There is a special space reserved on Facebook for the middle-aged Caucasian mom full of untapped knowledge, groundbreaking conspiracies, and the funniest of meme materials.
If you have ever accidentally stumbled into one of these groups, whether through an innocent friend request from your friend’s mom or a tagged photo, I am sure you have witnessed the pure insanity of these outwardly innocent suburban moms.
Your friend Jacob whose mom picked you up from soccer practice and bought you ice cream after? Yeah, she is probably posting 9/11 conspiracy theories, fiercely arguing about how vaccines cause autism, and promoting a new weight-loss herbal tea—a seemingly better alternative than the other two.
These mommy groups—numbering over 1000 that are either public or private—do not just spread misinformation, but are hypercompetitive and ruthless. If Instagram is the subtle “Oh yeah, this is a picture of me in my bikini in Cabo,” Facebook is the aggressive “Here is a Van Gogh-esque painting my child did at age 8 compared to your son’s stupid hand turkey.”
Perhaps I am being too mean and unfair to these moms. There are some good things that come from the mom stratosphere of Facebook, such as helpful parenting tips, emotional support, and my personal favorite—outdated memes.
It seems as if Facebook moms are perpetually 10 years behind in meme-knowledge, unironically posting the cringiest and oldest of memes. Although these memes are embarrassing for us millennials and Gen-Zers, these posts are generally wholesome and allow Facebook moms to connect and laugh with each other.
So if Facebook is the designated home of the middle-aged white mom, where does the first-generation Chinese Tiger mom go to gossip and brag about what Ivy League school her son got into?
It is of course to WeChat—China’s premier social media app and the hottest name on the Sino-US news.
First and foremost, I would like to coin the term “WeChat Mom” before we begin to discuss these insane Chinese moms. WeChat Moms bear striking similarities to “Facebook Moms,” and they are often even more ruthless and boastful than their Western counterparts.
Chinese moms have argued over whose child has higher test scores, what colleges their child got accepted into, and whose child makes more money long before the invention of WeChat. By giving them a bigger platform and audience such as WeChat, these Chinese moms have only elevated their bragging game—much to the chagrin of Chinese American kids who were already endlessly compared.
Nowadays, it seems as if everyone is accepted into Harvard or scoring a perfect score on the SAT. Because most of these Chinese moms have successful children, the margin of what you can brag about has become much smaller. Now WeChat Moms resort to boasting about their son’s girlfriend or how delicious their home cooking is.
Where it all goes downhill: Fake News
WeChat Moms are usually a member of multiple group chats, and oftentimes they have never even met in person the other members of the group. As a consequence, all sorts of false information is spread, such as the theory that Coronavirus was brought to China by American troops. These ideas are frequently reposted in other group chats by WeChat Moms, creating a rapidly multiplying effect across the social media platform.
The spread of false information only becomes a problem when it is believed. WeChat Moms will often cite WeChat as a reliable source in their everyday conversations. Too many times have I heard at Chinese parties from Chinese aunties (阿姨 , āyí) who said they read “this and this” on WeChat. While not all the news shared on WeChat is wrong, a lot of it is, and WeChat Moms will not bother Googling or fact-checking the information they read.
It does not help that WeChat has integrated itself as a necessity in the lives of Chinese. WeChat serves multiple purposes from just communicating, such as ordering takeout, paying for goods, transferring money, planning vacations, and a lot more. Thus to escape WeChat, or even limit the usage of the app is an impossible task.
I know I may have been overly critical of Facebook Moms and WeChat Moms, and I fully acknowledge that. Facebook Moms and WeChat Moms offer crucial forms of support to each other during this isolated and lonely time. For example, my mom discovered a Chinese grassroots food delivery service from a fellow WeChat Mom during the initial panic of Coronavirus when American companies like Instacart and AmazonFresh were overrun with orders.
All in all, I hope the communities of Facebook Moms and WeChat Moms will continue to remain strong and supportive. And above all, they need to learn to double-check what they read before spreading it further!