Earlier today on National Public Radio here in the United States they discussed Katie Roiphe’s Financial Times article “Disappearing Mothers,” that suggests that women who use pictures of their children as their profile pictures on social media and networking sites are “defacing themselves.” She argues that women do this because their identity is wrapped up in their children and they devalue themselves and basically don’t know who they are. So basically, this book is talking about me. My Twitter profile not only includes myself and my two children, but my husband also (gasp!). My Facebook profile picture is one of my daughter and I with big smiles on our faces. So have I “defaced” myself.
Well in the literal sense, no I have not. My face, even though it is not mine alone, can still be seen. But I’m not sure that they would pass muster with Ms. Roiphe. She thinks that because I posts profile pictures of my children on social media that my identity is wrapped up in my children. Well, guess what, in many ways my identity IS wrapped up in my children. I am many things: Christian, wife, pastor, daughter, sister, friend, and yes mother. All of these are important aspects of who I am and they have over my lifetime shaped my identity.
Just out of curiosity I went back and looked at all of my Facebook profile pictures. There are 29. The only one of them in which there are no other people is a shot of my forehead with ashes on it taken on an Ash Wednesday. I hope that says something about my identity being wrapped up in God. One of them is in support of the Iranians right to vote, so no people at all. I hope that says something about my belief in democracy throughout the world. There are three without me in it, just my son. I hope that says something about how proud I am of him. And there are a few of just me and my husband. I hope that says something about how much I love him!
The rest of them are pictures of me and my kids. And I’m ok with that. Part of living this life as a digital disciple has to do with transparency. If there is to be real community in the digital world we have to share our lives with one another. And part of sharing my life is sharing my family. I hope that I’m not hiding behind my kids. Instead, I hope that when people see our pictures they feel like they know me better than they did before.