oversharing

My six rules for posting parenting related stuff on Facebook

So a while back I courted controversy by poking fun at parents who overshared on Facebook. Now, the world has turned and revolved. Time has passed. And I’m a parent. Which is great. Really it’s up there as one of the equal best things that has ever happened to me.

Like all parents I believe my offspring to be the cutest and most interesting baby the world has ever known. Like most modern day parents I believe Facebook is a great medium for sharing content with interested people who live a long way away. Like my sister who lives interstate, and my sister-in-law, brother-outlaw, and nephew who live overseas. It’s so easy to justify posting stuff on this basis. But that. Friends. Is a slippery slope into oversharing – about which my thoughts have not changed. But consider this a preemptive post which I will supply in the future to anybody who calls me out on the potentially perceived gap between my words in 2009, and my actions in 2012.

So here are my six rules.

1. Make it opt-in. Don’t force people to consume what you’re putting out there. The internet pretty much does this for you though, so I don’t worry too much about that.
2. Make it interesting. People won’t hate you for oversharing if they’re entertained, or what you are posting is actually cute. Check with someone else. Edit. Put up less than you think you ought (I’m a little guilty of breaking this last bit). Leave people wanting more.
3. Keep it contained. Don’t post a new album of photos every time you upload a photo. Post photos to the old albums. Don’t clutter people’s newsfeeds with an upload a day, upload a batch at once.
4. Don’t be single-minded. There’s more to life than your child and than your role as a parent. Talk about that stuff too. For me this means posting about coffee. Posting links to cool stuff. Posting
links to my blog(s).
5. Don’t potentially embarrass the child. Remember your child isn’t old enough to censor you yet. So self censor. I have good poo stories, and good spew stories. But only posted about the latter when it was me who got covered, and mostly because Robyn’s response to said covering was to laugh and get the camera, rather than to clean me up.
6. Never. Ever. Give gratuitous parenting advice to anybody on the basis of how excellent your own child is, or how brilliant you think you are at parenting. Especially if you’re not a parent.

So, that’s really a long justification for sharing these additional photos of our incredibly cute daughter. Dressed in a koala suit that I bought online. When I ordered it a couple of months ago I was told that it was tacky and horrible. Now I think it’s safe to say that the purchase was inspired.

Stop with the stupid statii: things that get my online goat

The plural for status is statii. Right? Anyway. I was talking to my buddy Mike. I have many buddies named Mike. And I won’t tell you which one he is. It’ll be more fun, and safer, that way.

There are two types of status updates on Facebook that are guaranteed to raise my ire, three types that I will respond to in anger. Well, passive aggressive snarkiness. Four that make my ears steam. Let me count the ways. Oh Facebooker.

This post should not be read as a personal indictment if you are the sort of person who does this. And if you’re reading this thinking that I’m writing about you specifically, I may well be, but I do love you, and I only want what’s best for you. Think of it as a Public Service Announcement that will hopefully help me to keep on liking you.

My hot wife says this post is a preachy know-it-all rant that makes it sound like I’m some sort of social media guru. I’m not, I’m just Joe Average. Your typical Facebook friend. But I have a blog. A voice. A platform. And I’m happy to use it to tell you what Joe Average is thinking, or at least what I’m thinking. And that’s loving. Isn’t it?

Here are the types of Facebookers that get my goat. And if you’re one of them – feel free to come back at me in the comments.

1. The “Facebook is out to get you” Rumour Miller.

Facebook is a company that makes money by selling its user base to advertisers. Deal with it. If you want to use the platform then you need to get with the program. You are the commodity. You are not the customer (unless you buy ads). Sometimes Facebook will change the way they do business. Businesses do that. They announce these changes. It’s not hard. If you hear a nasty rumour about how Facebook is out to get you and exploit you – it may well be true. But please go to google.com or snopes.com and do a little research. Just copy and paste your chain-letter style status update into google and see what comes up. Chances are it’ll be a hoax. 90% of the time it is. 9% of the time its something that some conspiracy nut has blown out of proportion – and the other 1% of the time Facebook is doing something to make a bit more money. That’s its job. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Two friends, possibly connected by mutual friends, who knows – posted the same status update tonight about a change Facebook made two years ago. A change that wasn’t even really a change, and certainly wasn’t the kind of change this conspiracy laden status suggested it was. Sure. Facebook is going to show you if your friends like or interact with a particular brand or advertisement. Newsflash. This is a social network.

