If social media didn’t exist I probably would never have watched goats singing to Taylor Swift or learn that it’s not a good idea to suck shot glasses to get plumper lips. For those who so far have managed to avoid stepping on the social media platform I salute you all as I am starting to discover an unsociable side to our generation’s obsession.
Like the rest of the 3.4 billion active social media users, I have spent years uploading endless pictures of my dinner and have collected evidence of rather questionable outfits that I’m already regretting. My list of hobbies currently include Facebook stalking an endless amount of people. There is no fear greater than thinking you’ve actually hit that like button on that ten year old photo whilst snooping on your victim.
I am starting to discover an unsociable side to our generation’s obsession.
Days after the doctor confirming I was pregnant I found myself as a woman on a mission exploring all social media for hints and tips about my approaching bundle of joy. Overwhelmed by the stories and trying to forget words such as “agonising labour” and “forceps” I started to notice the ugly heads of trolls appearing from underneath their bridges of criticism and feel disheartened by their posts.
To begin with, it was nasty remarks about choosing to have children and the negative change it has on your life. This was something I could easily ignore because I knew that sleep and myself would have to pause on our pillow talk at some stage and it wasn’t going to be all about me anymore.
After Joel’s birth I continued to use online sources especially Facebook and Instagram and like any other new Mum I was Googling the most weird and wonderful things. For example: “my newborn baby’s snoring sounds like Darth Vader is this normal?” and “how do I stop my toddler picking his nose?” (my attempt at telling Joel he will end up getting married with his finger stuck up there didn’t work).
Round about the time Joel was born, there must have been something in the water in Celebrity land as I had noticed online an endless amount of celebrities with pregnancy announcements or news of babies’ arrivals. Along with this new Mum panic, I was developing insecurities about my appearance and appreciated seeing celebrity new Mums with honest photos of their post-baby bodies. So I continued to follow, like, share and watch posts/videos during different stages of Joel’s past year from all new parents who posted.
Learning that whatever your situation we’re all surviving the same battle of disturbed sleep although some days I’m sure we’re all tempted to fly that white flag of surrender. Overall, this was beneficial in helping enhance my confidence and remind myself to keep trusting my judgement.
Amongst the advice and positive comments, the vile comments reared their hideous heads again through the various social media sites. Despite this not being aimed directly at myself, it may seem ridiculous that I got upset but when you’re new to the job and doubting every move you make, it leaves you more vulnerable to insensitive remarks.
It seems easier when this happens face to face because at least I can easily defend my decision but the more I read, the more I could find myself getting wound up. The criticising would be on anything from the brand of nappies used, to your preferred feeding choices and although some comments were purely based on personal opinion, there was the small minority of online midwife imposters implying poor parenting skills.
Mothers who chose not to take a full year’s maternity leave was more scandalous than the latest Strictly celebrity love affair. The immunisation debate continues to flag up especially on Instagram, no matter your decision on the subject there’s disapproval for each option. As a parent reading this it is infuriating, especially when the reality hit me that I was getting wound up by statements made possibly by heart broken teenage Justin Bieber fans.
Mothers who chose not to take a full year’s maternity leave was more scandalous than the latest Strictly celebrity love affair.
After a strong word with myself about not rising to their mischievous bait, I then looked at the positive impact that social media has and continues to have, as I trek through the mad jungle of parenthood. I have joined private groups on Facebook for local parents where we arrange meeting up and offer advice about e.g. the best prams, sleeping patterns and weaning. The brilliance of it being a closed group is that it blocks any unwanted comments and we don’t risk cluttering anyone’s newsfeed of explosive nappy stories.
Not only are these groups good for information, but I have made new friends through them and learnt to enjoy social media again. With notifications and reminders about the award winning NCT’s upcoming events or themed events at local baby groups, Facebook and Twitter make it difficult to miss out on anything.
Despite social media not involving face to face contact it did help me create a new social life. (I do however still enjoy a quiet night in with a Panda Garden watching Youtube videos about how to set my pram up).
No matter how long you’ve been a carer/guardian/parent for, we can all honestly admit we’ve experienced at one time or another heart stopping moments when we’ve turned around to discover their child is eating the contents of their nappy (or maybe that’s just me!). It doesn’t matter if I don’t use the cream that Mumsnet recommend, because just like a politician’s answer every baby’s backside is different.
If Joel drops anything on the floor I’m not stood there panicking if the three second rule has been broken – in fact in my house there’s an unlimited second rule! The germs are not timing their moment to pounce and I’m a massive supporter of the germs and immune system collaboration.
Like a phoenix rising from a flame of unnecessary criticism, I will not drench my child in Dettol or bleach every inch of my house as I know best for my child not @thetrollunderthebridge.
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