Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Facebook’s Skewed Perspective April 1, 2011

As much fun as I had profiling some of great Cheroes, it’s time to get back to regular programming, and as usual, there’s no shortage of material.

 

In the news this week was a warning from doctors about teen depression and Facebook. Listed among the “unique aspects of Facebook that make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate” were the “in-your-face status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times,” leaving some kids to “feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up.”

 

If you’re childless-not-by-choice and spend any time at all on Facebook, these painful feelings might sound all too familiar. There’s nothing quite like a pregnancy announcement or cute kid pictures to remind you of what you don’t have.

 

But take heart!

 

The report is very quick to point out that Facebook “provides a skewed perspective of what’s really going on.” I think that’s true. While there are some people who clearly don’t give a second (or even a first) thought to what they post on Facebook, I know that I am very aware of how many people can read my posts and the different levels of “friendship” I have out there. Because of this, I’m always careful to manage my public persona.

 

If I’m having a crappy day and life is just the pits, I stay off Facebook; I don’t post my misery to the world. On the other hand, the pictures I do post are usually of my best days, out in the sunshine, with my husband, in some exciting locale, living a dream life!

 

I think that the majority of people post this way – we put our best Facebook faces forward – so it’s easy to look at a small sliver, a snapshot of someone else’s life and see it as perfect. In other words, it’s easy to look at a portrait of a happy family or read a jubilant pregnancy announcement and perceive that someone else has EVERYTHING we want.

 

But life just isn’t as simple as that.

 

If you’re at the stage in your journey where seeing some else’s children or baby news tips you over the edge, I strongly recommend giving Facebook the elbow for a while. But that’s just my opinion. There’s been a really great discussion on the forums about how to deal with Facebook. Take a look to see how other readers dealing with it.

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12 Responses to “Facebook’s Skewed Perspective”

  1. Rach Says:

    i learnt a long time ago that there are just some things and some people that i can’t handle reading about or from on facebook.

    unfortunately if someone becomes pregnant or has a baby i don’t unfriend them, they just get hidden from my feed – i KNOW that i can’t log on everyday and read their “happy news” or “9 long months of every kick, roll and ultrasound pic” or how “billy rolled over for the first time today!” – it’s called self preservation.

    it’s not that i don’t like these people anymore, my heart just can’t handle hearing how their lives panned out as planned and mine hasn’t – i know it hasn’t, i do not need to be reminded of it.

    and speaking of facebook i WISH that those stupid viral status updates that people just repost and repost til i have bloody 20 of them one after another in my feed – updates like this :

    “A mother thinks about her children day & night, even when they are grown. A mother loves her children in a way that they will never understand until they are parents themselves. A Mum will be there for her children when no one else will. A Mum would take a bullet, stand in front of a train, & ask God to take her instead of her child. If you have children that you love as much as I love mine, repost.”

    enough already!!!

  2. Isolde Says:

    Facebook is like smoking or any self-destructive habit. You know it’s bad for you, you really do, but you feel that if you leave, you won’t know what to do with yourself.
    I find Facebook the most useless thing in the history of internet. I stopped using it in early 2010 and never missed it. The freedom one feels when that chunk is pulled out from your life is like no other. I spent way too much time on it and suddenly I realized how awkward and sad it all was.

    Friends conducting their relationship in public, leaving messages on each other’s wall, and babies of course, women who disappear behind their kids pictures.. like they ceased to exist alltogether, endless drivel…

    I often think that it would be a drag to be a teenager in this day and age, even to be a younger woman dating. I think that if Facebook existed when I had my first heartbreak I wouldn’t have survived. I might have become a stalker and a masochist.

    In summary: Facebook is evil. really, I don’t mean this in fanatic way.. it’s just that I find it really truly incredibly depressing that people have developed this need of shoving their lives on to a screen, like if they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist at all. It’s such a strong belief, it’s right up there with any religious one..

