It’s real. It’s here. It happens every day & it needs to stop.
Social media has so much to offer. A HUGE community. A platform to express your thoughts and creativity, & a place to connect with like-minded people that you wouldn’t have known otherwise. I’m eternally grateful to have found a handful of women who have helped me through some of my toughest days. They provide advice, or just an ear to listen and sometimes that’s all you need to get you through a particular trying day. But there is a very dark side to social media. It’s become a platform for judgement, competition/comparison and straight criticism. It’s easy to get lost into someone’s perfect feed and think “wow… I wish I had it together like she does” and that’s normal. It’s human nature. But it’s a completely different thing to lash out on a stranger with unfounded hatred and negativity.
Some of the messages I receive would horrify you. There are some that will never see the light of day because they were deleted and blocked the moment I started reading them and realized which direction the message was going in. Some start out seemingly nice “I’ve followed you for a while and I love how you are with your boys but…” and after that “but” it’s like a different person took over the message. I really don’t understand what compels one to write such negative messages to someone they don’t even know. Someone they’ve never met.
As to stay away from controversy, I keep my content relatively neutral. I don’t talk politics, religion or take hard stances on sensitive topics. To me, those issues do not belong on my page. My page is to share my daily motherhood journey. To share my family and to make light of my not-so-easy days side by side with the beautiful days that I wish would never end. I’m not a negative person, but I occasionally do post stories regarding the negativity I receive because sometimes it piles up and up until I start bursting at the seams with doubt. Am I a bad mom for not feeding my boys ONLY organic food EVERY day? No. Am I bad mom for letting my boys watch TV here and there? No. Am I a bad mom for giving Kai a time out after he throws an exorcist style temper tantrum? No. But do I get judged for all of the above? You bet’cha. As do so many other moms. Almost on a daily basis. And the worst response to this? Is that I “can’t complain about being judged because I put my life out there”. I despise that response. I understand that by making my life public, I am opening myself up to judgement, but that does not make it right or a decent thing to do. That shouldn’t make it a “given” to receive horrendously negative and criticizing messages filled with hate over something as simple & loving as giving one of my boys a kiss.
It’s 2017 & the 2004 movie “Mean Girls”, has now translated into today’s “Mean Moms”. Reading some of the messages I receive, along with comments on fellow mom’s pages makes me feel like I’m back in high school. I’ve been unfollowed by moms for not taking part of their “Follow Friday” posts, I’ve been deliberately excluded from some “members only” chats made up by a group of cliquey moms and I’ve been criticized over every aspect of motherhood and how I’m raising my boys. The pure judgement is unreal and it can be direct, or passive aggressive. I recently read a very interesting article in Marie Claire on “bully moms”. It talks about how life can imitate art through pop culture and made the comparison of our parents growing up on sitcoms with more family values like The Brady Bunch and Happy Days compared to how we are now flooded with girls who watched The Simple Life as teens and The Real Housewives as adults.
“The fact that Mean Girls came out in 2004, when today’s young moms were in high school or college, is not a coincidence. Art, too, imitates life. Tina Fey was inspired to write the script after reading the 2002 non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, in which the writer observed “the tiny ways that girls go after each other.” Bullying research during this time found that girls can be aggressive—not in the obvious, physical way boys can be, but in subtler, more indirect ways. Countless articles and news segments at the start of the 21st century focused on the new phenomenon of female bullies, dissecting the idea that girls are socially competitive creatures striving to be popular and powerful—and victimizing others in the process. Much like Regina George, the former popular girl is now sitting next to you in the pediatrician’s office.” – (“The Rise of The Mean Moms” http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a26300/bully-moms/)
I also really loved the bit in the article that covered how much celebrity moms like Chrissy Teigen, who I ADORE, gets criticized again, and again for the silliest reasons. I remember when she went out to dinner with her husband two weeks after giving birth and SO many people lost their MINDS because she left her baby at home her with mother for a few hours. Are you kidding me? I would have KILLED to get out of the house with my husband for a few hours during the incredibly demanding (and sleepless) newborn phase. Are mothers supposed to resign from life the minute they have their baby? By spending a few hours of alone time with your husband to unwind & breathe, does that make you a horrible unloving mother? I couldn’t believe the strong reactions I saw to the photos of her out with John Legend following the birth of their baby girl.
“Even celebrities, as perfect as their lives may seem, aren’t sheltered from mean moms. Chrissy Teigen’s refreshingly honest social media presence is a repeated target for mom-shaming, resulting in everything from criticism for a date night not long after her baby was born to reproach of rosy eczema on her daughter’s cheeks. Hilary Duff was chastised for kissing her son on the lips at Disneyland (he’s four years old). Kristin Cavallari was told that her children looked too thin after she posted a photo of them in swim trunks. All three women used their status and social platform to fight back. Teigen came to Cavallari’s defense: “I will never know why parents criticize others so harshly, knowing they’d go insane if they were on the receiving end ALLTHETIME,” she tweeted. “NO parent out there thinks they’re perfect. I loathe these sh**head commenters. Who would want to make someone feel horrible for fun? Apparently, a lot of people. (Duff’s post, for one, received more than 8,000 comments.) Because the hate, while often masked as looking out for the child’s well-being, isn’t even necessarily about motherhood—it’s about interpersonal habits. “Yes, at times the behaviors are a result of women trying to compensate for low self-esteem,” says Quinlan. “But sometimes mean moms are mean to other people in general. Family members, co-workers, waiters, cashiers—it’s just the way they go through life.”” – (“The Rise of The Mean Moms” http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a26300/bully-moms/)
The line from Chrissy Teigen really stood out to me “Who would want to make someone feel horrible for fun”.
If you’ve received a negative comment or message on Social Media. You’re not alone. If you’ve given in and wrote back defending yourself. You’re not alone. But if you ignore it, you crush the negativity before it can affect you. You dismiss it and by that you take away its potential power. Easier said than done when words can have such a hurtful immediate impact, right?
Social Media should bring us together, not tear us apart and I intend on letting all of its positives outweigh its inevitable negative counterpart. You can’t have good without bad, light without dark, but you can choose to focus on the good and realize that the bad usually comes from someone who wants to live in the dark. < That sounded like I was desperately trying to be completely epic with that last line, but I promise you – I wasn’t haha! I’m just all hopped up on my 2nd cup of coffee and so excited to be talking about something that’s been on my mind for SO LONG that I rarely see discussed.
I hope that anyone reading and going through similar situations can take something away or just know that they are not alone. And if you need someone to talk to – I’ve been there! I’m one of you and I’m here for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!