Welcome to the world and welcome to Facebook where your entire life from zygote to delivery has been assiduously documented.
From the remarkable 4D scan (ok, about that…forgive me if I’m a tad cynical about the actual geometric possibilities of 4D, but as a marketing ploy it’s a touch of genius) and your mother’s 2am status updates -
Craving fruit loops and peanut butter. Is that normal or just plain loopy. Lol
- to photos uploaded mere moments after birth, all swaddled and red faced, your digital scrapbook begins.
Bless you if you’re not utterly inured to flash photography at roughly the two hour mark when doting grandparents and excitable aunties have steamed in with smart phones at the ready.
Your Instagram presence begins with a delightfully blurred Amaro effect and immediately garners 150 likes. How’s that for instant popularity?
Your social media persona will be stage managed from here on by mum and dad who will probably post a succession of your images as their own Facebook avatars, before you eventually assume self-regulation sometime around twelve years of age.
Look, they’re obviously proud and excited and they just want to share the story of their lives which now includes you. Of course the flip side to this is that, in your case, this public narrative is being recorded before you actually decide to participate in it. Not that you’d object now, for those cute photos of you in the bath or dressed in a batman cape, gum boots and nothing else are too gorgeous not to share, right?
And yes, somewhat confusingly, while on one hand your parents are stressing the stranger danger message to you, they are also happy to post pictures of you at the school sports carnival with the name of the school proudly emblazoned across your sports top.
Never before have parents been able to cast such a wide net in sharing the specifics of their children’s lives. This unilateral deluge of information may not embarrass you as a small child, but you may not be so impressed when you reach the pre-teen stage.
You may have friends whose parents are obsessed with elevating everything their own children ever do to genius status. These parents will post endless photos of grimly smiling kids lining up regimentally to display the latest sporting medals. These people will illicit feelings of inadequacy and failure amongst other parents and children alike. Feel free to openly disparage them in the name of social balance.
When you do eventually take over your on-line presence, the overarching message from your parents will be quite clear – posting pictures of yourself and sharing every detail of your life is entirely normal in a world where being private seems to have lost its currency.
Now you have assumed custody you will have your peers dictating both the flow of information and the volume of images presented to the world. All this at a time when you are conflicted by the public and the private – a time of great personal mystery and revelation conflated with a culture of necessary over sharing. Just quietly – it’s kind of nuts.
You may also find yourself Facebook friends with your parents and more oddly, the parents of your friends. See, way back when, if a parent of a friend sent you a letter, or telephoned you it would have seemed kind of weird, now its perfectly acceptable to friend request the classroom and regale them with status updates about the disintegration of your marriage or the delights of your Thermomix.
There will, back to you, be mistakes, there will be mortification and there will be regret. There will not, however, be a facility to eradicate any of those. Which leads me to the issue of constructing the narrative that truly reflects who you are.
For back in the dark ages when I was at school, it was entirely possible to be characterized as a complete bitch, devout nerd, serial pest, utter dork or overachiever throughout your entire school years, then leave , reinvent yourself and present at your ten year reunion as a completely altered human being. Eventually the memories of your fellow alumni faded along with any rogue residual instamatic photographs.
Gone. Never happened. This is who I am.
Today your images and status updates– the good, the bad and the ugly or the pumped, dumped or drunk are there
LIKE FOREVAH! OMFG LOL
There’s no escape. You can run, but you can’t hide.
Culling your Facebook friends, forgoing Instagram, ignoring Linkedin requests will create some distance, but it’s entirely possible that eventually the stuff you are least proud of will resurface and unlike a dopey full sleeve tattoo it can’t be lasered away.