Many years ago when I first began perusing the internet, I had a baby girl who was less than a year old and a lot of time on my hands. My husband worked nights and slept days back then, so many a night was spent staring at the glowing screen of our new computer, trying to navigate the paths of the information superhighway, after I put her to bed. I didn’t have much else to do. I was a stay at home mom in those days and when baby slept, I got bored. You can only clean so much and there weren’t many things to watch on television that I was interested in. So I began my years of becoming known by my extended family as the “Internet Queen.” Somehow I earned this name when they all realized they couldn’t call our house and get an answer half the time because we had dial-up internet service and I was often tying up the lines reading Mommy Message Boards or finding friends in other states to be pen-pals with.
In those early years, I was young and naïve and determined to learn as much as I could about parenting and other topics important to my life at that stage. One thing I quickly learned was that, according to all the ‘experts’ online, there were definite right and wrong ways to care for a child and I often fell on the ‘wrong’ side of things with my choices. It really bothered me back then because all those Nosey Nancys and Rude Rhondas really intimidated me. But I know now that people world-wide are opinionated and often snotty about things online.
I can’t tell you how many arguments I got into accidentally when I commented quietly about disagreeing with one of these women. Who knew that I could be so powerfully hated by a complete stranger because I preferred one brand of diapers over another? Who knew that I would be yelled at so much? (On the internet, if you type in all caps, it means you’re screaming. I saw lots of capital letters in those days.)
As the years have gone on, I’ve left behind message boards for moms (because I don’t need their advice or suggestions anymore.) But that same sense of “I’m right and you’re wrong” runs rampant on social media. I have learned the hard way, through posts of my own and those I’ve read from others, that you really have to stick to non-divisive subjects or you will have a week’s reading to do from all the people you upset with your opinion, feelings or beliefs. The truth is, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be one of those hot-button topics that you would expect to bring up strong feelings or hot tempers. I typically avoid any of those sorts of topics because I hate conflict and would prefer not to cause a fuss about things.
I was reminded last week that sometimes, even the most nonchalant type of conversation can still flare up the tempers of those around me. I shared something that I did not believe was that big a deal and got some strong opposition from friends who commented in response. Some were defensive; some felt like I was attacking them, others began a fight between themselves. It was just too much for me, so I deleted the entire thing. I think I need to remember to just post pictures of my kids or funny things I find elsewhere from now on. Life is just too hard to start arguments on the internet. If you enjoy surfing the web, good luck this week. It’s a rough world out there.
(Contact Liz by email at Lizreeves2@aol.com)