My sperm have horns, carry tridents, and hiss.
I know this doesn’t sound very scientific. I don’t jerk off onto slides and then look at them under a microscope — that’s not the sort of thing I do anymore. But sometimes, when I look at a situation in its totality, I just know certain things about my sperm.
I have severe, treatment-resistant depression. When I was eight, I was sent to a school counselor because all the adults around me thought that something seemed off. And it was downhill from there. Two suicide attempts, one hospitalization, one arrest, and seventeen years of blitzkrieg alcoholism later, and the situation never much improved. I’ve tried two-dozen antidepressants, many hundreds of hours of CBT, and a hell of a lot of positive thinking. Nothing ever removes the pervasive sense of doom and aching self-hatred. I hate myself so much, part of me is convinced I’m not really depressed and I’m a wimp who can’t stop whining.
None of this speaks well of my DNA.
My sadism has its limits. When it comes to forcing another human being to endure a tenure on this cruel orb carrying my genetic legacy, that’s where I draw the line.
I don’t want kids. And I’m not changing my mind.
I don’t care about your kids. They’re fine as long as I don’t have to look at pictures of them while you watch, or engage with them directly. (I’ve been uncomfortable around kids since I was a kid.) They have a cruel fate coming their way in this cursed age. I can’t hate them too much, knowing what absurdity and agony is in store.
You may not think I’m serious about this. I don’t expect it to always be easy. Plenty of people have kids without even trying. It’s our main instinctual drive.
There are difficulties that await people who refuse to bear offspring. I have steeled myself to endure them. In the future, I’ll also buffer myself with all the money I’m going to save.
To not have kids of one’s own is to miss out on a lot of the simple pleasures life has to offer. As I sit in traffic, I may miss the screaming serenade from the back seat. I may never again see the inside of a Chuck-E-Cheese franchise. Big decisions require such sacrifices.
When I get old, I’ll get old alone. I will not be able to hit up my kids for money they don’t have, after the robots take over, after the great Bitcoin collapse of 2042 and the assassination of President Kardashian destabilize the economy and we’re all hunting rats for sustenance. My death will be lonesome and painful, as I expected. And as I perish, isolated and unloved, I won’t have anyone to inflict with guilt.
But I don’t have to wait that long. A lot of my friends will cave in to the overwhelming social and biological pressure to have kids, and they will disappear into Kid World. I won’t see them much, and when you do, we won’t have anything to talk about. They won’t watch Quentin Tarantino movies, and I won’t understand the use of allegory in Wow Wow Wubbzy. They won’t listen to music from Top Dawg Entertainment, eat dinners for two infused with cannabis, or engage in other meaningful adult activities as I understand them. I’m going to get older and sicker, and I won’t have many pals to share my golden years.
Granted, I’m fortunate that my wife is just as committed, if not more committed, to keeping her womb barren. We’ve done a lot of soul-searching together and had intense conversations about it.
ME: Do you think you would ever want kids?
MY WIFE: LOL no. Ew. Let’s get K-BBQ.
This means I won’t have to lie about my feelings toward the idea of having kids, or have them when I’d rather not in an attempt to make someone else stop glaring at me. And I’ll have at least one person who still wants to hang out and do stuff.
It Requires Tenacity
Of course, if I screw up and get divorced, I’m in big trouble. I have to put in a lot more work on my marriage than my parents did on theirs. They had the excuse of being exhausted, embittered, and drunk from dealing with their horrible children. I’ll have to keep my head in the marriage game.
Having kids is socialism in action: From you, according to your ability, to your ungrateful brats, according to their need. It burns away your selfishness and forces you to invest in others, because that’s the only way to keep them from dying. That’s good. I have seen certain people become a lot more well-rounded, generous, and cool as a result of their parenting experiences.
Since I’m not having kids, I get to keep all my money and do whatever I want with my time. I hate that I’m missing out on a chance to share and grow. I’ll be all right, though.
It Changes the Game
As far as I can tell, the only common end goal of human life is to recreate it. That’s the whole hokey-pokey, which is what it’s all about. If I’m going to find meaning outside of that, I’ll have to get creative. That’s a challenge, and it’s one I’m prepared to accept if it means I don’t have to have kids.
Because I’m not sure that fulfilling ancient biological imperatives is all that there is, or ought to be, to life. Most of us aren’t satisfied simply following our instincts and acting on our encoded urges. We know there’s more to life than just doing the thing that it feels as if we ought to be doing.
Take murder. Based on the dictates of our genes, we’re supposed to be killing up a storm. When someone wrongs us, we’re compelled to protect ourselves and our honor, because being humiliated by a competitor makes it harder to pass on our genes. You look like a loser in front of potential mates and allies, and the only way to get your evolutionary mojo back is to get revenge. There are a lot more murderous genes still in circulation than genes from people who got murdered.
But we don’t have to do that anymore. We have options.
I wouldn’t equate having kids with killing someone — murder is easier on the environment — but there’s undeniable pressure to spawn them. Some of it is social. Some of it is instinctual. Some of it is probably primordial. But that doesn’t mean we have to act on it. We can build character by resisting our instincts, by finding ways around them, ways to do things better for ourselves and others, the people who are already here.
Check it! Now I’ve solved two of my problems. I’ve found meaning in my life, through thwarting and transcending my outmoded drives. And I don’t have to have kids if I don’t want to. If you do, or you already have, please do what you can to make sure they inherit a worth having.