With the gift that comes with hindsight (as well as awareness of the dependency/addiction of it all), we feel an increased and deep clarity around why we left social media! Our hope is that other women can examine these reasons and, if they personally or professionally apply, potentially also make the move away in favor of a more intentional and true life, as well as “connection”.
Indie Birth has and has had a large following on social media for quite awhile. For a time, we enjoyed sharing there and posting and hoping (?) that it would feel better to us than it often actually did; whether it was being “policed” by social media itself OR by other women, we’ve known for some time that there HAD to be another way for us. A way to spread our Truth, reach other like minded people, all without being dependent on “likes” and “follows” and other artificial ways that have been created to make people feel like they are part of something.
The time has come and we have finally done it. For years, we’ve had thoughts and feelings such as “We’d like to leave, but we can’t!”, however, we finally did what makes us happy. And much like birth, we asked ourselves what we REALLY WANTED and weren’t willing to settle for less. Sometimes the hardest choices are actually easy, once we give up the false beliefs that we are carrying. For example, we wouldn’t advise women to, say, choose hospital birth because they feel they “can’t” have or create what they really want. The irony of our own dependence on something that didn’t even feel good (because it’s expected, or maybe popular) was definitely not lost on us.:)
With that, the couple weeks removed have confirmed our own path and suspicions around what we think Facebook/Instagram/Twitter are REALLY doing to us, for us, as WOMEN.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TOOL OF THE PATRIARCHY. Many of you know that we had some history (along with other women and organizations) in “changing” Facebook policy around birth photos and footage a few years ago. While progress was made, ultimately we were still asking for permission and agreeing (by default) that it’s OK to label birth photos as “graphic violence” or nudity JUST to allow the photo at all. While our large Instagram account was NOT often flagged or deactivated (a real curse when you are “relying” on these platforms for doing business!), many posting the same photos (with smaller followings) were. The advertising policy became more rigid and ultimately no ads with any amount of skin (even a pregnant belly!) could be placed at all; despite the “approval” we had worked hard to receive in order to allow birth photos on this platform. Without getting into the nitty gritty, placing an ad meant that the ad also couldn’t even REFER back to a webpage with a pregnant belly! Eventually, it all became so crazy and impossible that it wasn’t even worth money or time. Ultimately, these platforms care very little for women or the issues and photos and posts that would potentially be meaningful to us, and/or promote awareness or change. In hindsight, my question is this: why are any women (especially those in the work/business of birth, breastfeeding, etc.) willing to be on these platforms as second class citizens? It’s no secret that these platforms censor women (as well as other political issues) and so WHY? Why are women hanging out there hoping things will change? It’s truly the definition of insanity to expect that this will change for the better for women. It’s also an issue of something bigger; where is our respect for our own bodies and the natural birth process when we’re ok explaining to our children that photos of new babies coming into this world will be censored and hidden from our society? I could go on and on but we’ve had enough. It is NOT walking in sincerity and integrity for us, as a large birth organization, to support these platforms and the censorship of birth and breastfeeding, any longer. #wakeupwomenitsthepatriarchy
2. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL LIFE. We know not everyone feels this way but let’s pick this apart a bit! Social media is used in all kinds of ways, not just by businesses or people wanting radical change. People use it, daily, to post about their lives, or to post photos of their kids. That’s all good (if it works for you!) but we’ve forgotten that posts and stories are NOT real life; and probably what people are posting isn’t even close to the truth. Social media has allowed our culture to create fake personas, as well as groups and movements that exist SOLELY on a computer screen. I think we need to come back to this fact and understand it as much as we can. “Not real life” means that we can’t REALLY connect, we can’t have REAL conversations in the form of comments (especially when comments can be hidden, blocked etc.) and mostly we have to make the connection that real life is happening (for all of us!) on the other side of the computer screen. Getting “likes” is strangely addictive but means nothing. DO we need approval this badly?And the notion of “followers”; we don’t want anyone to blindly “follow” us either! We really prefer that even if inspired, we all find a way to “lead”. Words are powerful and it’s crazy weird to see “followings” that are more cultish than probably anything in real life. What are they about or based on that is sustainable? Do you really KNOW the person or movement you are “following?” It freaks me out that our kids will probably live in a world that stems from this dysfunction. I want to hear about “real”; give me your personal struggle right now or an actual picture of your kitchen. Fake, fake, fake. Social media is NOT real life; it never has been and never will be. And that really sucks for women, and for birth, which is a rite of passage that is INEXTRICABLY TIED to internal (and often authentic external) connection. #notreallife
3. SOCIAL MEDIA FOSTERS DIVISION, NOT CONNECTION. It’s true that with the internet, we have the opportunity to “connect” with others all over the world. That is really cool and something for which we have felt really grateful here at Indie Birth. Many of the people we’ve chatted with on podcasts, or that teach for our school, have come from online connections. So, we want to acknowledge that and also the gift of the internet while also acknowledging that on a grand mass scale, social media is NOT doing that for most people. Women, in particular, rely on face-to-face conversation and community (and admittedly, all of that is lacking in many places!) to grow and feel any amount of sisterhood. We think that just because we have a page in common with someone, or use the same hashtag (#indiebirth:) that we’re alike. Maybe we are, or maybe we aren’t. Social media is also NOT a safe place for disclosing anything that you don’t want plastered on a billboard somewhere (the “rule” I want my kids aware of when posting); and this is not the way women build friendships or connection. Also, the “social media wars” are Mean Girls at its best. Women definitely struggle as a group with emotions, clarity and not feeling like everything they read or see posted is about them. Maybe that’s always been an issue, but social media makes it acceptable. We don’t have to own up to the nasty comments face to face, and this ultimately is driving the wedge even deeper between women and groups of women that “should” (in theory) all be for the same thing.
We’re still reflecting and learning how this all works (or the lack thereof!) for ourselves personally and as an organization. Thanks for walking with us as we dig deeper and explore our own vulnerabilities in this big world! We hold the vision that more women will reclaim their life, and mission in the world from the claws of social media and be inspired (at the very least!) to make changes, little by little. We’ve been inspired by the many women that have made this move, well before we did. Thank you! And if we can do it, you can do it!
Love, Maryn and Margo