Saturday, March 10, 2012

Merry-go-Round Healing Salon

After reading this post by Mel about having different bloggers host discussions to help "heal" the community, I decided to volunteer.

Like (In)fertililty Unexplained, I am not majorly emotionally invested in the PAIL debate.  I am a very interested bystander, well not bystander because I've commented, but as a newer blogger (6 months), I have only recently learned the extent of this community and opened myself up further to participate in it.  I understand and empathize with both sides.  But I am also disturbed by mean comments, wherever they occur.

I'm a mediator.  As a teacher, it's a part of my every day job, and I think I'm pretty good at it.  I guess we'll soon see whether or not this translates into the blogosphere.

I see a few major issues that should be discussed.

1) What can we, should we, should we not say on the internet?

For example: This is my blog and I can say whatever I want.  But do I?  No.  For a variety of reasons.  I'd like to hear your take.

A side note:  There is some civility severely lacking in the world right now.  Trust me; I teach high school.  Is this the issue? Or part of it?

2) Part of me thinks that bloggers (i.e. the pregnant ones) not thinking that they can openly blog about their pregnancy is kind of a non-issue.  Some people will stop following you just like in real life, some people will stop calling you to hang out for awhile.  Because they have complicated feelings and/or are in a different place.  Not everyone can stay BFFs in every situation.

But at the same time, I totally understand the need for support and community once you get pregnant after infertility.  It's a big deal, fraught with all kind of extra fears and concerns that some women do not understand (i.e. the fertile pregnant ones).  I also understand that you do not want to make the still unsuccessful infertiles feel bad.  I've seen some extreme (I guess "bitching" would put it mildly) by some infertiles in the forums I frequent re: all kinds of issues, including posts by pregnant women.

So what's the answer?  What needs to be said to let the support continue?  Because I truly believe that almost everyone in this community wants to be happy and supportive.

So please comment.  But please be civil.  I am a huge advocate of a rational discussion.  And I am so curious to see how this will work on the internet.  And I hope to be pleasantly surprised.  It seems that the members of this community really are a kind, educated (if somewhat hormonal) bunch : ). 

Please think about how to get your message across, but at the same time, how your words will sound to all of the different people who will read them.

Thank you.
-Mrs. GG.


  1. I have honestly been horrified by some of what has been said this week in the comments sections of various posts. I just.... I don't get it. I shut my comments down months ago, in part (maybe even mostly) because the random cruel negativity that would come through every now and again had this way of eating me alive. I could get 100 positive, supportive, amazing comments, but then one anonymous person would pop out of nowhere and say something truly awful and I would be sick to my stomach for days over it - focusing on that one person, instead of all of the support I had gotten. I started to realize I was censoring myself out of fear of inciting those negative posters, and that was when I knew it was time to shut comments off. Because at the end of the day, I wanted my blog to be a true reflection of me and where I'm at, without holding back.

    That said, I DO think there is a way to be true to yourself while still being mindful of the way your words come across. I think we all (for the most part) strive to do this all the time in our real lives. We work to express ourselves without stepping on toes. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail, but I think mostly - we are all mindful of how our words could effect others. And I do think there is a responsibility to use that same mindfullness in the blogging world.

    I agree with you completely on part 2. I think that this also happens in other blogs outside the infertility community. If a bloggers focus shifts, they are likely going to lose (and in turn also gain) some readers. That's life, and I think it is typical of blogging. I also agree that no one is being flat out told NOT to blog about parenting, but that we've all seen somments being made about how difficult it is to read those things somewhere, and those memories stick in people's minds. That said, I just do not believe it is a bloggers responsibility to shield their readers from the reality of where they are in life now. I think readers have the right and ability to come and go as they please, but the blogger deserves to continue being true to where they are without fear of causing pain as a result of that. There is nothing cruel about being honest about where one is on this journey, and I personally would prefer to not be shielded from parts of peoples lives because they are trying to protect me.

    As far as the answer... I'm not sure. I too saw how there could be a benefit to PAIL, even in knowing I am not eligable to join that club. I think it's fair for women to want to seek each other out in finding people who are at similar stages in this journey. I like to think that when true connections are made, those connections remain regardless of where someone's path takes them. But I understand as well a need to seek out others who "get" where you are now. And I think that's all anyone can ever really do... continue reaching across the divide and supporting those that they can, but also finding comfort and solace in those that are in similar places.

