Social media used to be my refuge. If the world as I knew it was tough, at least I could depend on there being people out there having a better time than me, and they’d obligingly posted the glorious selfies to prove it. I could tune in and enjoy their witty one-liners, acerbic putdowns, or, more likely, ill-informed diatribes (much like this one). This was my reality TV.
But as I reach my mid-thirties, it’s become less about hedonism, holidays and hangovers and more about newborns – the spawn of that romance, the circle of life played out in front of me.
My Facebook news updates have regressed to childhood, my Instagram is clogged with toddlers and my Twitter feed awash with infantile prattle about, well, infants. Britain as I see it is suddenly full of babies, and now even the news itself is conspiring against me.
This week, that moment in the office when a colleague brings their offspring into work and the place grinds to a halt was played out on a national scale. The royal baby: will it be a boy or a girl? And what will they call him? Or, more pertinently: who cares?
Whether they're called Joffery (as Twitter hoped), India (apparently acceptable) or George (personally I was holding out for Prince Michael, as in HRH Prince Prince Michael) is irrelevent. One way or another, the kids will get your smartphone, either by physically smearing it with bogeys or infesting it with their photos and updates.
Admittedly, it's the proud parents, not the kids themselves, who are to blame. The same parents who will later tell their kids not to talk to strangers, drive them to the school gate in their child-friendly SUV and worry about them being groomed by paedos on the internet. But for now, they’re happy to set a creature that won’t even learn how to tie its own shoelaces for another four years up with a Gmail account.
Among friends, parents used to be easy enough to brush off – they left after one drink, anyway – but now they swell in number, and social occasions are tipping in their favour. Binges become brunches. You will be made to feel inferior because you don’t have kids yet, like there is some deep, pervading truth that eludes you. Ignore this: they’re just jealous because the only vomit on your clothes is your own and every night, should you wish to, you get eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep.
On a personal level, all of this only makes the biological clock – not mine – tick louder. The world is overpopulated as it is – a commute on the Tube can tell you that much. And, it should be noted, who needs children when you have box sets? Or am I missing the point?