Monday, 30th October 2017

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Baby needs a new pair of tweets

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By JULIA ALLISON Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
  • Published 13.03.11

The Tweeter’s age: negative three months. The avatar: an ultrasound. Profile description: release date March. Welcome @BabyBalanon, who already has 135 followers on Twitter, due in no small part to the still unborn baby’s outsized sense of humour.

“Starting a show called Real Babies of Oakland County. Oh no you di-int!” reads a tweet on January 20. And another on January 19: “I wonder where my poo goes when I’m in here.”

You can almost hear the running internal dialogue, like a 2011 version of Bruce Willis’ famous narration in Look Who’s Talking. In fact, on October 26, @BabyBalanon tweeted: “My internal voice sounds like Bruce Willis.” Which is even funnier because “baby Bruce” had tweeted on October 21: “I’m going to be a girl come March! My favorite movie is already The Notebook.”

“I didn’t want to become one of those people who frequently tweets about their kids (in this case, my unborn child),” Henry Balanon, an iPhone developer and expectant dad of @BabyBalanon, explains to me in an email.

His solution? A separate Twitter account — from the baby’s perspective. “That way, we can inject a bit of humour into it while still keeping our friends and family up to date on everything.”

October 24: “Still in the mommy-pod. Floating and dreaming. I wonder if this is how Neo felt pre-escape in The Matrix.”

December 31: “My goal is to be born next year. And to walk and talk immediately.”

And surf the Internet, obviously!

While mommy bloggers are so 2005, dads have become the newest twitterati. It’s the perfect solution for a father who wants to start bonding with his unborn child the same way as in real life: in 140-character social media bursts.

Tim Bograkos, a self-described “alumni engagement samurai” at Michigan State University, does all the tweeting for his unborn baby’s account, @BabyBograkos. “I plan on passing my social media addiction down to my kid,” Bograkos says.

“In the past, people have done letters to their unborn child,” explains Bograkos, “and to me, this is the new form of that.”

The social media savvy of these youngest tweeters won’t stop when they’re born, though.

Balanon plans to set up a Facebook account for his progeny, and “probably” a Tumblr blog, too. Plus, he adds, “I have, so she can have a subdomain and email address if she behaves.” Baby Balanon is set for!

Dad Bograkos is on the same (web) page. “My baby will have all the social media that I have (Twitter, Facebook,blog),” he says. “Kids are being born into a collaborative world and social media and technology will play a huge role throughout their educations and lives. Why not start them early?”

Of course, celebrity kids’ genetic code includes Twitter from the moment of conception. Lance Armstrong set up an account for his youngest, @CincoArmstrong, when she was barely a zygote. Little “Cinco” (Location: “on someone’s lap”) has 4,250 followers. Starting in April 2010, she updated us on her development from the womb:

April 20: “I got 2 arms, 2 legs, a nickname, and I’m 2 inches long. See ya’ll in October.”

April 25: “I’m now the size of a lemon.”

May 4: “Now the size of an apple... and nobody knows if I’m a girl or boy! haha!”

October 17: “I’m ’bout ready to get outta here!”

And finally, October 18: “Well, I made it out! What’s happening? Sleeping.”

You can bet whenever someone uses social media in a new manner, some people will get upset. “It’s lame,” tweeted @JordanParkinson. “Babies and animals don’t type.” Which raises the question: Would Charlotte the spider have tweeted from her web?

“Most people think it’s funny,” says Bograkos, “everyone laughs when they realise they’re having a conversation with an unborn baby.”

“I’m glad there are people who think it’s ridiculous,” says Balanon. “Because it is. It’s meant to be. I’ve heard things where people say that you take the authenticity out of the social network by misrepresenting someone else’s identity. To them I say: @BabyBalanon says relax.”

Dad Balanon does plan to show young Balanon her tweets from the womb when she’s old enough, hoping she’ll both gain a special insight into her first months of life — and appreciate her dad’s humour. “I might even turn over the account to her. If Twitter is still around, of course.”

“I think babies should use social media more,” Balanon says. “It will lead to world peace.”

Julia Allison is a veteran columnist, TV personality and public speaker.