The great thing about parenting during the age of social media is that we have an easy way to connect with others during those isolating early years. The years during which the days are long but the nights are longer, someone is always physically hanging on you, and even something as simple as getting out the door seems impossible.
The less-than-great thing about parenting during the age of social media is that we’re so in-the-moment with the stress of the day that we tend to overshare in our quest for connection. It’s become so common to document our kid’s every mood, every success and every failure that we even have a term for it: sharenting. And the sharing of a toddler’s irrational devastation is an especially trendy sharenting move.
I have been there. All you did was hand them a banana right after they ASKED YOU FOR A BANANA, and now they’re screaming at the top of their lungs and the whole thing is so asinine that you can’t be the only witness to it. You need someone (better yet, many someones!) to validate the shit-show nature of what is happening to you. You have to laugh to keep from crying. “I’ve got to post this,” you might think.
But two psychologists write for the New York Times that while connecting with other parents over shared experiences is a good thing, connecting turns into mocking when we’re sending out images of our kids in distress (even if their distress is the fact that you took the entire banana peel off and, no, it can’t go back on).
Solidarity with other parents comes from sharing your experiences in raising kids, so sure, continue posting stories and pictures of your children — just don’t mock them. If you must tell someone about your kid falling apart because you are “very bad at making lassos,” tell a family member or close friend. You can joke about your mum (but I can’t) because teasing entails trust; you are secure enough in your love that you can joke about sensitive things. Strangers on the internet don’t love your child.
It can seem harmless because your kid is too young to even know what Twitter is, let alone that their red, screamy face is now showing up in hundreds of feeds. But although it seems impossible now, they do eventually grow up. And when they do, they very much will care what images you have shared of them. There’s a good chance they won’t even be particularly fond of the cute photos you posted of them (she says from experience), let alone the photos of them at their worst.
Instead of posting it, text it to your best friend or your spouse or your mum. Or email it to yourself and save it in a folder specifically meant to document all of their insanity, so you can look back on the totality of it at a later date and have a really solid laughing fit over it.
Go ahead and caption these moments the way you would on Instagram, complete with all kinds of witty hashtags, and imagine the dozens of likes it would get. But then, keep them private.