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Monday, July 20, 2015

Wasted Time, Wasted Tears (Or, Why I’ll Never Read the Comments Section Again)

Yesterday I had a piece published on The Mid that discussed some of the dangers of secondhand smoke, and why I prefer my kids not to be around cigarettes.

I recounted a playground outing I'd had with the boys, during which someone was smoking very close to us. I am going to phrase it that way, because apparently my wording here is the be-all and end-all: You see, in the post, I foolishly used the phrase “along the outer perimeter of the fence,” implying that no “rules” were technically broken (even though said fence was certainly less than 50 feet away from the play area, and fences are comprised primarily of—you know—HOLES.)

But, I digress. To summarize (in case you didn’t read the article and still have no desire to): I briefly noted some of the side effects of secondhand smoke and expressed the frustration I feel when someone is smoking near my kids in a public area.

Let’s be clear: I did not name call. I did not condemn or judge people who smoke. I did not threaten to call The Playground Police. I did not imply or suggest that it’s irresponsible of other parents to allow their kids to play in an area where someone is smoking. (You see, I don’t make a habit of telling people how to raise their kids.)

I did not accuse anybody of giving my kids freaking lung cancer, as one reader suggested (more on that below).

All I did was share my feelings as a parent, and how I chose to react to them; and I did so in a respectful, non-confrontational manner.

And I got virtually crucified for it.

Get a grip.

This is so dumb. Someone occasionally smoking within 20 feet of your children is not going to give them lung cancer. (Could someone kindly point out to me where I said that it would?)

#privilegedproblems

Asshole.

She's going to be surprised to learn the world does not revolve around her and her kids. (Again, could someone point out where I implied it did? I didn’t ask anyone to go out of their way for us; I chose to leave.)

I bet this mom has no friends.

Bitch.

Wow those poor kids having to leave cause of their idiot Mom. (“Cause” their idiot Mom? Hmm. Not sure if this one was intended to be ironic or not.)

Prude.

Get over yourself.

Hover parent.

These are some of the winningest phrases directed toward me in response to the article.

*Sigh*

You know, as I’ve continued to get more and more of my work “out there,” I’ve come to expect a certain amount of backlash. It’s part of the blogging gig: The wider the audience my writing reaches, the wider the range of responses I’m going to get. I have accepted that as one of the inevitable costs of my work being published on a larger platform.

But nothing really prepares you for the first time a total stranger calls you “bitch.” Nothing prepares you for the first time you’re accused of being an “idiot mom” who’s doing a horrible job raising her kids.

I don’t expect people to agree with everything I write. I know that, to some people, breathing in a little cigarette smoke isn’t a big deal. That’s fine. I grew up with asthma and happen to be hyper-aware of its presence. It’s something that frustrates me, so I wrote about it. 

I don’t agree with everything I read either. For example, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing formula over breastmilk, but I couldn’t even tell you how many articles I’ve read where people argue why “breast is best.” As long as those articles are written tastefully, and simply express the author’s personal point-of-view, I don’t find them offensive (even if I don’t necessarily agree).

You know what I do find offensive?

Hatred. Name calling. Rude assumptions and unfair accusations. Being called everything from hypocrite to idiot to bitch, simply because I wrote about my feelings as a mother.

Shouldn't mothers be supporting one another instead of tearing each other down?

When I first started reading those commenters’ ugly words, I cried. I cried hard, and I cried a lot. And then I ate a container of honey pecan cream cheese spread took my kids for a run to clear my head.

Once I’d rid my brain of all the nastiness, I got mad. Really mad. But not at the insensitive, ignorant commenters. No, I got mad for caring: For caring what a bunch of tactless strangers said about me on the internet. For wasting my time and my tears on people who don’t know me and have nothing better to do than showcase their hatred through cowardly Facebook comments.

Some people just look for reasons to be mean.

And you know what? Screw ’em. If you think it’s okay to talk to people like that—to treat people like that—I’m not interested in anything you have to say anyway. Those people can waste all the time they want being hateful, but I’m no longer going to waste my time—or my tears—caring.


In a weird way, those commenters did me a favor. They reminded me that it doesn't matter what other people think of you, as long as you stay true to yourself. There are always going to be ugly-hearted people in this world, and the best we can do is ignore them. 

Oh, and their timing was impeccable: You see, I have an extremely raw and personal Scary Mommy post lined up for this week, and I’ve been worrying about how it’s going to be received among the internet community.

But now I don’t really care.

And you can bet your ass I won’t be wasting any of my time scrolling through the comments people make on it.

6 comments:

  1. So sorry you had to go through this, Samantha! Hateful, nonconstructive criticism IS one of the hard parts about blogging and putting yourself out there. The people hating on you are internet trolls who are likely carting around an oxygen tank from years of smoking in their own lives. Keep on doing what you're doing. A longtime writer friend once told me that if your writing isn't pissing someone off, then you're not doing a good job. Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer! It's like, logically, you know it doesn't matter what total strangers say about you, but the initial sting is hard to get over. It helps when your own friends and family (the people that matter) are so supportive.

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  2. I totally agree and empathize. I was the subject of stupid, stupid comments when I wrote about how teens shouldn't burn rubber in a parking lot when it's crowded (I was holding my baby at the time)... and I got called a loser and an a-hole for even suggesting it. And on the smoking thing, I'm with you!: http://ydtalk.com/yorkdadlife/stop-smoking-around-your-kid-yes-you/

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    1. Thank you! People just look for reasons to be mean. Yesterday I read a humor piece on The Mid about being a "Midwesterner"...just a woman being nostalgic about her rural childhood, and people tore her to bits. REE-DICL-YOU-LOUS. I have a body image post up on Scary Mommy today and won't even dare looking at the comments. Thanks for your support!

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    2. *REE-DICK-YOU-LOUS....ha...irony

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