I joined Facebook when my first child was a baby. I was living in a different state from my family, I’d moved to a suburb away from my friends so I could afford a house, I somehow missed out on mothers’ group and I was taking extended maternity leave from my job.
I didn’t have a village around me. But I did have Facebook.
I never felt that isolation that motherhood can bring. I didn’t drift away from my friends because they were right there, on my computer and on my phone. I could still chat to them about politics and reality TV, in between nappy changes. I got glimpses of music festivals and hot new bars through them, even though I had no hope of getting there, with a baby attached to my breast. I heard about their new jobs and checked out their new boyfriends.
They could see what I was up to. I shared loads of cute baby photos and didn’t feel bad, because I knew they could just scroll past them if they weren’t interested. I talked about the hilarious stuff my kids did. I posted status updates while in labour with my second child and my friends posted encouraging comments. (“Push!”)
I could deal with being at home because it wasn’t just me and a gurgling baby – I was having adult conversations too. I was happy to sit for ages in playgrounds and play centres while my kids clambered around because I could catch up with my friends on my phone. (Yep, that mum checking out Facebook was me.)
Gradually I made friends in my new suburb, although it took a long time to find people I really connected with. Facebook was always there for me, with my old friends. For a mild introvert like me, it was just what I needed to get by.
What the heck is going on with Facebook right now? Cambridge Analytica and the whole ‘data hacking’ scandal explained. Post continues after audio.
I know everyone’s hating on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg right now. I know Facebook has been sharing information about its users – including, reportedly, with Cambridge Analytica, who allegedly used that info to try to sway the result of the 2016 US election.
Yes, Facebook needs to reassess what it does with its users’ information, and we all need to be aware of how much we’re sharing.
But I can’t hate Facebook. I’m not going to delete Facebook. I know I would have struggled in those first years of motherhood if I didn’t have Facebook.
For that, I will always be grateful.