Living our own Lives is Living Large

The other day, Debra Jordon made a comment on the Reducing Stress post on Living Large. Debra lives in a 320-square foot cabin with her husband and son (and I’m assuming at least one cat, since it is in the video).

Debra shot a video of her home for Fair Companies and the video went viral on YouTube, generating over 1.1 million hits at last count.

When Debra posted on Living Large, she was concerned about the plethora of negative comments at YouTube.

I had written about this type of reaction from people early on Living Large.  I think what Debra and her family are experiencing is a combination of the phenomena of people feeling the need to judge other’s lifestyle and cyber bullying.

I wrote in that  previous post that Dale and I have never had what is considered the “norm,” no 2.5 kids,” in other words (we do have 2 exchange daughters who lived with us for a year each and we all consider ourselves family).

When we decided not to have biological children for a variety of good reasons in our minds, we were accosted from all directions, friends and family alike felt the need to let us know what they thought of our decision.

Back in the 1980s, when we made this decision, there were even Jerry Springer-type talk shows devoted to the subject with the child bearing going after the Childless by Choice.

The feeling I got from most people was that they felt our decision not to have children was somehow a judgment on their own lives, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I think people who live in small houses face the same attitude sometimes, especially when we talk about the smaller environmental impact living smaller has.

We made our choice, as did Debra and her family, for her family, not to make a statement about anyone else’s choices.

Combine making an “alternative lifestyle” choice with the Internet and you have a situation ripe for cyber bullying.

I understand Debra’s concerns, particularly for her teen son and family, so if you have a minute, hop over to the video, check it out and make a comment that yes, it is indeed possible for some people to live small and find that they are really Living Large!

Have you ever been the victim of judgment because of your life’s choices or of cyber bullying from a blog post or video you posted?

You may also like...

49 Responses

  1. Interesting–I thought the trend right now was toward smaller houses anyway. I guess it’s just too easy to write something anonymously or not and just click send.

    • Kerri says:

      There is a trend toward smaller, but I guess 320 square feet is considered “too small” by some of the judgment crowd.

  2. Heather says:

    This is the reason I no longer have Facebook. Too many people beind judgemental. If you don’t have something nice to say, then be quiet. : )

    I am a minimalist and proud of it. We live small, we have no debt and we are working on becoming missionairies. Believe me, I got raked over the coals for that one. I wasn’t preaching to anyone, but a lot of people took it that way. I would be commenting about MY life and people would get angry.

    Cyber bullying scares me because it is what we are teaching our kids. There is no filter and besides having an account you can’t do anything about it. There are no filters for people anymore.I always say only post what you would truly say to someone’s face and not be a coward behind an account. : )

    God Bless you and your family Debra. <3

  3. We homeschool our kids. Always have. It’s what works best for our family and provides the type of education that fits our kids. And, oh, the people who have issues with that. Early on – when I really needed support for doing something so alternative – it was hard to take the criticism. Now? Say what you will. We’re doing what works for us; if you don’t like it, that’s your problem! After 15 years of unsolicited “advice” I just can’t be bothered to get upset anymore.

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    Oh wow. I was an editor at AOL’s TV Squad for a few years, and nasty comments were the norm there. I never could figure it out. I guess some people have nothing better to do than make someone they’ve never met miserable.

    People should feel free to do whatever they want and live however they want, as long as it’s not harming anyone else.

    And personally, I love the idea of living in a small space. I live in an area with a lot of behemoth mansions, and I just don’t understand it. A frequent conversation among my family and friends: Whatever do they DO with all that space? It must be hard to clean! (yeah, they likely have cleaning people.) It must be terrible to heat!

    I’d love to drive by some day in the fall and see a mansioneer out stapling visqueen on the windows.

    • Kerri says:

      In the 1980s and 90s when it seems this mansions became all of the rage, we used to wonder what people did to afford them. We would drive through these neighborhoods and suddenly realized that many didn’t even have window treatments. They had such big homes with such huge mortgages, they couldn’t even afford curtains!

  5. Merr says:

    I love that they are living where and how they want to live. I wonder how many people can claim that!

  6. Sheryl says:

    I just don’t get it. Why do people have to comment on other people’s choices? Especially when those are choices that don’t affect anyone but the people making them. The internet has just made it easier for bullies to hide behind their ridiculous anger and ridicule.

  7. I love this video, they seem so content and the house seems so personally well suited to what they value. But when I try to comment it won’t let me, although I’d like to show my support. I’ll try again!

