Seriously, people? Unbaby.me? You hate seeing baby pictures on Facebook so much that you have to use a Chrome extension to block them? Look, I get it. Parents and non-parents sort of can’t stand each other. For god’s sake, we can’t even hang out at the same bar together without it turning into some kind of turf war. (Yeah, that’s right: bar. Apparently, it’s not totally irresponsible parenting to consume alcohol in front the kids. See also: my house, every Friday night).
But even though Unbaby.me is only the latest development in the whole us vs. them saga of breeders vs. non-breeders, it actually speaks to a couple of long-standing issues surrounding social networking services: that A) you’re either doing it wrong, or B) the social network itself has failed you in some way. In this case, I’m voting for A.
YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, BABY HATERS
No one is twisting your arm to stay connected with us breeders here on Facebook. Too many babies? Feel free to “unfriend” at will. Alternately, if you can’t bring yourself to take that bold of a step for all the social repercussions it involves, there’s also another option: that unsubscribe button in your News Feed. Yep, you can actually tell Facebook that you would like to see no more of Jill-the-baby-picture-posting fiend, thank you very much.
Outside of not having a firm grip on Facebook’s settings, here’s another suggestion to save you from more baby-induced outrage in the future. Don’t friend people you don’t care about. Really. Facebook doesn’t get better the more people you add. It gets worse. And then you have to run off to hidey holes like Path just to avoid the mess you created.
BUT IT’S ALL FACEBOOK’S FAULT!
The other issue with this whole anti-baby backlash is that it implies that Facebook has somehow failed to serve up the right content that interests you. It’s a reflection of Facebook’s inability to properly reflect our real-world relationships. That’s sort of true. This same complaint has led Facebook to experiment with all sorts of filtering mechanisms, including lists, automatic lists, and even one-way subscriptions. None of them really work that well. Lists filter, but too rigidly. If you don’t look at the right ones, you miss things. Subscriptions don’t work because there’s always someone who still friends you because they feel closer to you than you do to them.
So yes, Facebook does have an obligation to stop serving up the endless baby-stream to people who never click on the photos, or engage with the proud parents to be. (I’d actually argue that, over the years, Facebook’s algorithm has gotten quite good at doing just that, but I suppose there are still some inescapable baby photos out there which Facebook insists you must see.)
IN CONCLUSION: WAH, WAH.
Facebook isn’t the only social networking platform where a supposedly infringed upon group wants to complain about one of its use cases. Twitter users have long been chastised for posting what they ate for lunch, tweeting too much from an event, posting their Foursquare check-ins automatically, not being “authentic,” only posting links, and other transgressions. Instagram, meanwhile, seems to encourage a community who post photos of sunsets, landscapes, nature, architecture, foamy lattes or hipsters out on the town (or at least that’s what this Twitter parody account implies.)
If anything, it’s a testament to Facebook that it has managed to expand beyond its own initial culture of students, then early adopters, and later, the rest of the world. It’s a testament that it continued to grow even after mom and dad and grandma and grandpa joined. And it’s a testament that it’s the one platform where even the dueling tribes of parents and non-parents can occasionally connect. Even if that means you have to Unbaby them from time to time.
Now excuse me while I go work on an app that removes those incessant pictures of your pets.
Image via foundshit.