Why One Mom Begged for Strangers to “Like” Her Son on Instagram
We all know that the world of influencers on Instagram can get a bit … well, weird. But things got even weirder for one so-called “mommy influencer” who landed herself in hot water after being called out last month when she begged her Instagram followers for likes for her son. At first glance, maybe that doesn't sound so terrible, right? Maybe it was just a mom trying to get some love from strangers on the Internet to wish her son a happy birthday?
But the reason that Katie Bower asked for likes for her son was the part that had many people in an uproar. According to a since-deleted post on her Instagram page captured by People Magazine, Bower wrote the following as an explanation for why her son needed likes and it basically boiled down to the fact that “statistically speaking,” her son just wasn't as popular as her other kids:
“Instagram never liked my munchkin and it killed me inside … His photos never got as many likes. Never got comments. From a statistical point of view, he wasn’t as popular with everyone out there. Maybe part of that was the pictures just never hit the algorithm right. Part might be because he was ‘the baby’ for a very short amount of time before his siblings were born …
“I say all that because I want to believe that it wasn’t him … that it was on me,” she added. “My insufficiency caused this statistical deficit because obviously my Munch should get ALL the love and squinty eyes are totally adorable.”
The post, as you can imagine, drew some pretty colorful comments and even caught the attention of Chrissy Teigen, who tweeted her shock over the story. After the story went viral, Bowers took to her own Instagram page, where she defended herself in a series of tearful videos, noting, according to Fatherly, “I decided to talk about it because I learned a valuable lesson … that our value doesn’t depend on someone else seeing our worth. Everyone can see the likes and comments. And as a parent, those numbers mean absolutely nothing.”
She's right, of course, but as her post points out, for moms who make a living from being influencers those numbers do matter, and it can be a touchy, strange place to be, because for families like Bowers, her kids kind of are her business and part of the way she makes an income. It's a blurry line for anyone who may have a social media presence or even (cough, cough) write or share about their children online as a way to yes, connect with other parents, but also to generate income.
I'm not going to drag a mom through the mud for any reason, because clearly this mom is working hard to support her family through her Instagram account and I give her props for that. I know, without a doubt, that there are things I've said and written in my 8+ years working in the online sphere that would 100% make me cringe. But her words were a bit of a wake-up call to me. Because whether we have thought it about our children or not, or made public posts about it or not, there have been points in each of our lives where we have given something or someone more merit or judged it as having more “value” based on how many “likes” it or they had on social media. Sure, maybe it wasn't talking about our kids and sure, maybe most of us aren't actually counting which kid gets the most likes, but to some degree or another, all of us have allowed social media to change the way we view life.
Maybe it's the mom with the “perfect” body that gets all the likes, or maybe it's the family who's always jet-setting to exciting vacation destinations or maybe it's the “Boss Mom” that makes working from home look easy-breezy instead of the hellish nightmare it actually is, but no matter what your version is, there is some part of the Instagram world that has us all fooled into thinking more likes = better. I know I have and after I've been mindlessly scrolling the gram, I will tend to look around at my own messy, dirty, kids-who-sick-again-so-I-must-be-failing-as-a-mom life and think, ugh.
So, maybe we can all take a lesson from a mom who begged other people she will never meet to throw her son some “likes” and realize that none of us need that kind of validation in our lives, influencers or not. And who knows? It might be one of the hardest resolutions we make going into the new year.