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When women hide behind their children on Facebook
May 16, 2009 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Get Your Kid Off Your Facebook Page by Katie Roiphe You click on a friend's name and what comes into focus is not a photograph of her face, but a sleeping blond four-year-old, or a sun-hatted baby running on the beach. Here, harmlessly embedded in one of our favorite methods of procrastination, is a potent symbol for the new century. Where have all of these women gone? What, some future historian may very well ask, do all of these babies on our Facebook pages say about the construction of women’s identity at this particular moment in time?
posted by Locative (205 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Goes to take picture of cat off Facebook page before somebody writes an essay about the potent symbol of sad, lonely single women with pictures of cats on their Facebook pages.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:53 AM on May 16, 2009 [58 favorites]


I heard it said once that a key difference between Japanese and American households is, in the former you're likely to see photos of grandparents and their parents, in the latter you get mostly pictures of the kids - and that Japanese families are much more likely to take care of their elderly than Americans are. Showing photos of someone is a form of reverence, and showing too much reverence to little kids fosters a self-centered worldview in them.
posted by jbickers at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it shows that children are cute and women don't want to sift through pictures of themselves in order to find one that they think is decent enough for display.
posted by aetg at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2009 [18 favorites]


My facebook pic is my son. I'm male.
What does this say about the construction of my bla bla bla …
posted by signal at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


Ugh. I'm sure this author had some kind of decent point in there about mommies and identity, but it was way too padded with dumb hyperbole.
posted by lullaby at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Blow it out your ass, Katie. My kid has been such a huge monumental shift in my life, and my perceptions, that I sort of orbit him for the time being. Considering all my friends want pictures and updates of the baby, and they're all on Facebook, guess where I'm going to post them?

(not a woman)
posted by cavalier at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Christ, yes please. A good portion of my male Facebook friends do this as well. I'd be all for a full-scale baby purge from Facebook.

Not for any personal reasons, mind .. I'm just tired of getting reminded how half the people I went to high school with have their lives together enough to start a family. Ruins my Facebook fun, it does.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:00 AM on May 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


OK, I think it's lame for people to have pictures of their kids as their facebook ID, too, but the first argument:

True, her talk about her children is very detailed, very impressive in the rigor and analytical depth she brings to the subject; she could, you couldn’t help but think, be writing an entire dissertation on the precise effect of a certain teacher’s pedagogical style on her 4-year-old. But still. You notice at another, livelier corner of the table that the men are not talking about models of strollers.

Well, that basically boils down to "the men are talking about more interesting stuff", and the second argument:

I have a friend whose daughter for a very long time wore squeaky sneakers. These sneakers emitted what was to adult ears an unbelievably annoying squeak with every single step she took. I asked my friend once why she put up with the sneakers, and she said, “Because she likes them!” Imagine being in this new generation, discovering with every joyous squeak of your sneakers, that Galileo was wrong, and the sun is not the center of the universe, you are!

...is nothing more than "these kids today!". How about this: your children do not charm or interest me. The person in the first argument has been putting up with listening to "very detailed, very impressive" stuff about someone's kids? Yeah, right. Your kids are fucking boring; if they define your identity, then you are a boring person.
posted by interrobang at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


Considering all my friends want pictures and updates of the baby, and they're all on Facebook, guess where I'm going to post them?
You can post them on Facebook without posting them as (supposedly) your picture.

To be clear, I'm a whole lot more indifferent about this than the author is, but that's what the author's complaining about: posting a picture of your child as (supposedly) your picture, not about simply posting pictures of your child.
posted by Flunkie at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with this. I feel the same way about women who post joint photos with their significant others as their Facebook photo. I feel this is most often done by women as well, although a brief skim of my friends page shows that a few of my male friends do the same. And that one of my female friends has up a photo of her and me. Awkward.
posted by grouse at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It is disconcerting to see a snot-smeared, freckled whelp ask WHICH IS YOUR SEXIEST FEATURE?
posted by applemeat at 8:08 AM on May 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


In my experience, the average woman likes to take photos more than the average male does.

It's more difficult to take pictures of themselves.

Therefore, the pictures are of the things the average woman sees.

So there are pics of the womens' kids.

This is not all that hard to understand...why do people like the author always want to take the most explosive and negative route to find an answer?

Because it sells.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:10 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is the same Katie Roiphe who got name recognition in the 1990s downplaying date rape in her book, The Morning After. And now she's complaining that having a picture of your kid on your Facebook page is somehow a blow against women's equality? Is she trying to horn in on the same action that a 1990s nostalgia act like Camille Paglia has?
posted by jonp72 at 8:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


I agree with this. I feel the same way about women who post joint photos with their significant others as their Facebook photo. I feel this is most often done by women as well, although a brief skim of my friends page shows that a few of my male friends do the same. And that one of my female friends has up a photo of her and me. Awkward.

Why is this weird? Why wouldn't they have a picture with someone else in it? It would be pretty boring if it was just your face all the time.

My current profile picture is of me and a life size cut-out of James Dean. Is this more or less awkward than being in a photo with somebody who is actually alive?
posted by liquorice at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2009


I think the author of the article needs to find something to do. She has way too much time on her hands if she has time to get this worked up over what picture people choose as their profile picture on Facebook.
posted by COD at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


liquorice, it's only awkward because I realized it right after writing a paragraph on how people shouldn't do such things.
posted by grouse at 8:15 AM on May 16, 2009


wow ... every paragraph of this piece is stuffed to bursting with hyperbole ...

The mystery here is that the woman with the baby on her Facebook page has surely read The Feminine Mystique in college, and The Second Sex, and The Beauty Myth. She is no stranger to the smart talk of whatever wave of feminism we are on, and yet this style of effacement, this voluntary loss of self, comes naturally to her. Here is my pretty family, she seems to be saying, I don’t matter anymore.

Yay confirmation bias! God, this is more poorly thought-out and argued than that "30 Rock's kinda conservative" article from awhile back.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:15 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm actually in the process of writing a piece on this. Excessive Breederism on Facebook. I can't tell you how many of my friends I've had to silence from my feed because they kept posting crap about their baby.

LISTEN! YOUR BABY IS NOT CUTE OR UNIQUE, AND NOTHING IT DOES IS INTERESTING. BABIES ALL LOOK ALIKE AND ARE PRETTY ANNOYING ON THE WHOLE. I DON'T NEED TO SEE ANOTHER PICTURE/VIDEO/STATUS UPDATE ABOUT YOUR STUPID BABY DOING SOMETHING THAT STUPID BABIES DO.

And your profile picture? Unless you're actually eight months old, YOUR PROFILE PICTURE SHOULD NOT BE A PICTURE OF A BABY.

And your profile picture of yourself with your SO? That can go, too.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [25 favorites]


I'm just tired of getting reminded how half the people I went to high school with have their lives together enough to start a family.

Ha, if only having your life together was a prerequisite to starting a family.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


jonp72: "This is the same Katie Roiphe who got name recognition in the 1990s downplaying date rape in her book, The Morning After. ... Is she trying to horn in on the same action that a 1990s nostalgia act like Camille Paglia has?"

I have a female friend who attended Harvard during the same 4 years that Ms. Roiphe did. When The Morning After came out, she fumed, "Maybe the reason no one told her they had been date-raped is because she was the kind of person you would never tell anything personal to."
posted by Joe Beese at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow, Afroblanco ... you have friends?
posted by jbickers at 8:18 AM on May 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Another interesting fact is that Katie Roiphe's mother is Anne Roiphe, the author of the book Up the Sandbox, which was a 1970s book all about how a woman could be a mother yet still have feminist aspirations. In other words, Katie Roiphe was economically supported in her childhood by a woman who did the 1970s equivalent of putting her kid's photo on her Facebook page. So, count me in with "Blow it out your ass, Katie!" She's a hack 1990s controversialist who's desperately trying to keep herself relevant, but fails.
posted by jonp72 at 8:19 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Excessive Breederism on Facebook.

It sucks when you want to jump into a thread and agree with a certain viewpoint, but just as you're about to chime in, somebody in the group you're about to agree with yells, "And another thing! I'll tell ya, those Ay-rabs..."
posted by cribcage at 8:20 AM on May 16, 2009 [18 favorites]


Yoohoo, Facebook-using ex-boyfriend who told me I must be barren two minutes after he told me that he knocked up his boss? You? Yeah, well, THIS IS MY KID.

I wish I were kidding.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Birth ---> subject of Mommy's photos on Facebook ---> post photos of scantily-clad-and-drunk underage self on MySpace ---> get pregnant via online dating ---> post photos of offspring on Facebook ---> yell at offspring for tacky, scantily-clad photos on MySpace ---> coo at photos of offspring's offspring on Facebook ---> death
posted by grounded at 8:23 AM on May 16, 2009 [28 favorites]


Afroblanco, uhm ... "breederism?" ... ick. Dial it down a couple notches, wouldya?
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


God damn, Katie, breathe into a paper bag or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe Katie should friend some writers on Facebook. We all have our cover art as our Facebook avatar! Or is that just more of the same? I made the kids, I made the book. Curses. Foiled by the XY again.
posted by headspace at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why wouldn't they have a picture with someone else in it? It would be pretty boring if it was just your face all the time.

...

::sobs inconsolably::
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


What will it mean to future historians that mine's a picture of Mongo from Blazing Saddles? I don't want them to get the wrong idea regarding the construction of my identity at this particular moment in time!
posted by Hoopo at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Er, XX. Dammit, morning.
posted by headspace at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2009


My facebook profile picture is of a pig wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses. What does that say about me?

I don't change my FB pic that often, but I don't usually use a picture of myself.
posted by bluefly at 8:28 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Enough with the incessant nitpicking over how women run their lives. I thought feminism was supposed to free women from gender-based strictures.
posted by orange swan at 8:28 AM on May 16, 2009 [35 favorites]


What does it say about me that my Facebook photo is me holding a plate or orange sweet rolls?
posted by sciurus at 8:29 AM on May 16, 2009


What if your friend has a picture of a tattoo of their baby as their profile picture?

