It’s a law of nature that given any sort of resource, people will use that opportunity to be annoying about it. Personally, I think it’s a triumph of the LGBT movement that gays get to be bridezillas and Pinterest divas just like everyone else. When I see a gay oversharing about his upcoming wedding, I think, “Congratulations! You get to be insufferable, too.”
People use the Internet to inundate us with #postsexselfies, check-ins at the gym and self-serving updates designed to get “Preach!” clicks from the Facebook echo chamber, and it’s likely that you have some feelings about where these behaviors fall on your Tolerability Index.
Personally, my biggest Facebook pet peeve is when people Instagram of their food. If I wanted to watch you eat, I would come to your house or install a camera in your kitchen, Paranormal Activity-style.
But of all the common Facebook complaints I just don’t understand, it’s the ubiquitous hatred of seeing peoples’ babies on your News Feed.
Of course, no one outwardly hates children on the Internet. You can’t post a comment that says “Get your deformed blob of spawn off my lawn” without being chased away with fire and pitchforks. It’s the sort of hatred you nurture sotto voce—with mutual friends who have also decided to loathe your friend’s reproduction habits.
Now I’m not really a baby person. It’s not that I don’t like them; I have the same feeling about them that I do cats. I approve of babies on an infant to infant basis, based on whether or not they have yellow eyes and cloven hooves for feet. I can hang with a baby, so long as it doesn’t want things from me, like diaper changing, future college money or any sort of touching.
I refuse to hold a baby because every time I look at one, I picture the millions of ways I could accidentally harm that baby, as if I were The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Its head is so beautifully, terrifyingly fragile—like a crying egg with consciousness—and everything around the baby becomes a Possible Death Object.
But viewed from afar, I’m able to appreciate the baby in all of its wonderful, hermetically sealed glory. To look at pictures of an infant on Facebook is to only see the potential Christmas card photos, not the time your friend accidentally dropped Baby Buster on his head and rushed him to the ER.
I used to think that I hated seeing a constant stream of Hallmark moments on my feed was irritating (those breeding braggarts!) until I started following a favorite professor of mine on Facebook, whose newborn twins were a constant source of barely sentient wonder.
They became celebrities in my daily life, dressed in matching Johnny Cash jumpers as they drooled their morning breakfast or hung out with Mom and Mom on the couch, watching Friday Night Lights. (They’re Riggins fans.)
Watching a lesbian couple love the shit out of their newborns is a lot like seeing an angel get its wings, something so divinely adorable that it drains you of every vestige of your cynicism. Love is something that should be shared with as many people as possible—because it makes it possible for families like theirs to exist. When we spread love, we create more of it in the world.
When I look at families like Neil Patrick Harris’, dressed in impossibly adorable matching Halloween costumes, I don’t feel envy or gutcheck Internet hate. (Anyone who does is, frankly, a total dick.) Instead, it reminds me of the time I babysat sat my little cousin with my (ex-)partner.
He was still a toddler, at the age when you could actually see him learn new things, as a concept forms an imprint in his brain. To watch him play with his toys on the ground wasn’t just the mundanity of another day. Being in his presence was to see the miracle of the universe inside him.
Just for a second, I looked in his eyes and I thought: I could do that. I could make something that contains a boundless infinity.
I’m still ambivalent about the idea of having children—that is, until they stop making Final Destination movies or I become a better person—but if I do, I hope to love my kid knows I loved him enough to constantly piss off all my friends by posting pictures of him.
So keep showing us your babies, Facebookers. It makes us all a little more connected to the world, whether we like it or not.