The reality of moms and social media

Raquel Vaughn-

For a really long time, I was lucky enough to have a mother who didn’t know anything about social media. Terms and phrases such as “sliding into DMs,” “follow for follow,” “saved the chat,” and “for you page” might as well have been an alien language to my mom because the only social media she’s ever had has been Facebook. I never had the issue of battling with myself about whether or not I should accept my mom’s follow request because she never had the apps on her phone to begin with. I don’t think she even knew that Twitter and X were the same thing until I told her months after the change. She was so baffled, you’d think someone changed the name of her own child and not an overrated app that almost exclusively politicians, celebrities, and “stans” use. I remember being 14 or 15 years old and watching episodes from shows like Good Luck Charlie where the teenage main characters feel stuck between a rock and a hard place because their parent downloaded a popular social media platform. I also remember not knowing what that panic felt like. But now I’m a 21-year-old Junior in college and I don’t know how to tell my mother that she is not, in fact, an influencer.

I love my mother and I’m glad she’s having fun with social media but I rue the day I ever taught her about TikTok. Because, not only is every picture on Facebook a reel with music and bursting star features, but now everything is a reel of just a picture with background music and GIFs. If you want to be my friend on Facebook, think twice. One of my good friends, who has been my Facebook friend since the seventh grade, once told me that the only notifications he gets from the app are just my mom tagging me in posts. And if you are to ever meet my mom in person and she becomes your mutual on social media, then your best bet is to hide because if you’re not safe… then no one is safe—my mother thinks she’s an influencer.

This got me thinking. Almost every mother I’ve ever interacted with through social media has had some misconceived epiphany that everything in their life should be documented. And I mean everything. As a “Gen-Zer,” that’s got to be one of the most ironic observations. Sure, I’m on my phone a lot. I can admit that my screen time per week is multiple hours. Yet, I still think my posting schedule is pretty average. In fact, now that I think about it, I know very few young adults who have more than 100 posts on their profile. However, mothers have hundreds –if not thousands– of posts.

One of my old high school teachers has 251 posts currently on her Instagram profile. My older cousin has 2,251 posts. And my aunt has 3,265 posts. All of these are a combination of fit checks, photos of food, their kids, Bible verses, and just spontaneous “this-is-what-I’m-doing-right-now” posts. As a 21-year-old girl, I know that everyone else my age knows that there’s a difference between story-worthy posts and feed-worthy posts. It’s not that hard of a concept but, still, either these moms don’t understand the “popular” way social media is used, or they just don’t care. As much as I get second-hand embarrassment from the many, many posts of various unimportant stuff (especially the ones I’m tagged in), I have to admit that I am somewhat impressed with how consistent these middle-aged women are in their Instagram journey.

As a social media manager myself, I tend to overthink posts and even struggle with consistency. But moms don’t just think, they know that what they post is important. If their 4-year-old gets a gold star on an abstract drawing of a rocket ship, then you bet your bottom dollar they’ll post a picture with a long-winded caption. If their teenager passes the driver’s test, then they will definitely post the whole story about how they took the test at least three times. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get the story on video instead.

My mom has never experienced the community that is Instagram at a young age before. She’s just now jumping on the bandwagon and still learning what, exactly, TikTok is used for. So, yes, it is obviously embarrassing to know that at any moment my mom might tag me in a photo she took years ago with her TracFone. But I counted my blessings and decided that at least she wasn’t spamming on Instagram. However, I counted my blessings too soon and the next day I got a notification that my mom followed me on Instagram. She is bound to become just like them. Give it a couple of months and she’ll have at least 100 posts to be accounted for.

Maybe we could learn from these social media moms. Forget about likes and comments and reshares. The real power behind this group of people is the fact that they continue to post whatever they like—whatever they think is important to them—without caring who sees it, let alone who double-taps it. Moms on social media are objectively funny—whether that’s in a cringe way or a humorous way—but they are probably the most real people on these apps. They’re not editing their face in selfies because they are too busy deciding which music fits with the vibe of the photo they are posting.

Middle-aged social media moms are objectively funny but also objectively the coolest. Don’t get me wrong, though—I will still be dodging people’s Facebook friend requests. Also, this is not an invitation to follow my mother on Instagram. If you request to follow, she’ll think she’s cool and we really cannot have that.


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