(Yes, my friend really has this as his profile pic. The rest of his tattoos are vaginas and eyeballs.)
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Get Your Kid Off Your Facebook Page

I've got a better idea: get off of Facebook entirely and try some actual face to face interaction. You're not that interesting, neither are your children. Get over yourself, invite someone out lunch and have an actual conversation. You can always Twitter about it on your iPhone from the restaurant bathroom if you really need to.
posted by MikeMc at 8:32 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


sciurus - it means that you demean yourself, as a person for baked goods! Oh, for shame! When will Betty Crocker rest in peace? Are passports and driver's licenses next?
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:32 AM on May 16, 2009


Wow, Afroblanco ... you have friends?

Apparently, breeders pity-friend hm.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I used to make a really conscious effort not to talk about my kids too much. I didn't want to be one of those women Roiphe describes as having completely lost their identity. But then I realized that other people spent a hell of a lot of time talking about their work, their bosses and their coworkers. As a stay-at-home mom, my kids are my work, my bosses and my coworkers. How is your 20 minute tirade about how the annoying woman in the cube next to you wears too much perfume any more interesting or relevant than my story about how my 2-year-old has developed a coffee addiction? I it because you have a "real" job and I do "woman's work"? There's a weird sideways sexism in Roiphe's attitude that no one ever seems to address.

And my Facebook profile picture is of me and my husband all smiley and decked out at a black-tie wedding, because I want all the high school bitches and ex-boyfriends on my friends list to think that we are so fabulous that we constantly swirl around in tuxedos and ballgowns--like our life is one long episode of Hart to Hart. Putting up any more pictures of us would ruin that image, so all the other pics on my page are of my kids. (Also, I'm generally the one behind the camera, so there just aren't any pictures of me.)
posted by jrossi4r at 8:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [31 favorites]


here's the short version, for those who can't be bothered to read the whole thing

"Breeders are SO bourgeois."
posted by pyramid termite at 8:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Our parents, I can’t help thinking, would never have tolerated the squeaky sneakers, or conversations revolving entirely around children.

This, and the rest of that paragraph rings pretty true. I find that many of my siblings and friends who have become parents are way more attached than our parents were. Some so deliberately different than our parents that it makes me wonder if they regretted our upbringing so much that they're wiling to experiment on their own kids. And I wonder what kind of a society will result from it, what these center-of-the-universe kids will build. Probably better in some ways, probably much worse in others. Probably the philosophy by the time these kids are parents will have changed back to where their kids are ignored in their bedrooms while the cocktail party is swinging and we'll get another generation of cynical youths. I don't know. I'm pretty sure that I will become increasingly annoyed by these kids, though. Maybe that's just an old person's role, and it happens to every generation. Carry on, human race.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I guess the thing is that peoples' lives generally become a lot less interesting when they have kids. So when my friend posts that video of his baby crawling around and cooing in some way that he thinks is particularly cute? That's literally the most exciting thing that's happened to him all day. So I guess it's all relative.

It just sucks that Facebook took away that one feature where you could request to have "more of" or "less of" someone in your feed. I mean, I don't want to silence people altogether. I just don't need to see their constant stream of kid-crap.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:38 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well-written article, thank you!
posted by agregoli at 8:38 AM on May 16, 2009


my story about how my 2-year-old has developed a coffee addiction

Is it missing the point that I totally want to hear this story now?

posted by nebulawindphone at 8:39 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


My facebook picture is a picture I took of Bill's Dollar Store and the sign in their window that says, "Ask about our layaway plan!!"

Anyway, my picture has never been just of my baby (although once it was of my three kids, but only to show off their Tick comic themed Mardi Gras costumes that I made), but if it were, that's because I don't want to look at a picture of myself. My baby's extra chins are cute, mine aren't.
posted by artychoke at 8:40 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, this:

the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafes and offices across the country

I must be doing it wrong; I use it to keep in touch with friends in other cities and not as a self-promotional tool. Do people take their email sigs this seriously too?
posted by Hoopo at 8:43 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


I feel the same way about every picture used on profiles. Just live it blank! Get off my lawn!

*alteredcarbon confirmed you as a friend*
posted by alteredcarbon at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I guess the thing is that peoples' lives generally become a lot less interesting when they have kids.

Yeah, you couldn't be more wrong about this. Less interesting to you, perhaps.
posted by jbickers at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


because I want all the high school bitches and ex-boyfriends on my friends list to think that we are so fabulous that we constantly swirl around in tuxedos and ballgowns
I think this is both fun and funny - personally I'd like to be considered a modern day Nick Charles....but I have a hard time understanding why one would friend those people in the first place.
posted by device55 at 8:47 AM on May 16, 2009


TL;DR. My facebook picture is a picture of me lounging in a chair with my dog draped on my shoulders. I don't have human children, but I do have fur-babbies.

I don't mind the babies on facebook as much as it turning into twitter.
posted by schyler523 at 8:50 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Though some say it isn't so, I can remember a time when there was no Facebook and unless your last name was .mil you had to get your own home page and URL!

This could have been written twelve years ago but it would have been different. To experience that, go through the essay and mentally replace all the pictures of kids references with pictures of cat references. What, some future historian may very well ask, do all of these felines on our home pages say about the construction of early internet adopters' identity at this particular moment in time? and so on.

I mean I agree with some of what she's saying about our culture, but I don't think the baby pictures on Facebook has anything to do with it. I think it has to do with the fact that pictures of me are never quite pass the I want to show this to all of HTMLanity muster, but your kitty cat kid is sort of an extension of you forged from pure innocence and will never be older, fatter, less well dressed, more poorly composed or more out of focus than you think you need to be.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:51 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What, some future historian may very well ask, do all of these babies on our Facebook pages say about the construction of women’s identity at this particular moment in time?

I think it says that some women people such as Katie Roiphe construct their identity on their Facebook pages while others use it to put pictures and shit on the internet.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Showing photos of someone is a form of reverence, and showing too much reverence to little kids fosters a self-centered worldview in them.

So what does it mean that I don't have pictures of anybody?

My parents have pictures of me. It's weird to see them when I go visit, because I have trouble getting my head around the idea that they think I'm so great that they want to remember me even when I'm not there. There's nobody I have that much reverence for.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:55 AM on May 16, 2009


"In my experience, the average woman likes to take photos more than the average male does."

Really? Photography has always seemed to be fairly male dominated to me. Maybe a hobbyist vs. practical divide.

"The rest of his tattoos are vaginas and eyeballs.)"

Specific vaginae? Or are there tattoo places out there with vagina flash on the walls?
posted by Mitheral at 8:56 AM on May 16, 2009


I thought Roiphe's point was stupid, but there's a related phenomenon that I do find creepy -- women whose screen names, even in non-parenting forums, are "JaydensMommy" or "momofthree". I say women because I don't know that I've ever seen a "JuliesDad" handle, at least not outside of the parenting arena. I totally understand introducing yourself to the fellow preschool parents that way, but to have your identity totally defined by your children in that way, in non-parenting forums, icks me out. Why does it matter that you're MomToElla when you're commenting on TWOP about Survivor?
(Besides, what happens when another kid comes along? Do you change your name, or do they just get left out? "I'm JaydensMommy. Oh yeah, there's my two other kids, Kyleigh and Braden.")
posted by katemonster at 8:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


It just sucks that Facebook took away that one feature where you could request to have "more of" or "less of" someone in your feed.

I agree. I also liked using those sliders to block all of a particular feature. Now I can't just block all quizzes; I have to individually block "Which Star Wars Character Are You," then block "Which Golden Girl Are You," etc. With the old setup, I never even knew that I had friends who would take these quizzes. I liked that better.

Related: One of the longer status-threads I've seen on Facebook began when a friend posted, "Two of my friends are fans of Pizza. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?"

I use it to keep in touch with friends in other cities and not as a self-promotional tool.

So do I. Although I would add that any conversation about job-hunting invariably includes the advice, "Check your Facebook profile for inappropriate material," while I think better advice is that if you know there's a chance employers might look, then use the opportunity to your benefit. Maybe you're an avid sailor, but you're a bit old and accomplished to be listing "Hobbies" on your resume. Your profile photo can be your friend.
posted by cribcage at 8:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


TL;DR

What? Really?
posted by Hoopo at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2009


Afroblanco - but you're under absolutely zero obligation to click those links or absorb'em or watch the videos or anything. Peoples' families are important to them and some of that is sure to trickle into their personal pages.

It bears pointing out that sometimes, sometimes when someone puts footage of their kid online, it's completely awesome.

I think you'd find the world a lot less frustrating if you abandoned this notion that 100% of it needs to be personally relevant, entertaining and interesting to you 100% of the time.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


So in the future, my profile photo is going to do more damage to feminism's reputation than our media's obsession with Paris Hilton's vagina?

At some point today, I'm going to take a picture of me literally hiding behind my kids.
posted by bibliowench at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Facebook, like any other social utility app, can be used the way you want. I use it to remember birthdays, and to chat with others online. That's it. I don't mind seeing the notifications pile up on the page, unanswered. It won't make the page physically heavier or anything.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I find that many of my siblings and friends who have become parents are way more attached than our parents were.

This might well be true, inasmuch as I think some of what's happening with highly engaged parenting is a generation of disproportionately latchkey, broken-home, dad's-work-comes-first, seen-and-not-heard kids has surveyed the wreckage of that worldview and maybe said, "Well, whatever I do, I'm not doing that."

So perhaps there's now some overcompensation, but in general I've got to think it's better for kids to feel wanted and needed and loved than to feel in the way - and though I'm not much for slippery slope arguments, Roiphe's point is only a short slide from (or a sort of inversion of) the seen-and-not-heard attitude. Don't put your kid's needs ahead of your own; don't invest in the role of parent, especially if you're a woman, because it's a kind of weakness; and so forth.

In any case, I'll take a cluster of behaviours in which the stereotype is over-exalted children over the one in which the kids are an exhausting nuisance to mom and a brief evening appointment for dad (if he's involved at all).

