Why We Love Posting Baby Pictures Online, But Hate Seeing Others Post Them
I HATE baby pictures. Absolutely hate them. One lousy scroll on any social media news feed of mine and I will, without a shadow of a doubt, see a photo of a baby (or two) doing something redundant.
In case you haven't guessed by now, no. I don't have a kid (yet). So, I guess if you're passionate about these baby photos, you can easily dismiss me because I can't "relate."
But seeing as I'm not a big social media poster myself – I've had the same Facebook profile image for the better half of the decade – I doubt that, aside from milestones, I will be posting any intimate photo series that features my baby eating corn niblets with their hands.
Honestly, nobody really gives a shit about that unless you're close friends or family. In other words, that's a very small percentage of your social media contacts.
I'm not hating on babies at all. Babies are adorable. Having one is monumental, and nothing short of a blessing.
I'm just saying that I don't need a daily update of your kid in a stroller by your garden. Nobody does.
I don't need a daily update of your kid in a stroller by your garden. Nobody does.
When a good friend of mine recently announced her pregnancy, I begged her to not become “one of those moms” who post pictures of their kids every day. She assured me she wouldn't.
So far, she's kept that promise. She still posts pictures, of course. But she's not making a career out of it.
So, I guess my question is this: Why do so many new parents have this collective need to post a billion pictures of their children? Could it be that by posting these images, parents are looking for some easy interactions through their photos (like likes)?
Is this a way to seek fulfillment in a space where parenthood can seem like a prison... in the social sense? I mean, people who don't have or want kids aren't taking pictures of their jobs all day. So, why is the baby picture so alluring to new parents?
To consult, I spoke to Dr. Wendy O'Connor, a licensed marriage and family therapist. She believes that the reasons we post baby pictures online vary among generations.
Specifically, the reasons Gen-X (our parents) used to post baby pictures differ from the reasons Gen-Y (us) does.
O'Connor believes that because technology is a new and exciting prospect for Baby Boomers, there aren't really a lot of boundaries for them. This all boils down to their lack of knowledge about the internet.
O'Connor uses the notion that this generation tends to project a “fantasy Facebook lifestyle” in order to compete with others online.
“It almost doesn't matter about the baby as much as the competition at times. It's more about the response of attention-seeking,” she insists.
[It's] not that they don't love their babies, but the baby is used as more of a prop or a validation that they are good parents and need that credibility.
Millennials, on the other hand, were raised with technology. So, in turn, we document our lives most of the time.
“Again, the baby itself takes a backseat to the narcissistic traits of needing validation as a good parent,” O'Connor says. “That seems harsh, but this generation is learning how to maneuver through life balancing real life and online relationships.”
Essentially, we use technology for both social and self-fulfillment. It just so happens that when a baby is born, the majority of that energy is then projected onto the baby, who serves as a catalyst for parents seeking attention.
Now, let's address the haters: There are reasons why some people hate seeing pictures of babies on their social media feeds.
O'Connor says that baby pictures can strike personal chords with people. “It could be frustrations with personal life stages, like pressure for someone to have a kid or a lack of self-worth.”
It can be that someone hates kids. Or again, it could tap into that competition thing. Maybe on Facebook, it looks like this person has the picture-perfect family. However, behind closed doors, you know someone is a raging alcoholic, in serious debt or sleeps in a separate bedroom.
So, there you have it, folks. Generational discrepancies aside, internet over-sharers all appear to have one thing in common: They're attention-seekers, and they seek said attention through the impersonal affirmations that social media provides (likes, comments, views, etc).
When a baby is born, this sensation is amplified; not only because you adore your child, but because kids are a lot of work and pretty much take up all of your time. They're also cute, and cute gets likes. Lots of them.
It's understandable that new parents will post baby pictures. Social media is about sharing various aspects of your life with others, and a baby is just that.
But don't post so much that your contacts feel it's a chore or obligation to interact with images of your child. Save photos like these for milestones, like birthdays or first steps.
Over-sharing photos of your children makes you akin to the people who post a gallery's worth of selfies, where all the images are the same except for the degree to which the head is tilted.
You are, in a way, using your child to give credit to your online persona. Do you want your child to be regarded in that same way?
No, of course you don't. Those people are the worst.