Friday, 25 November 2011

Social Media Sharing

A friend recently pointed out this article, thinking that I'd find it interesting.  She was right.  I have a few reactions to the article.  You should probably go read it and then come back and we'll talk.  Ok?  Ok.

I'll just hang out here in my Pound Shop Cowboy Christmas Hat while I wait.

So what did you think?  Ok, ok.  I'll go first and tell you what I thought, then you can join in later via the comments.  Deal?

My overall reaction:  Middle ground people!  MIDDLE GROUND!  I think it is possible to share to an entirely appropriate extent and not veer into the dreaded territory of disgusting your friends with every tiny overly-personal detail.  I think we've all read (and cringed at) a few status updates from friends that make us think "I didn't really need to know that".  I also know that those updates are not confined to being about pregnancy or babies.

Our FB announcement

More specifics that directly relate to this article:
For me talking about my pregnancy (and obviously this blog) isn't much of a choice.  Given that most of the people that care about me and my growing son are on another continent, it just isn't an option to only share things in person.  Who am I to deny the people what they want?  I do go into WAY more detail on things (pregnancy-related and not) here on my blog than I do on Facebook.  The idea being, that those that read this blog are choosing to be inundated with my rants and thoughts and TMI sharing.  Friends on FB just want to be kept in the general loop.
The idea of not talking about my pregnancy at all online is strange to me.  Growing this little guy is such a huge part of my life that I can't imagine not at least acknowledging the process on Facebook.  It would be a pretty big effort not to talk about it.  It would feel like lying to intentionally leave out the ways my pregnancy is impacting me.  I feel like I share about my life in the same way I always have, but now my life includes a pregnancy.
The author makes the statement: "I have a deep-rooted desire to give my child a choice, and the chance to meet the world before it is thrust into the online limelight."  How does holding off until the baby is actually born give him or her any more of a choice?  I guess I could go with this point if the author planned to never post about her child until he or she is old enough to actually consent  (even though I think that idea is more than a little absurd).  
I've had online friends who shared about their pregnancies at such an early point that I sucked in my breath and questioned their sanity.  I've had others no disclose until they're in the homestretch or post-delivery.  That always shocks me too.  I think "Wow!  I can't believe they never mentioned that."  As a general rule, however, the latter group are friends who don't update often on anything.  So I guess that brings me back to my point of a comfortable middle ground.  As with most thinks in life, I figure that a happy medium is a pretty safe course.

A slightly ranty bit that was inspired by the article, but not directly related:
I can respect not sharing on principle, but I see a fair number of women who say they don't post about pregnancy out of a sense of superstition.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm all for keeping the news private (or at least not sharing with the whole wide world) through the especially nervous-making first trimester.  I think sharing too early with too many people can mean that painful miscarriage disclosures have to happen on a much larger scale than is helpful or necessary.  
You may notice that I refer to miscarriage disclosures as possibly being helpful.  I'm not necessarily talking about FB sharing at this point, but sharing at some level.  I've had a good friend go through a miscarriage fairly late in the first trimester.  Because she hadn't shared with anyone, she also had no support system in place when things went wrong.  She found herself isolated and unable to reach out for comfort and help because she didn't know how to bring up the miscarriage to people who hadn't known she was pregnant.  
My friends who have gone through later-term pregnancy loss (meaning they were out of those first few weeks of "DANGER") all said that not having allowed excitement earlier on, doesn't make it hurt any less.  Loosing a baby sucks big time.  Period.  I guess I'm saying that it's a balancing act between privacy and connection.  When we first knew I was pregnant, I made the decision that I was comfortable telling close friends and my parents before we were out of the first trimester.  I thought that if something were to go wrong, then these were the people who I would want to know.  I would want them to be able to offer comfort and support in the worst case, just as I wanted them to share in my joy at the best case.  We are so so SO grateful that we haven't had to experience "the worst".  I realize what a blessing this is.
I've seen women who act as though posting about a pregnancy online is something like "jinxing it" or "tempting fate".  Here's what I think:  If something bad is going to happen, it is going to happen.  Not posting on FB won't keep you safe.  I have a dear friend (FYI:  Approach this blog with care)* who went through some really crappy stuff.  It happened at 24 weeks.  She should have been "safe".  She was out of the first trimester.  All her check-ups showed that things were going perfectly.  She and her husband had picked names for their twins.  She had already shared with Facebook.  She'd posted ultrasound pictures and talked about her babies.  When the worst happened, she posted about that too.  And because she did, she had buckets and buckets of help, support, and encouragement that otherwise wouldn't have been able to get to her.  Social networking activated her network of people to take care of her and her family.  It actually made things better.  And I can't think of a better use of Facebook.

Where do you stand on social networking and pregnancy?
Are you a sharer, a secret-keeper, or an over-sharer?

*This blog is truly beautiful.  It covers topics that are heartbreaking and likely to make you cry.  This disclosure mainly intended for hormonal pregnant women who don't need to hear about this kind of thing right now.  I'm a big fan of not telling "horror stories" to preggos.  

1 comment:

  1. I am a great fan of oversharing on the internet obviously, but I don't get how she sees a picture of a headstone as a negative or sharing your life with those who care as a negative.

    Also, I like shiny, greasy kids!

    I will say that I was nowhere near as serious a sharer with Facebook before "it all changed". But within the first few days in the hospital it became obvious that people got nervous when I went 24 hours without posting, so I posted more.

    But I think you are right that finding a path down the middle is good.

    Oh, and get the hormonal pregnant women. Amalah wrote about "dead baby blogs" in one of the week by week calendar things and it totally stuck with me, forever.