I'm banging this out to the jaunty soundtrack of a playlist I assembled for my four-year-old, but at the same time she's playing contentedly all by herself in the other room with her Thomas trains. And my Facebook's pic (and my wife's) are just of us. No idea where that places us on the Roiphe spectrum of self-negation, but figured I'd state my bias, so to speak.
posted by gompa at 9:07 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Most of the people I went to high school with are now toddlers, according to their Facebook photos.
posted by Legomancer at 9:10 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Roiphe wants to have it both ways. First, that Facebook's "whole point" is a construction of an aggressive social persona, blah blah blah; second, that that construction is actually passive, wimpy, throwback-ish self-effacement because profile pics are frequently of kids, cats, dogs, whatever. So which is it? The ambiguity is not cute, clever, or writerly, it's just evidence of a half-or-less-thought-through figment of an idea without any support or follow-through, no matter how many references to Betty Friedan, Galileo, and losing your mind at Vassar that you toss in to look all professorial and New York Review of Books. I was waiting for the reference to losing your mind at Smith College, so that the attempts at connecting women's behavior on Facebook and at Katie Roiphe's dinner parties to Sylvia Plath sticking her head in the oven would be explicit.

Also, one of the commenters to Roiphe's piece writes: "A kid's picture next to a comment or wall post makes it look like the kid is saying something themselves, which can be pretty disconcerting when the post contains adult content."

If that's really how you approach Facebook, then you must have very little understanding of it at all, and you probably shouldn't be there if it disconcerts and/or disorients you that much. You truly don't HAVE to log in to Facebook. Nobody's holding a gun to your head.
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, the ad-hominem in this thread is strong...

Seriously, if the best you can come up with to diss the article is that the author's mother once wrote a book about raising kids, or that people at college didn't like the author, or that she once wrote an article not totally supporting the 90s hot-button topic of date rape - well, maybe the article wasn't for you. Move on...

From my point of view, I tend to agree with the article. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say that it's going to cause historians issues, or even that it's a blow to feminism, but the profile photo slot is there so you can post a representative image by which people can recognise you and your posts. If your child represents you, fair enough, but it's ambiguous at that point whether the profile belongs to you or your kid.
posted by benzo8 at 9:14 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You truly don't HAVE to log in to Facebook. Nobody's holding a gun to your head

Someday I'll invite you to play Facebook Scrabble with my mother and see if that doesn't change your mind. She's like a golden retriever with a tennis ball.
posted by Hoopo at 9:14 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


On the one hand, I think it's up to the individual what they want to feature in their lives. It would be churlish of me, or anyone, to say there is one universal constant that someone SHOULD do or how they SHOULD present themselves, or what they SHOULD be proud of. If you're proud of your kid and you want to show it off, go nuts -- I don't see that as any kind of overwhelming sign of "breederism" or a sign you're spoiling your kids or whatever. If you're proud of your kids, you're proud of your kids. Period. And that's entirely your choice, and that is as it should be.

On the other hand, the people on my FB friendslist who DO do this also tend to ONLY talk about their kids, and...I've gotta admit I find that dull. But it's a total picture, rather than just that single picture. (One of my other friends whose picture is a picture of his son talks about things that AREN'T just his son as well, so that's different.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't particularly like it when folks put their kid in their pic with them, let alone instead of them, but I don't think it's symbolic of much beyond the fact that they're very proud parents.

this style of effacement, this voluntary loss of self, comes naturally to her. Here is my pretty family, she seems to be saying, I don’t matter anymore.

I'm a father, and this "voluntary loss of self" is part & parcel of being a good parent. When you have kids, you put themselves before you. It's not rocket science.

This was a crappy article.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:15 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The mystery here is that the woman with the baby on her Facebook page has surely read The Feminine Mystique in college, and The Second Sex, and The Beauty Myth.

No, that was just you doing that. Everyone else had a life.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Showing photos of someone is a form of reverence, and showing too much reverence to little kids fosters a self-centered worldview in them.


I disagree with this statement. First of all, portraits of dead grandparents on the wall of a Japanese house do not exactly signify reverence, they also signify presence, as these folks return back to the home in August each year during the O-Bon festival of the dead. People also put photos of their dead husband, mother, father, son, etc on the wall in Japan because they miss them and want to remember them.

As for "showing too much reverence", people put photos on the wall of their kids because the time goes by too fast. It's also a lot of fun raising kids and it's important and vital to remember the good times. If my kid becomes self-centered because he knows I love him, well, too bad, because my father only remembers being beaten with a knotted rope during his own childhood in the 40s.

And FB profile pictures don't signify much, except that women rarely like putting up information that easily identifies them on the Internet, to make stalking more difficult.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Lots of my male friends have become nothing more than their kid's daddy as well, if Ms. Rophie is to be believed.
posted by vespabelle at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2009


Heh, I posted this article to my facebook feed Thursday and got a lot of positive comments on it from other Mommies. (Full disclosure: Photos of my son are on Facebook but are not my profile pic), possibly because I used this as the pull quote:

"Our parents ... loved us as much as we love our children, but they had their own lives, as I remember it, and we played around the margins. They did not plan weekend days solely around children’s concerts and art lessons and piano lessons and birthday parties. Why, many of us wonder, don’t our children play on their own? Why do they lack the inner resources that we seem to remember, dimly, from our own childhoods? The answer seems clear: because with all good intentions we have over-devoted ourselves to our children’s education and entertainment and general formation. Because we have chipped away at the idea of independent adult life, of letting children dream up a place for themselves, in their rooms, on the carpets, in our gardens, on their own."

There is both good stuff and crap in this article. On the other hand, its pretty rare to find an article on parenting these days that I can't say that about.
posted by anastasiav at 9:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


we're expecting our first in august so i have sympathy for the 'breeders' but i gotta say... putting a picture of your kid as your facebook picture is lame. so i agree w/ her in that sense. ditto for putting a pic of u and your honey. keep your own identity for crissakes.
posted by jcruelty at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't mind seeing the notifications pile up on the page, unanswered. It won't make the page physically heavier or anything.

Oh, but it does!
posted by limeonaire at 9:24 AM on May 16, 2009


Methinks Afroblanco needs to cut his hair, get a job, and grow the fuck up.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:24 AM on May 16, 2009


how come Katie doesn't have her photo in the article... eh??

my FB profile pic is my dawg... and sometimes one of the cats, and, once, a fish I caught...
posted by HuronBob at 9:24 AM on May 16, 2009


This woman really struck a nerve. All of the parents here are offended and none of them will admit she has a point. It would probably be easier to get a Republican to admit there were no WMD in Iraq.

The bottom line is that it's odd that someone would have their kid as the main picture for their own facebook page. And all of the parents here are trying to deflect from that point.
posted by Zambrano at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow, the ad-hominem in this thread is strong...

like the article itself isn't an ad-hominem?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


pyramid termite: "like the article itself isn't an ad-hominem?"

Even if you choose to read it that way, does attacking the author make on iota of difference to the words contained therein? Either the article has merit whoever wrote it or it doesn't.
posted by benzo8 at 9:32 AM on May 16, 2009


I've got a better idea: get off of Facebook entirely and try some actual face to face interaction.

That reminds me, I need to write my congresswoman to ask them to repeal that law about not being able to use facebook AND have face to face interactions with friends. It's really putting a cramp on my life.
posted by ORthey at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's interesting... when one of my friends posts a profile pic of Darth Vader or Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy or something like that it doesn't bug me. But when the profile pic is their kid-- and just their kid-- it does strike me as a bit unsettling. It does seem like the kid has now 'taken over' my friend's identity. I see my friend's name-- but that baby in the picture does not match the identity on the profile. "Wait a sec-- that's not _______! That's her kid!"

When you post a picture of your kid in your profile, it seems like you're saying: "My kid is now my identity." But your kid is not you. You're still you-- you're now you with a kid.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


"All of the parents here are offended and none of them will admit she has a point."

I'm not offended, but I sure don't see any point based in anything other than her own opinions.

But, since it seems to be the trend to use your kids, I've dumped the dawg, cat, and fish in favor of this picture of my kid (yep, really, that's my kid)
posted by HuronBob at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2009


Even if you choose to read it that way, does attacking the author make on iota of difference to the words contained therein?

the personal is political - or so i've been told
posted by pyramid termite at 9:39 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't mind seeing the notifications pile up on the page, unanswered. It won't make the page physically heavier or anything.

It sorta does. See, "signal-to-noise ratio."
posted by cribcage at 9:40 AM on May 16, 2009


http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/
posted by fightorflight at 9:41 AM on May 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


I refused a few friend requests from someone I knew, because she had changed her name when she got married and the photo was of a bunch of children. There was no trace left of the person I knew. I think that's sad.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to have pictures of themselves as their identifying icon. Go ahead and post baby pictures on your wall, but the one that shows up next to your name is supposed to help people figure out if you are THAT Jane Smith or a different one.
posted by bink at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My baby daddy and I both use our kid as our profile page.

Me: post-baby there are no good photos of me +
lots of people would rather see the baby

Him: now write an essay about that!
posted by k8t at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't like it when people use their child's picture as their profile pic because I want to see if they've gotten fat or lost their hair. That's what Facebook is for.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Attacking the author is a bad way to win an argument, but it is worth considering the source. If she's known for overcooking her articles, I might think twice before taking them serious.

For the record, my favorite picture to use for any public profile is a dude jumping over six babies that I am in no way related to. So I guess I've given up my sense of self as well. Then let a matador hop over it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2009


Here's a question? At what age do you stop using it?
posted by k8t at 9:46 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I refused a few friend requests from someone I knew, because she had changed her name when she got married and the photo was of a bunch of children. There was no trace left of the person I knew. I think that's sad."

You know what I think is sad.... that statement.

But, it's good for your friends to know that your interest in them ends with how they look and what they use as a name... Pretty deep friendships you've got going there...
posted by HuronBob at 9:48 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


That reminds me, I need to write my congresswoman to ask them to repeal that law about not being able to use facebook AND have face to face interactions with friends. It's really putting a cramp on my life.

