I’m Not Down With “Sharenting”
Why I don’t document my kid’s life on social media
I grew up in the 90s when people liked things in real life instead of with a virtual thumbs up. I’ve struggled to lean into social media. When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t post the news online. I didn’t share ultrasound pictures and never announced my son’s arrival on Facebook. He didn’t enter the world with followers or friends. I’m trying my best to keep it that way.
We’re living in a world of over-sharers
Sometimes I question why social media is so popular. Is it because we have all become addicted to attention? Why do we post photos of our dinner, our dogs or our engagement rings? I often question the value that social media adds to my life. Even more so since I found out I was pregnant.
I knew right away I wasn’t going to follow the societal norm of sharing my experience with the world. But the pressure is great when you see pictures of new babies and happy families flooding your Facebook feed daily. People expect you to flood their feeds with photos and new milestones, and when you don’t, something seems taboo. “Sharent” is a term that been used to describe parents who overshare aspects of their children’s lives on social media. I’ve never felt compelled to be a sharent. Here are a few reasons why.
It’s just creepy.
Let’s get real. There’s a lot of sick people out there. Every day I read stories about coaches, pastors and teachers taking advantage of their roles by exploiting kids. While this kind of thing will continue to happen regardless of social media and the internet, it seems like the predators know where to find kids. The thought of my son’s photo in the hands of the wrong person makes me second guess hitting the “post” button every time.
It’s my responsibility to protect him, and I can’t be sure I’m doing that if I’m blasting photos of him all over the internet for anyone to see. Once that photo is online, there’s no way to track where it goes. I wouldn’t hand out pictures of my kid to strangers on an elevator. Isn’t posting them online a similar situation? Since his birth, there are only a handful of photos I’ve felt comfortable sharing with my online friends.
I respect his privacy.
I’m a private person. I was lucky to grow up before social media was a thing. I fear if I hadn’t, my entire life would be documented online today. The thought of that fills me with anxiety.
My son is only 19 months old, so I’m still learning about his personality. There are signs that he may also be a private, introverted soul like his mama. I respect him and the person he’s growing to be. I don’t think it’s my place to share his story, his memories, his embarrassments, his victories or his failures with the world.
That’s up to him to do. With his own voice. He’s going to see his life differently than I do. He’ll have a different perspective. He’s going to interpret and share his experiences uniquely, and I don’t want to take that from him. Creating my son’s story and sharing it with the world before he even has a voice doesn’t feel right to me.
These are my memories.
Watching my son grow up will be the best years of my life. The memories I’m making with my family are priceless, and I hold them close to my heart. I don’t feel like everyone deserves access to these private, magical moments. They’re for my inner circle, my ride or dies, the people that continue to show up for me.
An acquaintance from college that I haven’t spoken to since 2003 hasn’t earned front row seats to my life. These moments are my treasures, and I hold the lock and key. I get to decide who gets access. I won’t outsource that responsibility to an algorithm on Facebook.
I want a real connection.
Don’t get me wrong; I love social media. It’s a source of inspiration, and it can help connect people and spark new ideas. But I don’t want it to be the way I teach my son to interact with the world.
I want him to find validation from his accomplishments and his hard work, not from how many likes he gets online. I don’t want him to assume the number of photos his mom posted of him online correlates in any way to the love she has for him. When he thinks back to his childhood, I want him to remember my presence.
Authentic connection happens when I take the time to understand another person and their viewpoint. Real bonds form when I listen and ask thoughtful questions. Connecting virtually via social media seems like a superficial, lazy way to manage my relationships. Scrolling and commenting aren’t as personal as sitting down and looking someone in the eyes while engaging in a conversation.
While it will be up to my son to make his own decisions as he gets older, today the choice is mine and I plan on keeping him out of the social media spotlight for now. I hope by doing so he’ll find appreciation for simple moments that don’t need to be shared with the world to validate their value.