‘ There is a human being behind every tweet, blog and email.’ – Chris Brogan

The advent of social media opened up a can of worms across many areas of modern life – suddenly there were new forms of etiquette to adhere to and different expectations to meet. And whilst social media is no longer new, the reality is if you’re an active user on one platform or more, some degree of thought is needed – when posting or not posting, when interacting or purely observing, when sharing and when engaging.

And when it comes to sharing, there are no stronger opinions to be found than what’s appropriate when posting about pregnancy, babies and children. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone’s been the victim of an overshare (or two thousand). But in an area with so much grey, how do you sort out the black from the white?

Sharing on social media is tricky, at the best of times. It needs to come from you and what you’re comfortable with. I believe, most importantly, it needs to come from a place of authenticity. When people start trying to imitate (hands up if you’re sick of every third page on Facebook posting quirky e-cards and quotes entirely unrelated to their business just to boost their likes and engagement?) they fall down, eventually. When people post purely for attention, they usually get it – but often not the kind they’re looking for. And when people overshare, others either get infuriated or infatuated.

I like sharing photos and links and thoughts on social media, and I mostly aim to keep it positive. I’m a positive person, so it’s not usually very hard. Sometimes my ranty pants get the better of me, but I use social media in the same way I like to engage with it. I know how quickly I unfollow or mute people on Twitter who are insanely negative and draining, or those that bang on about the same things every 45.2 seconds. I know how little it takes for me to unfriend or unsubscribe from people who do the same on Facebook. I also know how much I get behind those I love on social media, those I find fresh and interesting and who use it in a considered way.

And I think that sharing pregnancy, babies and children needs to come from a similar place – do so in a way you are comfortable with, one that’s authentic and adding value.

As someone deeply engaged in the social media space, some people have commented that it’s surprising how little I’ve shared of my pregnancy so far. Sure, I’ve been writing about it here and sharing those links, and there’s been the occasional Instagram photo of cutesy things purchased, but for the most part I’ve avoided sharing every small detail – mainly because I find it personal, on a different level than I have anything before, and mostly because it’s not just my story to share.

My husband and I initially decided that we wouldn’t ‘announce’ our baby news on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But after sharing the news face to face with family and friends, and after the cat was out of the bag online, we decided to jump on the front foot and break it our way– with a little rhyme and one very cute ultrasound photo. And it was really lovely doing so. The excitement and joy from friends to acquaintances was heart warming. Not to mention my husband’s excitement; he was positively bursting to share the news. We’re glad we did share it, but it’s certainly not a requirement – and I completely understand why someone would choose not to.

Now we’ve turned our attention to how we’ll use social media once our little one arrives. We don’t plan on being the kind of parents who post blow by blow updates of their child’s every movement, progress and problem. And when it comes to sharing images, we’re definitely not sure of how we’ll approach it. I like the idea of sharing an image once bubs arrives, and even the odd picture throughout its growing life, but I’m not convinced that posting every little action of and about our child, especially in image or video form, is something my husband and I will be comfortable with on a regular basis.

It’s nice to share, but it’s also nice to share just as a family. To have memory and collection of a child’s life that’s not in the public fray. To have a baby album they can hold and cherish, one that’s theirs, without being open to commentary and likes.

Comments and likes are lovely; sharing my ultrasound image made me realise that. And I’m sure posting a photo of a newborn and announcing it will bring on the warm fuzzies, too.

I’m not sure how we’ll use social media when it comes to our child, but I know that it will always be a considered decision; there’ll be no nude shots of our baby online, no checking into hospitals and schools and no incessant updates about its every comment and action. Why? Because babies grow from babies to children to teenagers to adults, and they deserve to do so at their own pace, safely and freely. They also deserve to have some input and make their own choices about their online footprint. Will they mind some photos of them online? Most likely not, so ingrained and a part of their life it will be. Will they mind their entire childhood album laid bare for the world to see? Their parent’s complaints littering news feeds? Blogs about their inadequacies and irritations open for all to comment and compare? Probably. At some point. For one reason or another.

I’m unsure about the approach we’ll take, but I do know this; until our child can understand the online space, I’m pretty certain its life won’t be an open forum.

Image credit: Christopher Capozziello