When my son was born a few months ago, my partner and I were extremely excited, and we wanted to shout the news from the rooftops. I think a lot of new parents feel that way. But it was also late at night, we were exhausted, overwhelmed, trying to snuggle our brand-new baby and, frankly, just figure out which way was up. We knew we were going to announce the birth on Facebook, but we also knew there were people we’d rather tell individually first and that the deluge of social media comments and congratulations — and possibly even questions — wasn’t something we were emotionally prepared to deal with that night.
We would deal with Facebook when we felt up to it, I thought. But we didn’t get to decide.
A well-meaning aunt was so excited that she couldn’t keep the news to herself. So she took a screen shot of the text we sent out to close family and friends, and took the liberty of uploading it to Facebook herself.
“I’m so excited to have a grand-nephew!!!!!!” her post read, along with a misspelling of his name (even though it was clearly there in the text). She robbed my partner and me of the ability to decide exactly when and how to “go public” about the birth of our child.
I was crushed. I had labored for days, been pregnant for the better part of a year, brought this beautiful child to birth, and I had expected to be the first to tell the wider world about him. My partner and I fumed together in the hospital room, but we recovered and shared our “official” announcement only a few short hours after her butchered one. It sort of worked, and when it didn’t, I was able to shrug it off. I wasn’t about to let her lack of consideration spoil my joy.
But I shouldn’t have had to shrug it off. It seemed to me that common sense would dictate that you let the parents announce when a birth has taken place (and if you happen to know before a public announcement has taken place, consider yourself privileged and loved), but apparently it needs to be said: Don't make other people's damn birth announcements!
For my partner and me, the unauthorized announcement was annoying and frustrating. But what about families who want to keep their brand-new baby off social media altogether? Or families who are trying to manage how their kids are presented on social media? I had one friend who wanted to give her daughter “at least a week on this Earth” before she was broadcast all over the internet. That might not make any sense to you, but you know what? I don’t care. It’s none of your business, and it certainly isn’t your decision.
There is a simple way to avoid these situations. Think of the social media announcement like an old-fashioned, snail mail birth announcement. Would you make up birth announcements on behalf of someone else and send them out to your family and friends? No, you would not. Apart from it being a lot of effort, it’s also a weird violation of privacy and sort of creepy. And just because posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is significantly easier than a mass-mailing doesn’t mean you should treat it any differently.
So before you tell the world that your best friend, or niece, or second cousin or anyone else has had a baby, ask yourself a few simple questions. Has she chosen to tell the world yet? Whose job is it to make this announcement anyway? And please, for the love of everything that is good, defer to the person who actually just had a baby. It really doesn’t have to be that complicated, but it does require that you stop and think.
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