Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Sharenting...?

I have been bingeing on podcasts recently, especially those produced and hosted by badass and cool women. 

One of my recent favourites was 'Get It Off Your Breasts'; a 'female-led roundtable discussion with a difference', hosted by Emma Gannon and Lliana Bird. Guests literally are invited on to talk about pet hates and specific stresses they are baffled by and/or truly sick of. 

My favourite episodes of this series include those featuring Sara Pascoe, Dawn O'Porter and Konnie Huq. I'd often find myself nodding vigorously as I listened while walking into town with headphones in, or in my bedroom getting dressed and slapping on some extra face. 

But the 3rd episode, in which the angelic Emma and brilliant Lliana chatted with their excellent guest Shappi Khorsandi, was one that really got me thinking. 

The 3 ladies talked about the stigma of being single - and how Shappi is personally done with dating and is ready for a life very much by herself (with her kids). I found that pretty inspiring, as a twenty-something singleton who is often baffling others when she says 'I'm perfectly happy on my own, tbh'...

Then the discussion moved on to how affected we, the public, are and aren't when we hear about celebrity couples breaking up. They agreed (as did I) that while celebrity splits don't bother me, celeb deaths can really hurt. 

And then they touched on another hot topic that I have had a lot of feelings about recently: "sharenting"




Sharenting (verb); the act of sharing updates and photos of one's child on social media - when this child is not necessarily of age to consent to this parental behaviour. 

Yes, I think sharenting is generally, ultimately wrong. But then I like it sometimes, too. Wait, hear me out...

I am 24, and I now have several friends with children. This freaks me the f*ck out, yes, but I also love it a bit. Because while I'm not a broody human, ever, I find it so fascinating and just plain lovely seeing the little people my friends made, living their brand new lives, each morning when I check Insta or Facey B. 
Like, I have one friend who genuinely makes me well up every time she posts a photo of her son (one of the few kids who likes me, and whom I adore) with a caption like 'look at my little human' or even a simple 'I grew him'. 

But then, I am sometimes troubled when I see a friend has posted a full-on shot of their kid's butt in the bath, a group shot of their whole primary school class, or a very not-cute image of the toddler trying to eat neatly but failing dramatically (something I personally find inexplicably disturbing). As with most things in life, there are some things I simply feel should not be for public viewing. 

Shappi mentioned The Doorstep Photo on the podcast. Now, TDP that's taken before they go to their first day of school is standard. Parents have been doing it for years. But then, the photos of my generation in our front gardens wearing the most pristine uniform, or on the walk to school weighed down with our enormous rucksacks, are all tucked away in faded photo albums, the precious nostalgia protected by the individual plastic pockets. These days, the school run photos are put on Facebook for all to see before the kids in the photos even get a look at themselves. (and this is actually kinda dangerous too, if families taking these photos don't blur out school badges!?) More often than not, they won't see a lot of their mums' photos until they come of age - and by that I mean, old enough to create social media accounts. Then their parents might have to start tagging them in all 45,000 pics they've been posting all these years, or link them to the cute hashtag they gave them at birth. 

Yes, sharenting is a little morally ambiguous, and like the GIOYB ladies said, I reckon in just a few years an awful lot of court cases will come up incited by enraged teens who are beyond livid that their rents documented their whole infant lives on Instagram. 
But putting that legal business to one side, there's the plain fact that, well...it can be annoying. 
There. I said it. Again, please hear me out. 

I actually read a Facebook status a while back when my friends had their first kid, saying something like 'I know people get sick of seeing baby photos, but I love my son so much I just wanna show him off!'
And I actually liked that someone was owning up to it, and expressing awareness of what a hideous spam-fest that sharenting can be. 
While I have little patience for those who fill their Instagram grid with nothing but crib shots of their newborns, or pics of their toddlers playing with random household implements, I don't mind it as much when they acknowledge it...and when there's a bit of them in there, too. 

Because really, I start to miss my friends after a while. 

I know that someday soon I'll have made the full transition into the Bridget Jones-esque, unlucky-in-love, drunk-spinster-best-friend character, and I'll be awkwardly holding a different friend's child every other day over coffee while the newly-engaged-parent-friend asks me if I'm 'seeing anyone yet'...but I already feel a bit like that now with the friends who share endless baby photos. I feel like that's their life now, which it sort of is I know, but I get sad seeing them disappear into it. 

I'm not sure how to end this post, which has been part-podcast rec, part-rant. I guess I'll give my final verdict on the recent digital phenomenon that is sharenting: it perplexes me, and at times worries me, but I do like it...within reason. See? Even after that rant, my opinion is still not quite black and white. 

However, I've always known that if/when I have little humans of my own, I won't be sharing photos of them online. Not of their faces, anyway. I made this decision years ago I think, but not just because I want to respect the future 'Mini Me's privacy, but also because I want people to actually make dates with me to meet the kids IRL. I feel the same about getting engaged, actually - if I ever do, I won't announce it on Facebook, or invite people to my engagement party/hen do/baby shower on there either. I want to see friends, face-to-face, and tell them the exciting news. See their (hopefully) happy reactions, first hand. I want to send out paper invites, or just tell them where to be and when over a coffee one day. I don't want to rely on social media to document my whole life (says the freelance Social Media Manager and tweetaholic; shocking, I know). 

Anyone else care to weigh in? Please comment below or tweet me with your thoughts. Maybe you'll help me get a better formed opinion. 


Btw yes, you absolutely can expect a future blog post listing all my favourite podcasts. Keep an eye out for that! 

6 comments

  1. I totally get you. The friend just turns into ‘the parent’ and their profile is lost to an alien race! As their friend is so lovely to see a few photos of their little ones and I know that that is their world now but some people take it too far and it ends up being a take over :) maybe I will feel different when I have children, but I doubt it!

    Great read as per usual! Love you!!! Beth xxx

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    1. Thank you, my gorgeous Beth babe. You totally get it - and me!
      Tbh I cannot wait til you have kids, I'll need to see ALL the pics ALL the time. But also your reading material and your gorgeous face!
      Love you more xxxxxxxxxxx

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  2. I'm only 21, and my friends are all still in Uni, so no friends with kids yet! I'm hoping that my friends won't be the share everything about their kids on social media types, because I get frustrated even when it's just people I follow on Twitter, so I don't know how I'll feel when it's my friends! I swear every time I look at my Twitter feed, someone is having a baby or getting engaged, or getting married and as happy as you are for them, it can be a little depressing to see this all the time and these aren't even people I really know! I just don't get the need to share everything on social media, if I get engaged, I doubt I'll be posting a big announcement on my social media!

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    1. Yep, at 24 seeing so many friends/acquaintances/peers making major life announcements online gets a bit much after a while! Glad it's not just me who thinks this...x

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  3. I'm SO in two minds on this subject because A) I agree that it's an invasion of your childs privacy and what if they don't want their whole life documented online when in years to come their new school friends are traipsing up photos of them in the bath BUT B) I'm a total over-sharer and I think I will REALLY struggle not to be one of those parents hahaha

    It's a tough one! But I 100% agree that school badges etc should be kept out of pics for safety and I don't have a problem with people sharing it all on private accounts with just their friends and family 'cause if those people don't want to see it they can mute/unfollow.

    So basically I'm with you on the whole grey area perception of sharenting haha xxx

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    1. I totally get this; I was chatting with a pal the other day about how I understand sharing pics as long as they're on private accounts, and the kid gets full veto privileges someday.
      I'm in the grey area because I love seeing my friends happy, and learning about their lives. But then, I get so sick of kiddy vids on Insta stories!

      Eeeekkk xoxo

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