  2. Regarding Q#1: I view blogging as a way to share thoughts and opinions. Granted, there are topics I chose not to address, based solely on the fact that either it's a topic that I'm not interested in or my conviction isn't strong enough to handle the backfire. But I will talk about and share things I feel passionate about. Will I offend someone? Probably. The shear fact that I walk the Earth is probably offensive to someone. But, like Mel, I need to be true to myself first. If someone doesn't like it, I'll deal with it respectfully.

    Regarding Q#2: I think Mel addressed this one very well. The reality is, as you go through this journey, you're bound to lose readers. Just as I haven't maintained contact with every single person who's been part of my life (former work colleagues, people I knew in elementary school, the gentleman I met on the plane, etc), I expect that with each stage of this journey people will come and go. That said, I think it is possible to maintain one's IF blog while pregnant. It's just a matter of how you present the material. I followed a blogger who had a horrific pregnancy, yet she did write post after post talking about how awful it was to be pregnant. Sure, she did tell us what was happening, but she wrote in a manner that was sensitive to her audience.

    I think what everyone really needs to address is WHY are they blogging. If you're using this space as a way to voice your thoughts and opinions, be aware that some of what you say will not be popular. But, as stated above, that's okay. If you are using this space in order to connect with the community, recognize that your blog is going to be VERY different from a lot of other blogs. It does mean that there will be a lot more censorship on your end. Again, nothing wrong with this. But I think one needs to identify why they are blogging to get the most out of it.

    Thanks for hosting, Mrs. G!

  3. I posted this on Ginger and Lime's blog, but I'm not sure if she is an official hostess, so I'll put it again here, with some edits.

    I started blogging because I wanted to be able to say what I was feeling while it was happening in hopes that I would one day be successful and someone could read my story and have hope. I still blog with that in mind, but I also blog as a journal. My space to say what I am feeling, apologetically. EVERYONE should do that. Pregnant or not, I don't want ANYONE to censor what they say because they are afraid they might hurt my feelers.

    I like to see the blogs of the people who have "made it" to the other side, and honestly, I think the start of PAIL made me feel like they were kind of doing the "taking my ball and going home" thing. Do I identify with them once they've given birth and am I always in a place where I want to read about breastfeeding and playdates? Of course not. People who have had babies need to remember what it was like to still be in the trenches and respect our right to not read anymore if we don't feel up to it. There's no censoring that can fix that and no censoring should be done. They are where they are in their journeys. If there is anything I've learned on my journey, it's to be better at empathy and I think some of the comments on SQ showed that many have lost sight of that. I'd like to see the PAIL people stay a part of this community, uncensored, and for our ALI community to help them find a way to find each other more easily. I think there's a better way to do that than to have the secession that seems to be going on.

    Thanks for being a hostess!

  4. I think that the same rules apply online as they do in real life: if you wouldn't say it in person to someone, you shouldn't say it to them online. That being said, I do feel like my blog is a place to unload those very things I am afraid or unable to say out loud in real life. So there's a definite conflict there. I'm not sure I have the answer, other than I do believe you should feel free to express yourself and tell YOUR story as you see fit on your own blog (without being libelous, plagiarizing, or otherwise infringing on others). You do not have the right to tell someone else's story, or to take someone else's ideas.

    I agree with you that I don't believe that people are being told not to blog about pregnancy and parenting. As I have said on several other sites, I believe it is a self-imposed restriction that we place on ourselves out of compassion for those still in the trenches. It's an understandable feeling, but one we need to get past. In order to be an authentic writer, you've got to write about where you are -- wherever that is on this journey. I am much more likely to read someone writing about all their life experiences (including pregnancy and parenting) than someone who apologizes for everything that they say.

    Thank you for hosting. I really do hope some good can come out of all of this.


  5. 1. I'm a firm believer in writing what you feel. My blog is my journal I'm choosing to share with this community. I write what I want. When I first started, I censored myself. I didn't swear or was careful with my wording. I then realized for me to get the healing I wanted out of my blog, I needed to be completely myself, swear words included. I found the longer I have blogged the better I feel after an entry, especially if I let it all out. If people want to censor themselves, go for it. I feel the author should be able to write whatever they feel. I don't censor myself IRL, why would I in my blogging experience. I guess in the beginning I was afraid of offending people, but realized I was offending myself by not being myself. I did however refrain from posting pictures during my pregnancy. After having my baby, I couldn't resist and have since posted pictures of my miracle.

    Thanks for is very appreciated.

