You Have the Right to Remain Silent.Posted: June 10, 2015 | |
You have the right to remain silent about your children’s accomplishments. Anything you post on social media can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you? Good. Because chances are you’re guilty.
Don’t feel bad. We are all guilty of bragging about our kids on social media to some extent. It is practically a mandate for parents today to indulge in a little bit of boasting via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. But it doesn’t change the fact that bragging about your kid is unseemly. At worst, it can be hurtful to parents who are less fortunate; at best it is just plain annoying.
I don’t want you to misunderstand. It’s not that I am not super happy that your son’s tee ball team just took third place in the sub-regional, U-9, division 4, Chili Pepper qualifier, because I am. Obviously.
And it isn’t that I don’t want to see 400 pictures of your kids enjoying themselves on spring break because I really am so glad that you are #lovinglife and #feeelingblessed. Obviously.
And it’s not that I’m not totally impressed that your son made the 7th grade, second semester A/B honor roll (which I kind of already knew about from your bumper sticker), because that’s an awesome achievement. Obviously.
It’s just that it’s enough already. Obviously.
If connection is the beating heart of social media, bragging is its evil twin. And just as if life was one big soap opera, the evil twin is always lurking. Bragging on social media has become so ubiquitous it is now part of the deal. But I think we need to examine why it is part of the deal. Why is it that people who would never brag about themselves, feel free to crow about their kids in front of 1,100 of their closest friends? My theory is that they file those little boasts under the category of being proud. But who are they really proud of?
Posting your child’s every achievement (or non-achievement as the case often is) actually says more about you than about them. I mean, I get it: parenting is hard and we all just want to feel like we are doing a decent job at it. So when we sneak in a post about how our kid took first place in the second grade spelling bee, what we are really saying is, “Look! I haven’t totally screwed my kid up! Despite my crippling fear of ruining this precious human life, they’ve lived to see another day without turning into the Unabomber or Snooki! Yay me!”
And that’s why a little bit of bragging is acceptable. But however well intentioned it may be, we should try to keep the boasting in check. People whose children are having a hard time don’t want to constantly hear about how great yours are doing. In addition, I think it sends the wrong message to our kids. It has been well established that social media is contributing to a culture of narcissism. Posting every time your child has even the tiniest measure of success may lead kids to believe they are superior to others, entitled to privileges, and cause them to crave constant admiration from others. (And then your back full circle to the Unabomber and Snooki.)
I have to say that, happily, the number of braggy posts I see on my Facebook feed is diminishing. I’d like to think this is a sign that our collective conscience is telling us that this sort of thinly veiled self-congratulatory behavior is destructive to our larger parenting community, that we understand this constant spotlight on our kids isn’t any better for them than it is for us, and that we are trying to stay connected in more positive, uplifting ways. But it could just be that I have the best social media friends in the world. Not to brag or anything.