Facebook Sucks

Some of you are probably laughing right now, knowing as you do how often I use my Facebook account. And while I admit that is true, I also contend that each time I sign off Facebook, I say the same thing--internally, at least--"Facebook, you suck."

A lot.

Let me explain. In the past, you graduated from high school and, unless you kept in touch with everyone, waited until your high school reunions to see what everyone was up to. Inevitably, at that event, some people would show up with amazing and envy-inducing lives, inspiring you and your spouse to grumble about "those people" during the car ride home. Once home, you were once again blissfully unaware of everything others were doing, wrapped in a cocoon of ignorance.

Then Facebook came along and turned everyday into one big class reunion.

Let me give you an example. Today I woke up and perused photos of friends' recent home renovations, travel albums from exotic places like Marrakesh and Thailand, and their plethora of cute baby photos. Do not misunderstand me. I am happy for all those people. I just wish I could be blissfully ignorant once again.

I've been happily married for almost four years; my husband and I both have steady, very secure jobs in a crummy economy, and I have been able to travel (albeit limitedly) in the United States over the past couple years. We are planning a second honeymoon to London/Paris in a little less than two years, and I have the most amazing friends. I know I am lucky. However, I also am aware that I am missing many of the trappings of adulthood--most noticeably children and a house (probably in the reverse order).

This is a result of very careful decision making on the part of my husband and I. At this point, those things just aren't calling to us; there is so much else we want to do (travel, get our masters degrees, travel) that children and a house just seem unnecessary. And while we are okay with our decision, we are constantly reminded that--to others--it somehow makes us "less adult" than our peers.

We are asked with astonishing frequency by our friends, family, and sometimes even vague acquaintances, when we are going to buy house,or have children. "Are you guys thinking of buying a house?" "Do you think you'll have children?" What astounds me most--aside from the shockingly personal and private nature of these questions--is the implicit criticism contained in them. No one asks an 18-year-old if he is going to buy a house soon; and we wouldn't dream of asking a 20-year-old when she's going to have children. People at that age are young and there's plenty of time for those things to be decided. So, when people do ask those questions, the implication is that there is no longer plenty of time. The implication is it is time to get a move on. The implication is: "Why haven't you done these things yet?"

I don't think anyone means this harm when they ask, but that doesn't stop each remark from rankling. It's uncomfortable to have to explain major life decisions to people who really have no business getting involved in them in the first place (in this case, anyone besides my husband falls into that category). Some argue they're just being curious, and that really it is possible to be polite and ask these questions. I argue it is the same as if I were to ask a friend with six kids when on earth her husband is going to get that vasectomy. After all, I'm just being curious.

Obviously, some things just don't need to be asked.

I resent the idea that my childlessness and apartment mark me as somehow "less-than" other people who have made different choices. Our society, for all its progress and open-minded ways (yes, you did just hear me scoff, but rest assured, that's another blog entry), still seems hopelessly mired in old-fashioned expectations. If my husband and I decide not to have children, I have no doubt we will raise eyebrows, not just among friends and acquaintances, but among our own family members. Because ultimately, in our society, we still expect married people to have kids. And woe betide those who decide not to do so.

The comments people throw our way remind my husband and me that some people--however unfairly--view us as less grown-up than our peers. I know I will need to develop a thicker skin--I can only assume the rude comments will get worse the closer I get to 30--but I also have to resist pointing out the obvious: my husband and I are grown ups, and as such, we have made very adult decisions about what is best for us in our life. Will we have children one day? Perhaps. Will we buy a house someday? Most likely. But for now, we know that those things aren't right for us. And so we'll wait and try to ride out the invasive comments.

So go ahead, ask away. But don't be surprised if we talk about you on the way home.

And unfriend you on Facebook as fast as we can.

Comments

Angie said…
I love this. So perfect. Do what is right for you. You'll always face criticism no matter what you choose because there will always be someone on the opposition.

I was throwing out ideas of apartment renting after(if) we sell our house, so we are not tied down to one place if we need to move for careers. My husband was uneasy even about the suggestion, thinking that this would be a step backwards. How sad that society has ingrained such silly ideas into our heads.

When people ask those questions you can always say you enjoy a mortgage free, poopy diaper-less life. :) You can pick up and go as you please. That's a rare freedom.
I admire you and your husband for being aware of your wants and needs and living to those standards. As simple as it sounds, it's pretty rare that people do this.

I also need to say that people who seem to be looking down at you when asking these questions are probably jealous because they didn't think through such things before they made their own life-altering decisions. Or, as I parent I know there will always linger a teeny bit of jealousy of people like you. As much as I love my son (more than anything), there are days when I would also love to make travel plans or agree to happy hour without a second thought. Thinking of others not having kids (which isn't a bad thing) makes me feel better about the opportunities I am missing out on.

Two things you are definitely right about are: yes, it gets worse when you turn 30, and societal expectations can be a bitch. For example, now that I'm thirty and James is about to turn three, the new question is "When are you going to have another child?". When I say that we're probably not, people get awkward. Some almost look at me like I'm a child abuser- denying James a sibling. Like you, I feel like it almost necessary to explain the several, very personal reasons we have for that- the most important one being that I love my family the way it is; it feels complete as is. But there are stereotypes about only children, or maybe we're having problems if we're not reproducing- I don't know, it's a never-ending battle. Maybe it's just weird to be enjoying life as it is.

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