Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Real Life: Is the Internet Making Us Mean?

 speak no evil print by jennifer avent

Even though I have built an online presence and enjoy social media, I am so glad that it did not exist when I was a teenager and struggling with confidence.  Not that the late nineties were a magical, innocent time, but there wasn't an equivalent avenue for people to flippantly make hurtful comments without the awkwardness that comes with doing it in person.

I recently deleted over 200 people from my Facebook account, mostly for privacy reasons, but in many cases because I just found them to be mean and I got tired of it.  It seems that women in particular seem desperate to reaffirm their own decisions and status by criticizing others and it is seriously making me sad lately.   "Helpful" comments are carefully phrased to subtly put someone down, and in matters of politics or parenting, opposing views are often mocked.  Has everyone always been this way, or did Facebook give us a platform to be bitches in public without consequences?

I know blog comments can be the wild west of the internet (if you want to find the meanest people with wifi, scroll to the bottom of a Yahoo news article), but I recently starting browsing a few parenting blogs and message boards and was really sad to see so much thinly veiled criticism from moms who felt the need to boast when a fellow mother was asking for help.  Statements like "I'd never run off to work and let some strangers raise my kids for me" are clearly not meant to be helpful to a mother seeking moral support and struggling with the reality that her family situation doesn't allow for a stay at home parent right now.  It's not as though anyone has opted out of raising their child, after all.

As a mother to be, I'm worried that this kind of behavior is becoming the new normal.  Never has it been so easy for someone to be shamed, or rejected, and we need to think as much before we type as before we speak.

Have the rest of you noticed this trend, or am I just having an introspective Carrie Bradshaw moment?  (Sorry, I couldn't work "I couldn't help but wonder..." into the post without it sounding completely trite)


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