This mom has taken over 15,000 photos of her baby, but you won’t see any of them on Facebook.
“What? You have a baby?” Amanda shouted to me over Facebook messenger.
“Yes! Actually, he’s two years old!” I wrote back.
“OMG! How did I not know this? How could I have missed this on Facebook?”
“Ha! That’s because I didn't post pregnancy or baby photos on social media.”
I’ve taken over 15,000 photos of my little boy, and like every new mother, I think he is the most gorgeous kid on the planet. Yet, if you ask any of my thousand or so Facebook friends if I have a baby, most would say no, unless I talk to them on a regular basis. I’ve posted maybe three photos of him, all artistic shots where you can’t see his face.
You would think as a photographer and reporter, I would eagerly post his pictures, but the idea makes me uneasy for a variety of reasons.
The first is security. As a reporter, I have been able to dig up so much information on people simply by checking out their social media profiles. Everyone shares so much and most platforms are so insecure that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for in a matter of minutes. People can learn more from a single photo than you would imagine. For example, something as simple as posting a photo of your kid on a soccer field wearing the team logo can tell someone where to find you and your child on a weekly basis.
Another reason I avoid posting is more emotional—three of my closest friends have struggled with fertility, and have shared their painful stories of endless failed attempts of IVF. Each one told me how seeing ultrasounds and baby photos on social media broke their hearts and brought them to tears. It wasn’t that they were unhappy for their friends, it was about them wondering, “Will I ever be able to have the family I’ve always dreamed about?” Their pain made me think a little more deeply about how my posts affect other people.
After another friend accused me of trying to hide my baby, I wondered, when did social media take over our lives? Why is this the only way to communicate? What happened to calling friends on the telephone, or even sending a card with his photo on it? Why did every part our personal lives have to be observed online by family, friends, and even strangers?
As a photographer, I love capturing those special shots and sharing them, but I do it on my own terms. Every few months I take a few photos of my little boy and print them on cards and send to family and friends as a more personal way of connecting. Also, I use a monthly service to print out cell phone photos, and I create my own photo books online. There is something so special about flipping through a real photo album as opposed to flipping through photos on your phone.
That said, the world of social media is an easy way to keep in touch, but all those silly, funny stories I want to share play out much better in a conversation in person or on the phone. In a time where technology rules the day, it might be easier to use social media, but for me “Likes” are not as gratifying as hearing my sister laugh or seeing a friend smile about an exceptional moment I want to share.
Most of my friends know how I feel about posting photos, but on a rare occasion my little guy will appear in a photo or two from a birthday party or event. I realize I can’t control everything, so I just make sure I’m not tagged in the photo. That way, unless you know us, he’s just another kid having fun in a picture.
I might change my mind one day, or he might ask me to post some photos, so my rules are not set in stone. The truth is, just like everyone else, I’m figuring this out as I go along, and am following my instincts. My plan is to guide him towards being in the moment and focusing on what he is doing—hopefully that will involve studying, sports, and having fun with friends. If and when he chooses to be on social media, we will cross that bridge when we get there.
I’ve gotten to be a part of the social media experiment and made my own choices on what to post and who to connect with online. However, because my life existed before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I’ve built up real friendships where plane trips, cards, and telephone calls were all methods of keeping in touch. I’ve learned how to communicate the old-fashioned way, and I think that is valuable. But the bottom line is I decide who, what, where, and when to express myself. I’ve been allowed to chart my own path, blaze my own trail, and create my own image.
Why would I deny that to my little guy? Shouldn’t he make his own choices and decide who sees what about him on his own terms?