Why I’m choosing not to keep abusive comments on my blog 

(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: 

  
Okay. I kind of get that was meant to be personally insulting… presumably to everyone who blogs about infertility?!

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.

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17 comments

  1. thegreatpuddingclubhunt

    Oh hon, I am so sorry this person has upset you like this. Was this person not taught ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?’ I just don’t get Trolls.

    I hope your blog can stay your haven and you remain true to your feelings. Blogging is a form of therapy for bloggers of all kinds of difficult subjects, infertility is just one subject.

    I am sad for this person that they feel like we bloggers need constant gratification or play the eternal victim. I can’t imagine how they formulated that strong and derogatory opinion of so many wonderful, inspirational, supportive and honest women (and men!!). I’m very much offended by her comment too, if you had left it up there, I’m pretty sure you would have had 50 people having something to say about that, including me.

    Readers always have a choice to comment on a post, you have a choice to stop reading a post – if you don’t like it, just stop!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. stealingnectar

    Wow, this reduced me to tears! You are so on point! We are here to support and cherish each other, honoring one another’s experiences. You are so very smart and a wonderful writer…and more importantly…human being. You make the world better, and there is something very important about that! Xx

    Liked by 3 people

  3. RJ

    Well said (as always). I’m sorry for the personal attacks, no one deserves that! People can be so mean and unsupportive, and it makes me wonder what’s going on in their life to make them so unhappy that they attack others. I hope you feel supported by everyone else while telling your story!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ashleykyleanderson

    I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. It’s so far out of left field that I am still kind of shocked that of all topics… the way the media handles Jennifer Aniston is what set this off. I’ve gone back and read the post and I still don’t understand why those comments were deemed necessary. Not to mention, I think you are great at being able to state your opinion and then engaging in “healthy debate” with others without anyone reducing to personal attacks. In fact, I remember a few months ago posting a counterpoint on your post about secondary infertility and then worrying that it might be taken the wrong way. But instead, you told me that you welcomed other perspectives and thoughts! And that was when we weren’t nearly as close as we are now.

    You’ve said many times that a blog is where you can be honest about your own thoughts and feelings. When you’re dealing with infertility, treatment and loss, there are few safe places where we are welcomed and encouraged to talk about it. Society generally wants us to deal with it privately. Even those in our own families and close friends who see us on a regular basis can’t really relate (and sometimes don’t know how to deal with our grief and pain). Where CAN we go then to process and work through it all? And better than that, we are given the opportunity here to connect to others here who are able to actually relate.

    Regardless of what that person’s problem was, you did not deserve to be attacked. It’s sad to me that someone would do this at all, but especially upsetting that it would be done when you are already hurting and vulnerable. It seems telling that this person would do this anonymously and admit that they are too afraid to even blog themselves.

    You deserve better than that. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Arwen

    Oh for fucks sake. Clearly Brad Pitt reads your blog and felt the need to post as cookie whatever to defend himself and his bajillion children 😉
    Sending hugs and rosé. Xxxx

    Liked by 8 people

  6. 30yr old nothing

    Is this real life? Someone took time out of their day to defend the ex of someone they don’t even know to the point that they resorted to a personal attack on someone else they don’t know? Goodness me. I have no words. I’m sorry you even had to respond to any of it. People have way too much time on their hands… But just for the record, I liked your last post. Team Jen for life :).

    Liked by 3 people

  7. heatherhopeful

    I have no words for people like this. You’re allowed your opinions, you’re allowed to express how you feel, you’re allowed to be bitter. Life has dealt you some tough cards, and blogging is cathartic. I have nothing nice to say to people who personally attack others, so I’ll leave the commenters out of it. Just know I support you, and think you’re awesome.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. thecommonostrich

    Booooo… This is so lame. I’ll never understand why people need to post things like that. Whatever happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say, get a drink at the bar and say catty things behind my back?” (I am mostly joking here. Mostly.)

    Blogging (particularly the anonymous kind) is intended to be personal. And given what has prompted you to blog, a whole range of emotions might crop up, including but not limited to bitterness. Why on earth should we only be allowed to exhibit “appropriate” feelings on our own damn blogs?! I’ve thrown myself a pity party or two. Frankly, I’ve thrown myself a week long pity bender. I honestly don’t see why that’s a problem. There certainly isn’t a need to write unpleasant comments about it.

    Also: nice Anchorman reference.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. lisaslovelyplace

    Seriously people… if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all… I personally enjoyed the Jennifer Aniston Post. She is always an interesting topic for people. The fact that she has found happiness and married when she was ready is awesome. Being childless isn’t something that defines you.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My Perfect Breakdown

    Oh sweetie I am so sorry! As you know, I too have had a few trolls – only one that was particularly bad. I decided early on not to engage with them and not to post anything from them. I used to see their posts, and now with a few I have actually banned their IP addresses so I don’t even see what they attempt to write to me.
    I have no issue with constructive dialog based in respect, but clearly this person has not been respectful and there is just no place for hate. I’m proud of you for not giving them the time and space on your blog.
    Sending you love my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jein

    Nara, great response! The comments all kind of trolls make tells nothing about you, but about the people in the other end. This is your blog, and you go, Girl! x

    Like

  12. yearningformotherhood

    Eugh, I’d feel like my blog had been violated.. I’ve not yet had to deal with a troll although get them on Twitter occasionally.
    I think you’re absolutely right though – these people seem to have mega-balls when they’re safely behind a screen of anonymity. It’s cowardice really. Not to mention that they seriously need something else in their lives than to go around publicly and aggressively defending an observation somebody has made about a celeb! How very sad.
    Great response though, as always 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ourgreatestdesire

    Wow…great response and way to take the high road. Proud of you, Girl! I just never understand why people need to go onto other people’s blogs or fb pages or whatever and be negative. Go take your negativity elsewhere people!

    Liked by 1 person

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