Before I had a baby, I used to roll my eyes a bit (OK, quite a lot) at people who endlessly shared pics of their children on social media. I mean, everyone loves to see pictures of newborns and there’s nothing nicer than congratulating someone who’s just pushed a small person out of their bits. But the endless pictures clogging up my FB feed of kids in fancy dress, on their first day at school, eating a piece of toast etc etc did get a bit tiresome. For the uninitiated, the media calls this ‘sharenting’ – smug journos do love a portmanteau.
I always swore I’d never be like that if I had a baby.
HA HA HA.
When Daph was first born, Oli and I had a Very Serious Discussion about whether or not we would upload pictures of her to Facebook etc. We both agreed that we’d rather not (Oli is ridiculously private about everything which is quite tricky when you’re a singer with fans – he gets some lovely emails from folk who always want to know more about him). But then when she was first born, obviously I blogged about it (given that I blogged throughout pregnancy it would have been a bit weird not to), and then put up an album on FB because – genuinely! – people asked to see pics (it’s only for friends and family right, so allowed?) and then before I knew it I was non-stop Instagramming her.
Because to me, of course, she’s the most beautiful baby that ever lived and I find so much pleasure in taking and looking at pics of her that I just want to share this pleasure with the world. The fact that the world does not feel the same way about her as I do does not really compute. It’s like a weird compulsion. And Oli, private though he is, is also her adoring parent and so when I put up pics of her on Instagram and show him, he smiles his mushy smile and we both bask in a wave of oxytocin, our first conversation long forgotten.
But I do realise now that I’ve started to sharent. My god, I even blog about her. Although I really hope blogging is slightly different as I hope that my posts about baby-related things actually help mothers in similar situations. They’re less about showing off and more about solidarity. And also, a way for me to look back on this time and remember stuff that I will inevitably have forgotten. At least, that’s my intention.
I read an article this weekend about how kids these days have a digital footprint before the age of one, and it really got me thinking. Am I invading Daph’s privacy by plastering her all over the internet before she’s old enough to consent? Am I behaving as though I ‘own’ her? Is it actually really selfish? But then again, seeing as most people do it is it actually no big deal? Considering some parents make a living vlogging about their babies is what I’m doing relatively insignificant? Will babies whose parents didn’t put up images of them online grow up feeling insecure and unloved? I am so in two minds. I have never pinned pics of her because the idea of someone repinning pictures of my baby creeps me out, but then again anyone can pin them from this blog should they wish (please don’t!). I started watermarking some images of her before uploading them but then got lazy. I thought about doing that thing of only shooting her from behind or out of focus but… but… but… that means you don’t get to see HER BEAUTIFUL FACE! I also thought maybe I’d just stick to only putting photos of her on FB and not on Instagram but then I might as well delete my Insta account because let’s be honest, I have a baby under one, my whole life at the moment revolves around her.
It’s a conundrum. I wish I could ask Daph want she thinks and it’s frustrating that the generation of babies whose parents have been oversharing them since they were just an ultrasound picture aren’t quite old enough yet to let us know how they feel about it. I take some solace in the fact that I can delete the pics I have put up of her at any time – I’ve never used images of her in a professional capacity.
I would LOVE to know your thoughts on this topic – please leave me a comment if you’re a parent and let me know what you’ve decided to do and why. For now, Oli and I have tentatively agreed to stop posting images of her (at least on public sites such as my blog and Instagram) once she turns one. I’m not sure why but it feels like a good cut off – after this point she’s no longer a baby (sniff) and more her own person. I just hope I have the willpower…