I love babies, almost too much. I often have to hold myself back from wrestling my friends’ babies out of their arms, and grabbing newborns in shopping centres. I don’t want to abscond with other people’s bubs – I just want a cuddle, and a sniff of that baby smell.
I never get tired of real life, flesh babies. However, photos of babies are a very different thing entirely.
Of course, I enjoy seeing the very first pictures of newborns, particularly in their ecstatic parents’ arms. And I welcome the occasional update as the baby becomes a toddler. But ‘occasional’ is the operative word here. Any more than the ‘occasional’ photo is tedious at best, and at worst, like an earworm for the eyes.
After all, there are only so many poses that a tiny baby can make. And you certainly can’t cuddle a photo.
SOCIAL MEDIA MINEFIELD
So what do I do when my friends post endless pictures of their offspring on social media? When every single morning I am greeted by pictorial evidence of little Mikey’s first steps, and tiny Bella’s first solid food, and cute Sebastian’s first time on the potty.
And this does happen. I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram, and as my friends are largely parents, I get babies and young children appearing in my feeds about 17,000 times a day. I understand it. I’m a proud parent, too. But after years of motherhood, I understand that no one else is as interested as I am in photos of my kids. No matter how beautiful they are in my eyes – no matter how beautiful they are full stop – they’re not as fascinating to my friends as a news story, or a funny meme about a cat. So do I explain this fact to enthusiastic parents who just don’t get it? Do I tell them that their photos are tiresome? Of course I don’t. It’s rude and hurtful, and parents struggle enough as it is without being criticised for oversharing.
HIDE AND SEEK
What’s more, it’s completely unnecessary to ask parents to post less photos of their kids. After all, we don’t have to look at pictures we don’t like. We are in control of our own eyes, and we can just scroll down to find more stimulating posts, and ignore the ones that don’t appeal.
And if we’re really fed up with the 87th picture of Freddy’s first day at school, we can simply hide the posts, and just like that, the pictures disappear. We don’t have to unfriend, or offend, or pretend. No one needs to ever know.
I have hidden the Facebook feeds of a few oversharing parents over the years. Still, even if I do ignore pictures of Freddy and Bella, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in their welfare. And if I see them on the street, I’ll be the first one jumping in for a cuddle.
I’ll probably take a photo of the occasion, too. Feel free to ignore it if you like. I certainly would if I were you