Social Media Mean Girls

There’s a certain amount of ego that gets inflated when you’re a blogger.

Most of what we write is opinion. We sculpt ourselves as experts in a field we are hobbyists, or passionate about, and start writing with conviction. If we’re lucky, we gather an audience that look to us as leader and rely upon our teaching to guide them. The ego gets fed further.

Once the audience grows, the echo chamber starts reverberating. If your writings have a certain slant, you’re likely to gain a following among like minds. Those who have differing opinions will likely find a tribe they can follow where they’re welcome, else they’ll try to rattle your cage and be branded an anonymous troll.

Once these ideological tribes get created in social media, they gain momentum and try to branch out and feed on trolls. They shout down dissenting opinion to keep the beliefs strong.

You see it with Fox News. You see it with Mommy Bloggers.

Two scenarios in the past month have me scared for what is happening in the parenting blog world. Social media moms are turning into Mean Girls. The kind that bullies those who are different, don’t share ideology and choose a different path. Instead of enlightening each other in different methods of parenting, the blogs are being divided along stringent party lines.

There are lactivists trumpeting breast feeding and shouting down anyone who dare place a synthetic nipple within sniffing distance of an infant. Now there are intactivists threatening to protest a little boy’s funeral because he died shortly after circumcision.

The story of Joshua is tragic, the circumcision had nothing to do with his passing, yet it has become a rallying cry for a protest group. It has become a mantle for them to hold high as proof to the world that their cause is just. It started as a group trying to stop what they determine to be genital mutilation and became outright bullying.

I am circumcised. I snipped both my boys. It wasn’t a tough decision, but it wasn’t necessarily an easy one either.

Two weeks ago, I snipped myself again. ( Scissors seem to be everywhere in this family lately).

Does it make me less of a parent because a few centimetres of foreskin are missing from all the males in this house?

Is my wife less loving a mother because we switched to formula when breast feeding became too difficult?

We blog about parenting because we’re passionate parents. We’re trying to find out what’s best for our kids and we want to act as beacons to help other parents find their way.

But there are different paths. Not every one is right, nor is any one particularly wrong.

Shouting down someone else because they parent a little differently than you is no different than the bullying that has grabbed headlines across the continent this month.

Cmon, we’re parents. We know better. Let’s show our kids it gets better when you get older.

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Buzz

Buzz Bishop is a Dad. Broadcaster. Writer from Calgary, Alberta. He is married to Jennifer and has 2 sons. Zacharie was born in 2007 and Charles in 2010.

5 Comments

  1. There are certainly topics I quickly learned to veer away from. Breast vs bottle ; cloth vs disposable ; cry it out vs co-sleep etc… But like many mothers, I don’t care how you do it. I like to assume that most mothers are doing what they feel is best for their children. And there actually are great “mom” bloggers out there who are thoughtful and interested in multiple perspectives – they just aren’t deliberately controversial, which, of course, attracts more followers

  2. I think this is the second time you’ve rocked my world in a month. Consider yourself my favorite new blogger. ;)

    The crappiest I ever felt in my “blog life” was when one individual accused my followers of being “mean girls”. (Strangely enough it was a man making that accusation.) But it struck a nerve, b/c the whole reason I started blogging was to create a safe space for people to discuss a controversial topic – I hated thinking that anyone perceived us as a “clique”.

    It’s a fine line, though, b/c when you blog about an issue you’re passionate about, and someone comes on and attacks you for it, your supporters feel attacked too, you know? And I think it brings the claws out. Then, as the blogger, you have a responsibility, and a decision to make: do you censor the comments? Or let your readers express themselves and risk seeming like an angry mob?

    I sleep at night by telling myself that my readers (and I) are not out there attacking others for their choices; our anger comes out of defensiveness. But if I’m to be honest, it still worries me… there are times where I feel like my blog does feel like a clique, and I’m a bit at a loss as to how to change that.

  3. Granted, I’m pretty sure only people that know me IRL read my blog and maybe the odd person clicks on the link if I dare tweet it out, but I’ll admit that when I blog, I don’t often write about anything that’s controversial. I don’t want haters. The purpose of my blog (appropriately called ‘The Purpose Driven Blog’) is more to put down my thoughts and whoever reads them hopefully does so knowing it’s my thoughts, my opinions.

    I shouldn’t be afraid to blog/tweet about my faith in God, my formula-fed & circumcised children or anything else that is on my mind for fear of those who disagree. So many seem to have forgotten what respect is and means. You don’t have to agree with me and the choices I make as a mom or for myself personally, but you certainly should respect me. Everyone deserves at least that.

  4. I’d just like to point out that not all the intactivists are mothers. Therefore they are not all mommybloggers :) I think the difference is in one word: should. The minute one group starts telling another group what they SHOULD do, all hell seems to break loose. That’s also when blogging becomes preaching. A blog was intended to be a web log. A log of your own activities… now it’s a platform, a pulpit, a place where some pretty semi-powerful leaders can speak to their followers.

    For more info, see my blog …. sooo kidding :)

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