Reading Internet Comments

So I made a huge mistake Monday night: I read a featured article on the Yahoo! homepage, and then read the comments people had made on the article.  I know, I should know better; and fortunately I had a meeting to go to, so I was able to pull myself away from it.

The article dealt with actress Jen Kirkman and a book she has written entitled: I can barely take care of myself: Tales from a happy life without kids.  Now what Ms. Kirkman does is her business, no one can force her to have or not to have children; why she felt compelled to write a book on the topic, and why people are reading said book is beyond me.  Anyway, she says the book deals with certain misconceptions regarding women without children, including that she is presumed to be selfish, and is presumed to have lots of free time on her hands.

I am not going to question whether or not she is selfish, but the fact that she had a busy life and refuses to take time out of it for children may be her decision, but there is a certain degree of selfishness in that reason: she has taken all of her time for herself and has refused to offer any of it to the rearing of a child.  That may be her choice, and it may not be entirely selfish, but there is some degree of selfishness in it.

Regardless of her reasons, the comments that followed were far more intense.  Not only were her reasons defended, but several others were added to them.

Now Ms. Kirkman thought her reasons out enough to write a book, those who posted on the internet did not, and thereby were going off of general ideas that society has made popular.  I have highlighted a few of the popular ones, and offer a rebuttal to them.

  • I wish others had made the same choice.  In most cases this comment dealt with those who have many children and are in poverty.  Obviously this has nothing at all to do with Ms. Kirkman as her child would not grow up in poverty; yet if we are applauding her decision to not have children, why are we questioning the decision of others to have children?
  • Self-fulfillment outside of having children: The argument raised was that one could find fulfillment without having children; and in fact, many argued that those who had children were seeking fulfillment, but were not able to find it.  The thinking was that one would live a better life without children, as opposed to having children.
  • Other people’s children: Many saw their friends and family have children, and how it affected their lives, and decided not to have any of their own.  Or were perfectly content visiting other people’s children, and got their enjoyment their.
  • Mind your own business: This is perhaps the best argument, although not quite the best one to make considering she drew attention to herself by writing a book on the topic.
  • Overpopulation: This argument will need to be fleshed out in its own posting, but many raised the concern about world food supply, livable housing, and the general need for everyone to stop having children so that the world does not just fall apart.  While much could be said regarding this, statistical data shows it to be a lie, and that world population is actually declining, drastically and quickly.

I could go on, but that is enough for now.  But do you notice a pattern: not only is Ms. Kirkman being applauded for not having children, she is the ultimate hero for many.  I read comments for 15 minutes, not only did I not find one person comment on how she should have children, no one even countered the arguments that were made.  Not one person commented on how children were a blessing, or how their lives were for the better now that they had children, let alone an argument in favor of continuing the human race for another generation.

There is an episode of The Simpsons where the members of the community get worked up over an incident and make the community child-free.  The children are sent away or just pushed aside, and the whole community becomes ‘adult friendly’.  Obviously at the end of the 22 minute episode, the community realizes children are important, and everything goes back to normal

From the looks of a series of comments on a Yahoo! article, it looks like we have our own version of that episode occurring here, without commercials and a clean and tidy ending after 22 minutes.

And one day, you might see a book entitled ‘Why I decided to have children’.  I wonder what kind of comments that article will get on the internet.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
This entry was posted in Observations on Society. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Reading Internet Comments

  1. snappykyle says:

    Hello, Pastor (or whatever the honorific should be).
    I think you would have understood Jen’s book, and the comments about it, had you actually read the book.
    I have a question for you: If a person doesn’t want to have children, do you think it is better for him/her to have children because religion or society or some other externality says he/she should or should that person abide by his/her desire?
    Jen’s book is not really about not having children. It’s about living the life that you feel most comfortable with. I encourage you to read it.

  2. revschmidt says:

    The post is not about her book per say; rather it is about the nature of the comments that followed, particularly the harsh nature toward those who do have children, and the general bitterness toward children in general. Ms. Kirkman’s poses one set of reasons, and those who comment offer a completely different set of reasons.

  3. Snappykyle says:

    Thank you for your response, Pasteur. I’d like to go back to the substantive question that I asked. Do you believe that people should make decisions in their life based on what they desire or should the decisions be based on external influences, such as societal or religious? In other words, If the point of Ms. Kirkman’s book was to encourage people to make decisions based on their own internal interests and desires, rather than those imposed by others, would you take issue with that premise?

  4. Mark Junkin says:

    The TV show, 19 kids and counting, would be the “have more kids” popular lightning-rod. Snap, I’m sure Michael would say that external influences should be listened to particularly religious. God created us with purpose, and when we live our lives following that purpose, our lives, and other’s lives, are improved.

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