We all know them: the Facebook friends and Twitter followers who post every mundane detail of their lives. The STFU, Parents blog suggest that parents are some of the worst oversharing offenders.
With a loyal following of readers with children and without, this blog points out some of the most hilarious, and often graphic violations of social media etiquette.
STFU, Parents’ creator, who goes by “B” , discusses the origins and her motivations behind creating the blog, as well as the social implications of parental oversharing.
Read my confession of an oversharing parent and what I learned from this blog.
Q: What was the tipping point that made you want to start a blog to address this issue?
B: In March 2009, I noticed a trend in my feed of new parent friends posting consistently about what I call “baby minutiae.” There wasn’t anything overtly gross or overshare-y, but there was a lot of needless information about a baby’s fever or diaper changes or nap time. Around that time, a friend of mine who has two children of her own started sending me screen captures of her friends’ annoying updates, and I started thinking that many people were experiencing this parenting trend on social media sites, but no one was really talking about it. Specifically, my friend was sending me screen caps of people I didn’t know as a way to gossip without feeling too guilty, and that’s when I realized that I could start a website where people were able to sort of vent anonymously. It all grew from there.
Q: What is your overall motivation for creating the blog (I assume it is to point out the issue in a humorous way without being truly mean-spirited)
B: Yes, you’re absolutely right. I want to call attention to the way parents use social media because the “oversharing” is a relatively new phenomenon, but I try to do with some humor. I know that just about every type of person is capable of (and does) overshare on sites like Facebook, but I focus on parents because there’s so much to discuss. It’s also a niche that I can personally relate to. I’m 30 years old, many of my friends have kids, and I myself hope to have kids in the coming years, so I think about the kind of parent I’d like to be both online and off. It’s fascinating to me that parents are willing to expose so much of their lives and their kids’ lives on Facebook.
Q: To what do you attribute the popularity of your blog?
B: The subject has a universal quality. People from all over the world read the blog because they can relate to it. I get emails from all different kinds of readers: parents, people who associate with being childfree, people like me who want kids one day but aren’t fans of their friends’ incessant baby updates, and also infertile people who occasionally struggle with reading baby updates. If you’re over the age of 18 and have a Facebook account, the chances of running into some parent overshare are pretty high. I also like to think people read it because it’s funny, thought-provoking, and has a great community of commenters.
Q: At what point does posting about your kids become oversharing?
B: I think there are various degrees of overshare. It could just be the frequency that a person shares information about their kid (like the minutiae I mentioned above). Anything sitting in a toilet bowl or a diaper is decidedly overshare. Complaining about something frivolous, like the UPS man waking your baby from his nap, can be considered overshare, especially when violence is threatened. The most popular category on the blog is about something I call “mommyjacking,” which is when a parent hijacks a friend’s status update as a way to talk about their own child. I have hundreds of those submissions, and I think that reflects that so-called self-absorbed attitude some parents are criticized for having these days.
Generally, I recommend that people stop to think about what they’re posting before they hit “publish.” Just taking that extra second to ask yourself, “Do my friends even *want* to see what my placenta looks like?” or, “Do they really need to know all 204 words that little Nevaeh says at the impossible age of five months?” could prevent you from crossing that “overshare” line. I think most people welcome seeing adorable pictures of their friends’ kids in limited quantities, but maybe not dozens every day. If you treat Facebook like a diary or a baby journal, you’re probably oversharing.
Q: Since you started the blog, are submissions getting better or worse (worse meaning more disgusting/funny)
B: I’d say worse. Parents’ sense of entitlement is going way up, and the gross stuff just keeps on coming in. Those floodgates were opened the day I started the site, and there’s been a steady stream of nastiness ever since.
Q: What is the worst submission you have ever received?
B: I suppose that depends on what repulses you more: parent entitlement or bodily fluids. As for entitlement, people strongly responded to
to this post And as for bodily fluids, there’s Poop Skating, Poostache and Covered in Poop, and then of course placenta posts and labor photos.
