A quick check reveals that I've posted 33 pictures of Milly to Facebook since November. I know I started doing it in November because that's when it's my birthday. I got an iPhone 4 for my last birthday and my life is now 7 times better and 55% shinier. The iPhone makes it easy to upload pictures and so now I do. My friend Cathy commended me a few weeks after Milly was born for not saturating her Facebook feed with pictures of the mini-me. Her pal, she said, has posted a whopping 1271 photos of her child in the first year and a half of its life. "Oh," I said smugly "I'm not that kind of person. I wouldn't want to BORE people." Then I got the iPhone. Sorry Cathy.
To be fair, 33 is a great deal fewer than 1271, but of course that doesn't include the ones my husband posts on his page, the ones her granddad takes with his giant block of a camera and uploads, old-school-style, with a cable (a cable!), or the ones my Mum posts on her page, having recently discovered what the "Share this to my profile" button does. Milly is, by my reckoning, about as throroughly pictorially represented on Facebook as the Adored Centre Of Her Proud Parents' Universe can be.
What you won't see, though, are pictures of her with her friend Bea. Annikki is strict on this, and I respect it. She's a teacher by trade, and not long before her maternity leave they had a talk at her school about the dangers of the internet, particularly of posting pictures of children on Facebook and the like. Paedophiles, in between creating their own child porn, apparently surf their way round the internet looking for innocent photos of children to do in the meantime. It's a dreadful thought...but not one that's stopped me putting up my pictures of my daughter.
I understand why Annikki takes the line she does, and I respect her for it, but I can't follow. I was in Stratford with Milly not so very many weeks after she was born. Stratford being the tourist Mecca that it is, one minute I was pushing Milly along in her pram, the next we were surrounded by a sea of middle-aged Americans, swirling round us happily as their coaches spat them out onto the pavement. Being American, they'd come a long way to be there, and were practically jigging with excitement. In the middle of all the Yanktastic chaos a couple of ladies spotted Milly and me. "Ohhhh, what a lovely baby! She's so beautiful!" they cooed. (She is, it's true. I'm seriously thinking about putting her up for adverts. She's the best baby I've ever seen, even counting for a mother's bias.) We had a brief chat about Milly's name, age birth weight, all the things strangers always ask, and then one lady pulled out her camera. "She's so cute! May I take a picture?"
Now, I could have said no. And in doing so I could have made her feel awkward, and introduced a slightly unpleasant note to the exchange, and she could have then put her camera away and apologised for bothering us and spent the rest of the day feeling like she'd done something inappropriate. Or I could say yes, and spend the rest of my life knowing there's a picture of Milly out there somewhere over which I have absolutely no control, not knowing who could be looking at it, or what they might be thinking when they do. I said yes. It was a split second decision, but not one that I regret. She took the picture, they both cooed a little more, and then pottered off to enjoy their Shakesperience with the rest of their happy band. I don't know if she was a good person or an evil one. But, since I have no way of ever knowing, I have to decide: what kind of world do I want to be living in? The one where the slightly dotty American tourist takes a picture of my baby because she thinks she's beautiful and tells the folks back home that she met this adorable little baby in Stratford, here's the picture, isn't she just the cutest thing? Or the one where the lady working for a paedophile ring spots me and Milly and does her "dotty tourist" act to fool me into letting her get a snap of my baby's screwed up face poking out of a blanket so someone can think vile and unspeakable thoughts while looking at it?
Since I have no way of knowing, and since the fate of the picture will never affect either Milly or myself, I choose to believe in the more pleasant (and infinitely more probable) world. It's dark and scary enough out there without worrying about the monsters I'll never meet. And the same goes for Facebook. Are people hacking into it and scouring it for photos from which to take their twisted pleasure? I'll never know, so I choose not to worry about it. This is one case where what I don't know really can't hurt me. So Cathy is going to have to put up with a few thousand more pictures of my daughter over the coming months (she's been delightfully stoic about it so far) as the iPhone 4 has made it possible for me to shout my pride and joy at having such a wonderful, amazing baby to the world at the touch of a button. And that, my friends, is a world I'm glad to live in.