STFU Parents: The ‘Feel Free To Delete Me’ Trend

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Whenever I’m asked what’s changed about parents’ posting habits on social media over the years, I think about a growing sense of entitlement. Back when STFU, Parents launched in 2009, parents were comparatively reserved. They were, on average, more concerned with how their friends interpreted their status updates, sometimes to the point of apologizing for potentially over-posting about their kids. Facebook wasn’t jokingly referred to as “Babybook” yet, and new parents were still getting comfortable with how they showcased their family lives. But as time marched on, and more Facebook users became parents, too, there appeared to be a massive swell of baby content. No matter what time you scrolled through your feed, babies and toddlers would appear. Not that people were actively trying to *avoid* baby pictures, but it became clear that Facebook was no longer just a place for college kids and people in their early twenties to congregate and goof around; it was a place for people to adapt and live out each stage of their lives, semi-publicly. And with that adaptation came a whole lot of baby updates.

Gradually, parents wondered less about what their friends thought about their incessant baby posts. The collective attitude went from “I hope you like this!” to “I don’t give a shit whether you like this or not.” I’d argue that the pinnacle of this behavioral shift was in 2012, when the app came along and masqueraded as a legitimate tool, rather than the fleeting fad it turned out to be. It was a joke, a satirical comment on the “Babybook” concept, and something most people — parents included — recognized as playful, harmless internet fodder. You could set the application to replace baby photos in your newsfeed with whatever you wanted: pictures of bacon, beer, puppies. It was funny to everyone except the select parents who were entirely unamused. To those people, just confirmed what they’d long suspected, which is that a percentage of their friends are baby-hating monsters (or at least, monsters who hate seeing baby pictures in their Facebook feeds). Their insecurity manifested as hostility, and a trend to preemptively tell off their Facebook friends emerged.

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Out of nowhere, parents were declaring that their friends could just go ahead and delete them if they “hated” seeing baby pictures so much. The status updates were unwarranted, yet widespread. And they haven’t stopped getting posted since, all of them amusingly similar despite their unique origins. I don’t know why certain parents feel the need to post these declarations, which tend to be a cross between aggressive demands and exhaustive explanations, but they seem to stem from a sense of parental pride. Or what parents perceive to be pride, expressed in the form of self-righteous obsession. Sometimes, parents just want to be given a pass to post as many photos of their kids online as they want, so they work themselves up and tell their friends to “feel free to delete them” as a result. It’s weird, it’s off-putting, and unlike, it’s a trend that isn’t going anywhere. Let’s check out some examples.

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