Ugly in the Blogosphere

Computer bullyAt the beginning of the year I was really hoping that this would be the time when we would start to support one another, but the Blogosphere has gotten ugly lately.  You have got to have some really thick skin to be a part of this space.  People are ripping each other apart, judging each other’s choices, criticizing their opinions. 

We don’t all have to agree on everything; nor should we agree on everything.  What a boring world it would be if we did.  Yet what is going on lately amongst the women in this space in this feels like a giant leap backwards.  If it continues, I fear that we are going to be our own demise.

Here’s the thing.  We have a right to make the decisions we believe are best for ourselves and our family.  You have that right. I have that right. The person with big computer muscles has that right too.

Here’s the other thing.  We absolutely have a right to disagree with one another’s decisions.  You have that right.  I have that right.  And yes, the person with the big computer muscles has that right too. 

For example, it is my opinion that influence does not equal entitlement.  You have every right to disagree.  We do not all have to agree with one another or hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Yet having a right to voice an opinion does not mean that any of us should voice our opinion about another’s decision in a way that belittles them.  Nor does it mean that an opposing opinion matters.  Whether you agree with me or not, I am still going to do what I believe is best for me and my family, and I imagine that you would say that same.  There is also a vast difference between voicing a dissenting opinion and publicly ripping someone else apart.  Do not forget that when you publicly criticize another person’s decisions you too you are very likely being judged as well.

If one person decides to work with a brand that you do not like, well that is just too bad.  If one person decides to vaccinate her child (or not), it is none of your business.  If one woman decides not to breastfeed, or to stop working, or to work 80 hour weeks, or to breastfeed until the child is five – well that is not your call either.  Each one of us is making the decision that we feel is right for ourselves and our families.

Rather than continuing to jump down each other’s throats, how about if we just agree to disagree?  Is that so hard?  Bullying by criticism will not work.  Perhaps we can instead respect one another’s right to make a decision that we feel is the right one for ourselves and our families.  How about if we try to disagree respectfully for the case of good conversation rather than merely launching a personal attack?  Or maybe we can use our other right of just walking away, removing ourselves from the conversation.  Can’t we be bold without being bitter?

Big computer muscles mean nothing.  Personal attacks will get you nowhere.  It is conversation and respect that matters.

Conversation matters.

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Comments

  1. It is so sad that people would attack each other – especially when we could be each other’s biggest supports. I’ve avoided the ugliness so far, mostly because no one has too strong of opinions about crafting projects…but I try to consciously be supportive of others, even when I might disagree. If I actually listen to other alternative opinions, I am likely to learn something new.

  2. Jessica,
    I’m so sorry you have had an unpleasant experience lately. This should not be the case; and someone like you who helps others so much should have all the support possible from the blogosphere.
    Best,
    Estelle

  3. You are right that we should not be tearing each other down. However, I do think there is a place for bloggers (and anyone) to take umbrage with the way a brand is running a campaign, and that campaign may involve other bloggers. there is a way to have a respectful conversation about such a topic. Unfortunately, the ones who are trying to deal with the issue respectfully often get lumped in with those who are attacking specific bloggers. So yeah, there is some ugly, but there are also some who are speaking up in a respectful way, and I think they should be heard. It’s a shame that the bad behavior of some affect the reputation of the rest of us.

    • I love this response, Jo-Lynne. Yes there is a way to have a respectful conversation and those who want to have a respectful conversation deserve to be heard. Differing opinions can lead to interesting and often productive conversation.

  4. I appreciate this message and totally agree! I try to support other mom’s decisions and it should be the same in the bloggy world. I prefer to stay positive and stand out for being supportive, not argumentative!

  5. Personally, I think it’s one thing to pause and think to yourself..”.huh, I wouldn’t do it that way” or maybe talk about it (a hot topic) to your spouse or friends. It another matter all-together to “attack” someone for what they believe, practice, buy, support etc. I for one believe we never truly know a whole story, situation etc, so be careful, you really don’t want to have to walk in another persons shoes and see their reality.

  6. So true, Jessica. I love thoughtful discourse face to face, but it’s hard to achieve in this day and age. I hope we can find ways to use technology in a thoughtful way instead of attacks via Facebook and social media. It’s all too easy to digress into that when you are online behind a computer!

  7. Not sure if ‘digress’ was the word I was looking for but my brain is broken on this snowy morning. :-)

  8. So true. If women spent 1/4 the energy on building each other up rather than tearing each other down, this would be a different planet

  9. Great post! I completely agree. I think it’s great we disagree on things, I am always genuinely interested why people think differently than I do, even when they fully disagree with me. There is no need for name calling or bullying or being mean, discussion is welcome and it will only help all of us – sometimes we realize we could be doing things better and sometimes we realize we should be fighting for the things we believe in even more and using our influence for positive change. With negativity even important causes and issues get diluted.

  10. I think it comes down to the basic rule in Kindergarten, treat others the way we want to be treated. If we want our own opinions to be respected, then we have to respect that others have differing opinions. Unfortunately, there are a few subjects that tend to polarize people: Politics, Religion and Children. We do feel awfully proprietary over our kids, and when someone else’s decisions affect our families – that can bring out the mother bear in us. I have a post-it note hanging in my cubicle at work “Be Nice. This too will pass.” When Im having a bad day, that gets me through. :)

  11. I think the reason why there are so many problems with rudeness in the blogosphere is that it is very easy to be brave at your keyboard in your home. Perhaps a few lessons on the Golden Rule would help some offenders.

  12. It is very easy to be brave behind a keyboard and a screen. As a blogger, I do limited brand work and I would like to keep it that way. For whatever reason, I view brands as a four-letter word whenever they get close. There is far too much emphasis on branding from women bloggers; especially in mom blogging. And in turn, too much emphasis on self-worth in association with brand picking. I would like to strike “brand” from my vocabulary and know that I probably stand alone in that sentiment, which I couldn’t be happier to be in the corner.

    But you are very right, Jessica. I let my opinions soar — because that’s what I do — and even you and I have disagreed about topics that I have written about but I don’t go grab a pitch fork and tell others that they must agree. I write commentary, not how-to guides on how to think like me. And nor would I want to. We all have one life. Live it and enjoy. The rest? It’s for the birds.

  13. I’m also so very sad that you’ve had this experience! In my experience the blogosphere is a *wonderful* place and all the groups I’m in are super encouraging and supportive! Feel free to friend me on FB if you’d like an invite into the kinder, gentler, more supportive world of blogging! :)

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