Dear People of the World: Don’t Do This

People behave pretty appallingly. I don’t know if I was generally ignorant of this trend in the past, or if the Internet (and, okay, the advice column I’m addicted to, Dear Prudence at Slate.com) has made it apparent how horrid some people are.

Here’s a short list of shit that people really shouldn’t do (and if you know people who are thinking of doing any of these things, stop them).

1. Endless pregnancy/baby related celebrations. Women have been having babies for millennia. No one should ever:
a. post a picture of their positive pregnancy test to the Internet or social media.
b. have a sonogram/ultrasound party OR a gender-reveal party. It’s just not that important (to anyone but the parents-to-be).
c. have baby showers past baby one. I mean, I guess if it’s been six or ten or fifteen years between babies, more than one baby shower is understandable. But a shower for each baby? No. Overkill. Don’t do it.

2. Do not DEMAND A SHOWER FROM SOMEONE OR THROW YOUR OWN SHOWER, baby or wedding.

3. Speaking of weddings: The Bridezillas of the world have got to be stopped, people. It’s out of hand. Parents of the world, do not raise daughters to believe that their wedding is the most special day of their lives and they have carte blanche to demand that EVERYONE KOWTOW to their every wish. Grooms-to-be, if your formerly sweet girlfriend (now your fiancee) whom you loves turns into someone unrecognizable while planning her wedding, sit her down for a long talk. (Or a short one: Stop it.)

For a short list of things not to do if you are a bride, please see this Gawker article for samples from the Most Demanding Bride Ever.

So many flavors of wrong.

4. Do not ask perfect strangers (or passing acquaintances) nosy questions regarding their child-bearing plans, their pregnancies, their pending labors and deliveries, and/or how (or if) they plan to raise their children. It’s not your business, and you aren’t entitled to know whether or not the mother-to-be is going to opt for an epidural. Unless you had a hand in making that baby, or are the medical professional involved in prenatal care for that baby, don’t ask. MYOB.

5. No one should be in the delivery room except whomever the birthing mother wants to be in the delivery room. No one should ask (or demand) to be in the delivery room. That baby is not going to know (or care) who is there (excepting, probably, its mom, and even then it’s not like a conscious-type “want”, KWIM?). The parents, however, will remember who was a jerk about wanting to be in the delivery room.

6. Do not inform people they have been unfriended or that they are not invited to your upcoming Very Special Celebration. It’s just not nice. If someone is not invited to your wedding, for instance, there is no need to send them an announcement that they will not be invited to your wedding.

6b. Don’t assume you’re invited to someone’s wedding. If you are Facebook friends with people from high school or college, but haven’t talked to them IRL in five years? You’re probably not going to be invited to their wedding. It’s okay. If you’re out drinking with the groom-to-be, and he says, “Hey, man, are you coming to my wedding?” but then you don’t get a paper invite? You’re not invited. It’s okay.

6c. Don’t demand that your children (or grandchildren) be allowed to attend someone else’s wedding. If you want to have kids at your wedding? Go right ahead. Not everyone is as generous as you. (I say this as a person who did not invite the majority of children from my family to my wedding — I have a lot of second cousins who were young when I married 11 years ago.)

7. (This is the one that’s possibly going to hurt some feelings.) Don’t expect everyone to celebrate your birthday with you. If you are over the age of, oh, 18 to 21, the days of “birthday parties” are over.

I say this as a person who enjoys her birthday every year. It’s my day. I believe in celebrating your birthday — it’s your day! Just don’t expect the world to stop and fete you. Those days are gone. Make your own celebration. Treat yourself. And if people offer to 1. take you to dinner or out for drinks or 2. bring you cake, graciously accept. But don’t expect it as your due.

8. Don’t text and drive. I mean, I know everyone knows this. Except the people who think THEY can text and drive, but no one else should. Put the phone down for the drive. It’s okay. You can check your tweets/emails/texts when you park your car.

9. Don’t conflate chastity and celibacy. (All right, this is less about behavior and more of a pet peeve of mine.) Celibacy is a vow to not marry; chastity is a vow not to have sex. Now, in the Catholic church, priests take a vow of celibacy — that is, they vow they will not marry with the understanding that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin. It’s not breaking their vows, but it’s sinful. Catholics nuns, on the other hand, are sybolically married to Jesus, and they vow to remain chaste, that is, not have sex at all. You can personally vow to not marry or to remain chaste (or both), but don’t declare that you’re “taking a vow of celibacy” if you don’t want to have meaningless sexual encounters (anymore).

10. I guess, to get to the point (too late! haha): it’s not all about you. We need to remember that, while our lives are important to us (and our children are important to us, where applicable), they are not as vitally important to everyone else. Heck, my life isn’t the center of my parents’ lives even (anymore)! And that’s okay.

