Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chronicling Parenthood

From an interesting article by Libby Copeland at Slate, about the way that Facebook and the Internet may increase loneliness by exacerbating our tendency to underestimate other people's unhappiness:

Any parent who has posted photos and videos of her child on Facebook is keenly aware of the resulting disconnect from reality, the way chronicling parenthood this way creates a story line of delightfully misspoken words, adorably worn hats, dancing, blown kisses. Tearful falls and tantrums are rarely recorded, nor are the stretches of pure, mind-blowing tedium. We protect ourselves, and our kids, this way; happiness is impersonal in a way that pain is not. But in the process, we wind up contributing to the illusion that kids are all joy, no effort.

As I paste this passage, however, I think of all the counter-examples: the Facebook posts in which friends of mine ruefully recount their parenting misadventures, mini-disasters, and truly scary moments; or my friend Steve's blog, Our Three Oranges, which he uses to keep relatives and friends informed about his family, including developments both encouraging and discouraging with his son James, who has Down Syndrome.

I often don't comment on these posts—although I appreciate when people comment on similar posts of mine—but I do find that, far from increasing my loneliness, they have the opposite effect: they give me a sense of the day-to-day struggles of other people, a sense of shared vulnerability, and simply a wider sense of the lives of the people I know than I would probably get without the Internet and Facebook.

1 comment:

Mark Groth said...

I wish I were as cool as my online persona.