Home News Instagram Keeps Showing Me Children’s Tragedies

Instagram Keeps Showing Me Children’s Tragedies


in the haze, A few sleepless nights after my son was born, I spent a lot of time looking at my phone. Too tiring to read to even handle podcasts, I distracted myself with TikTok, tweets, and Instagram posts. Social media drives everything about babies, from ads for “de-choking” gadgets to tips on how to introduce your dog to your baby. Most new parents who go online see a ton of baby content; at this point, it’s creepy but unobtrusive. My digital footprint makes it easy for algorithms to push me onto mom’s internet as I compulsively Google pregnancy questions (“baby can kick a hole through the placenta”) and lurk on too many parenting forums. For the most part, it feels comfortable to join Mommy Internet. A step in the right direction is like dutifully gulping down a prenatal vitamin.

But during my first year as a parent, something on my screen constantly surprised and disturbed me. Scrolling through my feed during quiet nap time, I find myself stunned by posts about babies and children who are sick, dead or dead. While I was watching recipe breakdowns and home makeovers on TikTok, videos of mothers grieving their children’s untimely deaths popped up and couldn’t be taken lightly. My Instagram Explore page often recommends accounts that follow or honor babies with serious health challenges and birth defects. My husband walked into me, looked at my phone and cried so many times for a child I didn’t know, that he (gently, reasonably) suggested a social media break.

Despite the inner pain they cause, there’s a reason these videos are still on my screen: because I’m watching them. ecstatic. I remember the names and conditions of these at-risk children, whether they had San Filippo syndrome or were undergoing chemotherapy, whether they had just died of myocarditis or SID. I remember their siblings and favorite things. I check them. If they die, I’ll go see their parents. As a visitor to the Land of the Sick Children, I’ve absorbed the pathological jargon of the death of digital media, like “So-and-so gained wings” and the popular “Happy Birthday!” Engagement is at the heart of all social platforms; I’m too engaged I’m shaking.

Am I consuming content about sick and dead babies entertainment, like someone might watch a horror movie? I think there’s some overlap between my actions here and the habits of the rabid true crime fans who spread the horrific news about real-life violence (including child abduction) with such fervent enthusiasm that they’re for all murders The incident fueled a content frenzy and gore. There is a theory that true crime is especially popular with women, related to their fear of becoming victims of crime. Watching it can provide a cathartic moment, an opportunity to release pent-up anxiety. No doubt it has something to do with my anxiety.

However, the sick kids in my feed didn’t give me any release. Once I know them, I feel obligated to mourn for them, but if I could click a button to hide everything related to sick or dead kids, I would. It’s only when it’s offered by me that I feel the attraction to watch. The algorithm clearly sniffed out my postpartum nerves. When I was 8 months pregnant, the doctors told us that my son had a congenital kidney defect that was so severe that we were preparing him for surgery shortly after birth. Shortly before his due date, we learned that this initial diagnosis was wrong. His kidneys are fine. But knowing that didn’t dry up the fear deep inside me. Can’t do anything. Seeing these precious babies endure the fate of our escape feels like running the hose wide open and letting the reservoir overflow.

most of them Accounts are managed by parents. In many cases, they have heavily documented their children on social media, so admitting an illness or medical malpractice simply follows all the logic of their lives. In other cases, they appear to have made accounts specifically to tell their sad stories. The urge to feel less alone in a bleak time is distressing, as is the desire to teach people the reality of situations that are often cleaned up or ignored. Sharing dark times can be a conduit for connecting with others who are going through similar conflicts. It’s not unusual behavior — so many terminally ill and hospice people talk about it on TikTok that it now has a nickname, “DeathTok.” While the internet facilitates these conversations, it is not like the public mourning invented by social networks, or even by capturing images of deceased children. In Victorian England, for example, people dressed up and posed pictures of their dead children in an attempt to document them and show the world in which they existed.

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