The Breeders: Your Mom is on Facebook

If you think I post a lot of pictures of the kid on Facebook, you should see the online photo gallery.

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.

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Li_ November 11, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I went to Facebook because that is where my kids post their photos of my family. Even living in the same town doesn't mean I actually get to see my family members in person. This way, they get to do what they need to do, posting pictures all the while and I get to gaze lovingly at them with warm fuzzy thoughts for much longer than they can sit still for. Win,win! As for the OMG my mother might see . . . Well, I know exactly whose genes my kids have so, "been there done that" sorta comes into play, ya know?
Mark Irons November 11, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Hi Stephanie, I was initially drawn to your blog because of the tag line about Alameda being "where hipsters come to breed" complete with references to tattoos. ( I was tattooed by Ed Hardy before he discovered the textile industry, woo-hoo for me right?) That tag line made me realize that we were sort of an early wave of the same, but perhaps some sort of unwitting pioneers. There is a certain symmetry too, since out youngest left for college this year. When we moved here in 1991 it would have been great for us in many ways if the demographic had been a little more like it is now in terms of culture, peers , restaurants etc. but actually that is an insult to what a great place with great people Alameda was in 1991. Much gained and many things lost too ( trees). And one thing Alameda and the world gained in that time is social networking including Facebook. While you are young enough to have caught up with the "kids" you were tutoring, my wife and I are just old enough to be lagging badly. We opened accounts just so we could go to our sons' Facebook pages, but of course the younger one wouldn't "friend us" or allow any access. Interestingly to me , after a couple years he closed his account because he thought it as superfluous as we do.
Mark Irons November 11, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Part Two: The older kid is in NYC trying to make it as an actor so for him maintaining Facebook if a practical necessity. And as college freshman the younger has revived his account for practical reasons because it is an assumption by even the college institution that Facebook is a fact of student existence. Maybe before we become grandparents, if that were to occur, one of the youngsters will finally tutor us, but for now I'm happy to be that old intransigent dog who eschews new tricks and added clap trap. Got to say that photo sharing is about one practical for Facebook I can relate to, but we seldom take any. I know, how boring are we?. Twitter? I just can't go there, though I have seen that a lot people like NY Times media critic David Carr said that while they initially saw no use for it, it does serve them in their work. Congrats again on discovering Alameda and making it a more interesting place.art Two:


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