2. The Megachurch Wannabe.

I get it. You are the minister, assistant minister, or student minister at a fantastic church. And you want your church to get Facebook attention. We all do. But this stuff sounds better if other people are talking about it. Not the person who is paid to. Here are some secrets. Nobody likes the overly pious memory verse machine. They get hidden. Nobody likes the walking church bulletin who advertises an event every time they open their mouth. You are not Mark Driscoll. You are not John Piper. You are you. Be you. Let Piper be Piper. Let Driscoll be Driscoll (or point out how bizarre his stream of status updates can be and get lots of hits on your blog). A stream of Piper imitators in one’s status feed is annoying and it dilutes the effectiveness of the original.

Don’t talk too much about your awesome prayer life, sermon, Bible Study, worship session, Bible reading, quiet time, anything a bit jargony that is going to make others feel inadequate or your non-Christian friends and family think you’ve joined a cult. Sure. We all want our non-Christian friends to read our statii and know we are ruled by the Lord Jesus. But not posting drunken pictures on Facebook will help with that impression, as will myriad other things. And a couple of updates per day or week, in proportion to updates about what you are actually thinking or doing would be fine. Thankyou.

There are a few subsets of the megachurch wannabe that almost became special categories in this rant. Don’t spread Christian chain status updates about how we want a million people to like Jesus on Facebook, or how if you don’t make something your status for an hour it means you don’t love God. I won’t copy your status. Almost ever. As a general rule. I don’t want to be some sort of status quoting robot. And I love God. I’m sure there are others like me.

The Christian superparent/superspouse. I get it. Your wife is hot. Your daughters are amazing and daddy date worthy (there’s an incredible cringe factor to that term). Your sons are growing up to be real men of God. That’s great. Show us some photos. That’s what Facebook is for. Tell us you’re proud of them. But don’t keep telling me how hot your wife is, or about your plans for an amazing daddy date (seriously. Creepy). We know you love your family.

If you do want to plant a megachurch just follow these ten steps to success.

3. The Oversharer.

I’ve been over this before. But it just keeps happening. Let me state this clearly. As clearly as possible, and with as much love as I can muster.

I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT THE POO YOUR CHILD JUST DID.

Ever. And your child doesn’t want to google themselves one day and find out that their potty training produced wonderful shapes. Nor that they had a poosplosion on the carpet. In fact. Nobody wants to know. Especially if one day they are going to visit your house and sit on the chair that was once covered by infant defecation. We get that you love your child and that parenting can be a funny and frustrating process. But you don’t need to rub our virtual noses in it.

As a general rule most people don’t want to read about the minutiae of your daily life. There’s a point where enough information crosses over into too much information. Why straddle that line? Why not stay metres away from it. But try not to be so vague you’re completely boring too. That’s too far.

4. The Grammar Pest.

I’ve saved this one until last because it’s actually the one I find most annoying. I cringe at bad grammar, and bad spelling. I don’t understand how, with the advent of the in-browser spell check, anybody can post gibberish in their statii anymore. It’s not that hard. Come on people.

But. To publicly correct somebody, unless they are a professional proof-reader and you are their colleague, is just mean spirited and almost only ever designed to make the one doing the correcting look good. And it doesn’t. Nobody is buying what you’re selling. Nobody. We all see through it. People hated you as a child and scribbled on your face with red pen. We get it. Now there’s a grammar sized chip on your shoulder and you feel the need to make your contribution to every conversation a comment about somebody else’s mistake. Good for you. You will die alone. But your will will be immaculate. Error free. Leaving everything to your 18 cats.

People make mistakes. If you love them you should tell them in private. Not shout it out for the world to see. And if you do that – you better make sure that you cross every t, dot every i and catch every rogue apostrophe before hitting enter. Because if you don’t – I’m watching you. And I’m coming for you. Don’t be a grammar hypocrite for a moment. Grammar Pharisee is probably a better name for these people than grammar nazi – communication is about the spirit, not about the law. Shakespeare taught us that. As did anybody else who deliberately broke a rule for the sake of better writing. Because everybody likes to see a bully get their comeuppance.

