Are we pushing friends away by sharing pictures of our kids on social media?

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 Photo: Getty Images

A friend yesterday posted on his wall a set of rules for what he deems to be acceptable when it comes to photos on Facebook.  

He wrote that pictures of your child with one parent is great, two is even better, and pictures with grandparents and friends is also okay.

He also noted that endless pictures of friends' children alone were not something he wanted to see. 

Children provide parents with plenty of photo opportunities.
Children provide parents with plenty of photo opportunities. Photo: Getty Images

The post was driven by the pending arrival of his first child, and the subsequent promise that he will never be guilty of posting pictures of his baby alone.

Confused as to his reasoning, I questioned this. I felt that, as a non-parent, he was being quite harsh.  

His response? "It extends mainly due to me wanting to be selective of what I see and I love seeing what my friends are doing, but a lot of people simply post their kids for their distant parents' interest, and the rest need to endure a familiarity they don't have and a relationship that will never exist."

He went on to add that he gets fed up of his friends going all 'google eyed' over a child that rules their life.

So does he have a point? Personally, I don't think so. 

I think we have to accept that, as we age and enter the realm of parenthood, the natural progression for us is to become entwined in our child's lives.

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Of course we go 'google eyed' and post pictures of our babies and, as they grow, children. The reality is that most of us do change our lives to fit in around them. The idea that it could be any different is laughable ... unless, of course, you're not yet a parent.

The regular posting of pictures of our children is a reflection of our current status quo. That's where we're at right now and we kind of expect our friends to accept that.

I asked other parents what they thought about his stance, and the responses came in thick and fast. Unfortunately for my friend, not many of them were favourable.

"I get so frustrated by people that try to dictate how others should be using social media," said Leanne. "If you choose not to post pictures of your children that is your choice. However you shouldn't be making others feel they are being irritating by doing so."

Virginia is inclined to agree, saying, "If you don't like what you see you can unfollow or unfriend, or just scroll past it," she says. "Would you go into someone's house and tell them you don't like that they have too many pics of their kids on the wall? Social media is no different."

Ben had a gentler opinion. "I equate it to friends in real life; they all come at you from different angles, some of which you tolerate, some of which you're genuinely interested in. But you're rarely gonna change 'em, and it's questionable how much you should try to."

Martine Oglethorpe, a parenting expert with a specialty in technology, says that sharing our children's pictures is very much subjective, but either way we need to accept that this is the way our world works today. 

"I think for many, the sharing of photos is so commonplace that we do expect to see every photo and milestone of our friends' offspring," she tells me.

"I think the difference in posting photos of children on their own or with their parents is not something that would concern most people."

Despite this, Oglethorpe acknowledges that there's likely to be an element of friends without children being bored by all their friend's children photos. 

However, she notes that this may be more to do with the lack of caring or relating to some of those moments in general, rather than needing the parent to be there to better relate.

So is there a happy medium to stop us pushing away our friends without kids? 

"This is going to be different for everyone. I personally think certain milestones and achievements are great to celebrate and share, and I'm happy to see these in my feed, but that's my view point," she says.

And I agree.

It's very much a subjective thing and something only we can decide – both from posting and viewing perspectives. 

As for my friend, I think that for now he needs to suck it up or scroll on. Whether or not he adheres to his own promise … well, the proof will be in the pudding. And I'm pretty certain it's only a matter of time until that pudding turns out to be humble pie.