I had trouble coming up with a title to encompass what I want to say/share with this blog post. First, let me preface by saying that these are feeling I have regarding my child, and do what you feel is best for your own family, based on your own beliefs, and family values.
What I’m about to discuss is nothing knew, and, as with everything in this crazy kingdom of parenthood, comes with its own vastly differing opinions. When I had my daughter I had no trouble sharing images of her all over the internet. In fact I could barely wait (as could family members, who begged me). I grew up as a teen in the age of social media emergence (hello, Nexopia account and MSN Messenger), and it is just so normal, to share.
Now its the Social Media Kings that we share on: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. So, I shared. I love social media and the connections you can make, the sense of sisterhood gained in shared everyday experiences. How you can read something that someone else is going through and just relate and say, “Hey, I could have wrote this myself!,” which is so important in that lonely post-partum year, or two, or three. When you’re (mostly) alone with this one little person who can’t walk, talk, or in the beginning even focus their eyes on you, you want to reach out to other mothers, share experiences, find some belonging in a community. Social media is the easiest way. That, and of course everyone’s own baby is the cutest, cleverest, most brilliant baby they’ve ever met (insert wink).
I’ve “met” so many wonderful people by sharing mine and Alba’s stories, and experiences. Our first year was a good one. I have mom friends all over the world (mostly North America), a lot of these due to me sharing, quite openly, Alba’s photos and our experiences. But, the more I shared, and the closer we got to Alba’s 1st Birthday, the more uncomfortable I got with it. The older and more busy Alba got, the more uneasy I became. When the very first thing I hear from people when they see Alba is, “I see you all over Facebook” (or something along those lines), it really is a bit of a wake up. It made me take a good step back.
Children are good medicine. I got a great reminder of this by reading something from a friend who is about to have her own beautiful baby (and will not be sharing images). She reminded me of how sacred children are. Sacred. That word resonated with me. I know Alba is the most sacred thing in my entire world but in my effort to share and curate, I forgot to protect her sacredness. It’s difficult to not want to share her, as she is so beautiful, witty, and only good things for me but she is her own little person. I love photographing her as well but I was taught to keep Ceremony private. Because of my daughter’s sacredness, in a lot of ways she reminds me of Ceremony. All this realization and internal dialogue has made me question a lot of things in terms of Social Media:
- Why do I post? What is the purpose? Who do I post for? Myself? Does posting help me or my loved ones?
- Who is my audience? What is their intentions? Why do they need to see images of my baby? Who sees her images with harmful/negative intentions.
- What can someone do with the information I’ve put online? Birthdays, full names, etc.
- Do I value my daughter’s privacy? She is not a prop. She hasn’t given consent. Will it bother her in the future. Will it impact our future relationship. Will it affect her own relationships with others?
- How much time am I spending on Social Media? Too much. Can that time be better spent? Should I spend my time fostering relationships with the people I see day to day?
I ask you to ask yourself these questions. Think long and hard. Pop the bubble of naivety and rose tinted glasses. It’s not fun, but protecting our children is not supposed to be. I have begun to cut back on what I share. I’ve made my pages private, and am going through my followers list and friends list to make sure I recognize and know who I am sharing with. Originally, on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve accepted nearly every request in an effort to get exposure and meet potential photography clients, so my numbers aren’t small and there’s a lot to go through. Separating private/personal from public is necessary. I’ve very recently deleted my Snapchat in an effort to put the phone down a bit more. I’ve started reading a few more books and journaling. I am reevaluating my use(s) of social media and really trying to pinpoint my why. There is a very real addiction that exists and acknowledging it, knowing that I don’t want it for my daughter means I must break that addiction for myself.
– claudine bull