Ahh, the good old days. When Facebook was filled with friends you hadn’t seen since high school posting daily updates of their lives.
When Instagram was mostly a series of photos from your sorority sisters as you watched their lives transform from engagements to new homes to new motherhood.
When, if you’re like us, you found camaraderie among a cluster of mom friends—many of whom you rarely see—but helped you to not feel so alone in your motherhood journey.
So the news that Instagram (and, to a lesser extent, Facebook) is shifting away from a friends and family model to a content creator model had a lot of moms wondering, where in the world is my social network?
[Full disclosure: Author’s husband is a Meta employee.]
Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook, has its business reasons for making the shift. Experts say the tech company is aiming to compete with TikTok’s explosive growth by shifting toward a video-heavy, viral creator approach to content. And certainly, we’ve been around digital environments long enough (we had MySpace! AIM messenger! I mean, hellooo we go back to dial up times!) to know that in tech, nothing ever stays the same for long.
A Facebook research report previously found that parents spend significantly more time on social media than before parenthood. And is that really so surprising? New moms are often more stuck at home providing childcare, without additional resources like paid maternity leave or local, affordable childcare. They instead take to social media to feel connected because their immediate communities often don’t provide that support.
For its part, Meta says it plans to offer alternative pathways to click into friends and family content, outside of a main feed. So while all hope may not be lost, it’s clear that the social aspect of the social network is no longer central. And any friction that makes it harder for users, especially mothers, to connect with authentic friends and family will have a real impact on Motherly’s audience.
Today’s moms are overburdened and undersupported. Despite many demands from the tiny humans in their midst, moms are lonely and isolated, longing for deeper support and connection to a village that in many cases no longer exists. With working moms stressed out and stay at home moms reporting exceptional levels of loneliness, it seems no mom is immune to the pressures that modern parenting culture puts on them.
In many ways, social media provided a real connection point for this digitally native generation. I can’t imagine how less connected I would have felt over the last decade of motherhood without my mom friends in my feed. From watching other mothers share their universal struggles to getting likes from my aunts and cousins when I post pictures of my kids, to laughing alongside friends via parenting memes, Instagram and Facebook have been a lifeline for me and for many.
Taking away the social aspect of social media sadly may make motherhood even more lonely for many moms. And there’s nothing we can ‘like’ about that.