3 Ways Social Media Sucks for Women and Birth | Indie Birth

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3 Ways Social Media Sucks for Women and Birth

December 24, 2019

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We're Maryn + Margo

We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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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

#goodbyesocialmedia

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  1. Victoria Wilkes says:

    I got off all social media a couple years ago and have never regretted it!!

  2. Cassie Snyder says:

    My first response when you said you wouldn’t be on social media anymore was, “Noooooo! Now how will I stay connected?” But, because I value your perspective and am honestly really curious about how this experiment is going for you, I read your blog post. When’s the last time I read a blog post? It’s admittedly rare. Social media trains us to read as little as possible, in the pursuit of more consuming more information, but it’s like empty calories and never satisfies. On social media, you’re limited to only so many characters, but I’m expressive (and wordy!), I just get rolling and then I’m cut off, so I talk about silly things that, like you said, don’t even matter. So it actually debases the integrity of my message. And to what end exactly? I think this move actually brings more value to your work. It might not reach as many eyes, but it reaches the ones that seek it. I’m not saying I’m quite ready to give up my IG, but you’ve planted a seed. Love you ladies and Merry Christmas to you! xoxo

  3. Maryn Green says:

    I love this response! So many good points, Cassie. And yay for planting a seed! Stay in touch.:) Love Maryn

  4. Aimee Allaire says:

    I’m personally banned from having a fb account on my cell phone. I’ve taken long breaks in the past but it’s so easy to get sucked back in. I’m viewing this fb-imposed ban as a gift though I was pissed at first. Happy New Year!

  5. Jill Roper says:

    About 6 months ago I read the fascinating book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and boy did it open my eyes to what is really going on! I took a 60 day fast from Facebook and was so glad I did! In my book it’s considered fake news. It breeds dissatisfaction among all of us. It encourages women to be nasty to each other. More importantly, social media fosters surface relationships without real substance. Don’t we ALL want deeper connections and not less?

  6. Charrie VanVleet says:

    Love you ladies, so glad you are here. ???? Love what you wrote above, especially your voice on that social media fosters division and not connection, I see that more and more often. Though I too have made many wonderful connections with social media, I am careful….☀️

  7. I was attacked on social media by other birth workers. I work for the Families and mamas but it still hurts.

  8. Karina says:

    I’ve never had a Facebook because I’ve always hated how fake it all seems. I hate all the drama that comes with it, and how unnecessary and negative it probably is most of the time. I have an Instagram I rarely use, so I officially suck at social media lol. I do, however, want to become a birth photographer, and I’ve had many people ask if I’d create a business Facebook/ instagram just to “get my name out there.” I’ve been on the fence about it, but I took the birth photography “Birth Becomes Her” course and there was a section on social media. It’s been about 4 months since I finished the course and I still haven’t caved lol. I think with word of mouth, starting with friends as clients and creating a good website it should work out. I just hate to think that social media is the only way to get my business started! Everything you mentioned is so on point, so it’s encouraging and reaffirms what I already thought. Thank you!!

  9. Victoria says:

    I am so glad for you ladie! I haven’t been on social media and became more caustious after a person called social services on me because they felt I wasn’t getting my children the “correct” healthcare. I hope you too have the experience of less frustration and more positive focus as the result of leaving social media.
    I miss the days of email list and old-fashioned personal websites!
    Good luck!

  10. Sarah Hendricks says:

    I emailed you personally to thank you for this Maryn, but I’ll take the time to leave a public comment thanking you for the inspiration and confidence that it is possible to have a thriving business, platform, practice- whatever- beyond the borg. Social media is the enemy’s playground, take away the monkeybars and the swingset and then, poof, there is no more venue available for the schoolyard bully to assail your life’s work. Thanks again and best wishes for the new year. Sarah

  11. Thank you. I love what you have written. It aligns with what you stand for and proclaim. I am curious about one limiting belief that I think many of us who are in business have: How do I get my message out there if not on social media?

    I know that you expressed a bit about this notion in this blog, however, it is this belief that can trap many of us who are trying to earn a living, spreading an important message, doing what we love. How do people find out about our work? Read our books? Etc.

    And is YouTube any different?

    All of this to say, I think the answer is in building genuine real relationships with other likeminded business people. Together, we collectively share about each others work with the world. Old school would call this networking – I would like to call it Collective Healing.

