Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg announced the upcoming release of the Facebook Baby Photos Unlimited App, built by Zynga, maker of Farmville, Mafia Wars and other online games for the social media giant. After the 250 millionth redundant picture of an infant was uploaded by a proud young parent who seemed to think he or she independently conceived the idea of creating additional human life, Zuckerberg knew something had to give.
"In less than a month," Zuckerberg said, "we expect the billionth sweet, corny, forced compliment on the adorable nature of a newborn to be posted. Probably from the high school classmate of a new mom who hasn't actually seen her Facebook friend since graduation. It's time to streamline."
In June of this year Facebook purchased access to a number of stock photograph banks for this project to save parents time. Rather than going to lengths to set up, shoot and post what is effectively an interchangeable baby photograph, Facebook users can simply select from predetermined themes including "athletic," "sleepy," "pet" and others. A thumbnail link to a cute baby picture from the chosen genre will be automatically placed on their wall, and Facebook friends will feel pressure to spout nonsense that the infant, nearly identical to every newborn baby ever exploited on Facebook for social capital, is unusually cute.
Social scientists point to a growing body of evidence that any photograph posted on Facebook of a human being under the age of five will be immediately branded "spectacularly precious" so long as it survived child birth and has at least three of the four traditional limbs.
"Then again, I wouldn't put anything past people," stated Harvard University Cultural Anthropology Professor Morris Acklam, and "Facebook is riding, if not leading, the crest of social inanity. We Photoshopped a couple pics and put up a birth announcement on our 25-year old volunteer's wall, of a baby born without a face. 'Angelic' was the most frequent adjective used, and more than one friend claimed jealousy." Acklam added, "Facebook. Electronic mutual masturbation on a cultural scale."
After the proud parent clicks post baby picture, they will then have the option of writing a caption for themselves or picking from prepared, focus group-tested labels.
"There's a darling 'pet' picture of a laughing infant tugging a golden retriever's tail with the dog looking curiously back at the baby," Zuckerberg said. "You can choose the 'Hey, Buddy, you ride on Daddy's back, not mine'-caption. It's priceless. And nobody would ever know it wasn't yours. It's a baby."
Photo viewers are offered a similar convenience. Pictures displayed with Baby Photos Unlimited will have response links to the sister program, the Baby Picture Response App. Rather than thinking of a clever and thoughtful "comment" for every last image posted by haughty new parents, Facebook offers an efficient alternative.
"Amazing! He's brilliant just like his old man," "Awesome! She's going to be a great athlete like her mother," and "Gorgeous! He's obviously going to be a heart-breaker. ;)" are a few of the options for instant pleasant and appropriate generic compliments/placeholders in specific picture categories.
The need for such a system has become evident with social media, in particular Facebook, emerging as a significant part of the lives, and self-esteem, of so many people. Particularly those in the 20s/30s demographic starting families. Never before in the course of human history has mankind displayed such a desperate need to gain the respect, and ideally envy, of people they really don't know and oftentimes never did.
"It's going to save me a lot of time," predicted Northern Virginia resident Kristin Sawicki, the proud mother of Eric and Valdean who are 6 months and 3 years old, respectively. "I definitely spend time with the boys, every day, thinking about and sometimes staging photo shoots so all those people I used to know, and the people I maybe met once at a party, will see how lucky and happy I am with my beautiful family."
Equally productive is Baby Picture Response. New York City opthamologist Rico Rhodes said his wife spends big chunks of the hours she devotes to Facebook just addressing her friends' pictures. Now he says, with the click of a mouse, "OMG! :) Don't ever forget these moments!" will appear, and he won't have to spend ten minutes discussing how best to convince people that she gives a damn. Looking at a picture of the first child of a woman his wife thinks she knew in middle school, Dr. Rhodes displayed little interest. He remains nonplussed at much of the Facebook phenomenon, especially the scrapbooking portion these new apps are designed to simplify.
"I mean, yes, you reproduced, I get it. New little person," he thought out loud. "But I gotta be honest, it's not as impressive as you think. I mean, I had a cat, did pretty much the same thing."