I became a mother for the first time when Myspace was still cool, although it was running its course. I was hearing chatter about a new and improved social media site called, Facebook. I had no idea how to navigate my way around it, nor a desire to learn. I was sleep deprived, anxious, and spent my days focusing on how many ounces of breast milk I could pump into a bottle. As exhausting as it was, I had a pretty adorable baby to show for it.
Once the dust had settled, and my son and I fell into a routine, I was able to figure out what Facebook was all about. And you know what? It was kind of fun. After all, my idea of fun those days was when my husband came home from work, and I was able to take a hot shower without hearing phantom cries coming from the nursery.
I became familiar with how the site worked, and attempted to figure out what the purpose actually was. That part is still up for debate. But what I found interesting was the universal mystery of someone who doesn’t post or comment often or at all.
Myspace had a way that one could see the last time another had logged into their account. Facebook has a few different ways of finding this out. If we don’t see these people as active posters, we just assume they have lives outside of this virtual world and we somehow hold them in a higher regard. I mean, only smart, emotionally stable people decide they don’t need to share their whole lives with us, attention whores, right?
But that’s a big, FAT lie. There is a whole community of people who are on Facebook just as much as I am. They snoop through all of your pictures, your videos, your comments and your feed, only to rarely “like” or comment, if ever. But my favorite part is when they see you in person, and know everything about you, from Facebook of course. And once that slips out, they’re exposed.
It should come as no surprise, but I am virtually active. And before I began posting anything about my life, I had mystery too. People were aware that I recently had a baby and were curious about what he looked like and frankly, how fast I was shedding the baby weight. People were eagerly awaiting a post, a comment, something, anything!
At some point, I did want to show off my sweet bundle. But there was an ugly truth lurking behind the status updates and deep within the newsfeeds of my virtual friends that I would soon find out. No one actually wants to see your adorable baby, or mine.
Once I gave into my urges to share, the floodgates opened and I received a ton of, “your little boy is so cute” and “you look amazing after just having a baby.” Even though we all knew my jowls were still swollen and my lack of effort to cover my hormone acne with makeup was solid, I did appreciate the attempt at flattery.
The mystery of what was happening in my life was over. The first mistake I made was posting pictures of my new family while in the hospital, in all our glory. No I’m not talking about the money shot at the end of the tunnel, but the first family photo where my I.V.’s were still in my arm and my blood pressure cuff was strapped on. You know, the ones I would soon regret ever showing a soul.
Apparently my ex-boyfriend saw them and had some nice things to say about me to a family member back in my hometown. And by “nice,” I mean douche-bag comments. But that’s to be expected and is neither here nor there. Although I did let him have it through text message while in a hormonal rage. It was definitely a shining moment of mine.
I realized that my child, my marriage, and myself were all being judged and it was my fault. I put myself out there thinking people actually cared to see what was going on in my life, but that felt like a broad misconception.
Perception is reality on social media. I have problems in my life like everyone else, but if I shared all of those with my watchers in the newsfeeds, would I become a “negative Nancy?” It’s a fine line.
I will say that I have dozens of friends and family who are genuinely interested in my life and the rage against the ex-boyfriend was eventually settled in a peace treaty. But not all 331 friends cared to see me as happy as I was, and I just had to get over that. I had to accept the inevitable judgments if I was going to continue to be a part of the new “high school” that was, Facebook.
With my youngest son, I made sure to post every picture that my heart desired; after all he was my baby. If someone didn’t like it, they could hide my posts, block me, or “un-friend” me. Now days there are many ways to politely reject someone without them ever knowing it. And people did. I found out that a few couldn’t tolerate the baby photos every day, or how expressive I was about my husband and children. As surprised as I was, I really couldn’t have cared less. I wasn’t “positive Polly” all of the time, but I also wasn’t on Facebook to please the people whom I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, by pretending to be a miserable housewife. I was there to share my experiences with my family and friends, good or bad, who I sometimes, actually saw in real life.
What many don’t know about writers, and yes I consider myself a passionate one, is that we have the need to share information. A never-ending, all consuming need to share. Whether it be my day to day life lessons, the amazing meal I just ate at the restaurant down the road, or just how damn cute my baby is. I’m an open book.
And yet, the sweet irony of it all is how quickly the tables turn. Some of those who had a hard time watching my happy moments, are finally experiencing theirs. Whether it’s the new puppy they can’t get enough of, landing the job of their dreams, or the new engagement ring. Things are ever changing and always rearranging.
To those “friends,” the 95 wedding pictures you recently uploaded, they are so beautiful. And the status update about the highs and lows of new parenthood, I completely relate and it will get better.
And those of you who still have a hard time with my “timeline,” which hardly defines who I am, I’ll never apologize for my happiness, but I am sorry if it offends you. Not because I did anything wrong, but because I hope one day, you will experience it too.