  8. Good grief. I can’t believe people don’t have enough to do in their own lives — that they would find time to pass judgment on other people living the best they can. I think the Internet has made us aware of all the anger that was already out there.

    • Kerri says:

      I think that is the question similar to what came first, the chicken or the egg. I’m wondering if it was always there or did it breed it?

  9. Julie says:

    It’s sad that people feel the need to criticize the way someone else chooses to live. My husband and I are also childless by choice, it’s amazing what people will say when they find out the you “decided” not to have children.

    I think their home is amazing and obviously full of love . .good for them!

    We can only hope that the more people decide to move in their own directions, the less people will feel the need to judge and criticize.

    • Kerri says:

      I know, right, they first feel uncomfortable and look all sympathetic until they realize it was a choice. I think it’s funny to watch how their expression sometimes changes to disgust. 😉
      Yes, I bet Debra and her husband give more attention to their son than a lot of parents living these “normal” lives.

  10. I really admire Debra and her family. I think other people feel threatened and want to judge instead of owning the fact that THEY are the problem, not the people like you and Debra who are LIVING THEIR VALUES and making conscientious choices.

    I’ve been cyberbullied a lot. I was recently called A TOTAL ASSHOLE on a blog purportedly about science: http://tinyurl.com/5u89snq

    There is too much lack of civility on the Internet. It makes me more sad than angry, to be honest. People are so full of hate and the Internet seems to bring that out. I think it’s better to support each other, learn from each other, and strive to be better, happier, and more compassionate.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s just terrible, Jennifer. The attributes you describe, I thought, was part of being an adult. Clearly, some people didn’t get that memo.

  11. Wow. That’s really sad people lash out like that. Thankfully, we haven’t seen too much of it in our niche, but I’m sure it happens to everyone at a certain point. People can be so mean, so judgmental.

  12. Alexandra says:

    Funny! I wrote about this very topic yesterday on my blog. I have never been bullied on cyber-space though. That must be dismal. Will have to toughen my skin.

    • Kerri says:

      I think the best we can do is ignore the outright bullying. But if it is a negative comment that pertains to our business, we can counteract the effect of that by crafting responses. Good luck, Alexandra!

  13. Sue Moak says:

    I thought the house was beautiful and peaceful. There are some unkind people out there, unfortunately. And many of them can’t spell by the way. I hesitate to call them uneducated because you can be uneducated and still have manners and be a nice person.
    I live in a 464 sq ft home and love it and the lifestyle of it.
    I am enjoying all the blogs and articles about the small house movement and thank you Debra and Kerri for sharing yours!

  14. Heather L. says:

    It’s a lifestyle choice and I’m sure some people in the bigger houses take out their wrath because they are a little jealous. It is common knowledge that those in larger homes tend to only live in two or three of those rooms and don’t even need the rest of the house. A “not-so-big” house just makes so much more sense.

  15. Julia says:

    Ugh, tell me about it. I get the same thing from both angles spoken about in the article.
    I was a HSBY (Happily single by choice) for a decade (in my 20s no less, a real no-no!) which rubbed the wrong way for so many. Now I am in a committed childfree relationship, and I still get harassed. Top it off with an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and I am a monster. I don’t tell other people how to live their lives, but boy oh boy! mainstream society sure thinks they have a right to interfere with mine!

    • Julia says:

      HSBC* Sorry. My fault for not proof reading.
      The internet, although a wonderful place to find other like minded and minority communities, can be a nasty place to navigate. By simple posting a personal experience, you open yourself up to ridicule and contempt. I don’t post on a mother’s post something nasty because of her choice to have children. And I don’t say “Well it serves you right to be broke because you have to heat that stupid large house you bought”. Those people are protected by shear numbers though.

      • Kerri says:

        Congratulations on living your life your way, Julia! From what I’ve seen on those Mommy blogs, some of them can be pretty nasty to each other as well. When they aren’t attacking the CBCs, they’re going after each other on parenting style!

  16. Joan says:

    I saw this video on “Tiny house” when it first came out, and thought it was amazing!

    I worked for the census during the 2010 count, and I can honestly say most of the folks I interviewed lived in houses with less than 1000 sq. ft. The “larger” homes were empty. I worked all over my district, and saw this more as the “norm” than the exception.

