It’s Monday night, 8pm I’m home and partaking in the endless scroll. Facebook loves me on a Monday. I scroll past a picture of a puppy, like it. Picture of a tropical holiday, like it. Picture of an ultrasound, like it. Picture of a chocolate cake, like it.
They’re all the same to me. When the ultrasound of your unborn baby pops up on my news-feed, I don’t feel anything.
To me, it’s no different to seeing a photo of you and your boyfriend, or you on a night out with the girls, or you in your new apartment – or you and anything else that you decide to share with the world, considering the monstrous over-sharing powerhouses we’ve become through social media.
But pro-life advocates are thinking it’s a game changer. They’re dubbing us the “ultrasound generation” and believe this habit we have of sharing pre-natal photographs via social media channels will make us all more connected to the cellular blobs that are foetuses.
In 2014, when the famous ‘Fonsie Fetus’ went viral, writer Howard Slugh called it the “one of the most profound pro-life moments” of the year.
“Hopefully those pictures can help save millions of lives and bring us closer to the day when Americans look back on the era of abortion on demand as an abomination similar to the institution of slavery,” he wrote. “The mechanism for sharing a message can prove as important as the message itself. Ultrasounds, and other improving technologies, can help the pro-life movement persuade previously unreachable individuals.”
Last month, senior fellow at the Catholic Association Ashley McGuire told Lenny Letter, "It seems almost expected now that when you're pregnant, and as soon as you feel comfortable telling people, you put the ultrasound picture up, and people immediately respond."
But this sharing and response is expected with everything. Not just pregnancy. It happens with friendships, motherhood, careers, travel, lifestyle, dieting, the type of breakfast you wake up to, the type of bedclothes you have, the kitchen appliances you've just purchased.
And to me, they're all one and the same.
Because the only reason you've shared that picture, is the same reason you shared a picture of your work station, or clean kitchen, or baked apple pie. You shared it because you're happy, proud and willing to make it part of your heavily edited, carefully curated, often utterly false, on-line persona.
For this reason, the image of the ultrasound has nothing to do with the foetus - or even with the image. A picture is the fastest, most effective way to tell your world "I am pregnant, I am happy to be pregnant, and I am ready to share". It's all about your story, your image, your on-line identity - it's not about the bundle of cells that will one day be your baby.
That's why the photo of your ultrasound doesn't have me questioning my deep-rooted belief that women should have the right to choose.
Because if I fell pregnant now, I would not be posting that image to Facebook. Why? Because I'm not yet ready for a baby to become a part of my story.
The same way I know for every happy, strategic, socially-shared pre-natal photo, there are several women who are never going to share a photo of their ultrasound to their social media feeds. They will never share that photo, because they are in no place – be it financially, physically, psychologically or circumstantially – to take that baby to term.
For them, falling pregnant wasn't a moment for likes, emojis or comments. It was a tough, heart-wrenching, very personal decision.
And that is their choice. The same way it is your choice to fill my feed with images of your ultrasound.
And your choice to show me those images on a Monday night should have nothing to do with the choice of other women to terminate a pregnancy with abortion. Because that ultrasound image is not about a foetus. Or a 'life'. It is, in fact, all about you.
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