Society - Written by Naumi Haque on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:48 - 2 Comments
My Facebook baby
Nothing will test the mettle of a social network more than the arrival of a new baby. My wife and I just found this out when our first child was brought into the world and, shortly thereafter, onto Facebook. More than weddings or other life-altering events, people seem enamoured by babies and aren’t shy to let you know. The thing that amazes me is the speed and simplicity with which it happened. All it took was a one-line status update on the day after the birth – I went home from the hospital for a mere two hours to shower, eat, and nap and managed to have enough energy to post “Naumi is a dad!”
What followed was a flurry of activity, both on- and off-line.
The initial response was an outpouring or well-wishes on Facebook, by e-mail, and by phone ( a couple of relatives even spontaneously showed up at the hospital). It was definitely an efficient way to get the word out, even to non-Facebookers. My parents were taken by surprise. Cousins who were connected to me on Facebook told their parents who told other relatives who were then flooding my parent’s answering machine. Relatives who I don’t even know (or hardly know) were calling from England and Pakistan to congratulate my mom and dad on becoming grandparents.
There were also challenges. Among the first visitors to the hospital were my brother-in-law and his partner, who took pictures and subsequently posted them on Facebook before anyone else. It caused a flurry of excitement. My cousin in England was ecstatic, if not a little confused; “I don’t know who Andrew Woodley is, but he’s a star for posting these!” Of course when word got out that pictures were available, everyone wanted to go see. The problem was that the pictures were only visible to some friends – those that weren’t on limited profiles that prevented them from seeing photos tagged of me. Now my parents were getting phone calls from people asking why they couldn’t view the pictures, putting me in the slightly embarrassing position of having to explain to people that I had limited their access. The issue was partially resolved when I posted the “official” pictures, however those without Facebook (especially close family) still felt marginalized. I then had to compress and e-mail a separate set, and (for the luddites and old-schoolers) put together a set of printed pictures to be delivered by <gasp> snail mail.
Then there was the issue of appropriate response. Do you reply to 50-some wall posts individually? What about e-mails and phone messages? What’s the priority across different media? For me, the priority was phone first, followed by traditional e-mail, followed by Facebook private messages, followed by a generic status update to satisfy all the wall posters in one fell swoop! Ah, the joys of parenthood in a networked, digital age.
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