Thursday, 9 August 2012
Facebook...Motherhood Friend, or Faux?
As a young person, I spent years going 'against the grain' and choosing not to have a facebook account. Although I was using it as much as other teenagers, by my later teens I was fed up with the spying and the access that it gave people to my life, and the access it gave me to theirs. At that time I was impressionable, as most teenagers are. The trials and tribulations of teenage angst combined with access to ex-boyfriends profiles, access to profiles of people who I always felt threatened by etc meant that I could have an unhealthy access to things I didn't need to see or know (I'm not talking stalking people, I'm no bunny boiler! But snooping through pictures from nights out which did nothing to mend my broken heart). Then as I matured (a little!) I hated the drama that lurked at every corner on my own doorstep as I begun to date Joshua's daddy. Having a facebook account with something as 'simple' as a relationship status seemed to be the invitation people needed to get involved with, lie about and try and ruin my new relationship. Combined with the fact that I considered myself a totally different person from the 17 year old girl who originally set up the page...so I took it off. I spent four years as a facebook free friend, only choosing to speak to the people I actually cared about in person or on the phone and I can't say I missed facebook.
Things changed when we moved away. Motherhood is lonely, far more lonely than anything can prepare you for and relocating to an area hours from home with no friends or family intensified this feeling. So after weighing up the pro's and con's I decided to delve back in to the book of face to keep in touch with home etc. I set up a new account (only after I tried to re-ignite my old one but seeing hundreads of 'friends' I didn't even know, nor could remember I decided a fresh page was needed) and went from there.
It wasn't long before I noticed certain things hadn't changed that had always annoyed me-the annoying status updates from people who want to tell the whole world that they have a problem, just so people give them sympathy and ask what's the matter, and then act all coy and shy and say 'it doesn't matter'-my take on attention seekers on a virtual platform. Friend requests from people I didn't like enough to give a view in to my life, or no friend request from people who I thought would want that window-it began to emotionally affect me very quickly. Or rather, it began to pee me off. But as facebook does, it draws you in and becomes like a limb.
As a mother now on facebook I find it worse than before in some ways. I read a great post over at Bizzy Mum's Blog this week about this-Seeing status updates on facebook from mothers who literally always gush about their child(ren). All of us love our children more than life itself, we would all lay down in the road for them if needed, and we all think ours is the best-that's just what motherhood is. But THOSE mothers who only put things like "love my baby girl/boy so much, they are the light of my life, couldn't imagine life without them, they are the best thing ever, their poo smells like roses, I would drink their urine and they are perfect in every way..." THOSE mothers really get my goat. Who are they trying to kid-me or themselves?! Depending on my mood it can make me laugh or demotivate me, constantly seeing the same mothers gush is a little...sickening and also makes the rest of us feel useless when our own child is currently running around naked, covered in chocolate, remnants of marmite in his hair, trashing the house and trying mummy's patience on every level (not just mine hey?!). On those days those updates drive me mad.
Then there is the whole photo thing. Lots of parents don't like pictures of their children on facebook. Now I understand the logic behind this. When I realised how the photographs of my son which I used on my blog, would show up in the search engine when my name was searched-well I wasn't happy at all. Unsavory characters could have access easily to pictures of my little man, in fact they were advertised for all to see, rather than only being shown on my blog-as intended. Because of this I now try not to use many(you've probably noticed this) so I do understand the logic. HOWEVER on facebook, I feel it's a little different because if you have a private profile, like most people do, means that no-one you don't know can have access to private and personal details or photo's. So when you go to a BBQ or birthday party and want to put the snaps on your page for all to enjoy the sight of your 'little prince' dancing like superstar...you have to check first with all parents. And there is always one who isn't willing to give permission for that, and you can guarantee it's their child in EVERY decent picture of your own. And what's more the pictures usually appear on their own profile anyway.
All of this goes with all the previously experienced nastiness too. A soppy status dedicated to 'good friends' which doesn't include you, or a party you don't get invited to...all these things can make you feel so excluded, so judged and like your back at school again fighting for a place in the 'in crowd'. It's just not for me.
The lonelihood I've experienced at times in my first few years as a mother has been my driving force to use facebook but I am very aware of how it works and how it makes me feel, more importantly. So rather than be impulsive and delete my account again, I now don't really use it as an interactive tool. I look at my friends holiday snaps, chat with people who live far away from me and I wouldn't usually get to be involved with as much...but that's as far as it goes now. I don't spend 24 hours a day with it on the laptop, and spend most of my facebook time on my business page working now instead.
My take is that facebook can be a great platform for friendship, for business and valuable platform and lifeline for mothers when they need to feel less alone. But only in small doses that is. What do you think about facebook? Are you an addict, or like me, a sporadic user? Would love to know your thoughts!