The Infamous Online ‘Mommy Wars’
The other day I rashly remarked to a friend after receiving some online insults on a controversial blog post of mine: “They say motherhood brings out the best in women. Well, I’m here to tell you IT BRINGS OUT THE WORST in some women!”
It does occasionally seem as though a lot of the moms lurking online are waiting to be offended by someone else’s worldview so that they may lash out with sassy diatribes that supposedly prove their own moral or intellectual superiority. But truth be told, though some people express their disapproval excessively and distastefully, all of us, moms or not, spend our lives judging. All day, every day. Making judgment calls about people and situations and beliefs are a large part of what makes us critically thinking human beings. We advance through life by gauging morality, deciding what we believe and what we don’t, who we agree and disagree with and why.
Thing is, ‘judging’ others isn’t the problem. The problem is how we express our judgment. Especially online, where those expressing opinions and beliefs contrary to our own seem less like living, breathing human beings and more like thumbnail images on a computer screen. Many of us, myself included, fall prey to dehumanizing others when disagreeing via the Internet. Precisely because we aren’t looking at fellow human beings but rather at a technological device we easily reduce those who offend us to all their imagined worst traits. And so we judge in ugly ways, assuming that they must be ignorant or close-minded or heartless and treating them as such.
But there is another way to judge. First off, remember that despite how annoying we find others, chances are they have very real reasons for believing the way they do. There are reasons people are angry or overly passionate or just plain wrong. They were raised differently, taught differently, suffered differently. Their own life experiences and struggles molded them into the person they are and the beliefs they express.
I myself don’t apologize for my worldview and beliefs. If they offend someone, I don’t particularly care. I only care that I did my part to express myself consciously and compassionately and in a manner that acknowledges the humanity of those with whom I disagree.
So I’m not going to say “Let’s stop judging each other, moms.” The suggestion itself sounds patronizing, and pretty impossible, considering judging is one of the things humans do most often and best. Instead I encourage those who struggle with anger and taking offense at others’ lifestyles/opinions to re-evaluate the ways in which they react. After all, online interaction is still interaction with other complex human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity no matter how horribly ‘wrong’ we consider them.