I've written my own parenting blog for about 18 months now and the discussion on that site has been honest, open and constructive. I've written about some controversial things, and yet even when I struck at the most sensitive chords of someone's life, the conversation never degraded to name calling.
Last fall I started writing for Man Of The House and was exposed to a wider audience. That's when the comments on my commentary started to slide downhill. It was in reaction to a post called "The Forgotten Second Child" where I talked about how the excitement and awe can wane the second time around the milestones of a child's life. It was an honest explanation of a feeling I was having and the readers let me have it:
Nathan: Most people who have kids don't do it for their novelty.... They are going to cost you so much more than the goldfish you should have gotten.
Julie: Hopefully you don't have a third
Jessica: I wonder if your deathbed conversation will have quotes from your articles that expressly state you could not express interest in the life of the child you created
Matthew: I can't even comment upon this appropriately. Take a hard look at yourself.
Not exactly the most inspiring or uplifting commentary.
This spring Erica Ehm extended me an invitation to join the Yummy Mummy Club community. She became aware of my DadCAMP site when I started engaging in the conversation on YMC. One post in particular, about banning children from Facebook, caused me to write a rebuttal on DadCAMP. Erica enjoyed the fact that I had an opinion and wasn't afraid to share it.
I was asked to bring that opinion to the YMC and after a few light and breezy parenting pieces; I dug in with some editorial last week about how parents are perceived by others in the community. I quoted some very ignorant men who are frustrated by parents barrelling through crowded markets and, while discounting the language the men used, I sided with them.
My thesis is that parents are the ones bringing a fresh variable to situations and we are the ones who need to mitigate our behaviour. I flew alone with 2 boys under 4 this weekend. The computer assigned me seats in rows 7 and 3 on each flight. Both times I changed them to the last row of the plane to have fewer people to bother and to be nearer the attendants and bathroom. Are row 3 seats better? Sure, I like to get off the bird quickly too, but for the sanity of those around me, I went to the back.
Those are the sorts of behaviours that we, as parents, need to take on. We need to be empathetic. We need to realize that our children are the disruptive force and make pre-emptive strikes to society around us.
That was my thesis, anyway. The commenter's had different agendas:
Jodi: I call bullshit.
Amanda: Where do I begin. How about, shame on you?
Underthecovers Mother: Reading your bio I see that you have accomplished quite a bit in your life, so I would assume you would have some valid things to say. But in this blog entry, I would be wrong in assuming so.
Kim a proud mommy: This article speaks volumes about the type of person you are.
Darryl: if you are so selfish to think this way you don't actually deserve to have children because you would make a shitty parent.
Rebecca: What a load of crap!
Leah: I'm really disappointed that YMC would publish something with such a negative tone.
Sarah: This article is terrible! I have no idea why this would even appear in an e-mag such as this.
Felicia: Ohhhoooohhhooo.....don't get me started! I am showing great restraint, by not commenting!
C: Nasty nasty nasty. Very disappointed and just took this website off my list of reads.
Aaron: you can effing deal with it.
Chantal: all you have done is annoyed the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS out of good parents who worry when they go out
So I've gone from a small site with an open and intelligent discussion to two broader audiences where people don't necessarily know me personally and are taking liberties with language in the comments.
I can only think that it's because people don't think that bloggers are human or that there is a person on the other end of the "return" key reading your commentary. I tried to respond to each comment made to me on YMC to show that you can't blindly spout off in an emotional response thinking you're just writing something "on the internet."
Perhaps it's because most people online hide behind handles and nicknames and are basically anonymous as they spew their abusive commentary back.
So let's break the ice and get to know each other. Let's try and add a personal level to this relationship so the conversation can be constructive instead of destructive.
Hi, my name is Buzz. It's not my real name, but it's the one I've used professionally for more than 20 years, so it's what I go with. I was born in Ontario, raised in BC and live in Alberta. I have two beautiful boys. My second wife is Jennifer. My first marriage lasted 13 months and you don't really want to hear about it. Jen is the mother of my children and has sacrificed all she has ever known to follow me around the country in my pursuit of a broadcasting career.
I've run 4 marathons and continue to train and support Team Diabetes. I don't have a personal connection to diabetes; it's just something I'm trying to use my small "c" celebrity to support.
I taught myself HTML one rainy day in the fall of 1995 and have been on the internet ever since. I'm an information junkie and the web sates my thirst for news and, to be honest, makes me thirsty for more. I love writing to share my opinions and promote discussion and to learn more about how other people think and to question my own beliefs.
I hope you'll contribute to the same."