When I first heard about Unbaby.me, in a TechCrunch Yammer thread the other day, I was seriously excited. Not just because it provides a useful tool for the bitter and jaded non-parents among us. But mainly because I would be lucky enough to write about it. Here’s what I wrote, after being alerted to the thing by editor extraordinaire Eric Eldon:
“Omg mine. Maybe even post drubk tonight. If not, hungover tomorrow.*
So what is Unbaby.me? And why is it so important? Unbaby.me is a Chrome extension that recognizes baby photos on social networking sites like Facebook, and replaces them with photos of cats or dogs or cars or whatever you want. You just add to Chrome, update a few keywords, and tell it what to change the photos to. (The default is cats.)
Some people will no doubt be annoyed just by the existence of this thing, and I get it: You’re really, really excited about this baby that just popped out of you. You lived with it for nine months and it’s finally fully baked and is now out in the sunshine and it can move around on its own and kind of has a personality. I mean, like, more than a plant or a fish does, at least.
Thing is, I’m not excited about your baby. Or babies in general. They’re a little annoying and loud and don’t really care where they poop. They’re really bad conversationalists. They haven’t read Fifty Shades of Gray and don’t have a favorite football team. I can’t take them out to a bar and get them drunk and whine to them about my most recent relationship drama.
I’m also too busy playing Peter Pan in San Francisco and drinking away the best years of my life to be concerned with propagating the species. Dude, there’s like, 7 billion people in the world already and I don’t think we need any more.
But anyway, this is not about me. It’s about you. And your baby. And you creating a social profile for another human being who’s basically kind of defenseless about the whole thing. It has no input into the decision-making process. It can’t ask you to please untag that photo, it’s really embarrassing and it’s not how it wants people to think about it when it runs for Congress in 35 years. It can’t express its dismay at having its tiny baby weiner out in public where any future girlfriend can see.
So when you change your profile photo to a picture of your baby, and when you change your cover photo to a picture of your baby, and when every new Facebook gallery is nothing but 500 pictures of your baby, you make me not want to see pictures of your baby anymore. I mean, the baby’s got no say in this whole thing, right?
The good news for you — and the bad news for the rest of us, your baby included — is that Unbaby.me doesn’t really live up to the hype. It frankly just doesn’t work that well, at least in my testing. Maybe I didn’t play with the keywords enough to make it really useful, or maybe I already did a pretty good job of weeding out babies in my news feed. Maybe the makers of this extension will iterate and improve the experience — maybe they’ll go beyond keyword filtering and actually add some real-time photo scanning and baby detection.
Who knows? In the meantime, though, we still need a better defense against babies. And your insistence on sharing them with me.