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Online hate. Why we're all stuck in high school.


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#1 AmityD

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:06 PM

Sometimes, when I’m online, I despair.

I’ve been despairing a lot over the last week, as I’ve read comments, tweets and status updates that make me feel like I’m still in high school. A really, really, b**chy high school.

It began with the launch of a new book featuring a sleep program, which teaches babies to self-settle in a few days. This brought out the attachment parenting group and they vocally rallied against what they believe is the ‘wrong’ way to parent.

I read one tweet where the book, its methods, authors, publisher and those who follow it were referred to as ‘child abusers.’ Child abusers. Really? Because they follow a different philosophy on getting their babies to sleep than you do?

Despair.

The next thing that made me despair was an article on a news site inviting readers to comment on a photo of a woman who is 163cms and weighs 70kgs, the new average Australian female size. The article was asking whether she was fat or not - and didn’t the readers just love getting in on that judgement call!

The vast majority of them, protected by their anonymity and perceived personal perfection, engaged in a kind of verbal stoning, hurling abuse at this ‘average’ woman for being fat, ugly, disgusting and lazy. Honestly, after reading it I wanted to pack my bags and move to the moon.

I can only imagine how that poor woman felt when she read it, which she no doubt did. I’m sure she felt like one other similar sized women commenting, who proclaimed she was so upset by what she read, she had to run to the work toilets and sob.

Nice work, angry mob.

The latest incident that brought on my despair are the attacks on Chrissie Swan and her young sons, after they appeared in this months Women’s Weekly magazine. Again, commentator’s hurled abuse at Chrissie because they thought her 3-year-old son was overweight and it was their job to criticise her for it. Apparently they are all perfect parents, raising perfect children, and they have every right to sit in judgement.

Chrissie has since responded to the backlash, acknowledged that her son is overweight and that they are working with a paediatric dietian to rectify it. But she has also tweeted that the aggression directed towards her beautiful children made her so upset she sat in a car wash and cried.

The mean brigade wins again.

Is this really who we are as a society? Have we progressed no further than the days where crowds cheered at public floggings? We just do it with our tongues now, in the privacy of our own homes. I have seen horrible things written on Twitter about the kids on Young Talent Time for gods sake, and I just don’t understand it.

Many will argue that those in the public eye ask for it, that putting yourself out there makes you fair game for public comment. But most people in the public eye are there because their career demands it. Writers, actors, singers, models, TV presenters, journalists, even politicians, all doing what they love to do and often entertaining and inspiring us in the process. Ok, not so much with the politicians.

Sure, this means they often have praise heaped on them, one of the benefits of public notoriety. So some will argue they also deserve the ridicule - that they have to take the good with the bad. But here’s an idea; by all means critique their work. Or, for an even more revolutionary idea, just don’t watch, read, listen to or buy it. But let’s all quit bagging their looks, weight and family and just get on with focusing on our own.

It’s not just celebrities who have to cop this though; sometimes it’s anyone online whose opinion differs from yours. Parenting sites can be an amazing source of information and support for parents and parents to be, but they can also be battle-grounds for the so called ‘Mummy Wars.’ Check out any forums on vaccination, circumcision, breast v bottle and home v hospital birth and you are sure to find some nastiness sooner or later.

But why do we all have to agree?

Debating all the choices we have to make is a great thing, but when it’s reduced to personal attacks the argument loses its merit. If someone wants to breastfeed their child til they’re four, bottle feed from birth, do controlled comforting, co-sleep, wear their baby in a sling for a year, go back to work at 6 weeks, give birth at home or in hospital where they’re drugged up to their eyeballs it doesn’t affect my life one bit.  

Once of the nicer comments I read about the Chrissie Swan backlash was that she always looks so happy and content with her life and that maybe if more of the people commenting felt the same they wouldn’t need to attack her. Amen to that.

Everyone that has a job involving public comment or performance, particularly women, expect to get some haters. But I can only imagine what Chrissie has gone through over the last week, with it directed towards her children. It is so uncalled for I don’t even know where to start. Despair.

There is much talk about the rise of cyber bullying with teenagers, but from what I see adults are no better. It can be a mean world online and sometimes you have to have a thick skin to engage in it.

Have you experienced online aggression? Or have you been guilty of dishing it out yourself? Do you think it's ok to 'tell it like it is' online and will it ever change?

Edited by EBeditor, 04 June 2012 - 09:28 PM.


#2 CalEliKat

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:13 PM

Yes, there were some nasty remarks made in response to a newspaper article written about my father.  The catalyst for the article was his death notice that had appeared the week before, it was written by him, and it was different to the normal depressing death notices, he asked for no prayers or flowers and invited people to smile at a dog.  The death notice also made Column 8 in the SMH, The Fitz Files, ABC radio and various other media outlets culminating in Kevin Rudd tweeting the story the ran on him in the Illawarra Mercury.  Some randoms felt that it was necessary to accuse my father of thinking himself to be better than other people, which is incredibly insulting - he stood up for the rights of everybody, standing on picket lines supporting workers rights, setting up the homework centres for Indigenous children, protesting nuclear testing, he marched in every May Day March too and so much more.  Yet people hide behind user names and feel it is ok to criticise thereby offending his daughters and tarnishing the good name that my father had/has.

