The first time I saw someone “poke” another person I was looking over the shoulder of a 19-year-old sophomore I was tutoring. Rather than writing a paper on Machiavelli she was alerting her softball teammate, who was next to her also not writing a paper for English 1A, that Melissa and Ryan were in fact dating — it was official on Facebook.
Instead of chastizing her for being off task, I was appalled (at the ripe old age of 26) that the youth of today were getting real-time updates on each other’s love lives. “Isn’t it weird to find out stuff like that on the internet?” I asked. “Um, no ... old, out of touch, grad student.”
Okay, she didn’t say that last bit ... but, at that point, only college kids were even allowed on Facebook, and I really didn’t need to know about my students’ partying.
I didn’t create an account until Facebook opened to people without a .edu email address, and I had to do so for work — when it became not just a place to keep tabs on your ex, but to promote projects and share news. As it became more popular and my friends joined, I made friends through it, and yes kept tabs on their love lives. But, then I had to figure out how to keep it both useful and appropriate for work and my social life.
And then everyone joined Facebook. Everyone. Not, just your friends, and your ex, and your boss, but your mom. Not only did you need to make sure to hide questionable photos from your boss, but your parents — and you had to hope they didn’t talk about your childhood underwear on the internet where your boss could read it.
My experience was a little different. I actually had to convince my mom to create an account and was only successful because shortly after she joined she wasn’t just mom but grandma. Now I am the “mom on Facebook” - and new moms (and dads) have a whole new online persona to figure out. Namely, how not to end up on STFU Parents.
Among the before the kid was born, and I laid some ground rules for our post-baby social media habits. We agreed that we would never share the contents of his diapers, naked baby butts (though they are ridiculously cute), change our profiles pictures to pictures of only our kid (though we don’t judge if you want to), and we wouldn’t complain about our kids on the internet. Then we wondered how much was too much? How many adorable pictures? How many milestones? How many hilarious quotes? We decided we’d figure it out as we went.
Then the kid was born, and he is adorable, and his milestones are many. The first few weeks were a veritable avalanche of baby photos. Too many? Maybe.
Not all of our friends have babies, but we are suddenly a fertile group and they are multiplying, so I’m sure for some folks it can be a little weird to suddenly see a feed full of rosy cheeked cherubs (and weird little alien old men when they are fresh out of the oven) when just last year it was all pictures of parties and exotic vacations. But, our friends are a creative and generous bunch so half (OK, maybe less than half) of the pictures I’m tagging with the person who designed or picked out the kid’s onesie as a sign of appreciation.
There is also that whole co-worker factor — do they really want to see that many pictures of my kid? Maybe not, but that is a pretty fertile group too, and since those at the top of the organizational ladder put pictures up of their kids I think I’m okay.
In the end, I’ve decided to be selective, but still pretty prolific — why? Because Grandma is on Facebook. What started for college kids and added twenty-somethings, and then coworkers has evolved into a place to for everyone - including Grandma, Great Uncle, second cousins and my first-grade teacher (no really, I tagged her in the picture of the kid cuddled up in the adorable blanket she knitted for him), and they all demand pictures of their darling boy.
Also, Facebook is a place to share who you are. Sure you can sculpt your personal brand, but my online persona isn’t that far off of who I am in real life, and now who I am is a mom — a mom on Facebook. I figure if people don’t want to see that many pictures of the kid they can unsubscribe from my feed or just follow me on Twitter — though you’ll still get links to my mommy blog.