Back in the day there were chat rooms and message boards for people to connect on the world wide web. I participated in some AOL message boards for hairstylists, and hoo boy, did I spend some late nights up arguing with complete strangers. A lot of people are extremely opinionated anyway, but you give them the anonymity of a computer screen and the claws come out. You may not have known that foil placement and choice of styling products were controversial topics, but let me assure you, on the internet they are.
Today we have evolved a bit into Facebook groups. I am in quite a few of them, and it is actually one of my goals to thin them out. I’m in some local groups about what the weather is going to do, or groups that gossip about the latest crime sprees and why our city is going to hell in a hand basket. I’m in a few essential oils groups, and even help out with one. And of course I have my own Facebook group that is over 2,000 people strong, dedicated to finding richness in living simply.
Today I stumbled upon a discussion in a group about natural living where they were discussing essential oils. If you aren’t into essential oils you don’t understand the level of CRAZY that goes along with any discussion. There are people fighting over which brand to use, how to use them, and on it goes. And if you happen to think differently, you are uneducated. I tend to be of this school of thought: I am an intelligent person that is capable of researching what is best for my family, and I trust you are able to do so as well.
Needless to say this discussion disintegrated to the point of questioning parenting abilities, accusations of abuse, and name calling. Over essential oils.
Maybe natural living isn’t your jam, but I don’t doubt that we have ALL seen a Facebook conversation play out in a similar fashion. Maybe we have even participated. A few points spring to mind.
Maybe we have such a bullying problem in our schools, because there are so many mothers bullying each other.
That’s right, I said it. A lot of the nonsense that gets spouted on the internet is nothing but sheer bullying. The dictionary defines bullying as:
a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
Sound familiar? Whether it is a Facebook argument gone wrong, or nasty comments on a blog, anyone who has spent ANY time online knows exactly the type of person I am talking about.
A few months ago I did a guest post for a blogger with a much larger following than myself, and in turn, a much larger blogger than her shared the post on Facebook. At first I was excited to see something I wrote shared with a million people, most of whom are moms. But once the comments started rolling in, I had to stop reading. Women who clearly didn’t even read the post questioning my parenting and intelligence (both of which are STELLAR. At least I think so). They were classic bullies, just pushing their point around like a kid on a playground.
Just because you are right (or at least you think you are) doesn’t mean you have to convince the entire world. Really, what do you care if some random schlub from who knows where is doing something you disagree with? A lot of people (myself included) really get stuck on needing to convince everyone that they are right. Who cares? You are never going to convince someone by arguing with them.
Its time to step away from the computer. Ever feel like the aren’t enough hours in the day? Stop and think about how much time you spend on social media. Groups and message boards can be incredible sources of support and information, but they can also be a huge time suck. I am chiefly guilty of wasting a LOT of time on social media, and then wondering when my day went. Getting that wrapped up in a virtual world isn’t healthy, and sometimes I have to take a step back and nurture my real-life friendships and relationships, and worry less about what is happening online.
Its a slippery slope for bloggers who RELY on social media to network and market their content, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.
Seriously. No matter the situation, online or in real life, it just never hurts to be nice to someone! There are real human beings, with real feelings behind those computer screens, and we have no way of knowing how our words could affect them, good, bad, or other.
Isn’t there enough nastiness and bad stuff in the world? Why purposely throw more out there? And if you see someone else being attacked, speak up. We really can’t expect our kids to stop bullying each other until we as adults are willing to stand up and take responsibility for our actions and words.
In a sea full of mom bullies, lets make sure that we aren’t exhibiting that same behavior. Sometimes it’s more important to be nice than to be right.