Social media for the mama actor
Dallas shares her thoughts on the social media challenges unique to actor mamas.
As actors, it is increasingly part of our job to share our lives and our work with friends and fans on social media in an authentic and genuine way. Many actor mamas (myself included) struggle with navigating social media in a conscious way that balances the desire to connect and engage with the desire to protect their children and their privacy.
Enter Dallas Travers. Dallas is a creative career coach for actors, and quite frankly, she’s amazing. I’m so impressed by the poise and authenticity she brings to her work of helping actors find clarity and courage to take ownership of their careers. I had the opportunity to sit down with Dallas, who is a new mom herself, to explore some of the social media challenges that are specific to the mama actor experience. Here’s the cliff notes from our convo:
How can moms gain clarity about their social media boundaries when it comes to sharing about their children and their parenting experiences?
The first thing to realize is that it’s going to be an ever-evolving decision. I don’t think we make a decision once and then our views on it stay the same. As an actress, I’d commit to revisiting the issue on a regular basis, just to give yourself the freedom to change your mind. Then there’s a huge sense of relief from the fear that we all have that this one thing we do is going to ruin our child forever.
Another thing that might be helpful is to put parenting in the context of the 80/20 guideline, which says that 80% of what you share on social media should be personal and 20% promotional. Of that 80%, maybe 10% is related to your child—you get to decide what ratio you’re most comfortable with. You wouldn’t spend all 80% talking about your child. It’s the same thing if, let’s say, I’m really into knitting. If all 80% of my personal sharing is about knitting, I would drive people absolutely crazy.
Can you address some of the specific concerns that moms have about sharing their identity and experience as a mom online? The first one I find is the perception fear—fear of being perceived as unprofessional, overly emotional, flakey, or any other negative judgment. For example, I talked to a mom who worries that if industry people knew she had kids, it would age her up.
This perception fear is really an opportunity to ask yourself, “Am I hiding this joyful part of my life because to some degree I am ashamed or afraid that people are going to think less of me because I’m a parent?”
If your decision to hide your life as a mom is coming from a place of fear or shame, I think there is a real big opportunity to self-parent in order to heal that fear or shame. When my daughter was born I was gifted this massive opportunity to re-parent myself in all of the different ways that perhaps my needs weren’t met growing up. And the more I am able to consciously re-parent myself, the more present I am with her.
So addressing the fear that this will damage your industry reputation is an opportunity for inner work. Once you do the inner work, I think you’ll find that the fear dissipates, or you might realize that your people are going to love you more fully because of who you are. And the people who don’t, aren’t your people anyhow so you may as well weed them out from the beginning.
If you think about it, all of us have parents, and many people are parents, so this myth that you are going to be judged negatively truly is a myth. What it really does is provide you with another level with which you can relate to people.
What about privacy concerns, that vague feeling of stranger danger that we all have that says that putting information about our children online will somehow make them a target?
You can share your motherhood experience online without ever sharing a photo of your child’s face or mentioning your child’s full name. You can post a photo of your child’s feet, or an audio of your baby babbling. You can give your child an online nickname. There are so many ways to share that aspect of your life without plastering the Internet with breastfeeding photos. Not that I have any judgment at all about breastfeeding photos, that’s just to say that what you share doesn’t have to be intimate in order to make a connection.
What’s your personal take on sharing information about your daughter online? What guides your sharing choices?
For me, more than the privacy question is the understanding that the internet is global and permanent, and I try to ask myself, how can I be completely respectful of my daughter in this space? If I’m posting a bunch of stuff about her, I’m not giving her the opportunity to decide if she wants to be on the internet or not. Because she’s not in a position to decide, I don’t feel comfortable making that decision for her.
Who knows, she could grow up and apply for college, a high level job, or another important opportunity. I don’t want anything I’ve shared online about her to get in the way of her pursuing what she dreams of and getting it.
It’s the same kind of respect that I would show to another adult. If I took a picture of you, I wouldn’t just post it online without your permission, I would ask you first.
I do have to say that this is so hard! My husband and I promised each other that we wouldn’t post pictures of our daughter online, and that lasted maybe three days. I’d say in total we’ve posted maybe four pictures of her in the first four months.
Are some platforms more private than others? I tend to think of Facebook as more private and Twitter as more public, so I might share a photo on Facebook that I wouldn’t on Twitter.
In my own experience, privacy settings are always changing and can be hard to keep up with, so you have to stack it up against your desire for true privacy. If you really want to live in the cone of silence, you can’t be using the Internet in any way to share photos. I don’t know how practical that is in this day and age.
Maybe it’s just about prioritizing. On a scale of 1-10 how private do I want to be? And then on a scale of 1-10 how much do I want my friends and family around the globe to be connected to my child? And then we find our compromises.
Final words of wisdom?
Like all parenting decisions, we go in thinking it’s going to be a certain way, and then by noon, it’s changed. It’s a great opportunity to rely on our own resourcefulness and flexibility.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on navigating social sharing in the comments below. If you found this conversation interesting, feel free to share away on your favorite social sites!