I’ve been noticing an alarming trend these days. Pictures of babies and children appearing on my Facebook news feed. To my knowledge, Facebook populates your news feed based on certain priorities: 1. important people of your life (those marked as partners or family) 2. people you marked as Close Friends 3. people whose Facebook posts you’ve been commenting on, indicating your interest in what’s going on in their lives.
Strangely enough, while none of my interests include babies, they have been mysteriously popping up all over my news feed. This indignation of course excludes babies of Close Friends since I’ve decided to be included in their lives, that also means I have to include their children in my news feed too. But what’s most puzzling are photos of children from people I’ve not spoken to in a long time. These people haven’t appeared in my news feed for some time now but suddenly their children are.
1. C, whom I was classmates with 16 years ago and haven’t spoken to since, recently uploaded studio photographs taken of himself, his wife and his newborn. Before today I didn’t realise he was even married.
2. P, whom I last spoke to 5 years ago, whose wife (not on my friends list) added pictures of their two girls and tagged him, so now I have pictures of mermaids on my Facebook.
3. B, whom I barely knew back in school, and her newborn.
4. my ex-colleagues J and W, whose pre-school sons are suddenly appearing half-naked in soap suds.
WHERE DID THESE BABIES COME FROM?
1. Facebook misunderstood my status updates.
A couple of times the past few weeks I’ve made some rather angry posts about people who have come up to me and ask me when I was planning to have a child. I was pretty angsty about being treated by a baby making machine and made my thoughts pretty clear on my wall. Unfortunately whatever bot or web crawler that Facebook employed wasn’t built for contextualisation. It must have picked out the words “BABY” and figured I like looking at babies, nevermind that the text surrounding it were “I hate” or “I don’t want” or “stink of poop.”
2. Misreading the links
While I’m not a huge fan of children, I recognise the fact that parenting is one hell of a job to sign up for, which is partly why I’m adverse to picking it up myself. I sometimes link parenting articles which I find interesting and these articles tend to be the frank, witty sort that run along the lines of “Parenting sucks! 10 ways to suck it up!” rather than Mother Earth types that lull you into a false sense of security “The 101 Joys of Parenting”.
3. The natural progression
I got married 3 months ago. According to most busybodies, I should be planning to have a kid soon. Facebook must be thinking those same thoughts too.
HOW TO GET RID OF THESE BABIES?
1. Unbaby Me.
The friendly people behind unbaby me have created this wonder app on Google Chrome and Firefox that allows you to install a plugin that changes all traces of baby from your Facebook to your genre of choice, be it beer, cats, dogs or bacon. From now on, cats, corgis and Maru the cat will appear on my list.
2. Facebook settings
For every baby picture that popped up on my news feed, I went to the baby’s parent’s Facebook page and changed the subscription setting to Important Updates only. I’m not sure what qualifies as “important” but it immediately removed the chubby cheeks from my computer.
3. Baby Feed
Some friends have created baby feeds which can only be seen by other parents. Others created Facebook accounts for their babies, not because they are narcissistic but this removes the baby from their wall and allows those who want to see news about the child to opt in by adding the kid’s Facebook page. Pretty ingenious.
For close friends, don’t worry about having to hide your child just to spare me the pain and suffering that usually comes with looking at chubby cheeks and tiny fingers and toes. Your children are the exception.