And yet another obscure provision of the DMCA rises up to bite someone in the virtual ass.
posted by MikeMc at 9:48 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


And FB profile pictures don't signify much, except that women rarely like putting up information that easily identifies them on the Internet, to make stalking more difficult.

Then why are they publicly posting photos of their children?

That's what confuses me about the whole thing...it seems like just yesterday everyone was all OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN NEVER NEVER POST PICS OF MY KID ONLINE OR THE PREDATORS WILL TAKE THEM!!!11!! And now photos of kids, last names attached (assuming mommy or daddy didn't change theirs), show up in public searches all the time.
posted by availablelight at 9:49 AM on May 16, 2009


I find pics of kids as ID photos irritating, but in my friend community there are as many males doing this as females. I don't find it associates with a particular gender.
posted by Miko at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2009


I think most of my friends who use their kids pics on facebook or IM (and after a quick look, it's mostly the male ones so oh well for feminist theories on this particular dataset) do it because it's just the quickest way of showing what do their kids look like and how are they changing and growing.

And these days, living far away from most of my friends, I find myself asking them to email me pics of their children (not everybody is on Flickr!). For some reason, I don't care as much to see how are my friend's wrinkles and bald spots doing. So assuming that your friends are interested in your kids doesn't feel strange to me at all.

I don't see this "parenthood" thing as a particularly female phenomenon. One of my male friends readily points out to any recent dad that "The biggest change you'll notice in your life is that, from now on, you'll be mostly known as X's father rather than Y. No neighbor, teacher or parent will ever know your real name."
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


> How is your 20 minute tirade about how the annoying woman in the cube next to you wears too much perfume any more interesting or relevant than my story about how my 2-year-old has developed a coffee addiction?

It's not. A boring story is a boring story...although, as someone upthread pointed out, a coffee-addicted 2 year old sounds kind of interesting.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2009


But, it's good for your friends to know that your interest in them ends with how they look and what they use as a name... Pretty deep friendships you've got going there...

Wow, thanks for the attack, Mr. Know-it-all. The point was that I had no idea who this person was who was sending friend requests, since she had a name I'd never heard of and a photo of some children I don't know.
posted by bink at 10:00 AM on May 16, 2009


"The biggest change you'll notice in your life is that, from now on, you'll be mostly known as X's father rather than Y. No neighbor, teacher or parent will ever know your real name."

GENERAL #1: "The missiles have been launched. They're heading our way."
GENERAL #2 (picking up red telephone): "Get me Sasha and Malia's father!"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2009 [32 favorites]


Ugh this does not address the fact that the Facebook was invented so I could find out that the girl I never talked to before in Accounting II likes Franz Ferdinand and totally gives me an in to sit next to her and say you like Franz Ferdinand? Hey have you heard about this new band called Arcade Fire? Oh cool well they're in town and I have tickets and I'm going with a bunch of friends and we're going to this bar that has this thing called PBR for like $2.
posted by geoff. at 10:02 AM on May 16, 2009


LISTEN! YOUR ANTI-BREEDING RANT IS NOT ORIGINAL OR NEW NEWS, AND NOTHING IT SAYS IS INTERESTING. ANTI-BREEDERS ALL SOUND ALIKE AND ARE PRETTY ANNOYING ON THE WHOLE. I DON'T NEED TO SEE ANOTHER BLOG ENTRY/COMMENT/LJ RANT ABOUT A STUPID NON-BREEDER NOT DOING SOMETHING THAT STUPID NON-BREEDERS DON'T DO.
posted by Byun-o-matic at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have to admit that I have often judged and pitied people whose entire online profiles are devoted to their kids. I want to feel like I have a meaningful long-distance connection to Heather, but instead I'm FB friends with "Hayden's Rockin' Mom" and there isn't a single picture of herself anywhere in the profile. It's depressing.
posted by hermitosis at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I agree with MikeMc: get off of Facebook entirely and try some actual face to face interaction- with me. You're not that interesting, neither are your children, not compared to ME. Get over yourself, invite me out lunch and pay for the food and drinks. Then take me out to dinner and pay for dinner and more drinks. Then buy me some stuff to show your appreciation. You can always Twitter about it on your iPhone from the restaurant bathroom about the wonderful experience of dealing with me, ME, MEEEEEEEEE.
posted by happyroach at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The people who use photos of their kid as a profile photo are annoying, but not worth writing an essay about. That said, the only photos I post to facebook are of my daughter. But I try to pick interesting ones and caption them in an amusing way. Like one of her with mashed peas all over her face and captioned "Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Father Karras!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was also going to add that there is a certain amount of joy that comes with raising kids, and joy is not a common emotion and so it should be celebrated.

For example, both of my sons became extremely sick right after being born, and one of them almost died. They're both fine now, but only parents can now how thin and tenuous the line is between good health and poor health, life and death. So to see your child happy and healthy, cooing and gurgling, or singing the Superman song while bouncing a ball or whatever, is an extremely happy and joyous thing (this experience will last for perhaps half a second), which is why parents will celebrate this happiness by putting photos on the wall or in our FB profile.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


bink, my apologies, i misread your post...i thought you were saying that you KNEW who it was when you refused the "friend"...
posted by HuronBob at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2009


--The bottom line is that it's odd that someone would have their kid as the main picture for their own facebook page. And all of the parents here are trying to deflect from that point.


--but the profile photo slot is there so you can post a representative image by which people can recognise you and your posts. If your child represents you, fair enough, but it's ambiguous at that point whether the profile belongs to you or your kid.


--Go ahead and post baby pictures on your wall, but the one that shows up next to your name is supposed to help people figure out if you are THAT Jane Smith or a different one.




And you're not supposed to clean deep into your ears with Qtips,
but guess what? It happens...


People (as mentioned numerous times in comments) use pets, fictional characters, logos, far-away vacation pics where you can't see who the person is anyway, or pics that are nto centered so you only get 1/2 of someone's face along the side of the avatar. If you find these things cause you a moment of WTF, so be it. But if it actually causes you to be offended, or to consider whether you want to associate with that person anymore, maybe it's time to step away from the facebook for a while.
posted by stifford at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2009


But I try to pick interesting ones and caption them in an amusing way. Like one of her with mashed peas all over her face and captioned "Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Father Karras!"
posted by Mayor Curley


Will you be my Facebook friend? : )
posted by stifford at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2009


"Breeder" is the most absurd perjorative term I've heard. Just a hop-skip-and-jump away from "Breather."

Live your life, do what you wanna do, I don't really care...just keep in mind that a shitload of people are actually actively involved in keeping the human race around and undergoing a shit-ton of stress to do so, and whether or not you represent "the end of the line" you can't possibly not acknowledge the reason for your very existence. This is not to say that unsustainable breeding and overpopulation are good for our long-term survival, but really, "breeder?"

Facebook is what you want it to be. Let's drop any pretense about feminism and acknowledge that TFA is a petty "don'tcha hate XYZ" self-indulgent sophomoric blog rant. At least, that's what I got out of it. Empowered women don't need to be told how to express themselves. They aren't concerned with how feminist-activist X might construe the way they construct their identity.

If your friends are proud of their kids to the point that it seriously offends you, try steering the conversation of making some new friends. Some people on facebook are more prolific than others; I certainly find myself annoyed by a constant stream of asinine status updates, period, whether or not they involve the cuteness of said friend's spawn.
posted by aydeejones at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


(We're cool, HuronBob)
posted by bink at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2009


What's pissing me off about the article is both Slate's tendency to overthink something until they arrive at an overwrought, generalized, and alarmist conclusion and Roiphe's contribution to the argument that modern parenthood is somehow detrimental to women. When she analyzes a passport-sized picture on a social networking site and comes to this conclusion - One’s children are of course an important achievement, and arguably one’s most important achievement, but that doesn’t mean that they are who you are. - she's adding to that tired conversation of how modern parenting is somehow detrimental to women.

Leaving aside the ridiculous supposition that we can distill our essential selfhood into a single photograph - guess what? My children are who I am, to a large extent. I'm fortunate enough to live in a time when I'm able to construct my identity out of other aspects - my career, for example - but my children take up a huge amount of time and resources, they are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and they are the most important part of my life and my identity. They're not a fucking "achievement." I don't congratulate myself on my viable ovaries. But I do define myself by what I do and what's important to me. The argument that women talk about their kids too much and are therefore boring strikes me as an updated version of the classic misogynist complaint that traditional women's work is of lesser value. Our career can eclipse our identity as well, but a) it's harder to take a picture of them, and b) devoting oneself to a profession is traditionally masculine, admirable quality.

And the whole "modern parents focus on their children too much" criticism is so damn classist. I don't have the time or the resources to make my snowflakes feel so special, nor do the majority of my friends. My community-college students with kids are so busy trying to juggle work, school, and family that they're happy to be able to see their offspring a few hours a day. Women in Roiphe's social circle may well "plan weekend days solely around children’s concerts and art lessons and piano lessons and birthday parties." I have no doubt that there are wealthy parents who do just this, but they don't define all women - or even most women - and they shouldn't be used to criticize the rest of us for acknowledging the reality that raising children takes a phenomenal amount of money and energy.

I would be a lot happier if the media devoted a lot less time to criticizing every little choice women make as we try to find that perfect combination of work, family and personal life that no one seems to have successfully identified yet. And I'd love to see fewer women denigrating other women's choices in the name of feminism.
posted by bibliowench at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2009 [32 favorites]


^ ^ ...try steering the conversation or making new friends...
posted by aydeejones at 10:24 AM on May 16, 2009


> This could in fact be a 19th-century novel where the men have retired to a different room to drink brandy and talk about news and politics. You turn back to the conversation and the woman is talking about what she packs for lunch for her child. Are we all sometimes that woman? A little kid talk is fine, of course, but wasn’t there a time when we were interested, also, in something else?

I'm a guy, but for whatever reason I've generally always had an easier time of it in the company of women, found them easier to talk with, etc. But this...well, I've had this exact experience a number of times over the past five or so years (i.e. since my friends started having kids). Dinner's over, the moms are in the kitchen talking about...the kids, and nothing but the kids. Meanwhile, the dads...well, the dads aren't exactly discussing Wittgenstein over backgammon, but at least they take conversational detours outside of parenting.