Awareness raising is overrated

All publicity might be good publicity. But publicity is not created equal. And if you think telling me where you leave your purse when you get home in some sort of innuendo laced update on a social media platform I’m going to have the following reactions:

a) feel mildly uncomfortable.
b) think “what is going on here”
c) google the repeated phrase.
d) go “oh, that’s stupid.”
e) not think positively about your cause.
f) not donate.

There’s a world of difference between good awareness raising – where the campaign is linked with the cause in the public consciousness (like Jeans for Genes Day and even Movember), and campaigns based on being cryptic and excluding people not in the know.

Awareness as the “ends” of a campaign is ridiculous. Awareness is a means to an ends in PR. Campaigns should push people towards the end, not just stop at people being “aware.” What good is being “aware” of breast cancer? It’s not much good for the sufferers, or for those who are genetically predisposed to suffering.

See Stuff White People Like for a more biting summary of this problem than I am able to produce. Basically raising awareness is the stuff people do when they are not interested in actually doing something.

“An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through “awareness.” Meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, and then magically someone else like the government will fix it.

This belief allows them to feel that sweet self-satisfaction without actually having to solve anything or face any difficult challenges. Because, the only challenge of raising awareness is people not being aware. In a worst case scenario, if you fail someone doesn’t know about the problem. End of story.”

This campaign is as dumb as the bra colour one from January. I saw it defended, when a friend dared to question it, as “awareness raising” which is the window dressing of real action.

Newsflash: Everybody is aware of breast cancer, most people have lost a friend or loved one, or know somebody who has. If you have the public profile of breast cancer you can actually just ask people for money. Set a funding target. Go for it. Have a telephon (is that how you spell the fundraising thing done by the telephone?).

Here’s the message that is apparently doing the rounds… tell me how anybody thinks this is a “success”…

“About a year ago, we played the game about what color bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news. This year’s game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example “I like it on the couch”, “kitchen counter”, “the dresser” well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. It doesn’t have to be suggestive. The bra game made it to the news. Let’s see how powerful we women really are!!!”

Let’s see how powerful we women really are? I’m sorry. If the “power of women” is using Facebook to get on the news then somebody tell our Jules, or Hillary Clinton, or any other successful woman. Most of the PR industry are women, if power is about media attention then those women are the gatekeepers. And if anybody in PR thinks this campaign has had a serious effect on the image of breast cancer – other than trivialising it – then I’m yet to meet them.

Furthermore, if women need to resort to sexual innuendo to be powerful then there’s something vastly wrong with society. Seriously. I thought we’d moved past that.

That is all.

UPDATE: Funnily enough, a corollary, a perfect foil, a Facebook awareness campaign that works (in my opinion), is going on at pretty much the same time. The “RU ok” campaign is a perfect example of an awareness raising campaign that actually benefits the purpose it promotes. It encourages people to ask their friends if they’re ok – and it raises curiosity without trading on double entendre or outright crass innuendo.

Weighty Issue: Part 2

Some time ago I posted about an invention that monitors the weight component of your toilet transaction. It looks like they weren’t the first to think that idea up – here is a patent submission for a very similar item, from 1924.


Can you imagine people’s Facebook statuses with this sort of thing. “is proud of little Johnny whose bowel movement just registered 700gm on our toilet scale.”

One small step for man, one giant leap for oversharing.

In praise of hot wives

Dear person who writes their online profiles mindful that your wife reads it,

We get it. You love your wife. You think she’s hot. That’s why you got married.

The rest of us may be inclined to disagree. We may believe that our own wife is hotter.

The fact that you need to reassure yourself that your wife is hot is great. But it comes across as, umm, a bit overstated.

Regards,
Nathan.

You might be wondering why I’m posting this. Well, I was trawling the archives of the Stuff Christian Culture Likes and came across this post. It’s one of my favourites.

Here’s Stephy’s take:

Fortunately, Christian hotness standards are not quite the same as conventional (secular) hotness standards. Value is supposed to be placed on the person rather than on appearance. Even so, hotness is still a valuable commodity even in Christian culture. The public declaration of a spouse’s hotness is a lovely gesture, but can become disquieting when expressed so frequently and fervently. It can begin to sound as if they are trying to convince themselves of something. Could thou protest too much?

