As my friends have started to settle down and have children, I have noticed that people simply don't understand basic good manners.
Well, when I say "people", I mean "parents".
I would argue, based on my own experience, that once people become parents, they lose all the knowledge of online etiquette they once had. The popular American website STFUParents (short for Shut the...yes, well) has daily updates from Facebook walls in which parents make inappropriate comments and share too much information, particularly about their child's bowel movements.
You needn't feel superior, though, and think this is a purely American phenomenon. It happens all the time in the UK as well.
My friend Helen, eight months pregnant, noted that she was tired after a busy day at work - one of her parent friends gleefully commented that she should get used to being tired because once the baby arrives she'll never get a good night's sleep again.
Then my friend Georgina, mum to a four-month-old, posted her little boy's weight at his latest health check - one of her parent friends immediately wanted to know what on earth she was feeding him because clearly he was too heavy.
These impolite commenters are the sorts of parents who post pictures of their precious child's "nappy explosions" (why would you want to memorialise these incidents on the internet? Wouldn't it be better for all of you just to clear it up and forget about it very quickly?), and catalogue all the minutiae of their darling baby's day.
Here's a newsflash. Babies are really quite dull, if they're not yours. If something of genuine interest happens – something properly funny, or entertaining, or unusual – by all means, put it as your status. However, please be warned. Your baby gurgling, your baby shuffling around the floor, your baby sleeping, your baby eating food – this is NOT INTERESTING to anyone except you and your immediate family. As for me and the other 300 of your Facebook friends, we're yawning with the tedium of it all and considering blocking you from our news feeds.
Before you tell me I'm a child-hating killjoy, let me refer you to my friend Julia. "I've got a friend whose children I know better than my own nieces and nephews thanks to her incessant updates, including videos of them DOING NOTHING," she rages. "Everything they say is apparently hilarious. I have a few friends whose updates make me silently scream, 'I don't care!' but she is one of the worst. Your children had their jabs, did they? I DON'T GIVE A FLYING ONE!"
My friend Chris is bored by one of his Facebook friends, who's newly pregnant and keeping everyone updated with every minute of it. "She's been telling us the exact date she finds out the sex of her baby, posting updates and counting down," he snarls. "And then, at the end of the countdown, she posted this: 'Sorry, guys, baby was a wriggler and keeping legs firmly crossed. Couldn't get a clear view so having another scan tomorrow at 10.30am. Keep fingers crossed!'"
What Chris's friend has failed to realise is that though we like you and are happy that you are realising your dream of parenthood and wish for nothing but health and happiness for your new baby, you are the only one who is really excited about all the details of your child's day, in utero and post-birth. The rest of us will just react with an "Oh, that's lovely!" because it's what politeness dictates - not because we hate children, but because it's just not that enthralling if you're not personally closely involved.
However, what I hate more than reading about your child's projectile vomiting is when you comment on photos of me with my nephew or my friends' babies and tell me it "suits" me, or it'll be my "turn" next.
Do I comment on photos of your child and tell you it won't be long until you can get back to work, or that it's a shame you had to sacrifice your career in favour of bringing up your baby? No, I don't, it would be terribly thoughtless and rude. So why does being a parent give you carte blanche to do that in reverse?
Is this the classic "mummy brain" kicking into action, where parents' minds shrink and all they can think about is their baby, no matter how out-of-place their comments? Is this why parents decide to replace their Facebook profile pictures of themselves with pictures of their child?
Here's a thought for you, infant-obsessed parents. Your Facebook is YOUR Facebook. We're friends with you there because we like you. Yes, your child is a big part of your life – but not your whole life. Keep your face as your profile picture, and post about things that you've done and thought and seen, not just the amazing occurrence of your child having a runny nose.
If those rules don't work for you, perhaps you need to take a 10-year hiatus from the internet and go back to social networking once your genius child can properly supervise you...
Do you agree with Carrie or is she too harsh? Tell us your thoughts...
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