Sex & Relationships

I Don’t Care That You Don’t Care About My Baby

We parents aren’t sharing our baby stories on social media because we are trying to bore you.

In a recent article titled “I Don’t Care About Your Baby,” the author, Jonathan Naymark, articulates why he doesn’t give a flying f*#k in a rolling doughnut about your baby. Naymark’s main target is the way people indulge the narcissism of parents—and the self-absorbed assumption that anyone actually gives a crap about their kid’s first crap in the potty. Even though I am also inundated with babies on my Facebook news feed, I see the phenomenon of the oversharing parent through a different lens. Mainly because just yesterday I posted a picture of my kid’s kinetic sand sculpture of a “snowman,” that for whatever reason, had balls and a boner.

When I squirted a being from my loins, I had zero interest in losing my identity into the abyss of motherhood. I consider myself an actualized woman who did things like go to Burning Man, eat acid, and then read the dictionary. I had every intention of maintaining my cool status, and being totally laid back about everything. Yet I post, write, and talk about my daughter all the time. This is not because I feel like she is an extension of myself that I am living vicariously through—or that I feel the compulsion to brag. It's just that she is a huge part of my life. I have to spend a lot of time with my kid because she is only four years old, and doesn’t know how to use an oven. As a result, every once in a while when I am jaded and playing dolls, I will distract myself by tweeting how my child really does suck at singing “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. She just can’t hit that high note!

We parents aren’t sharing our baby stories on social media because we are trying to bore you; it is because we are bored! And if we are not bored and just really into the process of rearing children, then we are sharing our joy! Either way, the intention is to feel as if we are part of something. We live in an unprecedented time in human history were community is something you have to seek out. Although I am sure it wasn’t a picnic living in the 1800-s and harvesting wheat with your 3-year old, at least you were surrounded by active members of society. Unless you live on a hippy commune with your guru Radiant Body, modern living is very quarantined.

The craving to share anything on social media, regardless of content, is rooted in a desperate need for validation. It doesn’t matter if I post a casual shot of me hanging out in a bikini, or if one of my toddler screaming bloody murder because she let go of her balloon that flew away. (I TOLD HER THAT WOULD HAPPEN!) The message is the same - PLEASE NOTICE ME! We are all isolated, lonely, and crave the sense of connection that comes from these technological platforms. If you peel open the diaper to look at why parents overshare, you won’t just find a pile of semi-digested organic peas - but rather a frantic craving for support.

There is a conventional path towards adulthood, and that usually involves partnering off with someone, rubbing your genitals together, and eventually one of you (or a third party) will host a baby. Exactly because this is the status quo, it is an easy way to ignite public endorsement. Forget the fact that I scream at my reflection for two hours every morning, and make racial slurs in my sleep – I had a baby and that is something everyone can be proud of! When people spawn, they get instant encouragement that their life has meaning - and isn’t that what we are all looking for? We need for our existence to have value, so we can resist the urge to jump off high buildings.

If we are going to critique parenting on social media then we have to examine the spectacle of our online selves for everyone. Parents are just using the vocabulary given to us by the platform. So if you don’t care about my baby, then you probably are using these mediums as a popularity contest rather than a meaningful outlet to keep in touch with those that you love. When social media becomes a place to build a virtual audience, of course you don’t care about what people post, because you don’t’ care about those actual people. Anyone who genuinely knows and cares about me does care about my kid to some degree. Mainly because she says hilarious things like, “I would like you more if you were a stuffed animal.”

Toni Nagy writes for Huffington Post, Salon, Thought Catalog, Hairpin, Do You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She has her own blog, and is the host of a podcast.