My absolute favourite part though, and the part that makes this utterly postworthy, is if you do a bit of a phrase search on Twitter (I can’t guarantee that the results you get will be the same and/or safe for work/your holiness) you get a bunch of people talking about their hot wives. And a startling percentage are Christians. From my quick profile check of the people at this link I would say that close to 80% of the people using the phrase on Twitter either define themselves as Christians in their little description or tweet regularly about the Bible.

How odd.

For the record, I think my wife is hot – but seriously – I don’t need to tell you that.

The Facebook booby trap

Am I the only person (not just male surely) who is sick of the Facebook phenomena of females posting the colour of their underwear as their Facebook status.

Yes, for the slow people, that is why you have been seeing colours as statuses.

I hate breast cancer. Everybody does. Nobody is unaware of it. And seriously. Posting a colour to raise awareness does nothing for the cause.

Has anybody been compelled to make a donation to breast cancer research as a result of the colour “blue” or “chartreuse” (whatever that is).

I know many of you reading this have taken part in the exercise. And I understand your motivation. But either you’re responding to a friend telling you what is going on – or the originally circulated spam that read:

Some fun is going on….just write the colour of your bra in your status..just the colour, nothing else, and send this on to ONLY girls no men… it will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status…thanks ladies!

Fun? Posting colours and keeping secrets is fun? No. It’s childish.

Here’s a more scathing analysis from Jezebel

But what good has it really done for breast cancer awareness? Does anyone on Facebook really not know about breast cancer to the point where someone posting “purple lace!” and eight dudes responding, “Ooh, hot, lol” is really doing to anything to really help the cause in any possible way? If anything, the constant sexualization of and cutesy-poo approach to breast cancer pushes people to take it less seriously. As Tracy Clark-Flory of Broadsheet notes: “This bra color movement seems a similarly desperate attempt to get guys to simply give a crap about breast cancer by making it sexy and flirtatious, which I find not only embarrassing to women but insulting to men.”

And, you know, spreading awareness of an issue that statistically is much more predominant in women by keeping the men out of it… that’s a good idea.

Bollocks.

You don’t see guys running boxers or briefs social networking campaigns to raise awareness for prostate cancer. No. We grow moustaches and collect money.

It seems equally stupid. But there’s a difference. Movember raised awareness and almost $20 million (in Australia – and about the same world wide) for the cause.

A public awareness campaign with no call to action is just stupid. Having a strong call to action is the key to any marketing or public relations campaign. A call to action says: “if you care about this, do this”. Marketing that says “care about this” serves no purpose but to get people to care about an issue they probably already care about. A public awareness campaign where the call to action is “keep this a secret from the guys” is even dumber.

This “Bra Colour” Facebook campaign is stupid, juvenile, and almost completely pointless. Unless all the outcry about how pointless it is leads to some people actually donating.

And I’m proud to be a part of that.

If you really want to make a difference regarding Breast Cancer then do this:

Donate online

Help the National Breast Cancer Foundation to fund research into the prevention, treatment and cure of breast cancer. (If you would like to set up an ongoing donation, please call 02 9299 4090.)

Click here to donate online

The Oatmeal on oversharing

The Oatmeal has a little cartoon featuring ten things not to Twitter about. There, in cartoon glory, is a reminder about oversharing. Don’t do it people.

It’s a good list. Familiarise yourself with it. Submit to its authority.

On stupid guilt inducing status updates

Dear Christian Facebookers,

If you feel the need to inspire your Christian brothers and sisters to guilt please do so in a fitting and clever manner.

Do not post gut wrenching hallmark inspired guilt trips in your status and encourage other people to do the same.

If you post this:

“is a follower of Christ and proud to say it!! Let’s see how many people on FB aren’t afraid to show their love for God! Repost this as your status. Each time you see this on someone’s status, say a quick prayer for that person!! Lets get God back in this country like He should be!!! If you agree post this in your status update. Just copy and paste.”

I won’t unfriend you. But I will block your statuses from appearing in my news feed, and I will think a little less of you.

Even if it’s just because you used so many exclamation marks.

Mikey has good rules for Facebook Status Updates. Obey them.

