A pregnancy photo: the story behind it

It was Monday evening and the payment I was waiting for weeks finally arrived. Robin and I decided to celebrate in our favorite Italian trattoria, Prego, with a bottle of Primitivo and some aperitivo. The bottle emptied before the main course was over and the succeeding glasses of alcohol piled up. We went home zigzagging on our bikes.

During dinner, Robin started another series of complaints about Facebook and his desire to delete his Facebook account. “There’s just too much trash and too much bullshit going on there. Nobody actually cares,” he complained.

“But you can filter the thrash that you’re seeing. You can unfollow people that annoys you and only use it to chat. You can control how much of these will get into you. I unfollow people because I am irritated with what they post or when I am jealous of them. I don’t want to ruin my day but I would like to stay connected because it is a small world, especially for us Filipinos abroad,” went my argument.

As the night deepened and my bottle of Macallan emptied, our discussion became philosophical. If we’ve shared a bottle once, you know that with every sip, I become either philosophical or political. And Robin has a diploma in biology. Science is still running in his veins.

We decided that the next day, we will post something on Facebook to see how people would react. He warmed up to the idea of a photo of pregnancy. I discouraged him and told him that a wedding ring might be a better idea. “Then I have to buy you a ring and I have to marry you,” he said.

“Damn, I won’t get a diamond ring tomorrow,” I silently cursed.

So we settled with the photo of a pregnancy ultrasound. He would put it on his timeline, without any caption. And I would put the bottle of Macallan I bought the night before. We will tag each other. This photo above was the one he posted. It even has a date. (By the way, I was actually celebrating something with that bottle of whiskey).

We wanted to find out whether our Facebook friends would make the connection about pregnancy and drinking. Or even about pregnancy and the marathon, which was of course plastered all over our Facebook timelines in the last four months.

So the morning came. The first call came at about 8:30AM followed by another at around 10AM, two friends of mine who were wondering what the hell was posted in Robin’s timeline. Their question “You’re pregnant, really?” was marred with disbelief and suspicions. Of course I was NOT. It was an experiment. And of course, they know that because we talk regularly outside Facebook.

The photo generated more likes, more congratulations and messages. Nobody called Robin, only two friends messaged him privately. In the meantime, hardly ten people liked my whiskey post.

“Maybe I should stop this already,” Robin said in the afternoon. I said, “Yes you have to be responsible for anything you do. Just post a comment.”

He wrote “I should have done this on April 1st. Thank you all for congratulating me for finding some completely random photo on Google. Don’t believe everything you see on FB.”

Still the comments kept coming.

“I don’t think a lot of people will appreciate the joke,” a friend said when I told him about the experiment. Indeed. Some said we should not joke about it.

But we did not make joke. We have no intention of pranking anyone. We posted a photo and tagged each other, in the same way that people would post a photo of a cute cat, their baby or their events and tag someone thinking they’d like it or would be interested in it. There is not even a caption.

“Would they be mad at us because this experiment would show that they made wrong assumptions?” I said.

We appreciate that many people would be happy for us if we get a baby. But we also realized how empty those “likes” are and how being “friends” in Facebook, without real communication outside it, is superficial.

We discovered a lot of things about our social connections in this experiment, most are sad realities, others are not pretty to be published here. But nothing unexpected really. Will I stop with Facebook because of these? Certainly not!

Like I said, you can filter the things that would get to you. It is a world with too much freedom.