Hey cHEwY gum gums

It’s less than a month before my next cHEwY creation comes out, Don’t Follow Vee. On Saturday afternoon, I was at Penguin Random House HQ for the CBCA AGM/High Tea with the Stars where authors and illustrators had 3 minutes to talk about their latest book. I basically summed it up as a story¬†about Vee, a girl who wants unbearable Insta-mum to stop following her.

Yet, the inspiration for this tale is not related to Instagram, but the other social media giant, Facebook.

I was listening to the news on the radio, about how Facebook was now old enough to be a teenager, (Fun fact: it started in 2004) and it got me thinking…there are kids whose lives have up on Facebook since they were born, and they’re now teenagers! You have parents who have posted all these photos of their kids growing up, and I wondered…what if the kids didn’t want those photos up there anymore?

I had a spark for a short story, about a boy who is sick and tired of all those embarrassing photos up on his mum’s Facebook page. He plans to get revenge by scanning his mum’s old baby photos and uploading it online. SPOILER ALERT I’ve added this character, Matty in as a subplot in Don’t Follow Vee hehe.

My mother has always been quite savvy with taking photos, and we were lucky to have a Kodak camera. She took plenty of photos of me when I was a baby, including ones where I’m naked in the bathtub, naked on the bed, and well…apparently I didn’t like wearing many clothes when I was younger haha.

I am grateful that I have these photos, a lot of my school friends weren’t so lucky in the pre-mobile camera era. My mum has three full thick albums of photos, but they’ve mostly stayed private. Well, unless you were one of my friends who came over to visit, then you’d get bombarded haha.

So I share some of that embarrassment that Vee and Matty feels when their parents post shots of themselves up on the socials. Yes, I know most of the time it’s only for ‘close family and friends’ but that is still a wide net and way beyond than I could have ever imagined. In Vee’s case, it’s over 100,000 people who have seen her grow up in front of their screens.

The flipside is that I’ve spoken to some kids who like being up on their parents’ socials. I wonder for how long though, probably when they start their own accounts.

It’s amazing that while Don’t Follow Vee is about the recent phenomenon of social media, I still have drawn experiences from my childhood that are peppered into the book.

Still, thank goodness, Instagram wasn’t around when I was a kid hehe.

O.W

About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree