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Urban Etiquette

Ellen Vanstone answers your questions about the annoying behaviours, poor manners and impatient encounters that dot the days of a city dweller.

What's the nice way to tell a new mom her baby photos are boring?

As long as you have the option of not looking, you must respect someone's right to post it all.

Ani Castillo

Dear Ellen,

I have a friend who is constantly posting photos of her new baby son, and I understand her enthusiasm. But it’s filling up my feed and I don’t want to see everything he does every minute of the day. Is there a way to politely tell her not to post so many baby pics?

Bored With Baby

Dear Bored,

It’s not clear which feed you’re referring to. But whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or some other app, the answer is simple: There is no polite way to tell a new mother to stop posting photos of her brand-new baby on any social media platform she wants. Partly because she won’t understand how anyone could object to endless images of her darling boy’s punum. But mostly because there is nothing wrong — etiquettiquely speaking — with her or anyone else overloading the internet with the content of their choice, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s privacy. (You could argue that she’s invading her baby’s privacy, but I don’t think you’d get very far.)

There are conventions that have sprung up, for sure. As Airborne Toxic Event frontman Mikel Jollett has tweeted: “Instagram: My life is a party. Snapchat: My life is a quirky TV show. Facebook: My life turned out great! Twitter: We’re all going to die.”

Personally, I like to use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, watch animal videos, and sign petitions in aid of the environment and social justice, whereas I use Twitter to follow the news and will instantly block anyone who posts crap about their cats. When people under 60 send me group emails with funny links or holiday photos, I politely tell them that I use email mainly for work and ask them to friend me on Facebook instead. People I care about who are over 60 and confused by the internet are allowed to email me whatever they want.

Your new-mother friend may be making a tactical mistake, in that her constant barrage of baby pics will make everyone but the baby’s grandparents unfollow or mute or block her posts, or filter her emails with extreme prejudice. And I also realize you could spend half your life refining your settings in each app to weed out new parents. But as long as you have the option of not looking, you must respect their right to lovingly post it all.

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