— Opinion —
The ‘DINK’ Trend: Double Income, No Kids, And A Meaningless Life Of Consumption And Materialism
About a year ago, we first talked about the growing community of people who call themselves “DINKs.”
Now “dink” may sound like some kind of racial slur, but it’s not. Well, I mean it was, technically. Some people used it as a pejorative term for the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. It’s also a term familiar to my fellow bass fishermen, used to describe any game fish below 12 inches in length. But in this case, DINK does not refer to either Asians or small fish. DINK is an acronym that stands for “dual income, no kids.” These are the childless by choice folks. Those who get married, and could have kids, but choose instead to have a barren, sterile relationship focused entirely on their own superficial wants and desires.
The DINKs are getting a lot of attention these days. Especially over the past week. On Monday, Business Insider ran a piece titled: “Meet the typical DINK: They have over $200,000 in the bank and aren’t paying for pricey childcare.” The article tells us:
It seems like everyone wants to be a DINK these days. DINKs — households that are double income with no kids — are seeing their ranks grow, especially as a high cost of living and the climate crisis weigh particularly on people with children. There are variations on the DINK (or the SINK — single income, no kids): You can be a DINKWAD, which means double income, no kids, with a dog. DINKWADS who previously spoke to Business Insider said that the lifestyle gives them financial stability, the capacity to travel, and the ability to dodge the ever-increasing costs of parenthood. And it’s a lifestyle that’s paying off, as DINKs emerge on top of a shaky economy. So who are the DINKs of America? Their ranks are set to grow, they’re making six figures, and they want to spend their money on their pets and traveling.
Yes, dinkwad, if you have a dog. Or I guess dinkwac if you have a cat. Or dinkwap if you own a pony or a pig or a parrot, or if you’re a big Cardi B fan. There are many variations, but they all boil down to the fact that you have decided to not have kids.
And as the article details, this is a rapidly growing group:
Around 5% of the country’s total population was cohabiting couples who do not live with a child under 18, and around 29% of the total population are married couples who do not live with a child under 18, according to 2022 American Community Survey data. Among unmarried couples, that figure is slightly up from 2019.. when 4.4% of the population was cohabiting couples not living with a child under 18. The US Census Bureau also finds that the aging population is increasingly childfree — as of 2018, over one in seven women were childless by the time they were between the ages of 40 and 44. That’s higher than the one in 10 women who were in the same boat as of 1976… A Pew survey found that 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 said they were not likely or not at all likely to have kids someday — up from 37%.
But what is the DINK existence really like?
Well, this week there has also been, for whatever reason, a sudden surge in TikTok videos promoting this lifestyle. Most of them follow the same format, which looks like this:
There are going to be a lot of “DINKs” in the future in their 50s to 80s that are going to be regretting this strategy.
— Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) December 5, 2023
Yes, well I’m a SISK — single income, six kids — and I can do you one better. I make no excuses to leave a party, because I don’t go to parties in the first place. But I guess that has more to do with being ASWK — anti social with kids. Which isn’t much different from being ASWOK — anti social without kids. In any case, you may notice that most of the things they’re bragging about — besides the ability to leave social gatherings when they want to, which I guess they imagine for some reason is something parents aren’t able to do? — but most of the things all revolve around their increased ability to buy stuff.
And this is a theme that runs through basically all of the DINK propaganda. Watch:
Yes, we’re dinks. We can buy things. We can consume. Look at all the consuming we do. We are such dedicated consumers. You dumb parents with your dumb children can’t possibly devote as much of your life to buying and eating, which is literally the only thing we care about in this world.
This is the message, over and over again. Another example:
As you’re probably noticing, these people apparently have a weird preoccupation with Costco. They are making videos providing unsolicited lists of the things that make their lives fulfilling and somehow Costco makes the cut. Continuing:
Okay this Costco thing is really getting out of control. But let’s watch one more video:
Alright, enough with Costco. I like to buy cereal wholesale, too, but I’m not going to make it my whole identity. Let’s get a grip.