    2. I have no idea how to answer this. I know just going through IF caused me to lose friends IRL. I found this community in bloggerland to have a safe place to share my story. I followed bloggers from deep in the trenches to their motherhood and still follow some who are struggling. I've never "unfollowed" anyone because of where they were in their journey. Yeah, it sucks when someone's feelings get hurt because someone else gets their BFP or match or whatever. I know I was sad to lose some followers, but the important thing is I continued on with my journey. I found new people to connect with in the community. People come and they go in life. I admit I joined PAIL because the two women who suggested it in the beginning were pregnant right along with me and we are all basically in the same place on our journey. I didn't think of it as exclusive, but a way to connect with others exactly where I am. I didn't leave any other blogroll or turn my back on the ALI community. I had no intentions as I plan on jumping back into the trenches this fall. So my blog will be about treatment as well as parenting after IF. I'll be the most confused blogger in the world.

  6. We've had tons of views of this post, but not a ton of comments. If my questions don't work for you, feel free to post random thoughts or alternative questions.

    I appreciate the very thoughtful comments so far!

    -Mrs. GG

  7. Hey there

    I think what Jo said if you wouldn't say it in real life don't say it on a blog. Our blog allows us a sense on anoninmity because you can shoot and hide but there is no need for rudeness. You can be blunt and honest but not horrible.

    In saying that sometimes when someone leaves a horrible comment in this community we should also remember they are in a world of pain. But anon commentators are evil. They just attack without dignity.

    I could write forever on writing after pregnancy. I made a point to be sensitive but clearly my subject matter has changed. Until today I hadn't lost a follower (ouch!!!) but a lot of my followers and I got pregnant together which was great. You SHOULD be allowed to write whatever you want but we all started this for infertility reasons and when everyone else gets pregnant it just makes you feel worse. Blogs have different life spans, I guess once I actually have a baby in my arms I will feel like the transition is complete.

  8. What can we, should we, should we not say on the internet?

    This is such an interesting question. Some folks have mentioned the idea that if you wouldn't say it in real life, you shouldn't say it on the internet. But the whole reason I have a blog is to say things I can't say in real life! In both places (real life and blog life) I strive to speak from a place of compassion at all times. Full stop. That is my number-one goal in how I live my life as well, so I just try to carry it over.

    As for what needs to be said to let the support continue -- well, I know that I need to do better with letting the pregnant and parenting bloggers I care about know that I am still here and still cheering them on. I know that when I don't comment on a parenting post, it's usually because I genuinely don't know what to say and don't want to resort to the cop-out "Great post!" I need to work harder at that.

    But in a larger sense, I wonder if we don't all need to let go of any expectations about specific support being reciprocal. As in, I commented at your place therefore you have to comment at mine. If you are expecting a one-to-one or better ratio of comments given to comments received, you may be disappointed no matter how supportive your readers are. Not that I'm saying anyone is counting up their comments like that -- but maybe there is something there about giving up expectations and just putting our support out there.

    (Sorry about the anonymous comment -- I use Wordpress and sometimes have a problem commenting on Blogger blogs. This is gingerandlime / )

    1. That's funny! As soon as I say "anonymous" I thought uh-oh!

  9. Based on everyone's comments about how you act on your blog as you do in real life or ginger and lime's comment that she's more uncensored on the internet than in real life, I think about personality. Because that is what a lot of this comes down to.

    I'm an honest, open person, but I really do censor myself in real life to avoid conflict (in those situations that don't really matter - I'll start a fight if it's important). And in my blog I'm pretty much the same way. I'm not 100% candid because I want my blog #1 to support me and if I'm stressing about negative comments then it does the opposite. I have respectful awe for those that truly say everything that they want to.

    I also think it's interesting how the many of the comments around this issue have to do with followers and comments. I think we all get a little ego boost when we get a follower. Blogger was on the fritz last week and I thought one of my followers had unfollowed me because she didn't show up for a couple of days. I really tried not to worry about it, but I thought about it constantly and I was a little angry. Part of it is because we are frequent commenters on each other's blogs. Another girl unfollowed me last week (she's also pregnant) but she was always just in the periphery and it didn't bother me.

    Either way, these events are part of life. We will have disappointments from time to time.

    Does anyone have any comments about how using IComLeavWe and commenting to actively gain more followers plays into this whole thing?