#3 Yomumma

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:14 PM

I think the more anonymous nature of the internet makes people say or should I say type things that they would normally only think in their head-not say in a face to face encounter.

#4 AmityD

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:19 PM

Kerrie, that is unbelievable. I can only imagine how distressing that would have been for your family. It reminds me of the people who target facebook tribute pages for those who've passed away. I just can't fathom what kind of person could do that.

Your dad sounds pretty awesome to me. original.gif

QUOTE (kerrie23 @ 04/06/2012, 05:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes, there were some nasty remarks made in response to a newspaper article written about my father.  The catalyst for the article was his death notice that had appeared the week before, it was written by him, and it was different to the normal depressing death notices, he asked for no prayers or flowers and invited people to smile at a dog.  The death notice also made Column 8 in the SMH, The Fitz Files, ABC radio and various other media outlets culminating in Kevin Rudd tweeting the story the ran on him in the Illawarra Mercury.  Some randoms felt that it was necessary to accuse my father of thinking himself to be better than other people, which is incredibly insulting - he stood up for the rights of everybody, standing on picket lines supporting workers rights, setting up the homework centres for Indigenous children, protesting nuclear testing, he marched in every May Day March too and so much more.  Yet people hide behind user names and feel it is ok to criticise thereby offending his daughters and tarnishing the good name that my father had/has.



#5 mudskippa

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:20 PM

I generally assume people are angry and frustrated and lead frustrating lives and so it is a release for many people to say the things they cannot say in real life. It's one of those things that often says more about the attacker than the target and can definitely be shrugged off as someone having a bad day.

Because of this I assume 'mummy wars' are particularly virulent because of the nature of being a parent - whether SAHM or working and parenting - just isn't something that seems to make people happy.

Years ago I read a lot about female circumcision and learned that the older women in those areas that practice this are often very much behind the push to keep it going, even in areas that were starting to move away from it as a society. It seemed that they felt the younger women should suffer as they had to gain the benefits that they had gained (or not). I sometimes wonder if this is the same for those who undertake a particularly unpleasant path through parenthood - they really want everyone else to do the same thing both to make them feel better about what they went through and assure them they did the right thing and to be sure nobody escapes that fate. Imagine if you spent 5 years not sleeping through the night and your best friend gets the baby to sleep alone and has uninterrupted sleep from 6 months on ... man that would suck. You'd be looking for a million ways to justify your pain - better family life, better attachment, happier children - whatever you could find - and to minimise their results (child abuse).

Edited by mudskippa, 04 June 2012 - 04:29 PM.


#6 Guest_Retro_Mumma_*

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:29 PM

I think its unfair to say were all stuck in high school or to use the term "they act like a bunch of high school students".

My mum was telling me about her friend who lives in an over 55's village. She is constantly bombarded with people knocking on her door and b**ching and whinging about the other residents "so and so did this or said that so im never speaking to her again". These women are all in their 60's, 70's or older.

Some people are just like that, regardless of their age and life experiences.

One of my best friends even in highschool never acted that way. She didnt gossip or put other girls down. She studied and helped her mum look after her three brothers. She was always what you would call "an old soul".

You hear it all the time "so and so should just grow up!" but sadly some people never do. Thats just the way they are.

I think there are bullies and twisted people in real life so of course there is going to be bullies and twisted people online too.

I think in real life we use our common sense and gut instinct and usually avoid these types like the plague but online there is no filter to keep these people away from you - I wish there was, id turn it on right now!

I think if you are going to be online and you are a good, common, decent person who is appalled by how brutal people can be your going to have to develop thick skin and try not to take things personally.

#7 Propaganda

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:36 PM

Those comments on the "oh-so-fat," woman were appalling. Amusingly, many of the people calling for her to be harpooned (and yes, apparently a 70kg woman is so fat she is likened to a whale!) were men who, according to their profile photos, were not exactly the slimmest, best looking men either.

As for high school, I assume people are simply naive when they believe b**chiness is simply a high school thing. From what I've seen, it's a real world thing that continues on until the day we die. I've seen little old ladies act quite similarly to the "Mean Girls," in the movie of the same name, b*tching and being generally hideous to people who don't really deserve that kind of scorn.

I do believe the internet allows for nastiness to reach new heights though. No longer can just the people around you comment on you - people from all over the world now have a chance to make fun of you for their own amusement, not only disregarding how you may feel when you discover their harsh words, but actually delighting in that moment and relishing the hurt they've caused.