UPDATE: There were several instances of this in my feed – this was not directed at anyone in particular – unless you were the culprit who instigated this practice to begin with…

Bowing to peer pressure

Everyone is writing soppy lists about their spouses. Simone started it. Soph, Ben, and Amy followed.

They want me to join in. I thought about it. I commented on Simone’s last post saying these lists were gay. I didn’t mean gay in a good way.

I thought about writing a list of things I don’t like about my wife (she steals the blankets)… I would have written a list like “I hate that she just has to look at me and I immediately agree with her”… but then I thought it would be all too similar to a Heath Ledger movie. And he’s dead, so I can’t say nasty things about him or his work.

I thought about making my list satirically soppy filled to the brim with gory details. We all know how I feel about oversharing and this whole trend treads perilously close to that mark.

But here, because Ben said I was a big girl’s blouse if I didn’t, is a list of things I love about my wife. So here are ten things. It’s not an exhaustive list.

  1. She loves God.
  2. She loves me.
  3. She is cute.
  4. She is funny. And laughs at my jokes.
  5. She encourages me.
  6. She wants to serve others, but also is prepared to tell me when I’ve over committed.
  7. She is mega-organised (and I am not).
  8. She will provide any children we have with athletic genes so they won’t run last at school.
  9. She likes coffee.
  10. She started posting here again because I told her that I like it when she does.

Amy gets points because her list about Tim is 20 points long.

Unmitigated soppiness

This post should potentially come with some sort of gag warning. But I’m sure all my female readers will appreciate it – and single guys can probably learn something from it…

We watched the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo + Juliette this afternoon.

Now that I’m married I enjoy romantic tragedies even less than before.

Speaking of which, we had our two year anniversary this week (on the 22nd). And my wife is still wonderful. I don’t normally go for soppiness online – it falls into the category of sharing information people don’t really want to read (oversharing).

I do love my wife very much though, and I’m happy for this fact to be published.

Fights you cant win redux – The Mater Complex

It’s impossible to take the moral high ground when arguing with parents. The “family” being the preeminent Australian social unit, and stay at home mothers being the ultimate in sacrificial living.

So what do you do if you think the mothers are wrong? You keep quite. Or you try to, and you write multiple blog entries along the same theme.

I love my mum. I love that she stayed home to raise me (and my sisters). I think it was hugely sacrificial of her. But I can’t imagine using a Facebook status as a form of parenting support or catharsis.

Overcaring

I’ve diagnosed the underlying symptom driving my oversharing antagonism. I don’t actually care, enough, about what’s important in the lives of those people in my Facebook friends list. And the people I do really care about I have enough contact with in real life (not necessarily physically) that I am across their milestones and moments of significance.

This is possibly a failing of mine. And it’s probably, as I suggested in my last comment in that other thread it comes down to a different understanding to the purpose of Facebook (and any social networking). It’s probably my inner pragmatic arrogant male self asserting itself.

I’m still anti-oversharing, but I think I assume everyone sees Facebook as I do – a contact book for casual acquaintances mixed with genuine deep relationships.

If you’ve only got Facebook friends who you are in deep relationship with – then by all means, overshare. Just make sure your privacy settings aren’t publishing your thoughts to the world.

I don’t go to Facebook to maintain deep relationships, there are far better ways to do that. I go there to keep in touch with people, to advertise events, to plug my blog and to organise social activities.

Simone has written a defence of motherly oversharing that closely mirrors Stuss’s. Two great mothers can’t be wrong. My argument is now that they are using the wrong forum to share motherly insights and milestones.

My comment that other workers don’t get to write in depth about their jobs (in most cases) still stands. The fact that it is your job does not make it legitimate sharing fodder.

If you think I am in the circle of friends you’d like to share your intimate, innermost feelings and joys with – then by all means keep sharing. But don’t force that on me (or others).

Oversharing: If you can’t beat them…

Clearly I offended people by suggesting some details about your life (particularly gory parenting details) should be kept private and not trumpeted to the world via Facebook.

I am sorry.

There must be more to this oversharing thing than meets the eye… I thought. So, being the student of Gonzo Journalism that I am, I became part of the story, and investigated…

Here are my status updates from today – and the comments they generated…

I gave up after a while. I couldn’t handle the heat.

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