Never read the comments.
That’s one of the things us bloggers and writers tout as a sanity-saving piece of advice amongst our little communities. It’s easier said than done. You work so hard, crafting your words to tell a story filled with emotion and meaning. Or you come up with the perfect content for a meme you’re hoping will go viral and make you Internet famous by the time you wake up. Maybe you’re trying to make people laugh, or cry or both. Regardless of the intent behind the emotion you’re trying to evoke, you put yourself out there. It’s vulnerability at its finest, because while those reading see it as a “story”, it’s much more than that. It’s YOUR story.
Without fail, and no matter how relatable your tale is, there are people lurking out there, hiding behind their computer screens, ready to go in for the kill. They’ll mask it as having a different opinion from the author of the piece. But different opinions don’t hurt. They don’t feel like a gut punch that knocks the wind out of you. They don’t make you feel like crap for sharing something personal and maybe even controversial. Sometimes, they are not differing opinions at all. You’re just being an asshole.
And in my years of writing about everything from divorce to remarriage to co-parenting with an ex and even blending a family, I have experienced my fair share. It’s almost always from other women, and it’s always nasty and hurtful. When I publish a story on anything other than my own blog, very rarely do I ever look at the comment section, for all of the reasons above. However, trolls also come out on social media. They’ll find your Instagram or Facebook page and look for an opportunity to get some aggression out.
When I finally mustered up the courage to pull the trigger and submit a piece to Scary Mommy a few years ago, it took a hot minute to hit send on the email. I knew I was leaving the comfortable confines of my own blog and I knew that meant I would be exposed to a new audience. My piece was about the insensitivity of some friends when you are a divorced/single mom. I read the comments and I cried. Then I laughed like I was going manic. These people who made it their job to call me names and go for the jugular, made it very clear with their words that they didn’t even read and process my article. Rather, zeroed in on some key words that made them want to pick a fight. So, I had two choices. I could let it mess with me or I could bring some levity to the situation. I chose the latter because levity is my jam.
I decided to channel the celebrities who sit on couches beside stars like Jimmy Kimmel and read some of the nasty comments on video. It was probably one of my most viewed videos back then.
It felt liberating to call these bullies out with a little self-deprecating humor. They actually gave me more content to ride the wave of having my byline appear in an outlet I dreamed of getting in to.
Since then, I have stuck to the ignoring the comments rule, unless it’s on one of my social pages. That’s when I always have to do that delicate dance of, do I engage or do I ignore? In my 41 years of life, I’ve learned that no matter how good it might feel in the moment to read someone the riot act for what they have to say about your stories or experiences, it’s a fleeting feeling and falls on deaf ears.
Then you get the mommy shamers who come out in full-force. The shocking part is that some of them are not even parents, yet they have a lot to say about others’ parenting choices. So let me understand…you’re following mommy bloggers who are posting about their kids 99% of the time and then getting fired up and shooting them insults publicly on their social media because you just like confrontation? Good plan.
Case in point, I shared a meme from fellow bloggers, Where the Eff Is My Handbook, about how moms should be able to cut to the front of the line to get coffee and those without kids should make their way to the back. Spoiler alert – a meme is a JOKE. Moms are tired. We make fun of ourselves, our kids, our spouses and bitch about how much laundry we have to do. It’s par for the course and our snarky commiserating in the form of memes makes other moms who relate to us, laugh. Period.
So you can imagine my eye roll when I got this comment on the coffee meme.
And this one…
Bloggers talk, you guys. We share all of this shit and sigh collectively about the amount of spare time people have on their hands. Like my friend, Kate aka As Kate Would Have It.
She posted this meme.
And the shitshow began.
Now, I realize that not everyone has a sense of humor that includes high levels of sarcasm and pushing the envelope. That’s fine. No problem.
But some of us do and we don’t need to be vilified for making jokes, whether you relate to them or not. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nobody is forcing you and there are plenty of other accounts to follow. Just stop being so damn angry and maybe look into yoga, or meditation or whatever will zen your shit out.
The beauty about being part of a virtual community of women doing the same thing day in and day out, is that there is quite literally a girl gang on the Internet ready to have your back in a blink.
We all compare war stories and we all share screenshots of the bullies trying to tear us down and we come together to support one another (usually through more inappropriate jokes and laughter). Most importantly, we are not hurting anyone. We actually, amid all of the jokes and memes, offer non-judgement zones for moms everywhere to chime in while they sit in their yoga pants they have never worn once to actually workout. We’re fun and friendly and we love what we do. And that’s stronger than any bully with a computer and an axe to grind.