Navigating the social media age certainly added a whole new dimension to the way we receive and perceive social stigmas.
Don’t have a Facebook page? You live in the stone age.
You do have a Facebook page? Instagram is now where it’s at, Facebook is passé.
Post a selfie? You have a vanity complex.
Never post any photos of yourself? You need help with your self esteem.
And then of course there is the unwritten commandment leveled at all parents with an internet connection: don’t don’t don’t post too much about your children.
From the thinly veiled flogging of the iPhone mom to overtly calling out such supposed taboos as adopting a photo of your kids as your personal profile picture, the message is clear: your online habits are now the new frontier for outsiders judging your parenting. And thanks to the marvelous connectivity of the internet, strangers with no tangible connection to your family or home life now have the unique ability to reach out and render their critiques with lightning fast speed and virtual anonymity. It’s reminiscent of those classic women’s magazine spreads where unknowing pedestrians found themselves featured on the glossy pages with a black bar of shame plastered over their faces and the enormous “DONT” label calling out their crimes.
I’ve often found myself on the receiving end of some of the haplessly lobbed verbal grenades.
“I’ll bet your kids are so sick of having their pictures taken, right?”
“Put the camera down or you’ll miss their whole childhood!”
“How do you find so much time to post online? Aren’t you supposed to be watching your kids?”
“People who post so many updates about their kids online are just embarrassed they don’t have their own life or their own identity outside their kids anymore.”
“Posting a ton on social media is just pure narcism.”
Some are unintentionally pointed or mistakenly worded in haste, others are overt criticisms or outright mean spirited, but all of them hurt, and all of them have had the potential to alter my internet presence and change the way I express myself online.
Maybe it’s because I’m nearing my 30’s, or maybe it’s just God working a new growth in my character, but I’m learning to make a new peace with the naysayers and givers of unsolicited advice. I’m cultivating an understanding that every phrase and image I post online accumulates into my personal autobiography, and I would never allow anyone else to write that story for me. Every time I edit my online voice to serve the critiques of another, I essentially drop my folio into their lap and ask them to take their red pen to my life’s work. I would never surrender the power over to someone else to choose my next haircut or restyle my wardrobe, so why would I allow them to craft my online persona?
The internet is a powerful medium, and with every post we shape our legacy – images and strings of characters coming together to craft a story of us.
Photos of morning cheerios and gap toothed smiles.
Stories of potty training snafus and the little victories in the everyday.
Journals of travels and new experiences.
Testimonies of Gods provision in the unexpected.
Quotes from when the kids really did say the darndest things.
Status Updates chronicling the first date, the first home, the first steps.
If you post what you love and share the things that are meaningful, there simply isn’t any way to be wrong. Don’t give an editors pen to anyone you wouldn’t trust with your life’s work. So go ahead and share another story about that hilarious thing your preschooler just said, and don’t be ashamed to post the umpteenth photo of your baby’s newly tooth endowed grin. Its your story, and only you get to decide whats in it.