Baby-picture zapping plug-in is well Liked on Facebook

Unbaby.me performs the useful social task of removing baby pictures that narcissistic parents post on your Facebook newsfeed. In less than four days, it has 44,000 Likes. Next stop: a reduced birth rate?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

People generally have children in order to reproduce their own imperfect selves and try to make them more perfect.

This is a legitimate, if slightly warped, activity -- yet we tolerate it for what we imagine is a social good.

However, less of a social good is these parents constantly thrusting images of their progeny into the exclusive preserve of our Facebook pages.

They don't imagine that others might find these pictures annoying, dull, or -- dare one say it -- visually displeasing. They do it to wave their own fecundity into your every day.

There is now relief from this discomfort, a tool that has interesting ramifications.

Unbaby.me is a plug-in that has, as its sole purpose , the ability to not only delete baby pictures from your Facebook newsfeed but also to replace them with something more palatable -- like pictures of your favorite car, wrestler, or action figure.

Personally, I don't hate babies. I love babies. But I do get tired of looking at babies."<br />-- Unbaby.me co-creator Yvonne Cheng

The Los Angeles Times explains that Unbaby.me is the brain, um, child of three people who -- despite working for an ad agency -- decided to make a positive contribution to the world.

And how the world is grateful. Less than four days after its birth, Unbaby.me already has 44,000 Facebook likes.

You can download it from the Chrome Web Store. Unbaby.me works by scanning your feed for keywords and phrases -- such as "cute, "first birthday," and "look at my lovely, adorable baby, aren't you jealous, you barren, wasteful narcissist?"

I may be slightly inaccurate about that last one, but only slightly, as you can choose your own words and phrases to add. What's clear, though, is that Unbaby.me is still imperfect. If there is no caption to the baby picture, it will not be detected.

It is automatically set to replace the baby pictures with cat pictures. However, its makers say it is easy to choose something even more moving, such as, say, David Hasselhoff pictures.

In order not to offend (excessively) committed procreators, Yvonne Cheng -- one of Unbaby.me's parents -- professes to loving all the little children.

She told the L.A. Times: "Personally, I don't hate babies. I love babies. But I do get tired of looking at babies."

It is, indeed, surprising that some enterprising physician has not yet declared that there exists a Facebook Baby Picture Fatigue Syndrome.

It surely exists. Some people have come to believe that all babies look the same. Worse, some confuse one person's baby with another, mistaking Hermann for Hermione and Stevie for Suri.

At heart, though, the greatest social service performed by this fine plug-in is to reduce the pressure on those of a fertile, impressionable age to have children. Isn't that the real reason this fine, unassuming piece of technology has become so popular?

In an era of economic austerity, political confusion, and ecological disaster, bringing even more human beings into the world may be an excessively optimistic activity. That may be the true vein that Unbaby.me has tapped.

An unbabied world moratorium would give everyone time to think a little about the future of existence and their own most useful role within it -- even if that moratorium merely begins online.

 

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