Cranky old coots who can't stand looking at friends' tiny, hairless offspring are running out of excuses to complain about the proliferation of baby pictures on Facebook. A new plugin for the Google Chrome browser allows people to filter out all the potty training, bath taking, pureed pea eating photos of babies they could not care less about and replaces them with photos of adorable animals.
The plugin's called Unbaby.me, and since it was launched last week, it's garnered almost 50,000 "likes" on Facebook. Users savvy enough to know how to download browser plugins but somehow not savvy enough to understand how the "unsubscribe" button works on Facebook can get service up and running in just minutes. The LA Times explains how it works.
Once it is running, it will scan your Facebook feed for key words such as "cute," "adorable" and "first birthday" — trigger words that indicate a baby photo may be attached. You can also add your own key words. Then it replaces the offending baby photo with a different photo from an RSS feed of pictures. The current default feed is cat photos.
But there are still bugs to be worked out. Since the plugin relies on text keywords in order to know the difference between a baby, and, say, a bouquet of flowers or a dour-looking Queen of England at the Olympic opening ceremonies with the words "LOOK AT ALL THESE COUNTRIES I USED TO OWN" splashed over the bottom, it only successfully de-babies pictures accompanied by captions that contain selected keywords. And because the words "adorable" and "cute" are the same sort of words that might accompany a picture of a puppy or Gabby Douglas, users of Unbaby.me could be inadvertently depriving themselves of pictures of nonbaby adorable things in their crusade to be free from the offense of having to look at very small humans.
While I understand why people may feel frustrated with Facebook's gradual evolution into yet another way that smug parents can force the world to look at their unremarkable children, I can't say that Unbaby.me is something I'd want to use. I kind of like being able to look at pictures of my friends' kids.
As a childless woman, Facebook has provided me with endless opportunities to live vicariously through other people's reproductive choices and remind myself why I'm glad I haven't made the same ones. The social network is excellent birth control, presenting both the tempting joys and harsh, inescapable realities of parenting — sometimes babies wear sunglasses (urge to reproduce rising!) and sometimes they poop so much that it gets stuck in between their knee fat (urge to remove uterus and put it on ice for a few years overwhelming!).
But just because I don't plan on using Unbaby.me doesn't mean that it shouldn't be a thing. If you absolutely cannot stand another day of babypalooza, go on ahead with your baby blocking selves. Or, if you really want your friends to get the hint that constantly posting infant snapshots is untoward, just start sharing every single baby picture that's posted with no added comment.