So what’s going on here? Let’s take a step back. First of all, are you really trying to take ownership of Costco as childless people? That’s like saying that a benefit of being childless is that you get to go the Rainforest Cafe. I mean these places exist for parents. That’s our domain. And for the record, I buy whatever snacks I want for myself, whenever I want them, whether from Costco or anywhere else. My children do not prevent me from indulging in that way. The only difference is that, if anyone asked me to provide a list of the things I love most about my life, I wouldn’t cite the fact that I can buy snacks for myself. Not because I can’t buy snacks, but because that’s a rather banal detail that I wouldn’t think worth mentioning.
And yet, for DINKs, snacks and Costco play, apparently, a central role in their lives. On their deathbeds, while they’re lying there alone with no one to mourn them or care that they’re dying, or remember them when they’re gone, if the hospice nurse asks them to pass along a final piece of wisdom, they will look up and with their final, dying breath, whisper: “Get a Costco membership. They have great deals on Cheez-Its.”
See, a person’s life has to revolve around something. It has to be dedicated to something. And even by their own testimony it’s clear that when people choose to be childless, their lives inevitably revolve around pure, self-centered, unadulterated, unencumbered, consumption.
Of course it’s true that the same is case for many parents in the modern world. But at least if you ask the average parent — however they may actually live their lives — they will *say* that the thing that gives them purpose and joy is their relationship with their children and their spouses. They will talk about their families as the foundation of their lives. That shows, at the very least, that they are aspiring to something higher and greater than themselves — whether or not they actually live up to their own aspirations.
But the DINKs don’t even aspire to the transcendent. For them, there is no meaning in life except in their ability to sleep, and eat, and buy stuff. It is a deeply nihilistic way to live. This is what makes the rise of the DINKs so catastrophic.
That is, aside from the more immediate and obvious fact that this is a community which, if it reaches critical mass, would actually bring about the end of mankind. Which is a pretty good indication that you are making a bad lifestyle choice. If your lifestyle is one that, if adopted by a majority of humans, would spell the end of the human species, then that is a very powerful sign that there is something seriously wrong with your lifestyle. But aside from that — if it’s possible to put that detail aside — the rise of the childless by choice demographic is the rise of a group that has, in principle, given up on finding any meaning in life beyond the multiplication and satisfaction of desire — to use Dostoevsky’s phrase.
They are so dedicated to this calling, so intent on consumption, that they are willing to end their own blood lines to pursue it.
Just consider, specifically, that overweight male Dink in the video who was especially excited about Costco. His ancestors fought and struggled and persevered and pioneered and bled and suffered all so that he could exist. He stands now at the end of a procession that stretches back into the ancient past. A line of people who made his very existence possible. Who migrated thousands of miles, fought wars, tamed the wilderness, built homes and civilizations, all for him. And he turns back to those people, to his ancestors, and he says “Yeah sorry guys, we’re done. I’m going to end the blood line here. I’d rather have some extra spending cash to buy Doritos.” The sheer hubris is astounding.
Though I realize that this man would be totally mystified by the notion that he has any responsibility at all to his family, his ancestry, his bloodline — much less to the God who created him. He has not thought about any of this. He has thought only about his own immediate happiness. But in pursuing happiness above all — happiness through luxury, through consumption — he will miss it. Because happiness comes from fulfillment, and fulfillment comes from doing that which you are made to do. It comes from finding your place in that ancient ancestral struggle. From taking part in it. Building the next generation, so that the fight can go on. It comes from fulfilling your purpose in life —from pursuing the transcendent, rather than the transactional.
So the DINKs will grow in number, but they will also grow in misery. They will live superficial lives, and die anonymous deaths. And, if they have their way, they’ll take civilization down with them. But at least they’ll get to spend more time at Costco.