I felt compelled today to write a post in response to this post on The Stir website titled “Your Pregnancy Updates on Facebook are TMI”. Before going any further, I want to stress that I like The Stir, and this is not intended to be a critical review of the post; rather, it is more an analysis of how I feel about the topic.
The author Jenny Benjamin’s profile cites her as an “LA-based writer who…(covered) sex tips”, and she self-describes, “I never thought I’d be the girl who gabs about tummy creams and swollen feet, but now that I’m knocked up with identical twin boys (pause for audible gasp), I’ve become obsessed with all things pre-natal.”
Interesting that with a profile like this that she has a rather negative view of other moms that share information and feelings about their pregnancies on Facebook. I couldn’t help but wonder if her disdain was only for pregnancy-related “oversharing”, or if it extended to any sort of posting that could be interpreted as braggadocious. Posts about children, husbands, personal accomplishments? Silly tidbits about everyday life? I wonder what else would annoy her.
My newsfeed would probably cause her to go into some kind of eye-rolling rage.
The first thing I thought of when I read the blog was several weeks ago when my sister-in-law made a post about how gloriously smart her son (and my nephew) is, and she actually apologized for bragging about it. I quickly told her that Facebook is for bragging, and was thankful for the post, since I wouldn’t really get the little tidbits of information about my nephew otherwise, as they are in Ohio and I am in South Carolina. She knows how I hate talking on the phone, and she’s not as much of an internet user as I am, so via Facebook is the best way for me to get updates about my nephew, her, and my brother.
I currently have 258 friends on Facebook, and I can confidently say that they are all people that I know in some capacity, and genuinely like. I rarely request access to people’s profiles, instead opting to let people request contact with me, so I would also assume that the entirety of people on my friends list are folks that like me in return. All but a dozen or so of my Facebook friends are long-distance friends and family that I don’t see more than once or twice a year, in fact, some of them I haven’t seen in ten years. I don’t accept or extend any friend requests from or to people that I don’t want knowing my personal business. I also don’t post anything on there that I wouldn’t have a problem chatting about directly to someone’s face. If I’m going to bitch about Fox news, I’m prepared to do it over dinner with my dad. If I post about my uterus, I’m prepared to discuss it face-to-face with my thesis advisor from college. If I post a graphic message about how I tore up a double-bacon-cheeseburger with wild abandon for lunch, I’d be ready to swallow my guilt and discuss it with my vegetarian friends.
You get the idea.
I posted a lot during my pregnancy with Pumpkin, more for myself than for anyone else, and I’m thankful for it. I didn’t keep a journal or have a blog during the whole pregnancy, though the entirety of my pregnancy experience and the first year of Pumpkin’s life is logged in Facebook posts. I was able to go back and record those old posts and have a lazy-gal’s version of a log of how I became a mother.
One of the posters that responded to Jenny Benjamin’s post on The Stir’s Facebook page mentioned her personal posting policy. She cited that the material she posts on her own Facebook is the same as what she would share with a friend if they were to have a chat on the phone that day. My posting habits are much the same, and those that know me know that I hate making smalltalk on the phone. So what better way than to share information with a lot of friends than with Facebook?
I’m not sure what kind of response that the people that administrate The Stir’s website expected when running this particular blog post; they have over 18,000 fans on their Facebook page, and the overwhelming majority of them that responded to the link were in favor of bragging mamas and “oversharing”. Most of the fans of the page are likely bragging and oversharing moms themselves.
If I want to post about the singularly wonderful smell of my daughter’s hair, or something adorable that my husband did, or pregnancy constipation and cankles, or some amazing new food that I just got to try, why judge? How is Facebook or any other social media different than the pre-internet days of tea time amongst girlfriends or chats on the phone to touch base? Facebook actually offers more options for tuning out a particularly unwelcome conversationalist; simply use the “Hide” function on them for a while until the nerve that they are rubbing is less raw.
And if you need to permanently hide them; they shouldn’t be on your friend’s list.
I wish Jenny Benjamin would read this wonderful post by The Feminist Breeder titled “The World Needs More Women Who Brag About Their Accomplishments”. In this entry, she asks, “So why is it so hard for some people to watch another woman feel good about herself? Why is a woman’s confidence so threatening to others? Why do some sad people think it’s okay to put strong women down, make fun of her achievements, or accuse her of being full of herself?”
Why, indeed? None of us has the right to diminish someone else’s happiness, or question the right to express it.
When my friends brag or share intimate details about their lives on Facebook, I revel in it. I love sharing their joy, cheering for their successes, or simply getting a voyeuristic glimpse into their personal lives, to the extent that they are willing to share. I appreciate being part of their inner circles, and when they share their sorrows, I hurt for them as well. I’m 32 years old and can still effortlessly keep in contact with the women that were my best friends as a teenager. I can experience pregnancy and motherhood and womanhood with them, even though we are six-hundred miles apart.
How special is that?
I’ve received several comments from friends and family about how when I post something on Facebook, I frequently get many quick replies from friends. They usually mention it to me in a teasing, playful manner, but it actually always makes me proud. With social media like Facebook, as with any social interaction, you get out of it what you put in. I put in a lot.
And for anyone that doesn’t like how I use Facebook…just hide me in your newsfeed. I won’t even know.
Now, I’m off to cross-post this blog to Facebook.