I Deleted My Kids from Social Media
I just spent half the day on a getaway with my husband deleting all identifiable pictures of my girls from Facebook and Instagram. This is something that has been weighing on my mind for a while and a few weeks ago I was listening to a speaker talk about Joy and how to maintain joy in your life. One of the things she brought up as a "joy stealer" was social media. People only post their best, most filtered self and even though I know this, I would still have moments of jealousy or "I should do/look like/be like that." If you know me, you may be thinking "uh Jo, you do the same thing!" Which is completely true. I think it's only natural. I even found myself going out of my way to do something because it would make a great instagram post. This speaker talked about really thinking about why you're posting that picture. Why? I think a lot of parents rightfully have a huge sense of pride about their children and I am definitely one of them. But I found myself posting pictures because I wanted other moms to see how great my kids were and I didn't feel like that was the best space to be in.
The last pictures I had posted were a number of pics from a trip to the pumpkin patch. The motivation for taking the pictures was to have pictures of my girls doing fall activities and because I wanted to be in some with them. My motivation for posting them was so that everyone would know that I took them to the pumpkin patch. And then I thought - who cares? Really who cares? The answer is that grandparents, family members, and close friends absolutely want to see every single picture taken, but that's really about it. Of course not so close friends probably think "oh cute" while scrolling through their Facebook feed and may even react or comment, but they may not have otherwise been thinking of us at all. It felt like I was following a trend more than anything else and I didn't like that, and I didn't like that it felt like I was using my girls for that. I like the idea of running into friends and when they ask "what's new" they really don't know and genuinely care about the answer.
Then the hubby and I were away on vacation when I had the thought that maybe it isn't the best idea to be sharing every moment of my girls' childhood on social media. As more and more stories are coming out about random cyber people saving photos and doing god knows what with them, I began to get a little uncomfortable with it. I was able to mostly brush that off, but then what about all those news stories about kids suing their parents because of the lack of privacy of their childhood?
It's hard because we live in an age of social media where it is the norm to share every moment of your life, but do I also need to be sharing every moment of my child's life? Full disclosure my girls are 34 and 15 months old, and up until last week I was sharing a lot of their moments on facebook and instagram, a lot. So there's a 34 month history of their lives floating around on the internet and it took the better part of the day to delete them all. What really motivated me was thinking about how I would feel about my life being documented and posted for everyone to see. Yes my accounts are private but the majority of my "followers" are not people that I regularly see in real life that would otherwise know what my kids are up to, let alone what they dressed up as for Halloween. I can imagine as a teenager that my mom's friend coming up to me and telling me I looked beautiful in my costume would totally creep me out. So this became my main motivation. There's so much information anyone could have gathered on my profile including my girls' names, ages, birth dates, location, likes, and dislikes and I'm not sure how smart that is. The girls are little and cute now and obviously don't know what's happening with the pictures I'm taking, but one day they will and I don't know how they'll feel about being on display for the world to see.
I'm unsure of what the world and the internet are going to look like in the future. Perhaps this will put them behind somehow by not having their lives documented on social media. But going out to restaurants I'll look around and see more than half the people staring down at their phone or having it set on the table. That's not what I want for my girls. I want them to hold a conversation with other people and to look up and be present in the world around them. I want them to enjoy real life and not need other people to "like" their photos or comments to feel worthy. I'm still not exactly sure how I'm going to instill that part...but for now I'm starting with keeping their lives private until they are old enough choose otherwise.
*Please know that I in no way am judging others who do choose to share their children on social media. I love seeing my friends pictures and videos on a daily basis (hypocritical maybe?)! Everyone has to make their own parenting choices and I don't think there's one right answer. This is what we are choosing for our family right now.