From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com
A recent CNN opinion piece, “Facebook threatens to ‘Zuck up’ the human race“, by Andrew Keen, got me thinking about my own dependence on social media. My husband sent me the article, thanks honey.
Step one is admitting you have a problem. I love my iPhone. I was late to the iPhone game, but it has quickly become an important accessory. I find that if I’ve accidentally left it at home when I go out, I feel irritated and cut off. And I don’t just use it as a phone. I check my email and Facebook throughout the day. It’s so easy; I just click on the little app and I can see my messages, pictures my family and friends have posted, and what the girl in my 10th grade English class made for dinner. Ok, so maybe that is something I could live without.
I like to think Facebook keeps me connected; and to some extent it does. Two of my cousins had babies around the same time I did and we share photos and encouraging comments. But I haven’t picked up the phone to actually call them, well, maybe ever.
And then there are the vacation photos of distant friends that make me feel pangs of jealousy: a smiling couple lounging by an ocean-side pool in an exotic locale with fruity drinks. They look like they’re having so much fun; they’re so interesting and thin and rich and blah blah blah. Sometimes I like to imagine the dozens of really awkward, ugly pictures they had to weed through to get to that one shining, jealousy-inducing example, or the really horrible relationship-ending fight they got into right afterwards. I know; I have a problem.
An ABC news article published back in January, “Facebook: Friends’ Happy Pictures Make You Sad?“, by Matthew Rosenbaum, refers to a study done at Utah Valley University. “The more time students spent on Facebook, the more they thought others had it better than they did.” I’ll admit to feeling this way. I sometimes feel a little tied down, and wish that I too could go lounge on a beach with a fruity drink. Especially when it’s 1 pm and I haven’t found the time to shower yet.
But my concern about how Facebook is affecting me isn’t nearly as important to me as how it may be affecting my daughter.
Keen refers to an article written by Aisha Sultan and Jon Miller for CNN, “Facebook parenting.” They write that “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.”
Yikes. I’ve thought people were over-sharing in the past, especially reality TV celebrities, and imagined what their children might say about it when they’re old enough to care. And I try to keep my postings about Baby limited to cute photos and laments about my lack of sleep. But I am making a choice for her, however innocuous I may feel it is. What will it be like for the first generation of Facebook babies when they run for political office? Will pictures of them covered in goo somehow factor into debates and, hee hee, smear campaigns?
But that’s a long way away. How is it affecting Baby now? For one, she thinks my phone is the bee’s knees and tries to stick in her mouth every chance she gets. And why shouldn’t she? Momma seems to think it’s pretty great.
After Baby was born, and I found myself stuck for hours every day in a chair nursing her, or rocking her back to sleep every two hours in the middle of the night, I discovered that checking Facebook was a great distraction because it only required one hand and half my concentration. I know, I’m supposed to stare lovingly into my daughter’s eyes every time I nurse her. But I’m with her 24/7 and there’s really only so much of that you can do, or I could do anyway. I began interacting with Facebook more and I developed quite an expansive community on Forestville. Take that fruity-drink-enjoying-beach-goers.
So Baby has grown up watching me attached to this phone. Yesterday I put it down. My new resolution is to try not to use it in front of her whenever possible. I can’t promise that I won’t post silly pictures of her doing cute things (and ones that are shot from my best angle), but it’s a start. Oh, and write a blog about her….