THE POLITICS OF SHARENTING
IF YOU FOLLOW my Instagram account then you will be well acquainted with the back of my baby’s head. That’s not because of its beautiful shape – although it is rather cute and the reason she’s been given the nickname ‘Tufty Squirrel’. It’s because I don’t share Greta’s face on social media.
In an age of sharing and oversharing, hiding my baby’s face on social media has been met with puzzled faces and curious remarks. Her doting grandparents can’t understand why they can’t share her gorgeous first smile for all to see on Facebook. “We just want to show her off!” they exclaim, while my friends think it’s hysterical that I suggest they use an emoji to cover her face on their Insta Stories. Some may think I have something I want to hide, which I most definitely don’t – she’s the cutest baby I’ve ever seen (biased mum alert) – and some think I’m over-cautious. So let me explain…
When Greta was first born, I took a leaf out of Kylie Jenner’s book and initiated a social-media lockdown on all photographs of our baby. I wanted this incredibly private moment to be enjoyed without watching how many likes I received. Of course, it was wonderful to get a flood of good wishes when we finally did announce her arrival, but we held off for 48 hours so we could be in the moment with our little girl.
And then it continued. I decided that all photographs of Greta are personal and private. Instead of baby spamming my online community, I send out daily pics through private messages and online journal Tinybeans, where you can choose your audience. If you’re in my WhatsApp inner circle you’ve most definitely received a photo of Greta in the buff. But sorry, Rory, my long-lost friend who I once spoke to at Freshers’ Week at uni, unfortunately you won’t witness the chubbiness of my daughter’s cheeks.
Lest we forget the World Wide Web – ‘world’ being the operative word here – where everyone has access to your public data. Unfortunately, this can have sinister implications. In the past month I’ve witnessed a close friend’s open Instagram account cloned – all her photos and stories of her children were ‘stolen’ from her account and presented as the cyber thief’s own children. But here lies the problem: this impersonator didn’t ‘steal’ these photos because, really, as soon as you hit share, you are relinquishing any control over them. That’s more than enough reason to hold off from posting Greta.
As much as I believe this kid is the next Einstein – I swear she said “ok” when I asked if she wanted a massage the other day – unfortunately my little brainbox isn’t yet able to give me permission to start creating her digital footprint. Who says it’s up to me to start curating her online life before she even knows what’s going on? I hope to bring up my little girl knowing she has a choice in everything, and for me to post pictures before she can say no really isn’t giving her a chance. As we are all well aware, a dodgy photo posted years ago can surface at any point and can have detrimental repercussions.
Perhaps in the future I may succumb to posting a snap of giggling Greta, but before I do I will pause before I post and ask: will this photo affect my daughter when she’s older? Does it offer too much personal information about her life? But for now, please enjoy her ‘back fringe’ of hair and admire her little head from behind.