That Whole “Sharents” Thing

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You’d expect me to have an opinion on this, right? A couple of articles are doing the rounds about “sharents” -parents who share too much on social media. I’m not even going to discuss that word. I mean, I love a ridiculous blended word but that one? No.

My first thought was – why are we picking on parents yet again? It’s been like open season on us lately. Isn’t it the elderly’s turn yet? I’m aware that by growing another human inside me, I automatically also grew a mod symbol on my forehead, with the words “Daily Mail aim here” next to it but this is just getting boring now. Yes, parents share a lot on social media but so does everyone. It’s kinda the point of social media. My child’s nappy is no more disgusting than someone else’s blood blister…and at least I don’t post photos of that (Sorry Lottie, it was an obvious example 😉 )

Everyone shares. Some people choose to share their bigoted views on muslims. Some choose to share their fantasies about killing their bosses. I share hilarious anecdotes about bodily fluids. Again I say, it’s how social media works.

Because understanding how social media works is a key thing that these articles keep on getting wrong. They talk about parents sharing on “facebook, twitter and blogs”. Hold up, aren’t those three different things? For me, facebook is where I share the mundanity of my life as a WAHM (work at home mum), in the vain hope that someone else with similar issues will be online at the same time as me, and we can sympathise with each other. Been up all night with a teething baby? It’s nice to know that someone else is squeezing the end of that bonjela tube too. Stuck under a sleeping baby and needing a pee? Someone else will be too, and you can race to see which pelvic floor collapses first. If my status updates don’t interest you, they’re probably not intended for you.

My blog is different. The things I write on here may seem like incoherent rambles, but they tend to have slightly more point than my facebook updates. And occasionally there might be something in there that helps someone else do something. Like visit a paddling pool. And here, no-one is forcing anyone to read. If you’re reading this, it’s because somewhere along the line you chose to click on it. The link may have appeared in your Facebook feed, but no-one held a shredder to your comic collection and made you read.

Twitter I use for blatant self-promotion and to talk to the one friend who’s not on facebook. Nuff said.

So, have we got the point yet? These things are different? It’s a bit ignorant to accuse bloggers of the kind of oversharing that happens on facebook. And it’s wrong to accuse facebookers of sharing things “with the world” when they’re just sharing with selected people. Take the issue of sharing pictures of your kids on facebook – if you do it, is it possible that they’ll be seen by a paedophile? Yes. Anything is possible. But if that paedophile is among your friendslist, then they’ve probably met your kids in real life anyway. Best not to worry about it too much.

Which leads me onto…how much does any of it matter, really? You may be “creating your child’s virtual identity” but how much does it really matter? There are obvious cases where keeping your children anonymous is important – if you have an abusive ex, for example, or if you’ve upset a dangerous Nigerian cult. But you pretty much know whether you fall into those categories or not, right? And if you’re the kind of person that can upset a dangerous Nigerian cult without really knowing it then yes, you probably should stay away from social media.

IMG-20121103-01673One example an article gave was – what if your child became Prime Minister one day and photos emerged of him as a baby, with spaghetti on his head? (Let’s not question why a future PM is automatically a man) I mean, what would that say? Err, that he was a baby once? Aren’t most people? Believe me, if your kid is going to be a politician, he will embarrass himself in far more serious ways than that.

Cause here’s the bottom line – it doesn’t matter what you do when you’re three. I dismissed one article before I’d even started reading because it worked on the assumption that no parent would ever have carried out their threat to show a teenage child’s love interest their nudey baby pictures. The article suggested this would be both ghastly and humiliating. But my parents showed my boyfriends the nudey baby pictures, and we all survived. In fact, I welcomed the nudey-baby-photo showing as a distraction from my drunk Uncle Gerry hollering abuse at aforesaid boyfriends and trying to dance with them. Parents will always embarrass their kids, this is just a different medium. My nieces and nephews were babies at the dawn of the internet, and my sister used to send us photos by e-mail, along with the funny things Nat had said that day. They’re all now old enough to potentially be embarrassed by that kind of stuff and guess what? They don’t care. They like to
hear what they did as babies, and the internet has given us ways of recording that more efficiently. I was stumped on the date of Reuben’s first steps until I checked back over my Facebook statuses. Maybe one day he’ll thank me for that.

But the real issue I have with these articles? They’re dour. They’re tabloid-esque, making an issue of something to satisfy some kind of gloom-mongering urge that these people have. And that’s just not me, sorry.  One article asked – “Are we sharing these updates for the child’s own good or for the comedy?”

The comedy. It’s always about the comedy. Glad we got that one cleared up…

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