x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Growing up on Facebook

There's a growing Facebook trend: babies. It seems that if a newborn isn't introduced to the world via Facebook, it doesn't actually exist.

About five or six years ago, I remember the word "Facebook" being whispered among various circles of friends. Having ignored MySpace at all costs and being a somewhat behind-the-curve sceptic regarding "popular" technology trends (it was almost a decade before I got an iPod), I viewed this newfangled "social media" with the same sort of suspicion as those exciting money-making opportunities from my "dearly beloved" friends in Nigeria. Not before long, however, that ever-troublesome curiosity got the better of me, and I was soon signed up, complete with "flattering but not-too-cheesy photo", "witty" response in the profile section and a series of status updates that managed to highlight what a fun/intelligent/outgoing/amusing person I was without seeming boastful. You all know what I mean.

And at the time, during those first pioneering days of discovery, it really was good, wasn't it? In just a few clicks you could reconnect with friends of old, unfriend them when you realised how tedious they were and - crucially - see how fat and bald the former school heartthrob had become.

But then, as with almost everything, its growing popularity began to have a negative effect. I think the first warning came around 2008, when I was "poked" by an elderly relative. Around the same time came the unrelenting carpet-bombing of nightlife updates from those ever-thoughtful club promoters. It was losing its sheen.

Several years on, I'll admit that some days Facebook is like a regular friend, perfect for the odd catch-up with a mate back home or some harmless "I wonder what they're doing now" stalking. But then a week will pass by without so much as a glance between us.

However, over the past few months, I've begun to notice a growing trend that is beginning to seep into Facebook's every nook and cranny. Babies. Yes, babies. Everywhere I look, babies. Big ones, little ones, ones with cheery grins, ones asleep, ones with food down their faces. My "news feed" (if it could ever be called that) is literally (not literally) a sea of babies.

Where last year there were floods of wedding photos (much like those from a brunch, but with smarter clothing), now it's the unavoidable consequence of such unions.

It usually begins with the posting of that blurry black-and-white scan, followed by shouty capitalised exclamations of joy. Then there's the library of growing "bump" photos and, eventually (just in case you weren't sure of the process), the birth itself, sometimes in full glorious Technicolor with regular status updates regarding contractions. Once the gunk is washed off, it's time for the obligatory "Little Jimmy's First Photo".

The trouble is, it doesn't end there.

Now, I'm genuinely delighted for my friends who have found themselves with a little bundle of joy. But do we really need to be told every time said sprog cries, fails to sleep or vomits all over the place? Babies do this. It's fact.

The real issue is going to come some 15 to 20 years down the line, however, when "Little Jimmy" is now "Lanky James" and all this embarrassing baby nonsense is not hidden in a photo album but online for the whole world to point and laugh at. Would you want that?