Leave Your Opinion at the Virtual Door

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This post has been a long time coming. I don’t do a whole lot of ranting here, except about my crazy kids and bad mothering.

Nestle trip photo stolen from Amanda, because she loves me and I don’t think she will care. 😉

But it all started a thousand Internet years ago when my sweet, pure-hearted friend Amanda went to the Nestle headquarters in California with a bunch of bloggers. They all came absolutely under attack by the mommy-blogging “community” (isn’t a community supposed to be a good thing?) for supporting Nestle when Nestle sells baby formula in third-world countries or something like that.

I was flabbergasted at the mean-spirited attack on them. I mean yes, you can have your opinions. No one is going to deny you that. But is it really worth hurting other people to express them in such a rude manner?

Since that day, I’ve wondered if social media doesn’t give us overinflated views of our own opinions.

Lately, I’ve noticed on Facebook several instances where a friend has asked a question and rather than answer the question, this person’s “friends” have responded by criticizing their choices.

One friend asked her page’s followers when they started swallowing pills, as she had discovered—from her own pediatrician—that her child was large and old enough to swallow a small adult painkiller or something of the sort.

I think 75% of the answers were, “Don’t you dare give your child any adult medicine! Or any medicine at all! You’re evil! You’re going to kill him!” Or, you know, something like that.

Um, is that what she asked?

Then yesterday I saw where another friend posted about trying to bake fluffy bread at home. She was asking for tips, and mentioned adding vital wheat gluten to the dough.

And again, half of the comments were “Gluten is evil! Gluten is bad for everyone!” One commenter compared gluten to soda in terms of health.

REALLY? I’m pretty sure she wasn’t asking for commentary on her health choices or whether or not she should be eating gluten-free. I was glad when my friend politely called out the commenter for being rude. She was nicer than I would have been, I think.

Look, friends. We all have our opinions on everything, whether you realize it or not. But just because social media allows us to put these opinions out there does not mean you have to supply an opinion, especially when it’s not solicited. I find that most of the time, feeling like you NEED to express your opinion on something at every turns shows an insecurity about your own choices and feelings. If something really gets you uptight, maybe you need to dig deeper into what your issue really is with that topic.

What I am not saying is that we shouldn’t condemn the ungodly, unbiblical things … although I don’t think social media is the place for that, either. Privately, with much prayer, confront those issues.

But as I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anything about baby formula, gluten intolerance, or swallowing Advil in the Bible, could we maybe choose to let some things go every once in awhile? I think relationships should always win over feeling like you’re in the right.

What do you think?

23 thoughts on “Leave Your Opinion at the Virtual Door

  1. It makes me a little crazy, and I’m not a direct part of it. Not only may it show a bit of insecurity about their own choices on the part of the attacker, but it shows a very narrow world view. It’s a view that leaves no room for differences in life experiences, values or cultures.

    A friend recently posted a question on Facebook about getting her milk supply back up, as she works fifty hour weeks and is primarily pumping. 50% of the responses ignored her clear statement about her work schedule, while the other 50% were unhappy she was working at all. So much for help from the community.

  2. I’ve done this. I said something when a friend made a comment that I really thought needed addressing, since it had been a reoccuring theme. I made a small comment on the post, and then emailed her privately to talk about it.

    She took it the wrong way and basically we’re not speaking anymore. It really stinks.

    I wish it went better. I wish I was more supportive. I still don’t agree with what she posted, and in a way maybe I don’t regret it — I’d rather she be angry with me, rather than the person she was originally directing her displeasure with. :/ Not sure that my comment and email did anything really long-term, other than wreck our friendship.

    • Well, at least you tried to address it in private. I have a friend who posts some very anti-Christian things on Facebook. I’m never sure if I should respond to those or just ignore them or what.

      NOTHING annoys me like vague things obviously directed at a certain person on FB. Dude, at least make it a DM. 😉

  3. You hit the nail on the head with this post! It’s like it’s become the status quo to make rude and invasive comments through social media. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen moms especially rip each other apart about things like baby feeding/sleeping/diapers/working/notworking/etc. It just goes on and on. And it ain’t Christlike!

    • I read a good article perhaps years ago about why we are so defensive about parenting choices, and I do think it comes down to insecurity. We’re all first-time parents! No one really knows what they’re doing! Give each other grace …

  4. THIS! Amazing post! I rarely even read comments on FB and blogs now because of this. I even had a convo. on FB recently about this very thing. Truthfully, even when I disagree with something (ie. blog post, etc., where feedback would be welcome) I rarely comment because I truly don’t want to be taken the wrong way or for it to seem I’m criticizing simply because I disagree. So I just keep my “mouth” shut.

    When there’s a question, I try to be SO careful to only answer/give advice actually pertaining to the question asked.

    I was actually part of that pill swallowing discussion and couldn’t believe how many people were saying she shouldn’t do it after she’d clearly stated her Dr. told her it was fine.

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  7. I’ve been brainstorming a similar post, though the main point of mine was/is going to be my fear of posting anything of substance because I don’t want to be attacked. I guess I’m thin-skinned, but should one have to be so thick-skinned to say anything these days?

    Did anyone watch the finale of 30 Rock? Liz just adopted twins and is asking questions on a mommy forum and people just rip her and every other poster to shreds. It was so unfortunately realistic!

    • That is true also. Like I said above to someone, I am often more careful that I feel like I should have to be out of fear of being attacked. It’s just disappointing that rudeness is generally acceptable.

  8. I’m not a fan of confrontation, but all this craziness makes me want to prove a point in a really ridiculous way, like asking if anyone can tell me where to buy high fructose corn syrup and food dyes for a recipe. Can you imagine?? I think it’s much more a case of answering the question that one thinks should’ve been asked to be heard. Great post!

  9. People say things on the internet they’d never say to your face. It is foolishness. Parenting is hard enough as it is…

    Thanks for saying this. I wholeheartedly agree!

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  11. Another local blogger published a post yesterday on Nooga News about HER favorite restaurants in Chattanooga. Some of the comments were ridiculously brutal. I mean, if you don’t agree, tell her what YOUR favorite restaurants are. People were basically calling her stupid, saying she might as well have put Taco Bell on the list, that she might as well go eat at the landfill, etc. It was ridiculous.

    • It sincerely amazes me how mean people can be online. I appreciate that you filter negative comments and don’t post negative reviews, because that shows me you are a respectful person online and offline.

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