You're Imagining All Those Babies in Your Facebook Feed


Everyone loves to complain about the great late-20s baby boom and the Facebook takeover that follows. But it turns out that the great infant plague is maybe, just a little bit, all in your head.

That’s the argument of a piece over at Wired, pointing to the findings of a scientist at Microsoft Research. She crunched the numbers and found that actually, new moms are typically not flooding the zone:

After a child is born, Morris discovered, new mothers post less than half as often. When they do post, fewer than 30 percent of the updates mention the baby by name early on, plummeting to not quite 10 percent by the end of the first year. Photos grow as a chunk of all postings, sure—but since new moms are so much less active on Facebook, it hardly matters. New moms aren’t oversharers. Indeed, they’re probably undersharers. “The total quantity of Facebook posting is lower,” Morris says.

It may be that, because people tend to “like” baby photos and Facebook surfaces posts with more activity, you’re more likely to see those posts that someone’s goofy post-gym selfie. But Wired suggests another factor, and that’s “frequency effect.”

Once we notice something that annoys or surprises or pleases us—or something that’s just novel—we tend to suddenly notice it more. We overweight its frequency in everyday life.

Sure, as your friends start have babies, more babies pop up in your Facebook feed. But it’s such a jarring novelty when it starts that it feels more common than it actually is. So maybe cut the new moms from your high school class some slack. Except for that one woman, who totally and for sure needs to cool her jets.

Photo via Shutterstock.

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