The "Career-Driven-Girl-Mom"/Instagram Conundrum.
Last night, the subject of social media (specifically, Instagram) came up with fellow “girl moms” as we waited for our daughters’ to finish hip hop class, and one of my friends suggested I write something about it. The consensus was this: When it comes to our kids, we see little to no upside for them to plunge into the world of Instagram, and we wish it would just POOF go away. It rarely if ever makes anyone feel better- typically, a scrolling session will leave them feeling left out/anxious/not pretty enough/not smart enough/not sporty enough, and so on.
I agree with all of the above.
However, my first response? I can’t write that I want to keep my kids off social media, because I spend more time than I should on it. And, I truly think social media is essential to my business. I believe that if I didn’t spend a significant amount of time thinking about and participating in it, the career that I have been working hard to build would suffer.
Social media has created this open playing field with low-to-no barrier to entry for a mom who wants to launch and grow a business to do so, from home/the carpool line/outside her daughter’s hip hop class. It is really incredible if you think about it, right? Is it easy? NO. HELL NO. But it exists. And that, in my opinion is super cool.
Then, it dawned on me: THAT is the thing we need to talk about/reconcile/re-frame for the next generation of women.
I have mom friends who work in “traditional” corporate jobs. I have mom friends who are entrepreneurs- on every scale. I also have mom friends who are on a pause from working, but they did once, and may want to again.
About 90% of the above are active on Instagram. And while yes, we may share pictures of our kids, or a night out, what I see when I look at their profiles (and what I aim to do with my own) is a narrative that supports our “brand”- and that “brand” also buoys our careers. Be it actual sales; staying on the radar for larger job opportunities; added value to the companies we work for because so many do want as much presence as possible on social, and being a part of that presence could somehow (directly or indirectly) play a role in salary/raises/promotions; understanding the medium since it is the future of marketing— there are many strategic reasons that are quite valid.
Currently, many of my friends with daughters around the age of my oldest, Alexa (just turned 8), are now noticing how these girls are comprehending that we are on our phones posting pictures, and deciding if we want to “like” or comment on pictures others have posted. And keeping tabs on what posts of our own got likes and comments (sure, we may be doing this to fine tune our approach to achieve goals that aren’t just associated with social popularity at the next school fundraising party but they don’t get that nuance!). The importance placed on the engagement is reiterated by their favorite YouTubers who have all the toys and all the fans and still beg viewers to “please like my video and comment down below”!
This totally innocent, sweet and curious fascination with posting and likes annoys the F*CK out of me… Mostly because it scares me to death. Because, as stated earlier, there is little upside to young girls being involved in it. The “social awareness” bubble of their innocent preschool/Kindergarten years is about to pop, and once it does, how do we protect these girls from the inevitable heartaches of growing up? Fancy trips they don’t go on, parties they don’t get invited to, skimpy outfits they can’t wear…??
Granted (or should I say hopefully with my hands in prayer position under my chin, eyes looking to the sky in desperation), it is still years off- she is only 8, after all- but the behaviors our girls observe when they see us interact with Instagram obviously makes major impact on how they envision themselves behaving 3, 4, 5 years up the adolescent road.
However, for me- and the business-minded moms I know- there is an upside. Freedom and flexibility to grow a business on our own terms (and timeline.) A low-to-no cost way to connect with others, get inspired, learn new things, sell products and services.
When Alexa is grown, I love to think that she could come up with a business idea, and launch it with a quick tap on the “post” icon (or whatever it will be decades from now)- be it after she gets home from a corporate day job, or once her kids are asleep.
I love that she sees me building my own business, writing my blog, consulting for brands, going on television- all things that are very much supported by my social media presence.
But do I want her looking over my shoulder while I scroll Instastories, asking how many likes a photo got, or begging me to post a Boomerang of her doing a cartwheel in my feed? NO.
See the conundrum? I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas as to how we can figure out the balance, as well as how you talk to your kids about social media and what your “rules” are as to when they can get involved in it. I am entering uncharted mom territory here… HELP!