I'm perfectly happy to hear about peoples' kids, and even make an effort to ask about them, but if that's the only thing you have to talk about...it's a bore. Same goes for any other subject...sports, politics, gossip, whatever; you need to talk about more than one thing. The art of livery conversation lies in variety.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:30 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Make that lively conversation. Although, if you'd like to talk about livery, that's cool, too.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2009


I wonder how much it has to do with feelings of mortality. The idea that you're going to die someday and that your child is in some sense your replacement. It's what's left of you after you're gone. It's probably fairly easy to envision your child as a future-you (or even a younger you) when they're so undefined. You'll rarely see a child over the age of 3 in a profile pic. Once the child learns to say "no" they're no longer an extension of yourself, but their own person.
posted by empath at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2009


I see a lot of projection here involving the word "depressing." Guess what: good parents sacrifice a lot and live in a state of heightened anxiety and yet, good parents are happier for it. Good parents don't resent their children, they are proud of them and happy to see them living and growing and not dying of cancer or a car accident or a birth defect or any of the infinite possible ways you can lose a child. Yeah, it's pretty intense, visceral, and extreme sometimes, and of course every parent is different (I've got my mom's OCD-ish tendencies myself).

Trust me -- even if we can't go out (as much) and are no longer into intoxicating ourselves until 3:00AM, our lives our richer than ever before, and we've invested ourselves so far into the future it boggles the mind. I.e. I went to my folks' house yesterday and made homemade pizza. Can't wait for my kid to do the same :)

I can't say this for everyone, though I'm sure everyone experiences wistfulness from time to time...it's a progression: we've moved from point A to point B, and while we haven't completely forgotten about point A and there's nothing wrong with being nostalgic about it, we're a lot happier if we focus on where we are now.

It may be depressing to you to "lose" a friend to their children, but please, save the pity for yourself. I realize it's hard to identify with proud parents when you aren't one, but you can certainly get along with them if you care about who they are today. One of my best friends from high school is still uber-close with me compared to my other cohorts and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that his girlfriend is a professional babysitter.
posted by aydeejones at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ahhhhh something other people do that has no real effect on me slightly annoys me!!!!

Also, I am too busy making babies to post about them on facebook.
posted by ND¢ at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The mystery here is that the woman with the baby on her Facebook page has surely read The Feminine Mystique in college, and The Second Sex, and The Beauty Myth.

Yeah, I don't think that was part of the Chemical Engineering program my wife pursued. Feminism my ass.
posted by aydeejones at 10:49 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


If writers didn't have sand in their underpants about something, they wouldn't have anything to write about. End.
posted by pinky at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2009


In true oppositional-defiant-yet-creepy form, should I ever get a Facebook profile, I'll be sure to post an image an empty crib and add to it text reading, "If I could have children, there would be a photo of some here."
posted by adipocere at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Using a photo that's not of yourself (the definition of "yourself" being contentious notwithstanding) as a profile pic is just a little odd.

Not the idea of it, but the actuality of it. If the profile thumbnail is not identifiably the person you are "talking" to, there's a weird, undeniable sense of discongruity.

It's off-putting. Slightly, yes, but still.
posted by Aquaman at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2009


Whatever, my facebook portraits have all been photos of me being eaten or attacked by various inaccurate dinosaur sculptures. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm probably identifying myself as being slowly devoured by my own, prehistoric, reptilian id and losing sense of proper social behavior or something. Which is probably right because, after all, I did go to that dinosaur park and spend four hours posing weirdly with the sculptures, which all of the small children in the park loved and the parents didn't seem to appreciate.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 11:08 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it's lame for people to have pictures of their kids as their facebook ID

"Dude, why would you put a spoiler on a Gremlin, that looks stupid!"

YOUR BABY IS NOT CUTE OR UNIQUE

Neither is your banal and trite point of view. In my experience, people who actually use the word "breeder" rival any obnoxiously rabid parent in the god-what-a-tedious-bore-must-find-someone-else-at-this-party-to-stand-next-to department.

It's not exactly complicated. A SO or kid picture on a Facebook page plays the same role as desktop image or framed photos on a desk at work - presumably most Facebook users begin at their user page and navigate from it, so it gives them a little emotional boost to see someone they care about on the page.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


good parents are happier for it

Well, you can be a happy parent, but contrary to popular belief the evidence suggests having children doesn't make you any happier than you would have been without children and could even make you less happy.

You can read more on this here: Think having children will make you happy?
posted by fightorflight at 11:12 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


aydeejones: [J]ust keep in mind that a shitload of people are actually actively involved in keeping the human race around..

I hope you'll pardon my guffaw.
posted by applemeat at 11:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have an urge to change my Facebook photo to a picture of Katie Roiphe.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


My Facebook picture is the same as my profile picture here. I don't use pictures of myself as profile photos on social networking sites for a number of reasons, not the least of which being I don't like being propositioned by random men. (This does not prevent me being propositioned by men I know who know damn well I am not single, but that's a whole nother shade of awkward.) At any rate, if you can't figure out that I am who I am by looking at that picture, you definitely don't know me.

I don't mind if people put pictures of their kids as their FB pic. The way we present ourselves on social networking sites shows people what we value. I'm not so much a kid person myself, but if you're a parent, I like knowing that you value your kids. It doesn't at all mean that you've subsumed your identity, just that your children are a big part of your life.

Besides, people post pictures of their kids for different reasons. Take my sister. She's a busy attorney who works long hours and frequently travels (her husband stays home and cares for the kids; he loves it.) She works so much that she has started posting fantasy status updates. The first one was simple:

"Liz had a mani/pedi and a cocktail with friends and is now relaxing with the family and looking forward to a nice evening with (her husband)"

We knew that couldn't be true. She explained "I have decided my life is basically work work work so I am making up fantasy status updates. Now you will know what I WISH I was doing."

The next one:

"Liz is laying on the beach watching the kids make sand castles"

And then:

"Liz is watching the sun set over Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower."
" .....is sailing on a yacht in the mediterranean."
" ...had a leisurely breakfast at Cap's and then a stroll through the park with the family and is preparing to take a nap followed by a date with (husband)" (sadly, even something that simple was a fantasy update)
"..... is riding in a hot air balloon and marveling that in fantasy updates I am not the least bit afraid of heights or hot air balloons!"
"... is dancing with martians"

You get the idea. She used her Facebook page as a humorous means of escaping the reality of having to be at work all the time.

I'm pretty sure when she uses a picture of her kids, or a picture of her with her husband, as her profile picture it doesn't mean that she's utterly sacrificed her identity. Maybe she just wants to look at them more often. Why not? They're awfully cute.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope you'll pardon my guffaw.

WOT gives that link two thumbs down, way down.
posted by MikeMc at 11:30 AM on May 16, 2009


presumably most Facebook users begin at their user page

I doubt it. When you log in—or, if you're already logged in, then when your browser loads Facebook.com—the site loads a page titled "Home" (aka News Feed). I'd presume most people begin there. And there, your profile pic displays as a tiny, cropped thumbnail.
posted by cribcage at 11:34 AM on May 16, 2009


What I don't understand is why parents put video and pictures of their small children anywhere on the internet. I'd be scared out of my mind that some pedophile on the internet would find it and look at it and save it to their desktops or pass it around. Who really knows what's going on in a person's head?
posted by anniecat at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2009


About a year ago we finally got to the point at work that we finished a robot that we'd all put a lot of work into. I'd been working 6-day weeks nonstop for months, as had many others, and we finally assembled the whole thing and had it displayed in our lab. A picture of that robot is the only non-me thing I have ever put on my Facebook wall. Why? Because I'd been working my ass off for it for so long and I was so goddamn proud of it that I wanted everyone to see it.

Some day I'll have kids instead of robots.
posted by olinerd at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


(oops. Change "wall" to "profile picture" in the above.)
posted by olinerd at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't have children yet, but I don't think people with children are stupid for posting about them or putting their pictures up because they love their kids (though they could be smarter what with there being so many perverts out there). I don't think it's inane to post constantly about your kids. I post constantly about the dumbest things because...they amuse me. Maybe I'm just dumb. I think that's okay. Katie Roiphe seems very angry and bored.
posted by anniecat at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2009


What I don't understand is why parents put video and pictures of their small children anywhere on the internet. I'd be scared out of my mind that some pedophile on the internet would find it and look at it and save it to their desktops or pass it around. Who really knows what's going on in a person's head?
posted by anniecat 3 minutes ago [+]


It's worse. Any man who catches a glimpse of a child on the sidewalk, at the supermarket, the park, the beach (swimsuits!), or ANYWHERE could mark the scene indelibly in his memory, to cherish forever in his perversion. The only solution is FEAR. And kiddie burqas.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't have kids, but I don't sorta like all the baby stuff on facebook. My family lives far away from me and each other; I see them maybe every couple of years. Facebook is an easy way to hear what their kids are up to and see what they look like now. It's interesting to me to know that one is starting guitar lessons or just joined the drama club or whatever, and the casual nature of facebook makes it seem more like a chatty conversation and less like an annoying holiday letter.

I think my male friends are just as braggy about their kids my female friends.
posted by katinka-katinka at 12:07 PM on May 16, 2009


er, I mean, don't mind the baby stuff on facebook. I like it. oop.
posted by katinka-katinka at 12:08 PM on May 16, 2009


Is this the place to request that no one, ever, show me any more pictures of their kids with food smeared all over their faces? It's gross. Thanks.

I was looking through my kid's baby pictures recently and I took exactly one of these. In retrospect, it's gross, too. At least I never gave it to anyone.
posted by zinfandel at 12:11 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can read more on this here: Think having children will make you happy?

Look, I honestly could care less whether or not you have kids, but this entire "having kids makes you measurably less happy meme" is so fucking stupid.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's worse. Any man who catches a glimpse of a child on the sidewalk, at the supermarket, the park, the beach (swimsuits!), or ANYWHERE could mark the scene indelibly in his memory, to cherish forever in his perversion. The only solution is FEAR. And kiddie burqas.

