No one knows Facebook moms better than Blair Koenig. The 31-year-old blogger started STFU Parents (short for Shut the F–- Up Parents) in March 2009, after noticing a preponderance of child-related overshares in her Facebook News Feed. Four years later, the site—which features anonymous examples of parental TMI in such categories as Bathroom Behavior and MommyJacking—commands around 1.5 million page views a month, and has already spawned a book. In October 2012, Koenig outed herself as the site’s curator, after running it anonymously for three years. So far, no death threats.
On the heels of its feature on the Facebook mom phenomenon, Newsweek sat down with Koenig to talk mompetitions, preachy parents and placenta prints.
NW: So you’ve been neck-deep in this stuff for awhile. What’s changed since you started the blog?
BK: When I started the site, I don’t even know if I would have called the posts ‘overshares’ by today’s definition. But apart from the things that people are willing to share, there’s just a general sense of narcissism that people have given themselves over to. It seems like over the years people have come to the conclusion that social media exists for us to use however we want: a personal diary, a scrapbook. People don’t care what other people think about what they’re sharing anymore.
NW: What kind of backlash do you get from parents who find themselves on your site?
BK: Some people have seen their posts and said, “Omg I deserve to be on the blog,” and other people have been a little more offended. I don’t want to be in a fight with anyone. I’m just trying to chronicle this phenomenon. If someone takes personal offense, I try to take the post down.
NW: What about when you outed yourself?
BK: I wrote the site anonymously for three years, and when I came out and starting doing press, I thought the stories were going to focus on how crazy the oversharing was. Instead they were focusing on how I couldn't possibly write about something like this because I didn’t have children. I’ve never experienced a wave of moms who hate me or even received a lot of negative email, so I think the media is just trying to perpetuate a stereotype that parents are uptight. Parents are actually a lot funnier than people in the media give them credit for. They relate to my site more than they diss it.
NW: Tell me about placenta prints. Or do I even want to know?
BK: So a lot of people have this obsession with their placentas. Some people eat them, some will encapsulate them, and then some people will take their placenta and press it on paper, make a print of it, frame the print, and hang it on their wall. Then they share this online, like “Oh my God, my tree of life is so beautiful.”
NW: Is that the grossest trend you’ve noticed?
BK: It is pretty gross, because you’re just taking HD prints of organs. But I really think some of the poop stuff is worse. We all poop. We all know what poop looks like. I don’t know why anyone thinks their friends want to look at their kids’ poop. Some parents will be like, “If I have to look at this dirty diaper, you do too,” and others are just proud.
NW: Is there anything malicious in all the oversharing?
BK: There is a certain kind of judgment. The people who are doing a little more damage are those who use Facebook as more of a political platform. Like the car-seat moms, they can be really rough on people. If you just post a photo of two kids in a parking lot – the car isn’t even moving, they look safe and happy and well-fed and clothed – it’s a little hard when you get 50 comments from angry moms who are telling the parent exactly what they’re doing wrong and how car seats will kill their kids.
NW: In the aftermath of apps like Unbaby.me, do you think parents are starting to get the message? Like, pull back on the poop pics?
BK: If anything, parents are a little more hostile now. That app was obviously just a joke, but I think the impression it left has been larger than [the creators] realized it would be. A lot of parents are posting stuff now like, “If you don’t want to see a picture every day of Eva, then you can just unfriend me right now.” A friend will say something to a parent like, “Didn’t you just post 300 photos of that party yesterday?” and they get really sassy about it. That’s the biggest shift, is parents are taking it to extremes with their anger.
NW: What about if you have kids? Do you think you’ll view the site differently?
BK: I’m sure I’ll have a different appreciation for the overshares, but I will never condone the crowning birth pictures.