Most of you will know that I am new to the blogging world and thus far I have been very lucky to receive nothing but pleasant and encouraging comments. In fact I am so naive that I hadn’t even heard of trolling. Of course I knew there were some lonely nasty people in the world who like nothing more than to belittle or denigrate other people’s feelings. I didn’t expect to find them taking the time to comment on other peoples blog posts. One thing I have learnt in the last few weeks is that it takes enormous courage to write about yourself and your family. To share opinions and circumstances that might not be to everyone’s’ taste. I never feel concerned sharing a funny post, but those where I lay my heart open leave me at risk of being hurt by these awful people.
I was first alerted to ‘trolling’ by a fellow Mummy who congratulated me on my review of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep. She asked if I had received any negative comments. I was surprised until I read her perfectly innocuous review and the follow-up comments. One lady was belligerent, she just kept coming back, throwing comment after comment at this poor blogger. Telling her she was endangering her child and that she was basically a terrible mother! WTF I thought. How can this awful woman be so vehement over something that in all honesty has nothing to do with her? Would she be this rude to this Mum’s face if she met her? I doubt it very much. But the internet and social media has provided a platform for this type of abuse. Whilst I love social media and blogging, I can’t stand the fact that people can hide behind their computer and spit bile at people with no recourse for their actions. When did it become acceptable to speak to people with such disrespect and anger?
I then found myself climbing on my moral pedestal again a few days later. A lovely blogger linked up to #PuddingLove with a post describing how someone she had considered a friend begun to abuse her over the internet. This lovely mum had merely commented her opinion of immunisations and that sparked a huge backlash from the non-vaccinator corner. Calling her an awful mum, saying she had caused her sons autism and generally horrible remarks. One even stated she should ‘get off the planet’. I could feel myself start to rage for this Mum. How dare anyone say such terrible things. As mothers we carry round enough guilt as it is without being cyber-judged by other people. Are people so passionate about the things that they believe in that they have forgotten how to treat other people? What happened to a moderate society and free speech? Everyone is living in fear of terrorists and fundamentalists, yet I can see everyday people so wrapped up in their own beliefs that they can’t see another’s point of view. They just plain forget how to be kind to each other. The point of free speech is that everyone has the right to talk and be heard without being squashed and silenced by others.
My last case in point was when a fellow blogger explained that she was upset that one of her followers was complaining about how many times she shared her blog links on twitter. OK not a big deal, quick apology and an explanation should suffice yes? No, this other twitter user had to make a big deal out of it. Making this blogger feel like they were grabby and attention seeking when in all honesty they were just doing what we all do and that is advertising their latest post. In most twitter feeds a tweet only has a short life span because everyone has loads of followers. Don’t we all get annoyed about things? But is it society these days that we just have to say we are annoyed? Can’t we just turn a blind eye? Learn to accept the things that cannot be changed or in all honesty don’t matter? Why have we become a society where we feel its acceptable to be rude and unappreciative of another persons hard work. I can’t imagine my parents or grandparents behaving like this. Not just because they didn’t have the technology but because they knew that it is fundamentally wrong to be mean to someone just for the sake of being mean.
We have to teach our children about living in a world that is over run with social media and communication apps. A world where everything can be shared in seconds and that once it is out there it is there forever. Just because you can’t see that persons face or you don’t know them in the flesh doesn’t give you the right to be unkind or unfair. If you don’t like what someones written, you don’t have to be compelled to comment or join in the debate in a malicious way. I am not saying don’t have an opinion, but going back to that early teaching from your own mother. ‘If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all’. Criticism can be helpful, lively debate is fun, but meanness for the sake of it is unnecessary and just makes you a coward. If you wouldn’t say it to someones face then don’t write it down. Just because it’s in text form it doesn’t make it ok.