I need to talk about something that happens to us women of a certain age on social networks that drives me absolutely insane. I think this is more personal than I’ve ever gotten on this blog so it may get a little weird. Work with me.
Yes, idiot person I know who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. That’s a new service the credit card companies offer. When they can’t help you with your billing issues, they impregnate you instead.
You may think this is an isolated incident but it actually happens with alarming frequency on increasingly irrelevant statuses. After a week of rain, I write, “Heck yeah! The sun is out and it’s a glorious day!” and the moron choir asks if that means I’m pregnant. And, of course, as soon as one idiot asks that question, I spend the rest of the day fielding phone calls, emails and texts from people who want to congratulate me on this non-existent baby or express their anger that I didn’t tell them first.
When I sold the rights to one of my plays in the middle of some crummy family life stuff, I wrote, “Well here’s some good news for a change. I just sold my play! :-)” and, within moments of posting that, one of my oldest friends called to congratulate me… on my pregnancy. I flipped out. Where did she possibly get that I was pregnant from that status? She said that it wasn’t fair to get mad at her because the status was unclear because it just said good news. Good news which I then defined as having published my play, I countered. “Oh. I didn’t read the whole thing,” she replied.
I’m sorry but this is BS. I shouldn’t have to spend my time over-thinking everything I post because a certain subsection of the population assumes that, since I’m a young woman, the only thing I could possibly referring to in a happy status is a pregnancy. Especially when it doesn’t seem to matter what I write, anything that expresses any excitement or joy will be interpreted as a baby announcement, regardless of what the rest of the status actually says. It’s pretty freaking presumptuous to assume anyone’s personal life is ever up for public discussion but when I’m having to face this crud on completely irrelevant posts, that crosses a line for me .
I understand that getting nagged about having kids just one of those things married people go through, no matter how unpleasant or downright RUDE most people are about it. But our answer has always been very simple, “We’re not having kids for a very long time yet.” Or, when they just keep badgering us: “There’s no need to have us a pregnancy watch. We’re literally not even trying.” Never mind how stupid it is that I should even have to answer stuff like this when it’s no one’s damn business.
Add to this that I am RARELY personal and never TMI on Facebook or Twitter. I mostly post about writing, e-commerce stuff and random things that amuse me such as The Muppets. Where would anyone get the idea that any given update is a coded uterus status when there is zero precedent for it in all my many years on social networks? But I know it’s not just me, I see it happening to my other friends all the time, even those with kids. It even happens to the guys, though less frequently, just going to show that nosy people apparently can’t contain themselves from writing, “Does that mean you’re finally expecting kids?” on statues, whether they are about the weather or your football team’s upset victory.
But there’s another element of this that annoys me even more. Going back to my friend who thought “I’ve published a play!” meant “I’m making a baby!”, she said something else in that same conversation that made me Hulk out with rage. After my little rant, she was trying to calm me down and offered this sentiment, “Well, that’s really nice that you published a play. That’s kind of exciting too! Don’t worry, you’ll have a baby soon.”
Thereby implying all of the following:
- Nothing I can possibly do in my career is as impressive as having a baby.
- My accomplishment of publishing something is lame compared to legitimate good news, like… babies! (Never-freaking-mind that the percentage of people who will get something published in their lives is MUCH smaller than the number of people who will become parents. Logic!)
- Despite being repeatedly open and candid about the fact that we are both not ready for kids and aren’t trying for them, I apparently needed to be assured that I’ll be having them anyway, what I want be damned!
I realize that, for some people, career is secondary and their entire aspiration in life is to be a stay-at-home mom or dad. And that’s completely fine. But trying to force that philosophy on others and otherwise imply that their career, hobbies or the minutia of their life is meaningless until they have a kid is ridiculous. I know this happens to people of both genders but it is particularly bad for women, as if focusing on your career is somehow wrong and that you should be making babies because that’s what you’re really supposed to be doing. And this BS that nothing you accomplish in your life is as important as baby making is utterly ridiculous.
I have no idea how to reconcile the irony that the same people who nag you to have kids also are the ones that complain that people post too many baby pictures on Facebook. Are they only interested in our getting pregnant but not in the resulting kid? That’s one for you to puzzle out on your own.
Now here’s for the really ironic part of this blog post. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for 4 or 5 years now because I was, frankly, afraid I’d post it and everyone would idiotically take it as another coded confession that I was pregnant. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I’d ever post it because I knew it will probably offend the baby crazed people who prompted it and get me flack from the internet “mombies” for whom career is nothing and kids are everything. I was also afraid it would come off as ironic because, while we’ve never been trying for kids (and that’s still the truth) we did still want kids eventually, career oriented people that we are. Not to mention that this is the closest I’ve ever come to “over-sharing” and I feel strange about that too.
But I’m posting it now because, hold the freaking phone, now I actually AM pregnant and I find myself in the strange position where I don’t WANT to tell my friends because they’ve been such pains in the ass about it and I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of being all sanctimonious. Their hijacking of so many statuses over the years have soured this news. They’ve cried wolf so many times on my behalf and forced me to deny pregnancy rumors I never started so often that I’m actually kind of dreading telling anyone beyond my closest friends and family, even though I’m personally excited about this new chapter, because now it’s become A Thing.
Never mind that Baby doesn’t actually change anything. I’ll still be doing everything I’ve always done with my career and company (and likely even more thanks to some exciting developments in the last year on those fronts) and Baby Whine Seller isn’t going to change that. And I certainly don’t feel like breeding undermines anything I have accomplished, and will continue to accomplish, as an individual. I’m still me. But it’s going to annoy the hell out of me if everyone suddenly acts like this is the first real accomplishment I’ve ever had and all signs point to that being exactly what’s going to happen given the history I outlined above.
Where am I going with this? That for every person who overshares on social media, there’s someone who’s just as bad because they are nosy, butting into other people’s lives and creating problems without caring about the consequence. Auntie Sally or your friend Jane from high school may think she means well but, when her clueless status is there for everyone to see, it creates a ripple effect and issues for the person whose page she posted on no matter how fast it gets deleted. This goes for just about every aspect of life but I think baby nagging deserves a special mention because I’ve watched it first hand happen to both myself and so many of my friends. And while the original commenters may have just misguided their legitimate excitement or good intentions, it’s had the complete opposite effect. Instead of being excited to tell friends about my news, there’s the dark shadow of dread for what idiotic thing they’ll say now or whether they’ll even care after all the wolf crying that’s making me hold it back that’s a direct result of these careless comments and that just isn’t fair to do to someone else.
(You think I’m kidding? This is the very first mention I’ve made of Baby online and my due date is only a few days away.)
OK, fine, maybe I’m whining a little. Maybe I’m a little bitter that a few bad eggs have sucked all the fun out of the announcement of something so happy. Maybe I should just be mad at myself for letting them get to me but, darn it, I don’t think it’s that much to ask for people not to start rumors or try to force someone else into discussing something they don’t want to discuss in a public forum by hijacking a random unrelated status.
Have any of you been on the receiving end of something like this? Has a well meaning friend or relative ever inadvertently forced you into a weird situation online?