As the age-old axiom goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? The same can be said today. Only now regarding social media. If someone goes to dinner or starts a new relationship and doesn’t post it on Facebook or Instagram, did it actually happen?
We live in digital times when social media is a premium and “likes” are social currency. So to not participate seems almost inexcusable. Even worse, seemingly, is to participate and engage an audience, only to leave them wanting more when something, “share-worthy” happens. The horror! [Insert eye roll emoji here].
In March of this year, my husband and I decided we wanted to try and start a family. Privately.
The next month, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary in our favorite city, Charleston, South Carolina. It being our third time in “Neverland” we knew of all the best places to eat, drink and play, and we were sure to capture every step of the way on social media.
Not one drink or amuse bouche went unphotographed, liking and commenting ensued. And then, a week later, we returned home, to Orlando, and saw the infamous double lines.
We were pregnant. Yes! Best news ever. We celebrated and lived inside our little love bubble for the first trimester.
For some reason, the social media maven in me no longer felt compelled to share every tidbit of my life. Now, it was private. It wasn’t just mine to share. And so we started telling family and close friends at the end of the first trimester with strict orders not to share the news until we were ready, but then, of course, the inevitable happened. Mom happened.
Like most moms who discovered Facebook sometime last year, my mom rivals people who are actually paid to promote baby products on Facebook, posting on my wall, and this is not an exaggeration, an average of four times a day.
So I guess it should have been no surprise when around eight weeks pregnant, she posted the baby-specific memes on my wall. Despite my incessant efforts to explain that my “wall” isn’t exclusive to just me, the posting sent off a litany of confusion among Facebook “friends”—the entitled masses.
My initial response was to ignore or remove the posts from my timeline, but it was too late. The damage had been done. I was outed. So in my own way, I went with it, thanking the few friends who were actual real life, tangible friends, and then silence.
There was no subsequent ultrasound photos or gender announcements and certainly no obligatory maternity photo shoot, revealing my new convex shape.
Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t acceptable. As the informal Facebook decorum dictates, when pregnant, all granulated photos of mom-to-be’s uterus must be posted on Facebook immediately for liking and commenting. But I couldn’t and haven’t done it. And the reactions have been varied.
For some, it’s a sigh of relief (as in, “Phew I don’t have to see pregnancy updates every five seconds.” This is usually the guy you had one class with in college who just hasn’t gotten around to un-friending you yet).
For others, its incredulity. The thought that a simple pressing of the friend button doesn’t warrant them unrestricted access to all of life’s milestones.
Few people have even followed up, asking why I have been so “tight lipped” about the whole thing, and even going so far as to ask if I “made” my husband do the same.
As if in my spare time, I am also monitoring his account, previewing his activity to ensure it meets my rigid limitations on content. Very Orwellian. My answer is of course, no, mainly because he doesn’t have social media accounts, which makes it hard to post things.
After giving this some thought, however, I wondered why the onus falls entirely on the mom-to-be.
I can’t reasonably conceive a situation in which a group of guys are at lunch, some dads and some not, and one is feverishly refreshing his Facebook feed only to discover the news! His friend, let’s call him Charlie, is expecting! Do guys really have the same reaction? Is it outrage? I asked. The short answer: um, no.
For me, I am still holding strong with my decision to navigate this new and personal process offline while still maintaining an online presence.
I don’t find it to be a struggle, and in fact, it has been quite a reprieve. So I guess I do have an answer to the axiom about the tree that falls in a forest. The answer is yes. If something happens offline and we don’t post about it online, it absolutely still happened.