I recently read a surprising article on The Daily Dot about Facebook finally allowing breastfeeding photos to be displayed and posted online. It is, shall I say, an interesting read but one that has left me slightly baffled. I was never aware that there was a significant anti-censorship movement and that showing breastfeeding or mastectomy photos was in such high demand.
From being friends with/following new mothers on social media, I am aware of the “baby spam” that often gets posted. And FYI, when I use “baby spam” it is in no way derogatory. It’s all adorable (except when a parent decides it’s a good idea to post the results of a successful potty training day. That is completely unnecessary. Keep that one for the private, physical album at home). And I guess that’s the new norm. Of course you want all your friends and connections to see your kid. You made that little human. You’re documenting their growth and sharing all their cuteness with the world. How cool is that?!
Now granted, I am not a mother (yet?). So I don’t know if what I’m about to say will be considered “ignorant” because I have not had the maternal experience, but why do many feel compelled to take selfies of their breastfeeding sessions? Is it absolutely necessary to have such a huge part of your private life be made public? People who you don’t know could be looking at that! When the baby turns 18 is he or she going to be embarrassed with that picture of his/her mother on the Internet? What if someone copies and pastes it and puts in on their site? Technically, I could do that now; I could easily look up pro-lactavists with a simple hashtag search, find a photo of them breastfeeding and integrate it into this post, all without their permission – without their knowing.
Isn’t that slightly terrifying? A little creepy?
It’s the 21st century. It’s so easy to cut and paste! Are these new mothers (and mastectomy patients) okay with that kind of fluidity? Do they realize that nothing is private anymore? It’s a gamble, that’s for sure. Because one that photo is posted, you don’t know who could potentially be saving it to their hard drive. What if the new mother begins looking for a job after maternity leave and their potential employer sees that photo? Couldn’t that be a little awkward?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for freedom and sharing online. But do not get duped – What you may regard as freedom now may have a way of enslaving you later, and you will find yourself trapped in a hasty decision made years prior that can never be taken back. And that doesn’t just go for breast photos, but all photos and everything posted on social media. It may be fun and games now but we must stay vigilant and aware within a system landscape that is rapidly changing before our eyes. It is one that we have only a superficial knowledge of. Remember that. We are pacified with the control we think we have when in reality we have none.
It’s in Facebook’s interest to allow the photos because that means more time spent on the site posting and/or viewing, which then means more ad revenue, etc. And the nudity is not pornographic or vulgar. It is simply life. It is the conceptual need to share that nudity publicly that I am struggling with.
I think motherhood is a beautiful thing and I think it’s wonderful that so many mothers are open to sharing their lives and new journeys with the world. But what is happening to privacy? It seems with everyday that passes we are giving it away. Well, you know what they say:
You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.