(Or: It’s easy to be mean from behind a keyboard)
Yesterday I wrote a post about Jennifer Aniston which was meant to be a lighthearted way of making a serious point.
That point was around the well known experience (in the infertility community) of it being assumed that you don’t want kids, and the fact that this assumption is often incorrect and can be really upsetting.
In the post I made some not altogether serious points about Jennifer’s exes, in the context of not understanding why the Daily Mail had to publish a list of Jennifer’s exes the day after she got married. One of the points I made was that Brad Pitt wasn’t the loss that he was made out to be, seeing as he cheated on her, and that it must have been horrible for Jennifer to have to see Brad so publicly with Angelina and all the kids, especially if she suffered with infertility. Another point was a lighthearted point about how I don’t see why she would be feeling unhappy (as the media often paints her) about not ending up with any of her other exes, and that in public with her husband she seems to be really happy.
It turns out that this post was a bit much for one user, who decided that I had made too many assumptions about Jennifer’s exes in my post, thereby apparently negating any point I was trying to make about infertility.
I didn’t initially take it seriously and explained in my response that the assumptions I’d made were around Jennifer not wanting to be in a relationship where she was cheated on, as she ultimately was with Brad Pitt, or not ending up in a long term relationship, with John Mayer.
I then got this message:
I guess that I didn’t really expect a personal attack based on something so flippant as mentioning a celebrity’s exes. Apparently this upset this user so much that she saw fit to say that I “always think [I’m] right” and “blog for personal attention” and “don’t wanna (sic) hear [her] opinions”.
Actually, I am interested in other people’s opinions and in discussions previously I have disagreed respectfully with other users on my blog and theirs, and vice versa. I think the difference is that there are ways of disagreeing which don’t involve personal attacks, and that in these discussions we were always open to listening to and understanding other people’s views without ever insulting them personally.
For example, a while back we had quite a long discussion about parental rights in the workplace in different countries where nobody resorted to personal attacks, even though we were coming at it from different angles regarding how parents and non parents are viewed in society. I found others’ views on that post to be enlightening and interesting, to find out how the treatment of parents differs in different countries. The discussion never got heated and it never got personal.
Although I didn’t want to, I couldn’t help feeling that this person was trying to get personally insulting for some reason. I’ve been online a long time and I’ve come across all sorts of trolling and flaming before, and people who feel a sort of bravery by sitting behind a computer screen and get their kicks through insulting others. I should be able to deal with it by now, but it still feels personal in some way, even though I know it’s not, because that person doesn’t know me.
I decided that it might be time to put comments on moderation, and then I received this:
This blog is part of a group of blogs that focuses on infertility and our experience of childlessness. As such we are a group of women and men who are experiencing one of the most isolating of conditions, the inability to be parents in a world where the default position is “parent”. We are struggling to find meaning in our loss. We are coming to terms with the long wait and convoluted journey we have to parenthood, the idea that we will never be parents in the conventional way and have no guarantee of success. And for some, the idea that we need to find a place in the world where we aren’t able to be parents.
To be told that makes us “bitter, the eternal victim or seeking constant gratification […] through ego boosting feedback”… Well on the one hand, it’s a mean thing to say – in the way that it’s written, in a way that’s obviously intended to be hurtful.
But on the other hand, yes.
Yes we are bitter.
We’re bitter that we have struggled so hard to try and have children, have dealt with many years of infertility whilst everyone else has babies effortlessly, and have had these kind of assumptions made about us not wanting children, when it’s the thing we want most of all.
We are victims, because we’ve struggled with many years of painful conditions, invasive treatments and mean people who’ve said things that hurt us, inadvertently or intentionally.
And we do seek “ego boosting feedback”, if that’s what you call support, advice, shared experience, acceptance, and a safe place to vent. The ladies and gentlemen I’ve met on here have changed my life and made me feel like I’m not alone. Infertility, if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from it, is one of the most isolating experiences you can imagine. And miscarriage, the loss of a child that nobody talks about or acknowledges, is an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Other ladies are dealing with the unimaginable pain of recurrent pregnancy loss and still birth. We consider this a safe place to talk about our pain and losses.
So, cookietime78, or however the latest “anonymous” troll wants to be known (it’s quite easy to find out your name and location, you know):
I’m sorry that you are “not confident enough to blog yet” as if you were, you’d see that the majority of people on here are not like you. They are supportive of other people’s struggles. They help them feel less alone on their journey by sharing their own stories. They pick people up when they’re feeling down. They hurt for others’ sadnesses and they take joy in their happinesses. I’ve never met any of them in real life but I consider them friends.
A personal blog is just that: a personal experience. There is no need to interact with it if you disagree with it. Its readership is a self selected group of people with similar interests. There is very little to be gained by insulting the person writing it (and in this case, all people writing about infertility) other than to try and make the writer momentarily feel bad.
And here’s the thing.
My baby died. My baby, conceived through invasive and difficult IVF treatment after 15 years of waiting died before he was born. I never even got to see the outline of his little body before the flicker of his heartbeat on the ultrasound screen went out. I have a long wait and an operation before we can even think about trying again.
So whatever you think you’re trying to achieve by making me feel bad, it’s a pinprick compared to what I’ve already felt. What I’m already feeling.
I blog to make myself feel better. I blog for support. I blog to acknowledge, somewhere, my dead baby that I can’t acknowledge in public because nobody talks about miscarriage. If that makes me bitter and a victim, then there’s nothing I can do to change it. Believe me, if there was anything I could do to raise my baby from the dead, I’d have done it already.
If you wanted me to feel bad, you’ve succeeded. Well done. But I have enough going on in my life without engaging with keyboard warriors like you who have nothing positive to add to the discussion. My blog has been a haven, a place of support, and a meeting of friends. If you don’t want to be my friend then there are hundreds of thousands of alternative blogs you can visit. You don’t need to spend any more time on mine.
I’m not going to let you keep posting personal insults on my blog, because it’s my blog, and my blog is supposed to be my area of the internet, and I choose to make it a place where people aren’t negative to each other. I want to feel trustful of my readership, so I’m taking comment moderation off. In future, abuse gets deleted and I’ll spend a lot less time worrying about it.