I was a part of the Reddit’s childfree subreddit for four years. The subreddit has a (well-deserved) bad reputation. Of course, every group has its share of awful people. The problem is the awful ones are the loudest. It reached the point the subreddit was the focus of an article on Daily Dot.
For the most part, I tried to ignore the more toxic posts because overall, I did enjoy the subreddit, but I finally found the one that made me say “I quit”. For the sake of not bringing it more traffic, I will not share the link, but I did screenshot it.
You could say this is just one person, and that’s true. But much of the subreddit was hugely in agreement, and anyone who objected was downvoted to the point their comment was hidden or deleted. The subreddit hates “breeder pleasers” – childfree people who do not hate children, or like them – almost as much as they hate the existence of parents and children. The idea is a childfree person who likes kids or doesn’t hate them is justifying their lack of desire to be a parent. Or, you know, simply likes kids and is okay with saying that.
Aside from the obvious, the biggest problem with the sub is many of them proclaim they hate to be judged, but do the exact same thing about parents and children, and will defend it with the excuse of needing to vent. Putting aside the utter absurdity of being irritated at someone’s mere existence (especially when they are not bothering you), this person is proud they sound like a borderline sociopath (“I’m selfish. I’m unsympathetic. I am that monster”), and the majority of the subreddit agrees this is okay.
Hilariously (not the good funny), this person insisted they shouldn’t be judged based on this one post, and hating parents and children isn’t the center of their being. A child’s mere existence is bothersome to you, but hatred doesn’t rule your life. Right…
It’s not so much the post as the nearly united agreement in the comments that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Even if I continue to consider myself childfree (yes, I’m debating that), I have no desire to be part of any community that’s ultimately a hive mind. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be angry at the world because someone under age eighteen dares to exist in your space. No, I don’t think it’s okay to be a narcissist, let alone proud of it. And no, I absolutely don’t think hating parents and kids is prerequisite for considering yourself childfree. If my account wasn’t four years old, I’d delete it and make a new one just to have any and all posts from r/childfree out of my history. I genuinely want nothing to do with the subreddit anymore.
I have no children, nor do I intend to have any, but this person, and every person in the comments who thinks it’s a “brave” post for its honesty, is someone I hope I never cross paths with.
One of the several agreeing comments: “I just can’t fathom enjoying being around the disgusting things.”
The reason this ticked me off a bit is children are not things. Perhaps if they stepped outside their circlejerk, the idea children could be pleasant company to some people wouldn’t be so unfathomable.
Another: “The Victorians had the right idea. Children should be seen but not heard and speak only when spoken to.”
I’ve ranted about that phrase twice before, so it should be obvious why this particular one bugs me. No, children are people who deserve respect and kindness as much as any adult, and if this is what the adults have to say, I’d much rather hear the kids talk if I have to listen to anyone. At least, they’re cute.
While there are extremists who believe not having kids is a sin or evil or any number of negative adjectives, r/childfree’s reputation isn’t because it’s a spot for people who don’t have kids. It earned that reputation by turning from a support community for those who dealt with real pressure (from family, friends, or conservative communities they lived in) into an echo chamber for confirmations their irritation that a child is alive on the planet is okay and normal. And apparently, they’re proud of it, so even they can’t argue any longer the sub’s reputation is undeserved. They want it like that.
Reddit as a whole isn’t known for being a friendly place, but that’s par for the course for social media in general. The childfree subreddit, however, is undoubtedly one of the worse areas. At the time I’m writing this, it has 663,625 followers, so one person leaving has zero impact, but I don’t want to have an impact.
Reading some replies to deleted comments I missed, it seems some of them felt the need to insist none of them want to hurt children and none of them would. I really want to believe that, but some years ago, there was a case of a father who murdered his young child and police discovered that subreddit in his browsing history. Someone who’s bitter and vindictive toward parents for no other reason than them being parents, and hates children “with literally every molecule in [my] body” (but supposedly, this hatred isn’t the center of their life), sounds very much like someone who, at the very least, would relish in hearing about child’s death, if not out to be the one who causes a child harm.
There is a subreddit called “true childfree“, which is not as active, but not toxic either (and unsurprisingly, it’s not liked by r/childfree). In the Daily Dot article, one of the mods stated you can filter out the hateful posts (which is true), but that doesn’t really change that the subreddit is a toxic pool. It merely hides the poison.
The upside is, assuming most of the subreddit’s followers are American, that’s about 0.2% of the population. Chances are I never will cross paths with these folks. Good.