Long before smartphones and social media came to be, people had no choice but to carry physical photographs if they wanted to show their friends and family images of their recent vacation or kids’ recital. Grandparents would whip out their wallets instead of struggling to upload pictures from their digital camera.
But now that anyone can post photos to Facebook or Instagram within moments, users rarely hold back. From brunch plates to birthday parties, everything’s fair game (even if no one needs to know you’re on your third mimosa). However, just because you can post any and every photo you so desire, that does not mean you should.
Now that the people who joined Facebook upon its inception are beginning to start families of their own, the social media platform features more baby photos than your average mall portrait studio. People insist on sharing photos of their kids’ every waking moment. Personally, I love when parents wish their child a lengthy “Happy Birthday” on social media even though the kid isn’t old enough to read, much less manage an account of their own. Everyone knows those who commit such acts are merely fishing for compliments. (But that’s the underlying essence of social media, isn’t it?)
Beyond this element of self-indulgence, however, these incessant posts demonstrate an innate level of insensitivity that disregards the feelings of those followers forced to endure this flood.
Most proud parents and grandparents are too caught up in their joy to notice that many others aren’t so lucky. They brag on social media not because they are malicious, but because they’re consumed with happiness. But what about those who are suffering silently? How about those friends and family members who’ve desperately tried to expand their own families, only to find they can’t conceive?
While I cannot assess the situation based on personal experience, every new photo reminds me of how devastating infertility and miscarriages can be. Of course, it’d be rude to deny those lucky families the opportunity to bask in their joy, but they also need to understand that the photos intended to spread smiles might spark sorrow for others.
Social media often breeds narcissism, after all, as most users care about little more than the image they convey to the outside world. Perhaps if we showed more thought and concern for the emotions people hide inside, however, we’d breathe new life into the compassionate planet we hope to leave for these little ones in the first place.
(This post originally appeared on Storia.)