When I was pregnant, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to join one of her mom groups on Facebook. I immediately told her that I wasn’t interested, as I had heard they were nothing but drama.
I wish I had taken my own advice and stayed away.
When I first started blogging, I realized that my audience wasn’t very big. I didn’t know how to reach more people. I tried Twitter and promoted through my own Facebook page, but I wasn’t getting the views I wanted. An editor had suggested to me that I join some mommy groups online and allow people whom I might not ever connect with otherwise the chance to see my blog.
So I joined some of the bigger mommy groups. I rarely posted, other than links to my blog. I read a lot of the posts that other moms made and they were judgemental and mean and catty. The posts sometimes had 200 or more responses of ladies bickering back and forth over a difference of opinion.
After a while, I joined some smaller groups. These groups also had drama, but you got to know the members better because instead of 15,000 members, there was usually only 500-1000.
I promoted my blog and made some new friends and got some good advice. Suddenly I found myself in about 20 different mommy groups. Some were wise, some funny, some full of drama and some full of nonsense. But nevertheless, I enjoyed them and it really did help with my blogging.
One particular group was the most addicting. The women in it would say and do things that were silly and funny and sometimes lacked logic or common sense. I would sometimes comment on their posts and often, people would agree with what I said. And I noticed that the same people agreed with my opinions a lot of the time. It wasn’t long before I became online friends with those people as we shared the same values and beliefs.
But then something happened. Suddenly, my new friends and I became judgy. We became catty. We became the kind of drama I did not want to get involved in. We would often talk about things that members of other groups said and made fun of their questions, parenting choices, opinions, views and life decisions. I knew I was being harsh and I knew that I was better than that, but I couldn’t stop. It was like the drama in itself became an obsession that I could not control.
It started to consume me. I looked for drama. I found it easily and once it was found, it was easy for everyone else to get involved and judge. We judged a lot of people for very stupid reasons. Reasons that were not nice or didn’t merit judgement.
I hurt some people by doing this. I hurt people who did not deserve to feel hurt. I betrayed who I was and became who I did not want to be. And it cost me a lot. It cost friendships of nice people that I met online. It cost my values and beliefs. I did not want to be that person, yet I became that person, all because I got caught in something that consumed me and something I thrived on.
I feel terrible about those whose feelings were hurt. I’ve always taken pride in being a nice person, but after I hurt those individuals, I didn’t feel like a nice person. I felt really low. Knowing that someone was feeling bad because of me was not a nice feeling. It caused me to feel guilt, shame and remorse.
To anyone I hurt; I am truly so sorry. I learned a life lesson in all of this and have since removed myself from most Facebook mom groups.
I also experienced a form of bullying because of this. People began to attack my blog. They left nasty comments and three people left threats. It was so upsetting because I have never been threatened before. Unfortunately, this experience has left me no choice but to change the settings on my blog so that user comments can only be seen if approved by me. I’ve always valued comments but cannot have people leaving threats against me and my daughter. And while I may change the settings back in the future, for now they need to remain in their new form as I cannot and will not tolerate people behaving in such a manner.
I know that moving forward I will be better. I will do better, and I will hold myself to a higher standard. If it’s not kind, loving or said with concern, then I will not say anything at all. I want to be the best person I can possibly be so that I am setting a good example for my daughter. I want to teach her about kindness, love and acceptance and teaching by showing is one of the best ways to set that example.
There’s an old Cherokee Legend that came to mind after all of this. I’ve copied it below as I feel it is a shining example of what I learned through all of this.
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”