This week an Australian mother hit the headlines after she revealed an anonymous letter from a group of her friends attacking her constant stream of Facebook posts about her baby.
The letter certainly divided opinion with some labeling it unnecessarily confrontational and others saying the women had voiced something that many people feel but are afraid to voice.
Here, we asked two women who are divided in opinion to explain their view.
First up British writer and communications specialist Louise Abdalla (pictured above) explains how she lost a friend over a similar blog post she wrote, hitting out at her friends who post baby pictures - and why she stands by her decision.
Then writer Anna Brech explains why she feels a stream of baby pictures are wholly acceptable on social media and why she thinks this issue is about more than meets the eye.
'Why I salute the women who called out baby braggers'
When I read about the anonymous letter posted to the Australian mum intent on posting her child’s every move on Facebook, my first thought was, “What genius wrote this, and do they want a pen pal?”
Why? Because I also hate your children…on Facebook. Yes, they are cute, yes it’s amazing they’ve taken their first steps/started school/what the hell ever. I wholeheartedly encourage the occasional photo to mark milestone. Go ahead, knock yourself out.
BUT, when you start uploading 10-15 photos a day of your child, do not be surprised if I start avoiding your calls.
I love children and, as a 29-year-old female with ovaries, I’m as broody as they come. If you’re my friend on Facebook, then the chances are I love your children as well, but that doesn’t mean I need to watch a video of them eating a Quaver.
Congratulations to you for having sex without contraception and making a baby as a result, but do I need to suffer upwards of 10 photos of your child sitting on a chair? If you can’t choose which ones to keep, then keep them all. Just don’t post them all. I beg you, PLEASE don’t post them all.
It is these views which led to a spectacular fall out with a friend of mine recently, after a blog post I wrote that voiced my opinion on the matter. The post was entitled ‘Why I hate seeing your child on Facebook. There, I said it. Now deal with it’. One of the comments that MAY have triggered the spat was “when you start uploading 10/15 photos a day of your child, I start despising you.”
I also wrote: “You have a life other than your children. They should fit into your life, not the other way around. No child should ever dictate the way you live your life, unless you want to raise a spoilt brat.”
Harsh? Maybe, but definitely honest.
Within minutes, there was all-out war, with an explosive email exchange that culminated in me being de-friended (the online equivalent of a blow to the stomach) and told that I would not be welcome at the woman’s home, ever again.
Her partner also bombarded my Facebook wall with photos of their child in protest. An amusing riposte, yes, but as well as being as annoying as ever, it allowed every one of my friends to see their private family photo collection.
They had no idea who I was friends with, yet were happy to share their snaps with absolute strangers.
I sincerely believe no parent has the right to create a digital footprint for their child – the kid probably doesn’t care or understand right now, but will they feel differently when they’re 16?
“My profile is set to private” is the most naïve response imaginable. We all know accounts are easy to hack and who owns the copyright to them once you’ve uploaded them to Facebook? If you think it’s you, think again.
Besides all that, what are we encouraging? Cyber bullying is a major issue for children and teens and one comment can batter a child’s self-esteem. Every like and comment is a virtual measurement of how popular they are. Why expose children unnecessarily to all that judgment, vanity and self-gratification?
So anonymous letter writer you, I salute you. Thank you for voicing what so many people think, but are too scared to say, for fear of falling victim to the buggy brigade.
'I’m baffled by the Facebook baby snap haters'
Everyone knows that anonymous letter writers are the lowest of the low.
But let’s for a moment put aside the bile and insecurity that practically jumps off the page of this particularly charmless missive.
At the heart of the issue is whether proud mums should litter their Facebook feeds with ten “hilarious” snaps of little Freddie pouring Petit Filous over his head.
Or curled up snugly in a White Company Babygro.
Or duck-waddling across the living room in that curious toddler gait that is so endearing to mums and dads the world over.
Are these daily updates acceptable in the nuanced world of online etiquette?
YES. Of course.
Why the hell not?
I’m surrounded by people who think exactly the opposite and their response to the anonymous letter this week has been some variation of “it’s a bit harsh but I see where they’re coming from” or “at last, someone’s said what everyone’s thinking”.
I’m baffled by this mentality.
Who are you to judge the appropriate amount of snaps a ‘friend’ should or shouldn’t post of their own kids on Facebook?
I don’t have children but my Facebook feed – like everyone else’s – is frequently inundated with baby pics. Some are sweet, some are funny and some are ‘meh’.
But I’m never going to begrudge someone for posting them. And if I did I could always block their news feed or unfollow, just as any of these moaners could. And I honestly couldn’t give a toss about the security; that’s for parents to decide.
That a storm of opinion can be prompted by such an innocuous matter surely means more complex feelings are at play.
Part of it undoubtedly plays into the lifestyle gulf between those who have kids and those who don’t.
Maybe that world of sleepless nights, baby sick and sore boobs is so alien to childless people that they feel freaked out by daily reminders of it. Or they can’t have kids, or aren’t interested in them, so the photos naturally grate.
But I’m not totally sold on this argument since a lot of people complaining about the oversharing are parents themselves (including the author of the original letter).
In this case, I wonder whether there’s a kind of petty small-mindedness at large that – from what my friends with kids tell me – subtly imbues itself at the school gates, or any situation where parenting is called into question.
Either way, I think we SHOULD be honest with ourselves: not about how we feel when it comes to oversharing baby photos, but where these feelings come from.
If a few hundred baby photos make you foam at the mouth, you have to ask yourself why the overreaction – and, as Oprah would say - are you really being “your best self”?