Why Posting Photos of Your Children on Social Media Isn’t Always Welcome

Source: Pexels

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.)


Stop Using Social Media as the Scapegoat for Society’s Demise

During the early morning hours of May 7, Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to help fans in need. Over the course of this dialogue, Minaj agreed to pay out an estimated $30,000 of her own money to help the fans in question afford their college tuition and school supplies. While many critics might be skeptical about the motive behind her random acts of philanthropy, it’s hard to ignore that Minaj’s generous soul would never have connected with these struggling individuals had it not been for social media.

Of course, it’s easy for people to focus on social media’s failings. It promotes narcissism. It’s an unyielding distraction. It hinders everyone’s attention span. However, along with the bad, we’ve been exposed to a world of good that outweighs any negative sentiment. We now have an outlet for connecting with people outside our immediate circle, allowing us to learn and grow in ways we never could have before its creation.

Thanks to Twitter (and the Web, in general), we have the opportunity to remain abreast of international news in real time. Yes, there’s an enormous amount of content to sift through at any given moment, but by adopting healthy social media habits, it’s simple to filter through what’s important and what’s frivolous fluff. You see, those who claim that social networks drain people’s time and ruin kids’ attention spans are those who’ve failed to master healthy social habits themselves. All good things must be consumed in moderation—even media. We may live in the era of the Netflix binge, but that doesn’t mean such behaviors are smart. When used properly, social media arms us with the tools necessary to dismantle widespread ignorance and hold public figures accountable. Social media acts as the weapon we need to effectively fight for what’s right.

Following the U.S. presidential election, for instance, voters quickly took to social media—in some cases to celebrate, in some cases to express their disbelief and anguish while establishing the foundation for what’s now known as The Resistance. Women came together via social to plan and execute the Women’s March on Washington, as well as its sister marches across the world. And organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, have turned to social media to mobilize supporters and bolster donations. Without such outlets, these groups never would’ve come together so quickly and effectively. Without social media, it would’ve been much more difficult for these like-minded activists to find one another and turn their mutual disgust into productive outreach.

Even in less extreme cases, social media has the potential to make people feel less alone. Prior to social networks, outcasts likely felt that there was no one else in the world who understood their struggle. But, by being able to express their emotions online, many have found support they might’ve otherwise gone without. Those with minor grievances can also take solace in social media, for the memes and comics that rule the space demonstrate we’re not as alone as we once thought. (No, you’re NOT the only one who feels that way!) Critics will argue that social media has the opposite effect, as Facebook and Instagram posts often make said outcasts feel even more out of the loop than before, but when you stop to evaluate the new connections at their fingertips, it’s easy to see that social empowers them to change their situation for the better.

Face it—bullies will never cease to exist. There’ll always be people who tear others down in order to make themselves feel superior, no matter their platform of choice. But it’s our responsibility to teach today’s children how to navigate these new networks. Our parents taught us how to handle the challenges that came along with growing up, and we’ll have to do the same. Kids still have to face the same battles, even if they’re fighting on uncharted battlefields. Remember! We’re the ones who created this supposed mess, so we’re the ones who will have to right the course. We will have to teach them how to limit their screen time. We will have to teach them how to be mindful of others online. We will have to teach them not to idolize the manipulated images and personas they see across platforms.

Parents and authority figures who believe social media has ruined today’s youth are merely projecting their own insecurities, for they exhibit these less than stellar behaviors themselves. They’re guilty of deifying the celebrities they follow, and checking their phones excessively. They’ve become addicted to refreshing their feeds and awaiting new notifications. Yet, each time another adult gives their child an iPad or smartphone as a stand-in for an actual caretaker, they perpetuate the very problem they wish to rectify. Unless we take responsibility for how we conduct ourselves, we will never be able to alter the issue at hand.

Until then, critics will continue to focus on social media’s failings and blame these networks for what’s wrong with the world. Social media isn’t without its flaws, of course, but we mustn’t overlook the value it brings to the modern world. As with any tool, social can be used for good or evil. Let’s remember what social media can help us accomplish—as was the case with Nicki Minaj—before we vilify these networks once and for all.


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Sailing on the “Unfriend” Ship

Sometimes, social networking seems more like social suicide.  While we gain the ability to easily stay in touch with far away friends, we also find ourselves spending more time typing than talking (as in, out loud… to their face).

But excessive exposure to the Internet can often lend itself to experimentation.

Having been on Facebook basically since its birth – anyone else remember when a person’s wall was just a blank spot people scrawled on at whim? – you come to accumulate many unnecessary acquaintances.  Some are friends, while others were merely “friended” as a way to amass an unspeakable number of connections.  But since we’ve come so far since those days without the stalker feed, many of those people we pretended to know seem entirely irrelevant.  Stars, like Jimmy Kimmel, have even instigated designated days where people “unfriend” those they don’t really know because, as Kimmel said, the Facebook “friend” concept cheapens the true sanctity of friendship as it used to be.

In one instance, I remember “unfriending” nearly 400 people from my supposed “friends” list.  I wasn’t even aware that I had met 400 people over my entire lifetime, so to have a grand total of over 600 “friends” on Facebook alone was rather ludicrous.  And now, during times of procrastination, I like to explore Facebook just to see who I’m still connected to and who has “unfriended” me during one of their clean sweeps.  (Honestly, you don’t notice who has suddenly disappeared from your feed until you see their comment on someone else’s wall and wonder why you haven’t seen any recent posts of theirs in forever.)

However, instead of feeling unimportant, I have a new life goal that I will need to accomplish soon, just in case Facebook goes out of style.  I want to become famous (preferably for my writing talents) and watch to see how many of my “unfriended” friends suddenly decide they know me and want to catch up.  Currently, I offer nothing more exciting than the occasional YouTube video and blog entry, but my famous self shall certainly intrigue the public (she says with a sarcastically haughty tone).  Thankfully, Facebook includes the convenient “Deny Request” button with all invitations.

Perhaps that sounds petty, or even a tad ungrateful, but they say you should never forget the little people and, well, clicking that ‘X’ next to my name means many have already forgotten about me.  Plus, no one wants to be friends with someone who only likes them because they’re famous, so I’ve got that argument to back me up, as well.