26 April 2010, by Dannie Cho
Facebook, according to a recent survey, is the top social networking site in Singapore today. And that’s not really hard to believe, isn’t it? I mean, board the train to work on a Monday morning and throw a rubber ducky at a random person. I bet you that person has a Facebook account, and before the end of the day, someone would have updated his or her status to “XXX was hit by a rubber ducky today!” And there will be 10 comments by the next morning asking what happened, and after he replies, another 60 commiserating with his bad luck for having boarded the train with a lunatic and another 20 commentators sharing their own experiences with other lunatics.
But I digress.
I, along with most of my friends, have accounts on Facebook. But it irritates me to no end a friend has a baby, and suddenly, their entire Facebook account seems to belong to some baby-advertising maniac.
New photo albums. Ooooh! Me likey peektures! But I cannot stomach 200 pictures of a baby in pretty much the same position; with minor variations only the parents can see. It may help if there are captions though, to explain why each of these 200 pictures is unique, but then again, it may not. Anyway, new parents don’t have time to put captions, so it’s a moot point.
Status updates. Profile pictures. It’s the same story. Everything is now about the baby, and no longer about my friend. It’s like my friend no longer exists!
I have pondered long and hard about this phenomenon, and come up with three reasons for this identity theft.
1) Convenience — The new parents also now have more friends than ever. Instead of the 20 close friends and relatives who then ‘need’ to update on the baby’s status, it has become 200 friends, relatives and colleagues who have been following the parents’ lives. It is therefore easiest to update as many people as possible at one go on whether baby loves mummy’s milk.
2) Pride — After the baby is born and all the fingers and toes are counted, parents start thinking that their son or daughter is the best-looking tyke in the world. So those pictures are put up there for you to respond and affirm their beliefs.
3) Loss of Self-Esteem — This can be conscious or unconscious. The baby is really everything now. No one cares about you, just the baby. I suppose this was really brought home to me when I visited my best friend’s sister after she gave birth. Upon opening the door to her private room, I went immediately to her and kissed her on her forehead. “Hey, Jeannie, how are you doing?” I was really startled by her reply that I was the only one who greeted her and ‘sayang-ed’ her first instead of demanding to see the baby straightaway. Face it, everyone wants to hold and touch the baby. No one ever bothers with the newly-minted parents. Is it any surprise that they lose their self-esteem?
I suppose that whatever the reasons, it’s going to be impossible to expect your friend to continue giving just updates on themselves. The baby is now a major part of your friend’s life now, and the best thing to do is to probably respect that.
I’ll be damned if I ever let my child’s photo replace my profile picture on Facebook though. That Facebook account is mine. Mine!