting baby pics online is as irrelevant to them as their posting motorbike pics. Or cake photos. Or cringy boomer memes that you roll your eyes at. We’re all at different stages of our lives, and we all like different stuff. Providing you’re doing so safely and responsibly, why shouldn’t you post photos of your (sometimes) favourite person?
Those who aren’t interested in baby photos don’t necessarily dislike parents or their children. It feels personal because in the case of posting baby pics online, it’s something you’ve worked mad fucking hard to produce and literally dedicated your life to. It’s just not the content everyone else chooses to follow and consume online – in the same way you follow accounts and content that interests you, and don’t those that don’t. You may find that disconnect between your life and your online friends is temporary, or it may end up being permanent. Either is fine. It will benefit neither of you to force a relationship, online or off, that isn’t productive or mutually valuable.
You should never, and I mean absolutely never, feel the need to dampen down your love for those you do because of others’ thoughts or opinions. Your relationships are yours, your content is yours and your life is yours. Go ahead and post that cute pic, the funny pic, the dribbly pic, the honest pic. Your reality should reflect in your online presence – and while you’re living amongst piles of nappies, bottles and muslin cloths, why not enjoy it?!
The featured image at the top of this blog was taken by Derek Thomson, for Unsplash.