    I am curious about your thoughts on different ways to grow a genuine following without social media. <3

    Blessings to you on this day,
    Jennifer

  12. Maryn Green says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful response, Jennifer! You raise so many good points, and in the simplest way, I feel like it’s remembering why we do what we do, what value we provide the world with, and also reminding ourselves of all the ways people got their message out a decade ago! I think this also involves investigating our beliefs (as you’ve suggested) and even our vocabulary around what we see as the benefits and risks of social media. The internet is much bigger than the 3 social media platforms, gratefully and we are in the process of creating something very Indie Birth around supporting people like yourself! We believe we can create even more genuine connection with a little introspection, and desire to continue to impact the world with our message. We believe the same is possible for you. Much love, Maryn

  13. Sigh. Valid valid points. It is so tied to birth – that we really think about our actions and interactions, and lack thereof (the false guise of *human*) interaction. I too, was wondering how I was going to be kept up to pace with where you all were at… then immediately upon reading this blog post I realized that *that* is the exact consumeristic thought that I’m retaliating against for our culture and to help us women re-know birth (remember birth?). I was consuming, and still am with other IG accounts, massive amounts of information that I’m sure my mind hasn’t even proceseed. Sigh. And consuming in our society, especially in quantities larger than *enough* leaves us at the mercy of higher authorities if we are not mindful and intentional at choosing what our minds consume and how we act. Thank you for being brave. This is hmmm not pushing me, but maybe showing me, or giving me permission to take my thoughts seriously when it comes to social media and culture, and then birth, and society, and all the things. Thank you 🙂

  14. One other thought, that hopefully I’ll remember once I get to typing it out (goodness December winter momma brain)… online platforms and source of disconnection. My experience has been that real face -to-face trumps all. And I tend toward ledite-Ness so I admit that this may be a *natural perfectionist* thought; but is using an online platform at all really standing for the connection that birth really needs? I love that you are online: I don’t believe I can really learn midwifery any other way right now because our cukture has completely forgotten birth where I live, so we are forging a new path here it seems. So I like online. And I’m scared to think of not learning from you if you are not online. I’m rambling. I’m curious how you reconcile online platform learning with connectedness.

  15. Annie roo says:

    I JUST created a fertility ovulation group on fb and got BLOCKED bc of a breastmilk post i made in october hat was resolved and apparently reopened?!? Breastmilk does indeed have stem cells and i had a handfu puddle of breastmilk in my palm. Snapped a pic and said breastmilk has stem cells. I put it on my face. Banned. Now i make an ovulation group and am banned from adding anyone to groups so I have spent the past two days making a website w groups and discussion boards and pages for women to go and be!!! Gooood bye dumb fb. Helllllo new world. Face to face and whatveer God brings my way to this website!! Amen.

  16. Maryn Green says:

    Hi! Social media is online…but I don’t think “online” is by itself the enemy! It’s a great way to learn and find interesting stuff. We couldn’t offer the brilliance of all of our teachers to women literally all over the world if it wasn’t online…but yet, we are conscious that this does not work for some, and for those that it does, we all need to put in an effort! We are always revisiting this with the school and asking ourselves how our students can feel and actually be more connected to us and each other. So far, I think we are doing pretty well. We have weekly video meetings and also private video chats where the students can talk about school or life or ask questions..and they have access to Margo and I pretty personally. Also, we have a once a year in person workshop, which is in about 2 weeks! Last year we had a student from Sweden attend, and this year will have a dozen women from all over the US and Canada. So….online learning platforms can truly be awesome, especially coupled with all of the ways so far (and we’re always looking for more!) to make us feel like we are learning and growing with other REAL women who we know at a personal level. I am so grateful to these tools for helping us with this.
    Thanks for this question! It seems to me to be about discernment and creativity and a desire to create something new in a way that feels good. Love Maryn

  17. Megan says:

    100% agree. If we keep consenting to the misuse of things we cherish, nothing will ever get better. One drop of rain, amongst many others, can build into a flood that shifts the landscape. In this case, it will shift into something better for us all. Exactly like the independent midwifery and autonomous birth movement. I love the bold steps IB takes. Incredibly inspiring.

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Meet the duo behind Indie Birth

We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit when necessary. With 11 children and 16 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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