I’m taking a little break from social media to refill my bucket. So, this is a quick (unedited) post about why.
I have seriously considered quitting blogging 3 times. The first was when the blog wrote under a pseudonym for years changed direction and we decided to part ways. The second was when I had not one or two, but three sites plagiarizing my content and the fight to make them stop seemed overwhelming.
The third was yesterday after I sent these two tweets:
If there's a quote from "she who shall not be named" in an article about homebirth safety, there is zero credibility—
Zoie (@TouchstoneZ) June 25, 2012
If the response to a family tragically losing a baby during birth is to say "no more birth choice," then be honest that woman=subhuman—
Zoie (@TouchstoneZ) June 25, 2012
The first was retweeted by a blogger well-known for intolerant fearmongering about homebirths. At first I was amused by her ego in both finding and retweeting my tweet. I joked that I was singing, “You’re So Vain, I’ll bet you think this tweet is about you,” tipping my hat to Carly Simon. But, then a couple of, dare I refer to them as, trolls tweeted me about dead babies due to homebirth risks and advocating against learning about birth information. Not so funny when you realize there are people trying to scare women away from birthing choice.
Next, I received a notification about a new comment on an old post. I love comments, especially the ones on my homebirth stories because they’re often left by others who have, or plan to have, gentle births.
But, not this comment. This comment was about how selfish it is to birth at home because I don’t care about whether my baby dies. Similar comments were left on 3 of my homebirth stories by the same “anonymous” person (thank goodness for ip addresses.) Then this person found my stillbirth stories. And left comments basically saying that I deserved this for birthing at home and that it should teach me a lesson not to be selfish.
If this isn’t vile enough, the person didn’t bother to read that my daughter died from genetic problems before I went into labor. Had I gone into the hospital, her body would most likely have been cut out of me as the risk of hemorrhage was too great. She also didn’t see the post I wrote about the treatment I did receive in hospital when I brought her body in.
But none of this is here nor there. The point is, this person and the 3 others who left cruel comments about my previous births and current pregnancy are not motivated by concern over “dead babies.” They are concerned with controlling and punishing women.
It took me a few hours to find compassion and empathy for the people who left comments. Some of them have experienced tragic loss. Some of them feel they are rescuing or protecting women and babies from birth dangers. They can’t see the harm they’re causing or they choose not to. Or they think they’ll frighten someone into silence or compliance.
When fear is overwhelming, controlling and punishing are coping mechanisms. It’s not my job to fix or change this, although I think this hurts my heart to leave someone suffering more than anything else. I’m not willing to subject myself to pain in order to do it.
As for the original “she who shall not be named,” I’m still trying to figure her out. But, I understand her enough that I fully stand by my original tweet. There is no credibility from someone so willfully intolerant of other viewpoints.
It took me overnight to realize this because being bullied (or trolled) isn’t pleasant. It is smothering, angering, and depressing. Most of the advice online is to ignore it. Shake it off. But, I think that’s BS. I think it allows, even encourages, more online bullying.
I’ve read from others about far more extensive bullying than this blip I’ve experienced. I understand the urge to turtle. But, I’m not going to be silent. Instead, I asked a thick-skinned troll eater to moderate comments for awhile. I won’t see any negative comments, but rest assured they’re in a folder, along with ip addresses and any other identifying information. My troll eating friend found it interesting that 2 of the people have personal facebook accounts easily found. So, their personal information is also in this wonderful file that I shall never see. If any further action is needed, troll eater will take it up with their isps.
Troll eater and I discussed sharing the comments or any identifiable tweets and links, but I wouldn’t want these people to be trolled in return. So, if you’re reading this and are pissed, I ask you to write something of your own about speaking out about online trolling or advocating for women to empower themselves in birth (and please share the link here, if you do!)
Make it positive. Speak Out. Even for those so lost in pain and intolerance that they cannot advocate through the anger.