Not to sound like I was born when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but back when I was a new mom, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or even (gasp!), texting. We couldn’t post a picture of the world’s biggest exploding diaper on Instagram, or look for a cute homemade pumpkin costume for our baby for Halloween on Pinterest, or make a six second video of our kid being French kissed by the family bulldog on Vine. Back then, if we wanted to make new friends we had to go to the playground, or join a playgroup, or accost someone at Chuck E. Cheese. And when we wanted to talk to our new friends, we had to meet them in person or call them on the phone.
Friendships were not measured by comments, shares, retweets and likes. They were made and maintained in real life.
Is it better now than it was then? As a mom who has spanned both worlds, I can tell you it is certainly easier to find camaraderie and support now, in the online world. Motherhood can be an incredibly isolating and lonely existence. When you are in the throes of new motherhood, finding friends who can relate to what you are going through and can help guide you and listen to your woes without judgment can be tough to do. With the emergence of social media, moms who – by necessity, choice, or circumstance – are unable to get out and meet other moms now have news way to cultivate friendships. Through Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media platforms, we can connect, get answers to our problems, and feel validated without having to worry about packing up the diaper bag and getting everyone out of the house in the middle of a snowstorm or after a sleepless night.
One of the ways I was able to share my experiences as a new mom early on was through my humor column, “Lost in Suburbia,” where I am able to chronicle the challenges and good times of motherhood. This was a great way for me to get my new mom ya-ya’s out and also find the humor in parenting. Although I get feedback in the form of letters and email from readers it was not exactly a two-way street in terms of having a conversation. It wasn’t until I connected with other moms on social media that I really started to feel like I had found my tribe.
Blogs and social media platforms have become our coffee klatches, our virtual playdates, and our workplace water coolers. They are filling a void for both stay at home moms and working moms by allowing them to engage with friends when they might not have the ability to do so otherwise.
What is truly amazing, though, is that many of these online relationships have morphed into real world friendships. Social media has expanded our relationship borders. Women I met online have become friends in real life. We meet for girls’ getaway weekends, for conferences, and for lunches if we live close enough. It is truly the best of both worlds: real-life connections that are maintained through online conversations.
I’m not sure this is what the founders of social media had in mind when they launched their platforms. But for many moms, finding a community where they can connect, get advice, or just share a laugh is a great thing to discover, whether it is in a virtual world or a real one. Now if we could just get our online friends to watch our kids for us while we took a nap, we’d be all set!
Posted on 9/27/2013
Tracy Beckerman is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of the book, “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs.” She invites you to come check out her new “Lost in Suburbia” community and share your experiences about the good, the bad, the horrifically embarrassing, and often hilarious moments of parenting.