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Home arrow Opinion arrow Columns arrow Facebook turns infants into instant stars


Facebook turns infants into instant stars

My son arrived last week, equipped with fully functioning lungs and larynx, and scarcely had I cut the cord before his tiny scrunched face was available for viewing around the world.

Or to people on Facebook, anyway.

Which amounts to the same, come to that.

Facebook is a pretty fair synonym for ubiquitous, certainly.

The global exposure of Max Edmund Jacoby has continued apace in the days since his first appearance (well, first save for on a computer monitor via ultrasound scanner).

His notoriety has spread, in the manner of a virus, thanks to an abundance of hosts in the form of aunts, siblings and assorted other relatives, all of whom have Internet access.

Our race’s fascination with birth is of course an ancient one. I suspect announcements were once scrawled on papyrus or chiseled into stone tablets.

What’s new, relatively speaking, is our ability to broadcast the intimate details both immediately and in a manner less cumbersome than by a series of telephone calls.

(Or stone tablet.)

It used to be, for instance, that expectant fathers were confined, apparently by force if necessary, to a waiting room in the hospital.

There they would languish and, of course, pace. (Like as not, with a lit cigarette in one hand and a fedora in the other.) Finally a white-uniformed nurse entered discreetly to deliver the verdict on gender and weight.

Then the father would hand out the appropriately labeled cigars, and the tobacco miasma would get thicker still.

Today, a hospital visitor would no more light up than he would go around the ICU pulling plugs and randomly twisting dials on machines.

And these days dads, freed from the prudish constraints of the past, intrude into every aspect of the reproductive cycle.

They haunt the delivery room, trying to help their wives by submitting their hands to the vise-like grip of mid-contraction.

They clutch high-definition video cameras and ask the doctor, when the baby’s head crowns, to move his hand because it’s ruining the scene.

And then, before the placenta has been expelled, they post the whole messy procedure on YouTube for the perusal of cyber-voyeurs on every continent.

This is what we call progress.

Which it is, of a sort.

When my older daughter was born 19fi years ago, my distant relatives didn’t get a look at her until we’d had the film developed and the photos mailed.

Neither of which is a minor matter when you’re dealing with 2 a.m. feedings.

This time, my sister and her family, who live in Virginia, had seen Max before he was three hours out of the womb.

And before he was three days old they had watched, in real time, as he performed his greatest trick — sleeping — via that Jetsons-style miracle called Skype.

I think it’s a fine thing that families can share with their loved ones, so quickly and personally, the joy of such a blessed event as the birth of a child.

Yet, in common with the Internet in general, this facility carries the inherent risk of overuse.

Max, for instance, has so far progressed nicely. He suckles on a predictable schedule and ejects the expected fluids from the appropriate orifices.

But I’m not about to start recording his diaper changes for the edification of Facebook friends from Baker City to Bangladesh.

Jayson Jacoby is editor of the Baker City Herald.

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