If we can, we should gently remind others that’s it’s not all about them. I don’t know if it’s helicopter parenting, the Internet and social media, reality television, or the unholy intersection of these factors that lead to this awful expectation of me-type entitlement, but honestly. Let’s all step back a little bit, take a deep breath, and be real. Let’s not behave appallingly. Let’s choose kindness. (h/t Wonder, by R.J. Palacio)

What do you see people regularly doing that you wish they would just stop?

21 thoughts on “Dear People of the World: Don’t Do This

  1. I think gender reveal stuff is cute – for the close family. But this trend of big parties for it is just weird. And ultrasound parties? What the hell? That’s just weird.

    • Right, I could see doing a gender reveal cake for, like, my parents and/or ILs. But none of us are cutesy like that anyway.

      Here’s the thing about u/s parties (aside from just NO): Do you do it if you’ve already had an u/s to determine everything is all right? How do you have a party for it? Rent a u/s/ machine and tech for home use? If it’s all “new”, what happens if the tech finds a problem? Send everyone home without a favor. Gah! It’s so many levels of OTT, I can’t even.

  2. Well, still the incisive writer, I see! :-) Happy New Year from Minus 7 Magazine, dSports.com., and The Erotic Salon! And say hi to Dan for me.

    BTW, Jude is 13 years old. What the heck?!?!?!

      • Well, it was long, but you covered a lot of ground. And YES HE IS! If you’d like to take the conversation to email and we can update each other on these past few years, you’ve got my address! Hope you are all well.

  3. Do you follow stfuparents.com? You’d really like it, I have a feeling. I follow her on facebook (she’s also on twitter) and it’s obscene the things parents think they can post or get away with.

    I can’t stand gender reveal parties. It just seems like a scream for presents and attention. I had exactly one baby shower, no sip and sees, no meet and greet, nothing of that nature. You want to meet the baby? Stop on by. No need to bring gifts. No need to clean my house.

    I get really irritated when people are all about themselves. I know I do things sometimes that make others roll their eyes, and so I know I’m not perfect by a long shot, but you’ll be hard pressed for me to demand things of others, ever. Period.

  4. I think the thing a lot of (myself included at times) is grace. Poise. And perspective. Just because you think it does not mean it needs to be typed or spoken. I wish the constant complaining about your job/kids/pregnancy/etc would stop. Keep in mind others hearts are aching because they are unemployed or infertile. My brothers (yes, plural) have been looking for work for months…they would trade places with any of the folks who hate their jobs in an instant. My husband complains of being too busy at work. Um? You could have NO customers, then where would you be?

    • When I was having a boy (four years after my two girls) it didn’t even cross my mind to expect a shower for him. We had the major stuff (crib, bedding, etc.) and I had people offering me stuff left and right. People are wildly generous when you give them half a chance. Plus, I am superstitious about getting anything before the baby is here. For good reason, I think!

  5. I’m with Bluz. I get stabby when drivers don’t use turn signals. Happens all the time in Pittsburgh. It’s a flick of the wrist, people.

    I can’t even go in a Walmart anymore. People there drive me insane.

    And the people who over-stuff my Facebook wall with gratuitous amounts of the most ridiculous shit… pictures of animals (Google pics, not their own. I’m okay with that), Game of Thrones memes (I don’t watch), pictures of food, etc.

    But I must say, my life got so much better when I found out I could hide people’s posts instead of having to unfriend them. Or is that the chicken-shit route?

    • Funny story: My husband, fairly new to FB, was getting a little sick of one of his friend’s posting about the 2012 election. So he emailed him to say, “Hey can you post a little less about that?” Then someone showed him how to hide people and edit his timeline. He was a little mortified.

  6. I think you and one of your commentors (why is that not a word?!) kind of covered this above: Don’t incessantly brag about how great your life and particularly your children are. I realize if you do this on your own blog or Facebook page you have every right to do this, but that does not mean you should, at least not daily. Conversely, Facebook is probably not the place to detail every awful thing that keeps happening to you and it definitely is a bad place to diss on others. Fortunately, as Carpetbagger said, you can block people’s posts, which is exactly what I have done to those people.

    And since Bluz and Carpetbagger mentioned drivers, let me add to that: Please don’t tailgate people who are going at or above the speed limit on local roads. That person in front of you may be on the lookout for pedestrians. And, newsflash: You are supposed to stop for pedestrians at the crosswalk. It is a state law, jagoff!

  7. I agree with all of these things. Regarding #7, do you watch Portlandia? Last week there was a skit about a “birthday party loan.” The idea being that when too many friends have birthdays in a given month you may need to take out a loan to afford your cut of dinner, drinks and whatever else is planned.

    I know people who still do big things for their birthdays every year. It’s annoying. People have been asking me about what big thing I’m doing for my birthday. When I say I’m not sure if I want a big party I think they think it’s because I’m afraid of turning 40. It’s really just that I don’t like people feeling they have to make a fuss over me. If someone wants to make a fuss over me I’m always right here. I don’t want to force it on anyone just because it’s my birthday. The fact that my new age will end in a zero doesn’t change that. If someone wants to babysit my kids for free so that I can have dinner with my husband that’s fuss enough.

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