Anyone with a Facebook account has seen it: Labor play-by-plays as a pregnant woman squeezes out her baby son. Photos of dirty diapers - and graphic descriptions of what's inside. Declarations that "my child is the smartest and most beautiful," and everyone else is doing this parenting thing wrong.
Welcome to the world of overshare. In her new book "STFU Parents," Blair Koenig expands on her 4-year-old blog of the same name, which is dedicated to the "jaw-dropping, self-indulgent and occasionally rage-inducing world of parent overshare."
There's the mother who describes her placenta smoothie - which "tastes like heaven," in case you were wondering. The woman who offers details on her paternity-test "open house." The mom who gives strict instructions to provide toys and snacks for her kids at any social event she's invited to - because they're little but important citizens.
Koenig, 30, a Brooklyn-based writer, launched the blog in 2009 as a forum for venting about the bizarre, horrifying details parents share on social networking sites. It revolves around readers' submissions, and attracts 1.5 million visitors each month. "I think people who overshare are either proud of it, or they like the shock value that comes from it," Koenig says. "Sometimes people will say, 'I had to look at my baby's crib covered in poop, and now you do too.' They're sort of trying to get a rise out of their friends."
In "STFU Parents" - which stands for Shut the F--- Up Parents - Koenig classifies offensive behavior into an array of chapters, including MommyJacking, Sanctimommy, Spoiled Brats, Bathroom Behavior and Boy Parts TMI. A mommyjacker, for example, hijacks a friend's status update to talk about parenting - a self-involved, common habit "of injecting tidbits about one's children into conversations" in a way that wasn't possible prior to the Facebook era. "Having a bad day at work? Mommyjacked. Just got engaged? Mommyjacked," Koenig says. "Family pet passed away? You guessed it. No status is safe."
Consider offending mother Ginny. When Nichole alerts the Facebook community that she's had the worst day she can recall, Ginny comments, "Guess what went right? Ava is 6 today! We love you." And then there's Todd, who can't ignore Sabrina's update that she's getting married in one month. He jumps in to point out that his daughter will be 3 next month, and his son turns 1 year old three days later.
Sanctimommies and sanctidaddies, meanwhile, are perhaps the most noxious of the group. These folks believe there are two types of people in the world: "us" (parents) and "them" (everyone else). Expect these parents to post statuses like, "Only when you are a parent you realize how life is worth more with a child." Or: "I'm making a human being today. What did you do?"
Koenig, who describes "STFU Parents" as the quintessential "field guide to overshare," closes the book with a glossary. She includes terms readers may encounter as they navigate the modern parenting culture, such as "diaper blowout," which is the "cornerstone of parent overshare on social media." These incidents are described in detail, with references to both color and texture. Other common terms include "dipe," which is momspeak for diaper, and "momarazzi," or mothers who post new albums of their kids every day.
Koenig says her intent is to entertain - and perhaps curb parental overshares as she mocks them. Feedback speaks to her success. "I've heard from people who say, 'I plan on getting this for my co-worker, who drives me insane," she says. "And I've gotten great pictures from people who gift it at a baby shower to someone who has a sense of humor. I also hear from people who realize that they used to do that too, but my site has shown them the light. They realize that it's not as crucial as they thought it was to share every little detail."
And as for backlash that she's a baby- or parent-hater? Not true. Koenig hopes to become a mom one day and likens "STFU Parents" to a crash course in parenting. "I've learned so much," she says. "I feel like I get all perspectives coming in because sometimes the submissions are clearly written by attachment parents or people who practice a certain philosophy, so it's shaped how I think about parenting. But most of all, it's just created a huge respect for what goes into being a parent."
- Family & Relationships