I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I downloaded the Facebook App to my smart phone. Maybe it was the desk job that I had outgrown and held for far too long. Maybe it was my accidental apathy that happened when I found myself inundated with the heaviness of global current events. But somewhere in between me joining Facebook in 2008, getting a smart phone in late 2011, and being tied to a computer screen for 8 hours a day for several years, Facebook somehow became my morning paper.
I’d get to work, get a cup of coffee, glance at the front page of the New York Times and sometimes take a copy to my desk where it would sit with a promise that I would definitely read it if not that morning then during my lunch hour, or if not then, then definitely on the subway ride home. Four thirty would come, my computer would shut down, and I would leave my work for the day…along with that paper. Without fail, every time, I never once read it on the ride home. Part of the reason was that at the end of the day I was more concerned with getting to my next job, or reading a book I was doing freelance coverage on, or because frankly, after 8 hours online, everything was already old news. I’d already seen the horrors of the moment in some truncated blurb running through my newsfeed in Facebook.
Then I went traveling and Facebook became a way to stay in touch with friends we met on the road, friends and family back home, as well as read other shared news stories from global travelers. When I came home I didn’t have that desk job, but my ritual of checking Facebook for my news stayed intact. And then came the Infertility ads. While I know in my head that Facebook cannot read my mind, I was not aware just how accurately their marketing team could read my very obvious public profile.
A couple weeks ago, Morgan and I were driving over Coldwater Canyon on our way back from the Climb Out of Darkness hike at Runyon Canyon and naturally we were talking about motherhood. As someone who is not yet a mother, spending a morning hiking with a group of strong women who have overcome such extreme hurdles as mothers was very inspiring…and also very triggering. It was on this ride that I confided in Morgan that I was ready to punch my Facebook feed right in its computer face because every single fucking time I scrolled down, there was some advertisement or “news article” about infertility or the risks of having children once you hit 35, a number that is inching ever closer and looms like a uterine guillotine, to which she responded, “Of course you’re getting all that shit! Facebook reads ‘Woman. Married. Over 30. No kids‘ and BOOM, you’re being stalked by your worst fears.
I think it was this same week that it came out about Facebook experimenting with people’s feeds to see the psychological impact on users. Now, Facebook is a free service that has proved very valuable to me. I don’t think I can complain too much about their ethics. But, I would be remiss to say that it didn’t scare the shit out of me. I would be lying if I said all those articles and advertisements coming my way didn’t make me think, “Must have unprotected sex now!” There was a palpable shift in my psyche over the whole baby debate happening in my head every single day for the past couple years now. Getting pregnant has always been my greatest fear in life. Beyond what it represented to me, which in many ways seemed this huge sacrifice, I also am just terrified of the whole damn process. But I have always wanted kids. I have always wanted to be a mother…just not until I’m done doing the things in life I really want to do, childless. Now that our world travel extravaganza is over, the pressure is on and Facebook, you really are the worst.
I have been with my husband seven years, married for almost two. I’m 32 years old, approaching 33. And yes, my mother-in-law finally cracked this week when my husband told her we were getting a dog and she assertively expressed that she wanted a grandchild instead. Since December of this past winter I have been very okay with the phrase, “We’re not NOT trying, ” and then in May, we moved into the spare bedroom of my Dad’s condo, and Voila! What do you know? The most natural birth control ever. (Take that, Facebook!)
One day my husband and I will get back on our feet and we will move out of my Dad’s condo, and the baby question will no longer be a question, but something we are consciously trying to create. As for me and my relationship with Facebook, I am happy to report I have joined the revolution (which so far includes my husband and Morgan) and have taken the app off my phone. I still worry that I’ll have waited too long to have kids, I just don’t have to read about the liklihood in between wishing someone a happy birthday and reading about the best tacos in Los Angeles. Sometimes, it’s all about the little victories.