    A 320 sq. ft. house may be extreme for a lot of folks. But making the most of what you have is what this country used to be about. As a matter of fact, it’s the “living beyond our means” that partially got us in this economic mess to begin with.

    I was living in a 420 sq.ft house 25 years ago. I said to myself “If I’m ever able to do this with my own property, I will”. I’m doing it right now.

    People used to buy huge homes, then when the kids are gone, etc. want to “downsize”. Think about all the money they could save if they just skipped the downsizing, and get right to it?

    I thought this was a wonderful video, from a family that took their lives into their own hands. They control their possessions, not the other way around.

    If doing this isn’t “normal”, then it should be!!

    • Kerri says:

      I agree with you, Joan. Until I was 15, we lived in a small bungalow well under 1,000 sq. ft. and at one time, there were as many as 2 adults, 3 teens, my elderly grandmother and her hospital bed and me when I was a baby. It was the norm then, at least in the world where I grew up. You know, people complain when folks fall on hard times and they ask for public assistance and it seems, they have as many complaints when folks take their lives into their own hands and manage to not only manage their lives, but are happy doing it. And you’re right, it is the borrowing and credit that helped get the U.S. into this mess to begin with.

  17. V Schoenwald says:

    Since starting my blog last year, I have run into a considerable amount of cyber-bullying and just general hatred over lifestyles period. I guess I had my eyes opened to this fact, as I don’t get out much and don’t travel well anyway. I didn’t think that my little blog that I started would start WWIII. All I talk about is how I survive in a very trashy, drug filled trailer park, with all the trashy people, and on top of it, I am very low income, and have to grow most of my own food, and make do with what I can. Its my choice as I really have no choice, its what was handed to me and I have to deal with it. I get no outside help.

    It seems since the economy has tanked, and the world has taken on a new face with everything that is going on, people now are lashing out, it doesn’t matter if its over living a simple lifestyle, vegetarian, no children, off grid,little homes or alternative homes, it fair game for ridicule, and attacks. I personally do not understand why people are violent, especially over things they do not want to understand or even learn about to make things a little clearer.
    I also have a double whammy, my husband and I did not want kids either as I was not mom material, I did not have patience and really was never raised around other kids when I was small, as it was during Polio season, so it was not allowed. I also at one time was vegetarian, and between no kids and vegetarian, that really started a war with other people. Personally I feel that others need to stay out of other’s lives, period. I do not understand why you have to live like you came out of a mold, and everyone does the same thing. There is no tolerance, no understanding of others.

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, V, good to “hear” from you. Sorry you’ve been through this. I think Mat nailed it when he said it is people projecting their own insecurities onto others. People in general, just seem unhappy and unsettled. They in turn, project that onto others. I think the happier a person, the less likely you are to be one who does this. As well, the combination of the Internet and the overall nasty discourse allowed in society now, no matter if we’re talking politics, religion or whatever, adds fuel to that fire.

    • LauraAnn says:

      (HUGS), V… Your blog sounds inspiring, if anything. What you described is exactly the reason why I (personally) debate building our small home on my in laws family acreage. Each person is divided up into 10 acres. It’s there for us free and clear.. but my Vegan lifestyle and views (politically, ethically, whatever the case) are not shared. And that would not even be the issue, if my in laws all made an attempt to respect and appreciate another way of thinking (other than their own). For that reason, my husband and I are now looking into the option of buying a small(er) home (900? sqft) just outside the metro area and reserving the large acreage for a micro home as a weekender.. (and we may plant quite a lot fruit trees, etc..) I just do not think I can live around that ‘dark cloud’ mentality 24/7 and continue to bloom. I want to build freely without having relatives in our ears telling us how it should be bigger or unprompted making fun of my dinnerplate at the dinner table, while they exaggerate getting a second slab of beef (while I just try to eat overboiled vegetables quietly and get through it). Not right.

  18. mat says:

    People need to project their own insecurities onto others, plain and simple. Deviation from the norm is their opportunity to strike–since it’s acceptable to lash out at something that’s different from you. Childless couples? That’s weird. Vegans? They’re creepy. People with a different sexual preference? Must be freaks. Lepers? Pissed God off. No one can ever say, “If it works for them, I guess that’s good enough”.

    It’s always gotta be something….

  19. When my daughters decided to become vegetarian, and I as their mother allowed it, you would have thought I’d given them permission to shoot up heroin in front of me. I got it from all sides, grandparents, aunts, uncles, you name it.

