My son and daughter-in-law made a conscious decision to sign off of Facebook when they discovered they were expecting their first child. I applauded the notion and attempted to do the same. Unfortunately for me, I have family in another state who seem adverse to any form of regular communication. My mom spent years living within just a few miles of two of her brothers and never saw or spoke to either of them. Her third brother lived further away and communication was just as non-existent. I never even met my mom’s oldest brother before he passed away. And it’s not as though they had a falling out. They just fell out of touch. Mom did reconnect with her brothers later on, but I know she regretted the time she missed. So, for that reason, I feel compelled to meet my out-of-state family on their terms in order to keep up with their lives.
But man, I hate the side effects, sometimes. There was a time when intelligent discussion was commonplace online. I know because I participated in some of it and was witness to a lot more. Sometimes, I wish that technology wasn’t so user friendly, because some of the users just aren’t friendly.
I watched a video earlier today of a toddler who was climbing a kid-sized rock wall, painstakingly and cautiously. Did I hyperventilate a little as she reached the top? Well, yes, but that’s my issue. I get dizzy on the second rung of a ladder. But I recognized that she was in a safe environment and was being monitored by adults. And I also had the feeling this wasn’t her first time on the wall, because she seemed to know what she needed to do and certainly didn’t seem fearful at any point. Not all toddlers are naturally adventurous, but this one was.
But oh my god, the comments. The accusations of child endangerment. The assumptions made about the resilience of children. (They actually aren’t as fragile as some might think–let’s face it, the birthing process itself isn’t exactly a piece of cake!)
Judgmental parents (and non-parents who think they know better than parents) have always been around. I can recall scathing remarks made about particular moms of kids at the bus stop when my boys were little. I think that most moms can relate to that feeling of inferiority at some point in their child’s lives. It sucks. We’re already hard on ourselves and it’s often difficult not to let the notion of what others think get under our skin.
And social media makes it so much easier to judge and be judged. That video I watched had tens of thousands of comments. Lots of them were positive, but lots of them were just awful.
We open ourselves up to this kind of criticism when we put ourselves out there. I’m glad I’m not trying to raise kids in the social media age. And I’m really pretty happy that my son and daughter-in-law have made the choice to not partake. Sure, it makes sharing photos of my granddaughter a little more work, but I think it’s a smart thing to do. I worry about the ignorance of the world, but I worry about my own IQ dropping as I encounter some of the ridiculous stuff I see.
There are benefits to social media. I get that. But there are also so many things out there that are merely the visual equivalent of empty calories: tastes meh and full of things that are just going to wreck in you the long run.