What part of "saving it to the desktop" don't you get? Especially the pictures of kids in the bathtub?

There was a story on NPR about this woman who used to post her family pictures to Flickr and then she realized that mostly all of them had only 1 or 2 viewings, and then the one of her toddler naked in the bathtub had over 3,000 views. Yeah, so fear, I think is appropriate, when some pervert neighbor or uncle or someone you thought would never do anything horrible goes and preys on a child who is of his liking.
posted by anniecat at 12:24 PM on May 16, 2009


What part of "saving it to the desktop" don't you get?

You cannot save images from cameras to desktops these days? Good thing I bought my camera before they outlawed that.

the one of her toddler naked in the bathtub had over 3,000 views

So did she check the detailed stats for that picture to see if it was a Pervert Neighbour Uncle website that was linking to it, or if there was perhaps a much simpler explanation?
posted by effbot at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2009


A hundred or so comments ago Kisckstart said ..In my experience, the average woman likes to take photos more than the average male does. It's more difficult to take pictures of themselves. So there are pics of the womens' kids.


That's been the case with me and other friends who have their kid's pictures up. When I joined FB I put an old painting up as a profile pic. If I'd had a nice headshot, I'd use it, but in searching through my photos there were only about 4 pictures of me in the last five years. Eventually I had my 5 year old son take a pic of me, but my daughter wormed her way into the shot too. It's got nothing to do with denial of self, and more to do with not having the time or feeling the need to get a portrait shot done.
posted by saffry at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2009


You cannot save images from cameras to desktops these days? Good thing I bought my camera before they outlawed that

Okay, whatever you say. I just thought a random stranger was taking pictures of your kid, you wouldn't allow them to do it. But hey, if you're happy putting your kids' pictures out there, that's your business. You might be right. Kids really don't get away from their parents much these days and do things on their own without parents knowing about it, so they're probably all safe.

So did she check the detailed stats for that picture to see if it was a Pervert Neighbour Uncle website that was linking to it, or if there was perhaps a much simpler explanation?

I wonder what the simpler explanation would be. I thought that was the simple explanation. But you could be right. Actually, you probably are right.

I watch too much television and, as a result, everyone is a potential predator or murderer.
posted by anniecat at 12:49 PM on May 16, 2009


My current FB profile pick is Ralph Wiggum with a clarinet up his nose.


Anne Roiphe, the author of the book Up the Sandbox, which was a 1970s book all about how a woman could be a mother yet still have feminist aspirations. In other words, Katie Roiphe was economically supported in her childhood by a woman who did the 1970s equivalent of putting her kid's photo on her Facebook page.

Huh? I'm not sure how those 2 things are equivalent.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:52 PM on May 16, 2009


What part of "saving it to the desktop" don't you get?

How it affects you. Sure, I suppose it's gross to think that some dude in Scandinavia is salivating over your pool pics. But apart from being gross, that's about it. Your kid isn't being "preyed upon," and I guess you can fear and obsess about it but then TheOnlyCoolTim is right and you're into kiddie-burqa territory.
posted by cribcage at 1:17 PM on May 16, 2009


Fanaticism is boring, passion isn't.

I have a picture of my children of my facebook page - most people I know like to know how they are (even if that is only courtesy) but I wouldn't have them as my pic or provide updates every time they fart (which I agree with the non breeders is boring)

Nothing makes you happy only yourself. Raising kids is hard work, but like physical labour the fruits are tangible and rewarding, and I find that makes me happy. I'll let you all know with my dying breath if I'd rather have more consumer goods.

This woman needs to worry about more important things than kicking some women who worry about other peoples perceptions more than the average human already and feel they need to define themselves in terms of their children

This could in fact be a 19th-century novel where the men have retired to a different room to drink brandy and talk about news and politics

football or gadgets you mean?
posted by fistynuts at 1:31 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the entire thread so I apologize if this is redundant.

As to the article, give me a fucking break. Or, Sweet Jesus H. Fucking Christ.
posted by purephase at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2009


I remember reading something (begins the comment of the nonparent) by Richard Sennett about the moment in 19th century europe when the family became a secure, comforting retreat from an increasingly alienating public life, a reversal of the previous relationship between public/private life which valued and trusted worldly public engagement over the comforts of home. I was in a late night cafe in Portugal a few years ago and, coming from england where the concept of late night cafes is in itself novel, was stunned to find a family sitting a few tables away from us with a baby, all up at close to 3am. It would be interesting to see how the facebook/baby profile phenomenon compares across countries.

I have no idea how parenthood changes your identity today, but I think it's possible that the parent/child relationship is not an absolute moral contract established purely within the private bounds of the family. Instead of asking (and defending) how parent's give up their identity for their children (which is an interesting issue regardless of whether you use facebook) we could ask why public, working and social life is so hostile to the family. Accordingly, the fact that Roiphe frames worldly engagement in terms of incapacitating motherhood and feminism seems a bit misleading, it seems more like the whole family is either ostracised from the public realm or the public realm is sanitised and made controllable for lowest common denominator "family values".
posted by doobiedoo at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


My Facebook picture is Family Guy's Buzz Killington.

Sadly, it expresses my inner identity.

Now then....who likes a good story about a bridge?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see a lot of email addresses in the course of my work and I've noticed that many of them are some version of "Kayeleighsmom@---.net" or "momof3@-----.com" or sometimes "smokinhotmom@..."

So, yeah.
posted by longsleeves at 1:55 PM on May 16, 2009


Waste of e-ink. This is not the kind of story to show off my new online magazine of grippingly important stuff that wouldn't fit in Slate.
posted by grobstein at 2:19 PM on May 16, 2009


As someone who is voluntarily childless, I don't get this whole "parents are mindless breeders, non-parents are selfish materialistic bastards" mutual bashing. We make different choices. Some of us have kids, some of us do not. There are trade-offs. I have never lost sleep because of a colicky infant, but I also don't get Mother's Day cards or sweet little bouquets of dandelions and violets like I made my mother.

If you have young children and spend all day with them, that's what you have to talk about. If you work all day, that's what you have to talk about. Sometimes we talk to talk, or to vent, not to edify and entertain our friends for hours. It's only boring if, in conversations, one subgroup of people (whether they be parents, computer programmers, Twilight fans, or take your pick) monopolize the topic such as to exclude other people.

The Katie Roiphe article is another thing altogether. It's an observation masquerading as an anthropological treatise. When she does a content analysis of parent vs. non-parent Facebook posting behavior, I may be inclined to listen.
posted by lleachie at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd like the pictures to go because sometimes I like to imagine I live in a world where there are no children.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2009


I hate to flame, but this is a stupid, ridiculous article. Getting upset about mothers putting pictures of their kids as avatars is a pissy waste of time.
posted by hellslinger at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2009


What I don't understand is why parents put video and pictures of their small children anywhere on the internet. I'd be scared out of my mind that some pedophile on the internet would find it and look at it and save it to their desktops or pass it around. Who really knows what's going on in a person's head?

You have a very poor understanding of the world's ratio of pedophiles to pictures of children.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to read this thread, but the post definitely makes me think of the reaction I've had to my first set of friends that had a kid. I don't see them very often, and keep up with them a lot through livejournal. Ever since they had him - and even before, thanks to ultrasound - both of their icons changed to pictures of him. I understand that most of the content of what they'd write would be centered around the child for a while, but it just felt like their identities had been subsumed.
posted by flaterik at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2009


I wonder what the simpler explanation would be. I thought that was the simple explanation.

Here's something to chew on. These three pictures of my daughter are among my top 20 most viewed pictures on Flickr.

Now, it could be pedophiles trolling for one year old girls to jerk off to, sure. But it could also be:

1. I was an earlier adopter of Flickr, so these photos have been in the system long enough to generate this many views

2. People search on common names, and Annabel is an uncommonly common enough name to generate this many searches

3. I actually took three decent-to-good pictures and the composition is what drove people to click on them

4. Some combination of all three

I just don't think pedophiles are the simplest answer.
posted by dw at 2:47 PM on May 16, 2009


I thought Roiphe's point was stupid, but there's a related phenomenon that I do find creepy -- women whose screen names, even in non-parenting forums, are "JaydensMommy" or "momofthree". I say women because I don't know that I've ever seen a "JuliesDad" handle, at least not outside of the parenting arena.

Well, now you have. Does Greek count?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Honestly a little amazed at the vitriol over this link. I never thought the article said anything as dramatic as some of the characterizations here, such as making this issue worse than traditional feminist complaints. I think she has a point - posting a picture of your child instead of yourself as your profile picture is kind of, well, de-self-izing. And she saw a connection there to some loftier implications...which I found interesting to read - at least a well-written position. I don't expect people to agree with it, but I think if this article had fewer feminist connections it wouldn't be treated quite this viciously.
posted by agregoli at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This argument was just stupid. I don't want kids, I don't relate to people who want to post their kid's picture as their profile picture on Facebook, and I get bored when people talk about their kids... but who the fuck cares if they do? It's only boring to me because it's not my thing, but if it's very much theirs, then why make some big overwrought argument about it? It's their Facebook page -- if you don't like it, don't look at it.

Even if some people define their identities in large part by their children, why shouldn't they? It's not like it's any better or worse than the things I define myself as. Their children are a huge part of their life, and parents are supposed to act like they're too cool to feel that their kids define them? Why is it a bad thing to define yourself in part by the people that you love? Even if someone has some online name I can't relate to, like KatysMom, I think it would be ridiculous to assume that means she doesn't have any personal identity whatsoever, just that she picked what is most important to her. I would hope that someone's children would be the most important thing in their life, even if other things come close. Lots of people have stupid online names that we don't assume to define their entire personality, and as far as that goes, KatysMom seems a hell of a lot more noble than something like rpgfan84 (which is similar to something I've used in the past). Defining yourself by your career doesn't strike me as better in any concrete way. I can't know, but I would guess that having kids has a big effect on someone's identity whether they want it to or not, even if their career is a prominent part of their life too. If I had kids, I can't imagine that they wouldn't form my identity in a big way.