    Everybody I knew was suddenly an expert in child nutrition and they didn’t hesitate to let me know how dangerous it was to feed a meatless diet to children. The girls were ten years old and thirteen at the time. Never mind that their own doctor not only said they could have a perfectly healthy diet without meat, but that they would probably actually be much healthier, as long as we were careful to substitute high protein alternatives for the meat they would no longer be eating.

    I believe as you do, Kerri, that people were threatened by the idea that maybe their own diet wasn’t so healthy, or that they were contributing to a cruel and inhumane industry by buying meat. The decision of my daughters to eliminate meat from their diet, was somehow perceived by others as a criticism or attack on their own lifestyle, even though it was strictly a personal choice to become vegetarian.

    Both girls (now adults and perfectly healthy) will tell you that the hardest part of being vegetarian is not the diet, but constantly having to defend their decision to people who insist that they can’t possibly be truly healthy without meat.

    My youngest daughter went a step further and is now vegan, and she said the constant criticism is even worse. It’s interesting to me, that people feel free to assault the dietary choice of my daughters, but would be highly offended if someone pointed out that the person criticizing were overweight and couldn’t possibly be healthy, or should they really have that third glass of wine- not very healthy is it?

    You would be amazed at how many of the people in my own family were critical of my daughters’ diet, even though they themselves were seriously overweight, in fact would even be considered obese. I really do not understand those who feel they have the right to judge others, simply because somebody has a different diet or made a lifestyle choice outside the norm.

    • Kerri says:

      Well, I’ve told you before, Kathy, that your daughters must have been wise beyond their years. 🙂

    • LauraAnn says:

      I can relate to this, Kathy. I’m Vegan.. and my in laws look at me like I have three heads. Certain they think I’m a freak between my lifestyle/dietary habits coupled with the desire to live in a small home.. they probably gather around the table trying to figure out how to help my husband and children ‘escape’. So obnoxiously funny. You really just have to adapt a sense of humor towards people with no perspective in life. (walking with blinders on).

      • I completely understand, Laura Ann, especially the in-law thing. I think you’re correct, the best thing to do is have a sense of humor and laugh it off. Most of the people on both sides of the family who criticized our diet, suffer from high blood pressure and other diet related illnesses, including diabetes. Of course, I’m sorry that they have those conditions, but it does make their criticism that much more laughable.

  20. LauraAnn says:

    🙁 I’m so sorry to read this. Had just posted to her on the Boese family thread over at Tiny House Blog.. What a nice family. I know the Boese family (that lives near me here in Jax) also had a lot of negative comments on their Florida Times Union article. I’ve not had a cyber bullying issue.. but there’s been forums that I’ve been on where people have (hid behind the screen) and have been very judgemental regarding my lifestyle choices.

    • Kerri says:

      We didn’t experience this with the Mother Earth News article, but maybe it was the venue and audience? However, I’ve seen it happen in other mainstream articles on the Internet. Thanks for the comment, LauraAnn, I’m sure Debra and her family will appreciate the support.

      • LauraAnn says:

        I’m sure venue of media makes a difference.. The mainstream aspect of an article, obviously there’s a diversity in reader/viewership. And, there’s always going to be people trolling to post rude messages on the most obscure. I saw some of the ones on Kristin’s (FairCompanies) video.. sure that half of them are teenagers, the other half very ignorant/vulgar. No sense in it at all.

        • Kerri says:

          I think you might be surprised that many of these people are actually adults. It doesn’t make any sense.

        • Debra Jordan says:

          Hi Kerri,

          I am late weighing in as I was out of town yesterday, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this! Interestingly, I actually messaged some of these people who commented on my blog, and many had their ages posted on their YouTube profiles. Some of the most opinionated WERE adults, and had left MULTIPLE negative comments. Obviously they felt threatened in some way. I understand the content may have been a little too close for comfort, but as adults it is up to us to set the tone for others. I don’t think we can change them, but it cannot help to try!

          I so appreciate your blog, and all your open minded readers! here is to Living Large!

          Don’t you feel like you have a secret that no one else knows? 🙂

          • Kerri says:

            Well, I felt I HAD a secret, but I think I’ve let the cat out of the bag! 😉 Yes, you would think that adults would be a little more considerate, but I think again, it is threatening to them somehow and as far as cyber bullying goes, I think people like the fact they can hide behind comments and think no one knows who they are.
            Hope to “see” you around our community more often, Debra. You have a lot to contribute to the conversation!