Thursday, 21 October 2010

When Community Goes Bad

I've blogged for quite some time now, on and off, but as far as I'm concerned it's an enjoyable pursuit, I write because I like to do it and I also think that I'm quite good at it. I like being part of the mummy blogging community because I feel as though I can have a chat with people on issues which are relevant to us as a group and get to see other people's views on subjects which I find interesting. I enjoy being on Twitter because you can join in a random chat, sit back, relax and have a bit of a laugh. But this week has made me realise that it isn't always a great place to be.

I'm not really in what I'd describe as the inner circle of mummy bloggers. I'm not really in the outer circle either. In fact, if you were looking at the inner circle and the outer circle, and then zoomed out, I'd be trying to get a bus from the next town to the circles. This means that more often than not, I don't understand the in-jokes, I don't understand who's friends with who and I certainly don't understand who hates who, who wishes the other one would get run over by a car and who thinks the other one's blogs/pictures/babies are the most disgusting thing she's ever seen.

This week, there's been the swift start and hasty demise of a new blog, written anonymously, which, if I'm honest, was just sniping for the sake of it, and nasty with it. This appears to have been accompanied by a proper old handbag slinging on Twitter and probably a load of other places on the internet I've never even heard of. There were accusations and counter accusations and threats of legal action.

And I'm sort of left thinking - well that's not very nice is it? I'm going to be really honest now - I wish sometimes I was on the inner circle of mummy bloggers - it's like when I was back at school and I wanted to knock round with the cool girls, but that never happened either. While I might want to join in their gang, I look at what they have to do, how much work they each individually put in to their blogs and businesses, and how talented they are, and I think fair play to them. I look enviously at the amount of comments and visits some people get on their blog and wish that my blog was so well read and well thought of, and then I look at how much promotion they do for it, and again I think they get out of it what they put in. I work full time, I don't get back home till after 6, I can't blog during the day and in the evening I have to try and fit in minor things like eating and chores and sleeping. So I have to settle for what I can get.

The things that really bother me though are the vitriol and downright unpleasantness that goes back and forth. Anonymity is a great thing to hide behind, and which of us hasn't spouted off at the Virgin Media Customer Service Team on a website in a manner which doesn't befit a lady? (Or is that just me?) Would these people be so brave face to face if they worked in an office and then had to carry on working with these people? Would they even be so brave if they used their real names? Anonymity has its place, of course it does, but it isn't just a convenient shield for when you want to be rude to someone.

This week I think the community has shown its claws, and sadly I think it won't show us in a good light. As a mum, I have to ask...

Would you let your children behave like that?


  1. Great post.

    I’ve been the target of some shocking abuse from a very small minority of parent bloggers – in the past year, I’ve been called a hag, a whore, a twat, a liar, unprofessional, reprehensible, disgusting, deluded, mentally ill and – most memorably of all – a lesbian.

    But I don’t think this says anything about bloggers. It’s just people. In any community you will have people who lack the intelligence and/or emotional maturity to differentiate between “I don’t agree with you” and “I hate you”.

    For what it’s worth, you have to learn to avoid those people as much as you can, and trust that they are more than capable of showing themselves for exactly what they are without any help from you.

  2. Wow! If you're at a bus stop in the mummy-blogger suburbs you must have a spy-cam or something to have heard all the dirt...
    I have no clue exactly what this all refers to but find it sad that what I thought was a really lovely supportive group of people is obviously peppered with some nasty types. But as Sally says - that's life and that's people - there's always good and bad. (Fortunately I would consider that we are on good side so pat on the back for us!)

  3. Hi Sally, thanks for visiting. I picked up that you'd had some "trouble" shall we say, and that's why I was less surprised when it all kicked off this week. And I see your point, I suppose it's not that much worse than a school PTA! I do think though that blogging brings out people's competitive nature though and sometimes it just gets taken a bit too far.

    Kate, am nose to the grindstone, but ear to the ground. Twitter helps too...

  4. I blogged something very similar in September, I wouldnt accept this behaviour from my boys, so decided I had to speak out.

  5. Really well written post. It could have been written by me too (If I was a better writer). I think the same that although i'd love to be one of the in crowd, I'm not sure I could deal with all of the backstabbing and nastiness that goes along with it.

  6. Yes great post. My arrival in twitterland was so recent I missed this, although there seemed to be some unrest today too. I'm sure it doesn't need to get nasty, but yes, that's life I guess. The cheering thing is bloggers supporting those who have been victims of negativity.

  7. I came across the tail end of some of this by accident when I was doing a bit of blog hopping. I was really shocked. I can't believe the stuff that was going back and forth. I'm glad I'm not in the 'inner circle' if that's what it's like! I don't know where people get the time to behave like that anyway. I barely have time to write a blog post never mind handbags at dawn and bitching and the like!

  8. That's a really good post on the recent events in the mummy blogging community and I have to say I really relate to your attitude towards it as much as being in the middle between inner and outer circle. I feel sorry for whoever feel they need to take the time to write and spell so much nastiness and I would definitely be very upset to witness one of my children behaving like this. I certainly wouldn't approve at all!

  9. I heard of the blog you are talking about after the event and missed the goings on on Twitter. I am kind of glad, in a way. I amn't in any circles and now I don't think I want to be. Maybe we should create our own!! Anyway, Twitter is my friendly going to relax place and I wouldn't want to be part of that kind of nastiness. Jen (Blog Gems)

  10. I've luckily avoided any nastiness (so far), but I think the anonymity (aka cowardice) element has a lot to answer for.
    I was never in the cool gang at school I'm glad!
    To answer your question, there would be zero tolerance of crapola like that with my kids. XXX