If anyone else who doesn't want kids ever wonders why parents can have such a rude reaction to hearing that, shit like this article is why. Parents get attacked by people who want to make them feel like they're terrible people all the time. Mothers in particular are too often made to feel that they're not feminist if they focus on their kids instead of their career, and it's just ridiculous. As hard as it can be to grasp, some people really want to be mothers and enjoy being mothers. I don't know how they do it, but I do know that's exactly the kind of person I want to have kids, and I don't want them to feel bad about it. If you want people to be respectful of your choice not to have children, then it helps a lot to not add "because it makes me better than you to not have them or be defined by them."
posted by Nattie at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I hate to flame, but this is a stupid, ridiculous article. Getting upset about mothers putting pictures of their kids as avatars is a pissy waste of time.

Getting upset about someone else posting an opinion is kind of a waste of time too. Where does it say she's upset, anyway? Not liking something does not equal emotional upset.
posted by agregoli at 3:02 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


(I think my dislike over this trend is really just that it degrades just a tiny bit the functionality of Facebook - I won't recognize your 3-year-old I've never met, but I would recognize a picture of you, presumably.)
posted by agregoli at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2009


but this entire "having kids makes you measurably less happy meme" is so fucking stupid.

The meme might be, but I don't think the paper was: a bit sweeping and flawed maybe, but it did try to address the most of the objections that hurtled to mind when I came across it (mostly about the futility of measuring happiness etc).
posted by fightorflight at 3:24 PM on May 16, 2009


A few of my good friends have become first time parents in the past year. Their babies are the centre of their world, so their Facebook profile photos are a regular rotation of baby pictures, just as my parents had tons of pictures of us all around the house, in the office, in their wallets, etc. I don't want to see profile photos from their damn "book clubs" or "causes," I want to see the youngsters that are bringing them so much joy.

Argh. I've been saying it for years, Katie Roiphe needs a good boot in the arse.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2009


For a while there, my FB icon was my dachshund mutt balancing a hot dog on her head. I am fully aware that this made me seem crazier than the average person. That was the whole point, actually.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2009


Goes to take picture of cat off Facebook page before somebody writes an essay about the potent symbol of sad, lonely single women with pictures of cats.

What kind of pathetic loser would put a picture of their cat on their profile, anyway?
posted by rokusan at 3:40 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My facebook profile 'photo' is a drawing by my eleven year old 'daughter' (child of my SO) of me looking distant and holding a 'beverage.'
It's a beer.
I look good in that picture.
I never wanted kids, but now that I have them, I guess I'm proud of 'em.
They are watching violent movies now, though, so at least they aren't bothering me.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 3:45 PM on May 16, 2009


I'm okay with people using their kids for their FB profile photo. If I ever have kids, I'm going to have a cast made of their face and wear it as a mask whereever I go, like this.
posted by Ritchie at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2009


I feel the same way about women who post joint photos with their significant others as their Facebook photo.

Agreed, and I also feel the same way about the indefinite use of a wedding photo as your profile shot. IMO, you get one month, max, to be The Bride. After that, you have to file those pics away and use a regular default shot.

What kind of pathetic loser would put a picture of their cat on their profile, anyway? I see what you did there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, I honestly could care less whether or not you have kids

This is truly that rare thread that would be improved by a "could care less" / "couldn't care less" derail.
posted by escabeche at 4:00 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


So I alternate between a picture of my lid looking crazy and a dismembered bison carcas rearranged into an organized mess. I don't care whether you like my picture or not. They are all too small to identify anyone from anyway. Thpppppt.
posted by Seamus at 4:08 PM on May 16, 2009


lid, kid, squid
posted by Seamus at 4:08 PM on May 16, 2009


*Unfriends rokusan on facebook*
posted by Space Kitty at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2009


Oh, hee.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:22 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate FB profile pics that show the person in their best possible light. I think we should have to see them exactly as they are, warts and all.

In fact, your login should involve a combination of webcam/face-recognition and your profile pic would become the capture exactly as you logged in.
posted by mazola at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2009


Full disclosure: my FB profile pic is of Charles Nelson Reilly.
posted by mazola at 4:26 PM on May 16, 2009


Silly me. I quickread took it mean, get your kid off their own facebook page.

That I could see as the kind of mindset/technological possibility to set cats among various sets of pigeons.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:10 PM on May 16, 2009


My Facebook page is a picture of me, the mom forum I belong to is in my name and not "sarahsmom" (I see A LOT of that). My online accounts are mine and no funny stories about our daughter (except on the mom forum). I do not post picture of my daughter's face anywhere on the internet.. and if I do post a photo then it is the back of her head. I don't want her face everywhere for strangers to see. I'm extremely protective of her image.. but I really can't say why.
If my friends want to see pics of my kid, I'll email them with a quick little story about how we're all doing. My mother warned me about losing my identity in my child, and for a while I did, and then my husband asked where I was. And I realized I lost myself.
I am a stay-at-home mom. My internet accounts are my place to be an individual. My offline life is my places to be a mom.

I did read the article and for a little I do agree with her, but I think she comes off a little hoity-toity about the whole situation. I do think some moms are lost in their children, but I know those moms try to do whats best for their kids and that's totally admirable. I hope that they have a support system of family and friends to get them out of their mommy skin for a while because we are always women, but we don't always feel like an individual.
posted by czechmate at 5:54 PM on May 16, 2009


I am worried about the sheer number of photos of kids today. I was just sorting pics from my mum, who was born in 1908. There were 3 photos of her as a pre-adult. I was born in 1948 and have maybe 20 to 30 pics of me before the age of 21. Todays kids will have so many pics of them growing up that it will take their children several weeks just to look through them all!
posted by binturong at 5:56 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to see olinerd's robot.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on May 16, 2009


Pretty much all of the icons I use on livejournal, forums, and what not (I don't do Facebook, sites about nothing but "socializing" scare an involute like me) are my drawings. Most of them are only "pictures of me" in the sense that something of me is in every drawing I do. And half of the few icons that are actual photos of me... have me wearing a mask. I hide behind my art, and present it as my identity.

As someone who really doesn't much like kids beyond a few hours now and then being the 'crazy aunt' to the odd friend's kids, I certainly find it hard to model what it's like to be someone whose Great Work is their child. None of my friends with kids are like that - they have fallen into the traditional roles of Mom staying at home while Dad brings home the bacon, but they've all got things to talk about besides "the thing my kid did last week", so I don't have any close contact with this mindset to understand it.

Then again I've seen people whose icons and online handles were tributes to their sportscar. Or to their religion. Or their favorite band. Is paying tribute to your kid any better or worse than this? And is paying tribute to any of these things better or worse than, say, an anagram of the name you pulled out of your ass to name that black dragon you started playing on Furrymuck ten years ago, sitting next to the things you draw? (To use myself as an example.)
posted by egypturnash at 7:18 PM on May 16, 2009


And on the other hand: My grandmother died last year - but in a lot of ways, she really died when I was twelve, when my father died. He was the second and last child of hers to die; her husband had died in my childhood, the uncle I never knew died in his teens. And she had just kinda collapsed in on herself, sitting alone in the empty house with all the storm shutters perpetually closed, keeping herself locked away in the dark and resisting every attempt to drag her out to do something.

She defined herself solely through her family, it seemed, and never found anything else to wrap herself around once she outlived them.

And that is very sad.
posted by egypturnash at 7:37 PM on May 16, 2009


I'm wondering whether in places like Denmark, where men's and women's roles are more equal (fathers take as much paternity leave as mothers take maternity leave, and there are fewer expectations for men to be go-getting breadwinners and women to sacrifice their careers), you get more fathers putting their kids' photos in their Facebook profiles. Could it be that more men would do that if they weren't constrained by the expectation that it undermines the serious/professional/competitive image they project?
posted by acb at 7:41 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh good lord. I am under no obligation to entertain anyone with my Facebook presence. I make no guarantees that anything I post will be interesting to you or even worthwhile. Sometimes my life truly is boring and my status may reflect that. How can this possibly be a tragedy? If you are really so underwhelmed then move the hell along and find yourself some blinkenlights. I am not your monkey.

Also, anything that is on my Facebook page has been carefully considered for public consumption. Attempting to draw any conclusions about my life (or lack thereof) based solely on Facebook content would be foolish at best.
posted by emeiji at 8:02 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once again, surprised by the importance placed on Facebook. I just don't get it.
posted by peeps! at 8:04 PM on May 16, 2009


I think its safe to say that there's a fair amount of identity construction going on with the construction of one's identity on a Facebook page. The choice to put your child as your main photo says something for sure. But it probably doesn't mean exactly what Katie Roiphe thinks it means.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:44 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are so many comments in this thread (on both sides of the fence) that make me want to barf all over the place. Goodbye 5 mi... crap, 15 minutes.
posted by mbatch at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2009


I don't know that I've ever seen a "JuliesDad" handle,

Lots and lots of muslim guys do this on the internet, and even in real life. Abu Dawud, Abu Aisya, Abu Fulan: those are all "Father of". IMagine meeting a big brawny bearded guy and he introduces himself as "Zahra's Dad".
posted by BinGregory at 9:31 PM on May 16, 2009


aydeejones: "a shitload of people are actually actively involved in keeping the human race around and undergoing a shit-ton of stress to do so, and whether or not you represent "the end of the line" you can't possibly not acknowledge the reason for your very existence." (Emph. mine)

I'll be damned before I acknowledge any such thing. How other people view the purpose of their lives is their own business, and I don't have any particular interest in pushing mine on anyone else or really even discussing it, but I will go so far as to say that it involves a view of human life that is slightly less reductive than one that makes us all out to be little more than salmon.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:39 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Random strangers take picture of my almost-2-year-old daughter all the time; she's really cute! This is not my opinion as her father; objectively speaking, she's extraordinarily attractive. She's a somewhat famous model around these parts, so people in the streets sometimes recognize her from ads she's been in or whatever. Strangers just stop and stare, girlfriends nudge their annoyed boyfriends, sometimes a crowd forms when we are walking around the mall.