  3. Lu Says:

    It’s so true that most of the time, Facebook posts are about how wonderful everything is. I had a couple of “friends” who only post about their kids and pregnancies that I have hidden because I couldn’t take it anymore.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I just found your blog and am a new follower. You can probably imagine how excited I am to find someone writing about things that most of my friends can’t understand. I’ll be a regular reader from now on – thank you!

  5. Kathryn Says:

    FB has been like a miracle for me in some ways. I am not close with one of my sisters, and she has 6 kids. I’ve never known them at all. So FB lets me keep up with what the kids are doing, and hubby and i even flew one of them out to visit with us last summer. That child had made a real effort thru FB to connect with us. That never would have happened without FB.

    That said, however, FB has its real challenges for me. Some days i can handle it fine, other days i tend to respond (internally not on posts) with a bitter, snarky voice. I think what i find most difficult is my 21 YO niece’s posts on her daughter, now 6 months old. “Being a mama so enriches my life,” “My little girl is growing up!” (at 4 months old), & many more. I’ve a friend who also has a baby the same age, & her posts rarely effect me as much. Part of it, i think, is that my niece is so much like her mama (rather narcissistic) & very, very immature.

    So for me it is hard to know where to draw the line. FB has had its wonderful side, but it also can be a constant annoyance, too. I find the annoyance not just about children but also on attitudes about a number of things, or my SIL’s tendency to say cryptic things like: “Feel like shutting down…” or “I love being excited about something!!!” and then never give the rest of the story or even refuse if you ask. I also hate the “If you love Jesus you will repost … 98% of people don’t” Jesus knows i love him but i hate spam and manipulation!

    • lmanterfield Says:

      I’m with you on keeping up with nieces and nephews. I especially love it when one of my brothers or S-I-Ls tells me something and I can say, “Oh, I already know all about that.” 🙂

  6. Iris D Says:

    I’ve been through periods where I’ve been more active posting on fb, but not so much at all lately. I think what I like about it is having the opportunity to find friends I lost touch with a very long time ago and would have otherwise been unable to reach them again. It is nice to know I can now send these people a quick message now and again. I have a few friends that post interesting links to articles/videos, I like sending a quick birthday wish to acquaintances, but I have also “unfriended” people when I’ve found their views to be offensive/bigotted, and I’ve hidden a few as well.

  7. Illanare Says:

    I love FB (mainly because I love playing Scrabble on it) and tend to log on to it each day. But, like Rach, I do hide the feeds of people I know I can’t face.

  8. Mali Says:

    I love Facebook too, because it allows me to keep in touch with my niece in London, and my old AFS friends from 30 years ago, and some of my internet blogging friends (though we tend to blog more than FB, so as one of them just said today, we must be dinosaurs).

    I don’t use it to keep in touch with people I don’t know very well, or don’t want to correspond with these days. I’m very cautious about who I “friend.” And perhaps I’m lucky, or perhaps I’m just old, but I don’t have friends posting too many scan or baby photos or updates. Though the grandma updates might start. But when I have seen scans as updates (sometimes as friends of friends) I still cringe.

  9. Elena Says:

    a while ago i posted as my fb-status: “Still waiting for fb to install a baby-photo-filter”.
    i hoped this was humourus way of commenting on people’s extreme posting of baby phots – but that they would still get the message.

    A friend – with whom i hadn’t met in many years, more of an old acquaintance – immediately recognized my post for what it was: a fair share of bitterness from someone wanting a child and not being able to conceive…
    via private messages on fb, she then told me that she had mainly divorced from her first husband because they hadn’t been able to make that second child she had been waiting for and that was what had become the main reason for this marriage to break up.
    Well i’d always thought that she’d divorced him because he was such a jerk :-).
    It didn’t help of course that she’s now married the 2nd time and produced two more children with her new husband.

    But i found it an amazing experience: It needed me to have the courage to post something on fb not so terribly positive and happy. but it got me and my friend from old times immediately talking about something so very personal that we would probably never have talked about it, since we were never that close. and it was really amazing that she immediately understand where i was coming from with my post.

  10. Tara Says:

    You know what they say ‘The grass is always greener on the other side cause it’s fertilized with BS!’


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