2020欧洲杯最新战况The woman in the photograph looks out at me with a face full of exhaustion and bliss. In her hands, she cradles the purplish, bloody bundle of a just-born child. It’s a beautiful, celebratory image of human existence, as raw and pure and joyful as anything seen through the orderly square of an Instagram post can be. I peer at it in the dark, and hiss-whisper, “How dare you.”

There are so many ways to be a creep these days. One of the easier ways is to follow people on social media toward whom you have feelings that are other than warm. That may sound like a long-winded description of a hate-follow, but “hate” is a bit much, description-wise, for what I’m feeling. The woman with an armful of newborn baby isn’t exactly worthy of hatred. Her family lives up to a lot of hippie stereotypes: the off-grid life, the multiple home births, the homeschooling, the (hot!) dad in a band, the fanciful names of the children. She and her husband are young, tattooed, and good-looking, but have a hardy, outdoorsy style that is not overly calculated or curated. Their days seem idyllic, full of mud pies and chickens and art. I feel bad every time I look at them. When practicing this kind of social-media creepiness, you find yourself feeling small in two ways: you understand yourself as less than, living a life that is not nearly as fun, interesting, or worthwhile as the account you follow, and you also sense that you are a petty person, swiping the screen while huffing fumes of self-righteous antipathy.

2020欧洲杯最新战况When I finished reading the description of the unmedicated, unassisted home birth that accompanied the photograph, it was impossible not to recall my own birthing experience. I have just one child—I actually do a lot of my Instagram-creeping curled up in her bed as I coax her to sleep—and I gave birth in a regular hospital. I did not write a list of birth preferences; it struck me as so arrogant, so unwise, to attach myself emotionally to a certain set of hoped-for ways that the birth could go. I told myself that I mostly just wanted to leave the hospital with a live baby and preferably no more and no fewer holes than I came in with. I also wanted to show my ob-gyn that I was a good team player, that I was on her side in getting her job done—kind of like when I find my old waitressing instincts kicking in at restaurants and I start automatically stacking the plates to the side of the table in an easily bussed pile.

My birth ended up being not so bad; my water broke early, and I arrived at the hospital 9.5 centimetres dilated, much too far along for drugs of any kind. My daughter was face up and got stuck; they used a vacuum and had a big doctor squeeze me like a tube of toothpaste. I was on my back with my knees by my ears, and it never occurred to me to ask if I could move around at all or somehow direct the process. The doctors and nurses know what they’re doing, and see what a not-pain-in-the-ass I’m being? I will be a good tube of toothpaste! The truly unpleasant part came after, when my placenta failed to bloop properly out of my uterus and my ob-gyn reached on up there and clawed it out by the fistful, turning me briefly into a human hand puppet whose puppet mouth said things like: “Lady, lady, you have got to get out of there.”

I’ve played this story for laughs, but the last time I told that story in conversation with friends of mine, a couple who have kids of their own, they looked at me stricken, as though I were describing a trauma. “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” the husband said quietly. I stopped in my tracks. Happened to me? That made it sound like I was a victim. A wash of shame went through me at the thought that I might have presented myself as such. I wasn’t complaining; I was telling a funny story about the time I was a puppet! That it happened to be the most physically painful thing that I’d ever experienced was utterly beside the point.

2020欧洲杯最新战况I think about that conversation as I look at the woman and her newborn. What might have happened if her baby, like mine, had been facing the wrong way in the birth canal? Was her husband beefy enough to squeeze her like a tube of toothpaste? One thing I knew for sure: she would have had no interest in proving how good she was at taking orders. She most certainly has read all the home-birth books; she probably has an astral connection to Ina May Gaskin; she probably did things like “listening to her body,” and moved in ways that were “helpful to the process.” See how impossible I find it to list the good and smart things that she did without rolling my eyes? This pettiness tastes an awful lot like jealousy. There’s an audacity in doing things exactly as you see fit, and I know in my heart that my truly audacious moments have been few and far between.

2020欧洲杯最新战况This desire to prove I can get along, to keep a cheerful face on it, is one that I recognize as a terrible impulse. It’s the impulse that says, “I’m not like all those other whiny bitches.” Where this urge to prove myself in some kind of good-soldier capacity comes from I don’t know. I certainly paid enough lip service to the idea of flouting authority as a kid. There’s a tinge of class resentment, certainly—of course, these rich women roll into the delivery room with things like “birth plans” and a mandate to “curate their experience”—but a lot of my attitude is toxic lady-machismo. Where better to get high on your own internal toxicity than Instagram? Wait, I can actually answer that: Twitter, obviously. But Instagram has better visuals.

2020欧洲杯最新战况My contemplation of the life of this rustically hip family takes on the “Is it this or is it that?” quality of those trick drawings: Is this an old woman in a babushka or a young one in a hat? Are the choices the hip family makes arrogant or inspiring? Stupid or brave? Maybe they’re both, in the way that my drawing is both, simultaneously. My side-eye at their neo-pioneer life style is accompanied by a thrum of envy for the freedom of their life (Who works? Is there a trust fund at play here, or are they just that good at living off the land?) and a desperate, shame-filled recognition of the disparity between their towering competence and my obvious lack thereof. Who would you want to link up with in the coming apocalypse? The hot, fit, loving family who knows how to build a house by hand, or the tubby middle-aged broad who can’t even drive stick? Exactly. My ability to provide wry commentary about my own cervix is an asset useful only in a pre-collapsed society.

On Instagram, my capacity for envy is boundless. But I don’t wish this family ill in the least. On the contrary, I want them to flourish. Once the shit hits the fan, I’ll need somewhere to run. My time in the dark peering at my phone would be much better spent, say, watching YouTube videos about how to build your own windmill or, like, change a fucking tire. Maybe these bad feelings are signals that it’s time to rethink my approach to other people, and maybe even to life itself, to become more open, more generous, more in tune with nature and less concerned with being a good tube of toothpaste and then making fun of myself for it. Maybe that. Or maybe I can just hope that they’re anti-vaxxers, and that, through their folly, my petty antipathy will finally be redeemed.