I’ve been writing at Babble for nearly a year now. Initially I was writing 20-22 posts a month, but since Eli’s birth, I write when I have time and it’s working magnificently for all of us. I really like writing there for the most part. I like being able to write about parenting issues without bombarding all of you here. I like discussing research and news stories that don’t fit in with my normal blogging “voice.” And I love spamming people with pictures of my kid. He’s really cute. Sorry I’m not sorry.
In the interest of honesty, I absolutely wish page views were easier to come by (I don’t love writing slideshows either) but my biggest issue is the comments. Babble is a considerably larger site than this and so it brings in a lot more people who don’t know me and who don’t care about me. To them I am an anonymous writer, a blank slate ripe for assumptions.
The vast majority of the comments are polite, kind, supportive, the kind of thing I’d expect here. But the other comments, they are just something else. No expense is spared, no curse word left unused. No shaming left unshamed.
This is a comment I received on this post earlier this week:
I really think you’re clueless……You let your baby starve for 24 hours?? would YOU go 24 hours without eating?? People like you need to be sterilized. Your husband wanted to go home?? and then you complain about it? How about being happy you have a healthy baby?? 5 years from now is it really gonna matter if he was away from you for 1.5 hrs?? Oh God, I could go on and on, but you’re not worth it….Why go to the hospital at all? Stay home and deal with it yourself dumb bitch.
(Note: I’m not asking for you to defend me because that comment is so entirely absurd that it does not need a reply.)
I have no problem with people who comment and disagree with me. I have no problem with being told I’m wrong. Hell, I’ve worked really hard to come to terms and not be offended with the fact that there are plenty of people who don’t like me. That’s real life. I certainly don’t like everyone, so to expect them to all love me is absurd and narcissistic.
But I find it mystifying how the internet has enabled people to say things that they would never say to someone’s face. That women would never come up to me in the hospital and say I should be sterilized. She would never call me a dumb bitch because as uncouth as she is, she’s an adult and I assume she functions as one. But being able to give a fake email address and likely a fake name, has given her the courage to say whatever she wants, without consequence.
I don’t expect that woman to read this post. I don’t expect anything to change with me writing this. But I’m noticing something changing in me. That comment didn’t hurt my feelings. I didn’t for one moment think that I was a dumb bitch or that I should be sterilized or even feel like I shouldn’t have written that post. For the first time, I was able to see that her comment was a reflection of her issues, not of mine.
And I think that’s the key. I can’t tell people what to write. I can delete the comments, but it’s not going to make them stop because Marcy isn’t the only person who wants to tell me that I’m a dumb bitch. I need to take a little time to ingest the criticism, see if it holds water, and if it doesn’t, I need to let it go. I am not so naive as to think that all criticism should be dismissed, I have a lot left to learn about writing and about myself, but comments like that above do not serve that purpose.
Though I hope that people will stop allowing anonymity to let them be unkind on the internet, I am more hopeful that I can learn to let go of those comments. That I can value and remember the support and even criticism that stings to receive, but is totally worth receiving. And in that way, the issue here is me, not Marcy. I can’t stop the Marcys of the world from calling me names, but I can change the way I respond to them.
It’s a lesson I wish I had learned when I was an 8 year old being called names in a school yard, but I think it’s a lesson learned better late than never.