I read this article today. The title is, "When women hide behind their children on Facebook." Specifically, the article is referring to mothers using a photo of their child as their profile picture on social networking sites. I noticed this phenomenon when I signed up for Facebook but it didn't really raise any red flags for me at the time.
But now that I stop and think about it, it is kind of strange, isn't it? Especially if you use Facebook for one of the main reasons I do: to reconnect with old friends you haven't seen in forever. If I want to get re-acquainted with so-and-so, what good does a photo of a cute 2-year-old do me?
On the other hand, I know exactly why we do it, and it's for the same reasons mentioned in the article. Our kids are our (arguably greatest) "achievement," our kids like having pictures taken of themselves and can be counted on to look cute (unlike ourselves), we have a million more pictures of our kids than of us, etc.
I do feel, however, that there are some darker motivations at work here. One, that we women are trying to send the self-effacing message, either consciously or unconsciously, that WE ARE OUR CHILDREN. And secondly, that if we - heaven forbid! - post a picture of our actual self on our Facebook page, we will be accused of being self-centered and narcissistic.
I know this because it's what I'm afraid of. Despite my efforts to be an invisible mom, I somehow managed to actually appear in a few photos we took of the girls recently. When it came time to post them on the family blogs, I debated whether I should crop myself out of them or not. I actually did try to crop myself out, but it looked awkward and unnatural. So I left myself in and posted the picture. And then worried that someone would comment on me, or my appearance, or think that I was trying to somehow insert myself into my daughters' lives.
Then I realized how ridiculous I was being. Since when are we not allowed to appear, or look good, in pictures with our children? But have you ever felt the same way? If you are a young mom, I'm almost positive you have.
The article goes on to mention how when women get together - even highly professionalized women - all we talk about is our kids. This is definitely true, at least to a great extent, and I'm not sure that I have a problem with it. There is something so liberating about motherhood being the great equalizer. In any social situation (or foreign country, I might add), if two mothers find each other, they will have something to talk about. If that something happens to be the favorite foods of a three-year-old, is that so bad? Of course there is a time and a place for more varied, "elevated" conversation, but sometimes it's nice to just bask in the commonality of "she has kids, and so do I." It doesn't mean that's all I am - it just means that's what I feel comfortable talking about with slight acquaintances sometimes.
One last note. When I changed my Blogger profile picture a few months ago, I chose from among three photos. Two were of myself and one was of Miriam. I ended up choosing the one of Miriam not because I wanted to be invisible (after all, if I wanted to be invisible, mistake number one was starting a blog), but because I thought it was arresting, unusual, and eye-catching. But maybe I was just kidding myself.
Do you hide behind your kid on Facebook?