The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s got all the advice on Facebook.
Babies are adorable. They’re probably up there with puppies and kittens and those otters that hold hands with each other when it comes to “awwwww”-inducing things you can find online. But if you’ve reached a certain age, it can get a little overwhelming to wade through the sometimes over-the-top amount of baby and child-related social media updates from doting parents you’re connected to on social media. Facebook is the most common place for updates about little ones, but they’re also seeping onto Instagram, Twitter, Vine and the other places we squander our time.
And people get really, really sensitive about their children, so it’s a good idea to adopt a thoughtful approach for dealing with new parents on social media. Have no fear – Miss Netiquette is here to answer your questions about deftly navigating the minefield that is Baby Update Bonanza on our favorite social networks.
Q: How can I see my friends’ updates without seeing every single stupid baby milestone?
Well, if you want to limit the amount of your friends’ baby-stuff that shows up on your News Feed, the first thing you’ll want to do is install Unbaby.me, a Chrome extension designed for people frustrated with too many cooing updates in mind. It changes all the pictures of babies in your Facebook feed to whatever you want to replace it with. But Unbaby.me doesn’t mean you’ll totally rid your feed of tots — first of all, it only works on Chrome, so if you prefer Firefox, you’re out of luck (and if you prefer IE you need to give your head a shake.) Also, it works by targeting certain keywords and phrases, so it only replaces pictures that come with captions like “adorable baby,” etc. You can personalize the keywords it targets, so if you’re generally OK with babies but your friend Andrea won’t stop posting pictures of her kid potty training, you can put in “Andrea baby” to maximize the chances that it will stay off your feed. If you don’t install Unbaby.me, there are other steps you can take if you’re sick of seeing daily updates. You can make a list of all your baby-havin’ friends and cordon them off, so you can peruse their pictures as you choose without seeing it on your main feed. Or you can choose to subscribe to only “Important” updates from your friend, which will filter out a lot of the nonsense – though you actually may miss something interesting.
Q: Is there any way to block baby pictures on Instagram if I’m sick of seeing them?
Sadly, no. Instagram doesn’t have lists or curating functions, so you either have to unfollow the people with children or just deal with the constant barrage of Valencia-filtered toothless grins. But you can use the “Discover” tab to find other interesting topics and users and start following them, which will dilute the baby photos. For contrast, try following old people on Instagram. Then you will see a wide range of ages. Although, if you find super-old people using Instagram, please let me know – did Betty White sign up yet?
Q: My friend posted pictures of her baby stark naked on Facebook. Should I say something (like, that’s inappropriate or I’m uncomfortable?)
Even though it technically violates Facebook’s rules against nudity, there’s probably no harm in putting pictures of wee naked babes on Facebook, and as long as they’re straight-up full-fledged babies, you can probably let this one slide. But if your friend is throwing up pictures of her children buck naked, that’s a different story — though it’s certainly done in complete innocence, putting naked pictures of children on the Internet makes it way too easy for people who like that sort of thing to get a hold of it. And while you might not want to imagine one of your Facebook friends as a pedophile, you might have friended a random or loose acquaintance at one point with less than pure intentions. So: infant pics, keep your lips shut, but any kids out of diapers really shouldn’t be sans clothes on the Internet. It’s one thing for a mom to show a ridiculous nudie pic of her kid son to his girlfriend years later – from a private family photo album. Anything more public than that is really unfair to the kid.
Q: I get roped into Facebook messages that devolve into baby talk between my friends with kids. How can I edge out of the conversation gracefully?
So, if you’re in a message thread with a bunch of overzealous mommies and you want to leave, you can click “leave the conversation” – but it alerts everyone to the fact that you’ve exited, so you have to be OK with that. If you want to do it less obviously, you can “mute” the conversation, which turns off push notifications and makes it so your chat window doesn’t pop up for it, which is better than nothing. You can also do something very sneaky and awesome, which is move the conversation to the “Other” folder, aka Facebook’s spam folder. This means you might get called out if someone asks you a question and you don’t respond, but you won’t see the conversation in your normal inbox anymore, or get updates on it.
Q: Do I have to comment on a baby update if I’m tagged in it?
It depends. Are you in the picture? Are you the baby’s godparent? Is the parent of said baby your best friend or best friend/sibling? If the answer is yes to one or any of those questions, at least ‘like’ the picture so the parent gets some validation for procreating. Otherwise, no, because tagging someone who doesn’t meet the above three criteria in a picture of your baby is a weird example of trolling for likes and should not be tolerated.
Q: My friend’s a new parent and they downloaded the “Pet Baby” app and I’m horrified. Should I yell at him?
Yes. “Pet Baby” is on record as the worst app in the world.
Q: I’m a new parent – what can I do to not drive my childless friends insane?
Don’t post more than one baby-related update a day, unless your baby has done something legitimately amazing like started flying around the room or flawlessly impersonating Beyonce. Don’t complain about being a parent – save it for the mommy blogs. You signed up for this (I hope). Don’t only post baby-related updates or people will start to worry that you’ve lost your sense of self.
This doesn’t mean you should totally ignore your child’s existence on the Internets! If that little blob of adorableness is smiling like a freaking angel, you have every right to show the world of Facebook, just as your single friends have the ability to post pictures of themselves at a loft party doing pickleback shots in Buschwick at 5 AM. In both cases, it’s totally within your Facebook-having rights to share your exploits, but in both cases, no one thinks what you’re doing is as mind-blowing as you do, so don’t bombard people.