    Personally, I don't see any problem with it as long as the person is being genuine. We can all tell when a comment is genuine or not. But it's impossible to separate the two pieces. More exposure through commenting or joining a list goes hand in hand with more readership. And I think this is a good thing.

    To summarize. I blog for me. So that I can say everything I'm thinking about infertility without over-burdening my husband, friends, and family. But through that process, I have enjoyed "increasing my stats." Not because I'm competing with can I really when it's my life? But because my entire life since getting stickers for good work in preschool, I have sought approval and wanted to be liked and "following" is liking or identifying with what I have to say. That feels nice. I don't think this is a strong feature of my character necessarily, but it's the honest truth.

    (And trust me...I've thought a lot about how rewards should work in the classroom so that my students aren't as needy of praise as I am!)

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you for offering to be part of the healing salon. I am so glad the conversation is continuing and it's really wonderful of you to participate in such a meaningful way. I'll consider your questions and post again soon, but in the meantime - thanks.

  11. I'll admit that I like followers & comments in the sense of "wow, something resonated with someone! I'm not a mutant freak!" It makes me feel less alone. I do blog for myself and to get out my thoughts b/c if I didn't, I'd go crazy, but I also want to meet and get to know other people. Maybe I'm feeling this rather acutely lately because I am in a lonely place IRL and am trying to meet people any way I can.

    There are definitely topics about which I don't blog: my marriage, intimacy, real people that I know by name (in a calling out kind of way). I'm not the blogger who goes into detail about depression or treatment. I've always been reserved and even though I've opened up on my blog, there are still some areas that I won't share. I won't even curse on my blog and I'm a real potty mouth IRL. I like to maintain a defined line of what is shareable and what is not.

    I like GingerandLime's point about possibly letting go of reciprocity. Our lives and perspectives are not going to resonate with everyone, and that's ok. And frankly, we're all individual snow flakes when it comes to our diagnoses and treatment paths, so maybe it is unrealistic to expect specific support instead of a more general support.

    I'm really learning a lot and starting to question what I thought through this exercise. Thanks for hosting!

  12. Thank you so much for hosting.

    I say things on my blog that I may not talk about with people in the face-to-face world, BUT I don't write anything ABOUT people on my blog that I wouldn't say to their face. I wrote a scathing post about Aliza Shvarts' performance art piece, and I'm sure if she read it, it probably hurt her feelings, but I would say all those things to her face if I met her. On the other hand, there are plenty of things I think in my head that I wouldn't want to say to the person's face, so I don't post them online and make them confront my thoughts. It is incredibly difficult to read something about yourself -- even when it's something good.

    I think that if you've formed a bond with someone pre-parenting I'm not sure why it doesn't continue into parenting. I kept all the same friends except one as they moved from childless like me to parenting, and again, I kept all the same friends as I moved to parenting whereas other friends were still on the other side of the trench. Friends are hard to find; and so are readers, frankly. Loyal readers where you each read and comment on each other's blogs are hard to find. So I would never let one go purposefully knowing how hard it is to connect in a meaningful way.

  13. I think I've read & responded to too many Salon posts already, because I'm startng to feel repetitive, lol. I just wanted to say that I agree with almost everything that's been said before me. I think we should be able to address pretty much any topic we want on our own blogs, so long as we do so in a way that's respectful of others (i.e., no name calling, etc.).

    I don't have any problems with people who are parenting after ALI writing about parenting issues. With the understanding that I may not be able to contribute a comment (other than vaguely worded general support, perhaps) if they're going to be discussing things like the merits & demerits of cosleeping, cloth vs diaper, breastfeeding & so on.

    It has occurred to me that some people have said it's too painful for them to read parenting blogs, because it's a reminder of what we want to badly & have yet to achieve. And I know the same thing has been said about blogs like mine, but for different reasons (NOBODY wants to be in my position & hopes to avoid it like the plague). If you don't want to read, it's your decision. But someday, you may need the support of the very bloggers you don't want to read right now.

  14. Still thinking. Those are big questions.

  15. Thanks for hosting, Mrs. GG. I'd like to address your point about civility. In the past five years of blogging, I've witnessed an incredible amount of "mean girl" syndrome. It's one thing to act like an adolescent when you are one, it's quite another to propagate that behavior as adults online. My biggest beef is with those who hide behind aliases or avatars and then take pot shots. Like Mel, I don't write anything about people on my blog that I wouldn't say to their face. We can certainly all agree to disagree, but let's not let anonymity give us a free pass for fostering hurt or bad feelings.