Why I Don't Share My Kids' Lives With My 300 Closest Facebook Friends

Imagine having three hundred friends staying in your house. And every time you fed your kids breakfast or defused your toddler's tantrum, those friends piped up. Even if they were constantly cheering you on and telling you what a great mother you are, that's a hell of a lot of background noise. And that -- in a nutshell -- is why I keep my family life off Facebook.

I don't post pictures of my kids on FB, nor do I post videos of their school plays, musings about their sweet cards to me, or complaints of their ongoing argument over which way to walk to school.

To me, Facebook isn't some magical parenting tool. It's an obnoxious Greek chorus that won't shut up.

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In essence, Facebook is a great idea. (Not that Mark Zuckerberg cares what I think.) It's pretty convenient to be able to instantly connect with pretty much everyone you're friends with, work with, knew in elementary school, knew in middle school but hated, your neighbors, your neighbor's power-washing service, and even Grumpy Cat. (Pardon the sarcasm.)

The average person spends about 40 minutes a day on Facebook, and about one minute out of every five on their cell.

So instead of the dad at the park pushing his toddler on the swings, you see a dad at the park uploading pictures of his toddler on the swings to Facebook. Then checking to see what comments other people posted about it or how much it was "liked."

Don't get me wrong, everyone loves a compliment about their kids. But in giving us easy, instant access to accolades, Facebook has also gifted us an insatiable appetite for approval. When I see a parent post a blow-by-blow description of their family's trip to Disneyland, I have to wonder: Would the trip even feel satisfying to them without the dozens of comments they racked up, affirming "So much fun!" or "You guys look so happy!"

In the olden days, I think we sort of figured that out on our own.

But it's not just happy moments that drive parents to overuse Facebook. It's complaints, too. Facebook is like crack for people prone to overshare. I've seen moms complain about their baby's poop, their toddler's weight ("Does she look fat in this outfit?"), how their child isn't doing well in school, and (frequently) how their husband is driving them up the wall. Writing is cathartic, I'll give you that. And I do appreciate the need for a support system. But doesn't all that time we spend dissecting our family on FB dull our real time interactions with them?

And am I the only one wondering what happens when, say, that "fat" toddler is old enough to read over her parent's shoulder? Maybe it'll be okay so long as they've got all those happy memories from Disneyland and plenty of "thumbs ups" on their wall.

Call me old school, but I love the idea that my family has its own private universe. There are jokes, arguments, touching moments, and ridiculous videos that only belong to my son, daughter, husband, and me. If you are a close friend, you will hear about some of these. But I will tell you one by one, face to face. And by Keeping Things to Myself, rather than posting ad nauseam to Facebook, I not only have more real time with my family, I can hear myself think.

 

Image © iStock.com/courtneyk

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