Q: Other than showing your oversharing parent friend this blog, what is your advice to stage an intervention?
B: I think handling things with humor is always the best approach. Making a subtle, but perhaps pointed, joke calling out a person’s “overshare” can do the trick. If you have something serious to say, like you disapprove of your friend’s gallery of her nude toddler on the potty, then you might want to talk to the person face-to-face or at least via an email or private message.
You can also hide the person from your feed and essentially ignore the problem, or you can de-friend the person if she’s not your sister-in-law or someone important. I don’t really like telling people what to do in my real life, and even on the blog I try not to be too mean. But I do think it’s a good idea to let your friend know if she’s posted something inappropriate. There are also “spam” buttons next to photos on Facebook which is another passive-aggressive way to handle the issue.
Q: What is your response to parents who object to your blog?
B: I think its fine. Most parents don’t outright object to it. Most parents seem to like it, actually. The ones who don’t are either angry because the blog hit a nerve, or they just don’t think it’s funny because they’re not into my kind of humor. I don’t mind if people don’t like it for a real reason (as opposed to hating it before actually reading the site). And the response to the site from parents who have found themselves on it has varied. Some don’t mind being featured at all and have a great sense of humor about it. Others don’t exactly see things that way, and I’ll take down the post if they ask me to even though that always makes me sad. I’m not trying to start any big dramatic wars with strangers or upset anyone. I try to be ethical about the posts and respect when people don’t like the blog and/or don’t want to be featured on it.
Q: Do you see oversharing as an extension of the helicopter/dragon parent who is all consumed in a child’s life and has foregone any life of their own?
B: Definitely that is part of it. Parents are so immersed in their children’s lives these days, and they allow that obsession to drive everything they do and say. It can take over a person’s entire identity to the point that their friends don’t even recognize them anymore. There’s healthy obsession, and then there’s crazy helicopter parent obsession, and I think we’re seeing more of the latter both online and off.
Q: Your tagline pretty much says it all: “You used to be fun, now you have a baby.” Is it possible, from a single, non-parent’s perspective to still be fun even if you have a child?
B: Oh, for sure. I’m happy to say I know plenty of cool, fun parents, and I think there are a lot of parents giving parenting a good name. It’s a big job, and some people are able to do it very well and with a sense of humor, which is key. I think in order to be a fun person after having kids, though, you need to retain that sense of self. Even if you’re inclined to lean into those obsessive parenting traps, you have to force yourself to remember who you were before you had kids, for your sanity and for the sanity of others. It’ll probably result in a happier kid, too!
Q: Do you think oversharing widens the divide or just holds a mirror to reality once one friend becomes a parent?
B: I think if you’re posting things online that make your friends cringe, there’s going to be a divide whether your friends have kids or not. A lot of my submitters are parents who say, “I’m a mom and I am so sick of seeing these types of updates in my newsfeed!” So it can be a mirror to reality for parents, too, and that’s why a lot of parents read the blog: to know what to avoid sharing. As for there being a divide between people with kids and their friends who don’t have kids, I think overshare can have a role in that, but ultimately relationships are about more than what someone posts on the internet. Or at least, they probably should be.
Q: What should parents do to maintain their friendships with people who do not have children?
B: It’s a two-way street, and both parties are responsible for maintaining the friendship. But the main thing is not to be sanctimonious about stuff. Don’t act like your child is the center of the universe, or get mad when your childless friend hasn’t “child-proofed” her home when you stop by for a quick visit. Don’t breastfeed your four-year-old at a restaurant and expect your friends not to feel awkward. Try to keep the complaints about your lack of sleep or being up to your eyeballs in poop to a minimum, and definitely don’t show your friends any gross pictures of baby vomit or diarrhea. Proceed with discretion, and remember to have some alone time with your friends without the baby in tow. Your friends may appreciate and even love your baby, but they love you more.
-Elise Rambaud Marrion @emarrion_cmn