TO every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. What’s true in Newton’s laws of motion is also true in popular culture.
We humans plunge headlong into new developments with little thought and then stand there, puzzled, observing the backlash. What fools we mortals be.
Case in point: Modamily, an online networking service for strangers who wish to create and co-parent a child.
I’d suggest that it’s the image-obsessed bridezillas of this world and bitterly feuding estranged mothers and fathers who are driving this latest enterprise. With weddings often a farce, divorce a perpetual threat, and traumatized kids caught between feuding exes, Modamily’s service eliminates the chore of finding your forever love for procreation purposes by replacing him or her with someone you hook up with online. The fact that the one thing the two of you currently have in common is that you both crave a child will supposedly steer you clear of the heartbreak of unsuitable mating. Suuuuuure it will.
I can certainly see why people are down on the institution of marriage, which fails about half the time and often leaves the individuals involved devastated. I imagine some Modamily customers had happily foreseen a married life full of children and now, despite their emotional scars, want to rebuild that dream from scratch.
Modamily attempts to go a step beyond the lonely sperm bank, which allows women who are single to conceive babies and raise them on their own, or with a partner other than the seed producer. Those who don’t want to raise a baby solo might think it’s better to go with the devil you don’t know than the devil you dated, bought a house and dishes with, and are now battling over everything, including the parakeet you despise. It’s not like people you meet on the Internet ever turn out to be dishonest, disrespectful or even disturbed – right, serial online daters?
Ivan Fatovic is the founder and CEO of Modamily. He described himself in one interview as an “aspirational parent” rather than an actual one. He has a team of advisors to tell him what parenting’s really like, however. So I guess there’s no need for us to ask questions like “Who’s in charge of getting vomited on or taking time off work when the product of this non-relationship is sick?” Or “How many homes is this kid going to have to shuttle between throughout his or her life, and how many transitional step-parents will he or she have to endure?” Or “What happens when the values one semi-stranger parent wants to impart to his or her child collide with values the other semi-stranger parent insists are crucial?” Or “Who gets custody when the teen decides he or she can’t stand the stricter parent?”
Don’t worry. “The child’s going to come first in this relationship,” Fatovic – who’s surely trying to make money from this – has assured BBC News.
Am I the only person who’s hearing alarm bells over this airy-fairy arrangement? To me, Modamily mainly sounds like glad tidings for family lawyers. Media commentators have compared the Modamily arrangement with the set-up in the (lousy) movie Friends With Kids. They ignore the fact that in Friends With Kids, the fictional male and female protagonists are best friends living in the same apartment building when they decide that they want to produce and raise a child together without romantic complications.
I can see that arrangement working – in fact, it already seems to for opposite-sex friends where one or both are gay; sometimes they live together and raise their offspring as a team. No harm in that, if everybody’s onside. Close friends generally share values and respect one another’s beliefs. They may have other pals in common, similar interests, and lifestyles that aren’t too far apart. Not so, complete strangers.
The Modamily website – whose slogan is “Bring your dream to life” -- makes for odd reading. You can narrow down your baby-making partner based on his or her eye colour, body type, diet, and religion, among other things. Earlier this week, one 40-something straight single woman’s listing under the disturbing title of KittensandPuppies (she does know that pets and kids are different, right?) said she was “Looking for someone to make me a mommy!” Maybe she found her baby daddy -- her listing has vanished.
She said she sought “50/50 CoParent Sperm/Egg Donation with limited parenting role,” though the concept of “limited” anything when it comes to parenting seems completely absurd. KittensandPuppies, a Virgo, described herself as “a perfectionist (who’s) intolerant of stupidity” so I guess her child can expect ironed sheets, tutors, and psychotherapy if required.
Maybe she wound up inking a deal with the 45-year-old man who listed himself as “dunk” -- sure hope he didn’t leave an “r” out by accident. Dunk’s a Libra who already has “2 or more children,” which sounds vague -- but you know, whatever. He’s a “serious” atheist, though, so KittensandPuppies shouldn’t expect him to show up for the baptism.
I tell you, there’ll be tears. Mind you, I am but one voice in this strange new wilderness.