Someone called me an a$$ for this post about my daughter’s constant talking. He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if my daughter grew up to resent me and be an a$$ herself. I had to go back and read it a couple times to see where he drew those conclusions.
Sure, I admitted I don’t handle my daughter’s chatter well. But I also explained it’s extreme and a huge problem in her life (like, I fear she’ll walk in front of a bus mid-sentence one day). And I also explained how I am working to be a better support to her, and how she lights up when I take some time for myself and then give her my renewed energy.
So did he just read the parts where I said it’s hard to have a child who almost literally talks my ear off? Did he miss the happy conclusion? I was about to respond and ask if he had ever read memoir-style essays before and if he needed help understanding what a journey is.
But then I remembered…
Oh yeah. The internet is the space of free-flowing insults; the space where one can judge the entire character of a person, their child, their dog, and their next door neighbor. It’s the place where one is able to look into a magic ball and predict a dismal future for the writer and any supporting characters.
And all from one post that describes one incident or series of incidents.
There will be no getting through to that man. So as an administrator on the page where this guy predicted my future fall-out with my child, I deleted his comment. One less bit of hate out there on the internet.
Then, a few days ago I read this post by Aaron Gouveia called “I Put the Phone Down to Be ‘in the Moment’ With My Kid, and it Was a Huge Mistake.”
I really liked the piece. He wrote about how leaving his phone at home while fishing with his son caused him to miss his 3-year-old’s joy at his first catch. He really wished he’d had his phone on hand to capture the milestone. It was a refreshing perspective, since parents are bloggingly chastised on the regular for looking at their phones when they’re with their kids.
His storytelling was great and the topic was relatable. Plus, it showed there’s a balance in parenting. There is, in fact, a place for cellphone use.
But balance is something some people can’t handle.
It MUST be black or white, goshdarnit. How dare anyone try to see things more than one way?
He was told his child will always remember the moment, so he should stop complaining. (Uh, his child is 3. How many memories do you have as a 3-year-old? And what’s wrong with wanting to re-watch something?)
He was told to “get over it” because one reader was lucky if her parents remembered to take a picture on each birthday, and she still had a memorable childhood. (Right, but wouldn’t it be fun to look back at pictures and videos? Is there anything wrong with wanting to do that?)
He was told to “try talking to his son” instead of “melting down” over not having his cellphone. (Because I’m sure that he and his child didn’t exchange any words.)
He was told that his regret over not capturing that moment on video was a “red flag.” Seriously.
And then… his 3-year-old was insulted.
The author actually responded to readers’ rude comments, which impressed me. But one woman turned it on him, and told him it was strange to be responding. She was just commenting, after all. No need to respond and remind her there’s an actual HUMAN BEING reading her comments. Sheesh.
You’ve seen this before too, so it’s not like this is something new.
But it makes me scratch my head every time.
Why are we so afraid of another perspective and another opinion? Why can’t we handle it? Why do we have knee-jerk reactions instead of intelligently taking in the entire message of a piece? Why do we zero in on one thing we don’t like, and hold fast to that “offensive” bit of information as if we’ll fall off our lifeboat if we let go?
It’s sad. (But not the way Donald Trump uses the word sad. It’s truly sad.)
And you know, apparently this stuff isn’t supposed to get to me because “if you put it out there on the internet, you’re opening yourself up to criticism.” (Victim blaming mentality, anyone?)
But it does get to me. It gets to me when it happens to me. And it gets to me when it happens to someone else.
There’s no stopping the force of these people who are committed to spreading their negativity. I can’t change their minds.
But I did leave a positive comment on the post. I don’t often comment on Facebook posts of major sites (the blog was posted by Huffington Post), and that’s mainly because I don’t want some stranger’s wrath turned on me.
But that’s cowardly of me. As a memoir writer, I should support others who have committed themselves to the same craft. I shouldn’t let angry, dissatisfied people rule the comment sections. Even if I only leave one positive comment, it will make a difference to the author. I know this because, as a writer, I read every comment. When people defend me, it’s validating. When people say something positive, it encourages me.
When people call me an @$$, I have to harden my shell a little bit.
But then I’ll go spread positivity somewhere else.
I’ll read the negativity, but I won’t let the negativity be the last word.
What do you do to bring positivity into the world?