Nonetheless, she is not featured in my profile picture on FaceBook.

By the way, let me add this link: Why the fuck do you have a kid?
posted by donkeymon at 9:56 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, you can be a happy parent, but contrary to popular belief the evidence suggests having children doesn't make you any happier than you would have been without children and could even make you less happy.

I figured someone would bring this up; I remember seeing an FPP. I like this theory:

...we tend to believe that the rare but meaningful experiences – such as seeing our children smile for the first time or graduating from university or getting married – would give us massive increases in our happiness. And indeed they do, but these boosts in well-being, often to our surprise, tend not to last for very long.

It's like this; I just took my first real vacation as an adult a week ago. Spent a week in Maui; it went way too quickly. For all of the hassle getting there and back, a week wasn't long enough. I was sad to leave. I had a blast, and it's already becoming a distant memory. But if I could do it again at this point in life, that week, I sure as hell would. As my own data point, I try to remember the mountains and not the valleys, and take pictures along the way.
posted by aydeejones at 10:08 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


applemeat: I hope you'll pardon my guffaw.

Absolutely. Perhaps in your haste you missed the next sentence there:

This is not to say that unsustainable breeding and overpopulation are good for our long-term survival...

Or maybe you interpreted this as a weasel-phrase that contradicted the previous sentence.

I certainly think society should incentivize the decision not to breed at this point in time.

I absolutely believe in contraception and a woman’s right to choose and that our long-term survival currently hinges on our ability to manage our own virus-like strain on the ecosystems we absolutely depend upon to survive.

People breed for a variety of reasons, beyond the obvious fact that it’s biologically programmed into the majority of people so that the human race can actually exist. There’s the whole "focusing illusion" theory fightorflight brought up if helps to frame our drive as illusory and tricksy.

We are animals that are suddenly intelligent enough and equipped to annihilate our environment, so yes, we must transcend our "carnal nature" and a part of that includes overriding the urge to procreate over and over again. (Wouldn't it be scary if this social darwinism that a subset of Rethugs embrace was so hard-coded that war was the only way to manage the population?)

On the other hand, I’m only here right now as far as I can tell, and I’m getting a real kick out of witnessing the development of a human being from birth and everyone I care about seems to be ok with the idea.

Short of actually compensating people in some way for choosing not to have children (or breeding people like livestock or pursuing other draconian methods that only are entitled a parenthetical mention), there’s little we can do to enforce a structured system where some people get to reproduce while others do not.
posted by aydeejones at 10:22 PM on May 16, 2009


Kadin2048: many people lived and died to bring you here today, and there is a difference between "reason" and "purpose."

We can certainly agree to disagree on that. I try to avoid saying "in my opinion" too much.
posted by aydeejones at 10:46 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


One last comment before ducking out: I was using "reason" as a synonym for "cause." I realize there's still room for disagreement there, but wanted to address any possible ambiguity there.
posted by aydeejones at 10:53 PM on May 16, 2009


Specific vaginae? Or are there tattoo places out there with vagina flash on the walls?
Mitheral

You know, I was hanging out with this guy tonight, since I happen to be in Jersey this month (oh San Francisco, I miss you now, even the hipsters). So, I'm just drunk enough to notice that other people exist, and I'm checking out his tattoos. He has a realistic portrait of his baby on his arm (looks like a Fat Von D tattoo to me). The other tattoos I could see were: a vagina with an eyeball inside of it, an eyeball, a spider with an eyeball in its web, and a spider with an eyeball for an abdomen. I'm pretty sure he has a tattoo on his chest that just says "fuck you". Funny story, I asked him who drew his horrendous spider tattoos and as it turns out, it was me, in high school. Go fig. No idea where he got the eyeball in vagina tat.

But to bring it back around to the point of this thread... at some point tonight, him and this girl whip out their iPhones and start showing each other pictures of their respective babies. Strangest thing I've ever seen. It was like a dozens battle but with baby pictures.

"Look how cute mah baby is!"
"Oh no you didn't. My baby speaks Mandarin and is cute as HEEEELLL."

It was surreal to see people who are a few years younger than me battling over whose baby was better. I had no idea those things were status symbols. Just thought they were kinda cute.x
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:03 PM on May 16, 2009


Katie Ralph's a little high-strung for my taste. I don't use a picture of my daughter as my profile pic simply because. . . it's my profile, not my daughter's. She's 4. I'm sure in another 4-5 years, I will be monitoring HER social networking profile. Until then, FB is for me. As far as that comparing kids thing goes- it happens. I don't participate. I have a beautiful, smart, PITA kid - I adore her. Someone else will always have a kid that's more attractive, or completely disfigured, smarter or dumber, more or less annoying - it's all about the spectrum and it's all good. I figure if someone wanted to build out a baby-lottery comparison system, I did pretty effing well. But, a lot of most parents feel that way. Facebook is my diversion- it's free, it's fun, I found my best friends from elementary and junior high on there - it's good stuff, except for being funded by the DOD and all that shit. It's not however, a place for me to crow about my kid incessantly, because she's not me. I'm me. With a kid.




Of whom I am insanely proud.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:39 PM on May 16, 2009


The elephant in the room, and I'm man enough to say it--I know you're all thinking it!

Babies are gross and smelly.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:54 AM on May 17, 2009


Is this where I talk about how creepy I find folks who seem to have no personal space at all, where everything is shared? No? OK.

My dog is in my facebook photo, but so am I.
posted by maxwelton at 2:18 AM on May 17, 2009


My dog is in my facebook photo, but so am I.

Yeah. Jesus, who am I to judge what people have as their profile photos? Why does anyone care? Mine rotates from a photo of me, to a photo of my husband and me, to the dog, to the cat(s), to flowers and trees and stuff.

I am shocked by how many people here seem utterly convinced that the one single role of the profile photo is to represent you in the best possible light. Time to visit Sear's portrait studio I guess.

(Also, by the way, to the person worried about the pedophiles-- there are privacy settings. My profile is locked down, you can't see anything unless you're a friend.)
posted by miss tea at 4:43 AM on May 17, 2009


Iamkimiam makes a good point, a lot of people are saying "oh I just put the baby pic up because I couldn't be bothered to find one of me", as if this proves there's nothing behind the decision, similarly people go on about how they just use it to keep in contact with people etc. both of these miss the point that facebook always has a bunch of moments where you have to explicitly define your identity, even if the decision you ultimately make is to make a joke or abstain from deciding, they are still choices about how you want to present yourself and what you think is appropriate in a semi public forum.

I don't mind if people use the baby, but that's not to say I think it's insignificant, I also didn't realise how many people had an aversion to it until this thread, but then maybe that's just the ambient filter hatorade. Knowing this, I think Roiphe could have gone further on specific issue of facebook self effacement without jumping to a conclusion about feminisim - obviously a social network predicated on self edited exhibitionism is going to be a little wary of, if not even threatened by, people who decide to abstain from the game. In fact that's the feeling I get overall about the article, interesting avenues about what makes a contemporary public space, how can the family in its different guises be present, the change in self identity upon becoming a parent in a climate of narcissism, frustratingly cut short by flag waving feminism before we get to the good stuff.
posted by doobiedoo at 6:41 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read the title and thought, "That *is* kind of weird, all those women with kid pictures," and I went to read the article and wow. I hate that woman so much I'm going to go put a picture of my kids as my facebook profile and try to friend her out of pure spite.

OK, I'm really too lazy to do that, but I want to.

Why do people post boneheaded articles like this to MeFi? Just for the fun of watching the justified loathing pour forth? That's not a bad reason....
posted by edheil at 9:02 AM on May 17, 2009


You know what I'm totally cool with the pictures of babies. Babies are generally adorable and I enjoy looking at them or not looking at them, but their mere existence doesn't bother me on facebook.

Now here is what annoys me. The near constant status updates about the most menial details of your picture perfect family. I don't care that you made an organic (and healthy!) stew made entirely from vegetables in your garden (also if no one asks for the recipe there is no need to post it in a note). I do not want to know you just received the sweetest text ever from you hubby (oh gag me) and you love him too!!!!! Just shoot me now.
posted by whoaali at 12:03 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with the writer (I have three kids). Your kids are not my friends - you are. When I friend someone in FB, I want to know about them - not their offspring.

People still don't get social networks. Most fall into one of two camps: either they tell us way too much or they refuse to subscribe and, therefore, tell us nothing. But Facebook (or Twitter et al) are great if you use them sensibly. I do want to know if one of my friends is going on holiday or expecting a baby or retiring or got a new iPhone. I don't give a shit that you're bored or watching TV or picking the kids up from school. So, used sparingly, for things that are remotely interesting, they're great. And to the people who say: "No-one is interested in what I do", you're wrong. Your family and friends care.

The solution to the "kids in my Facebook" problem is simple. Tell the person than they are actually more interesting that they think they are. So instead of: "Aww... little Joey just did a poop", write: "Little Joey crapped again and I can't stand it anymore".
posted by bobbyelliott at 4:48 AM on May 18, 2009


Thank God for feminism. It's what allows some women to harp on and on about how other women are DOING IT WRONG! Work outside the home? WRONG! Stay home with kids? WRONG! Change your last name when you get married? WRONG! Do things like a man? WRONG! Do things like a woman? WRONG! WRONG WRONG!

But I guess a certain brand of feminist must be running out of things to chide other women for because if I was going to criticize my systerz in wymynh00d, their choice of Facebook profile pictures would be way, way far down on my list.
posted by Never teh Bride at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


A lot of people use their facebook photo as a graphical status update. I don't think there's anything more to it than that.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:46 AM on May 19, 2009


my children take up a huge amount of time and resources, they are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and they are the most important part of my life and my identity. They're not a fucking "achievement."

Technically speaking, they're a fucking achievement.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think you meant literally.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:06 AM on May 19, 2009


FUCKING ACHIEVEMENT LOL this thread finally paid off!!!
posted by Aquaman at 12:20 AM on May 26, 2009


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