#8 Lifesgood

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:39 PM

Nasty = unhappy and/or ignorant and/or uneducated and/or angry and/or disempowered.

Feel sorry for them, they have a lot on their plate!

#9 baddmammajamma

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:42 PM

kerrie23: I am really sorry about the loss of your dad, and I'm sorry that people felt the need to criticize him even after his death.

I googled & found his obituary, which is one of the most memorable and fabulous things I've ever read. I wish I had known him -- sounds like he was one helluva genuine person.

#10 bagelbagel81

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:51 PM

QUOTE (LifesGood @ 04/06/2012, 04:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nasty = unhappy and/or ignorant and/or uneducated and/or angry and/or disempowered.

Feel sorry for them, they have a lot on their plate!


^ That is what my mum always told me - it definitely helps to see things in a different light!

I feel as though if you start looking at it as despair, you allow something that is probably not going to change (online b**chiness or what not) to affect you personally. My only advice is instead of focusing n the negative, be the change you want to see, and focus on the others that are also doing the same.

Edited to say: I am sure Chrissy is doing exactly that - and good for her because of it!

Edited by bagelbagel81, 04 June 2012 - 04:53 PM.


#11 hiccamups

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:54 PM

The internet is a means for people to really say what they mean, which is often before any thought or consideration is given that there are real people on the other end.

I think people should behave on the internet as they would in real life.  Would you feel so obliged to 'say it how it is' to a poor woman struggling at the shops or would you perhaps give her a reassuring glance and get on with your business.  If she asked your opinion you might offer her a little bit of advice, but always carefully, given you can see she's stressed.  

The internet doesn't show who we really are and sadly that can lead people to forget we're all real human beings with feelings.

#12 Missy Shelby

Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:59 PM

I have only been actively on eb for about a month and initially it was quite shocking to me how nasty and b**chy some of the comments can get.  I had the impression that the forums were basically for mums to support each other and give constructive advice.

I now realise that they can be a great arena for an active discussion and that everyone can have different points of view and that is ok.  I really like reading different peoples opinion because it makes me look at things differently sometimes.  I think it is important in these particularly heated discussions that people stay on topic, don't get personal/aggressive or start name calling because then it just does descend into high school antics.

#13 Guest_Retro_Mumma_*

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:01 PM

QUOTE (LifesGood @ 04/06/2012, 05:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nasty = unhappy and/or ignorant and/or uneducated and/or angry and/or disempowered.

Feel sorry for them, they have a lot on their plate!


These are my thoughts too.

When I read something horrible that someone has written I dont think "good point, what a clever, funny person" I think "wow something is seriously wrong with that person to make them write something like that" or "that person has no tact" depending on the scale of their remark.

I believe; "People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty." Richard J. Needham

#14 Missy Shelby

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:02 PM

QUOTE (*howls* @ 04/06/2012, 04:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The internet is a means for people to really say what they mean, which is often before any thought or consideration is given that there are real people on the other end.

I think people should behave on the internet as they would in real life.  Would you feel so obliged to 'say it how it is' to a poor woman struggling at the shops or would you perhaps give her a reassuring glance and get on with your business.  If she asked your opinion you might offer her a little bit of advice, but always carefully, given you can see she's stressed.  

The internet doesn't show who we really are and sadly that can lead people to forget we're all real human beings with feelings.

+1 ( please don't hate for me my +1) biggrin.gif

Couldn't agree with you more howls!

#15 EsmeLennox

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:07 PM

Anonymity is great, people can say what they really think. Just ask the AVN with their diatribe.

I generally agree that people should behave online as they would in real life, and groups like the above and the nasty comments about people in general online are awful, especially when they are completely uncalled for. But, on the other hand, maybe people feel as though they can say it like it really is online?

That said, a three year old who is 7 kg overweight is more than 'slightly' overweight, so it works both ways, doesn't it? Both sides can shape writing to achieve a desired effect.

#16 RichardParker

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:08 PM

People have always been like this. The Internet just amplifies it.

There's not really much difference between calling someone a child abuser, and saying that what they're doing is tantamount to child-abuse. But you would defend the latter statement as being part of healthy, robust public debate. So I don't really understand what kind of a situation you would prefer, since you acknowledge that we don't all need to agree on every subject.

Perhaps you would prefer if things weren't discussed at all, or if they were, that protecting people's feelings is more important than having a frank discussion about the issue.

You ask why we care.  Debates about vaccination, sleep training, childhood obesity, etc are going to be robust- they are going to be emotive because they deal with incredibly important subjects relating to the health and well-being of children.

Frankly, I'd prefer the freedom to call someone a child-abuser, and have them call me an hysterical judgmental cow, than I would us all hold hands and sing Kumbyah.  You're taking advantage of that freedom now by rousing on all the nasty pasties.  So while I agree that some people are just biatches, you judging them for being judgy is a tad rich.

Alternatively, you could follow your own advice and just not read nasty comments on the Internet. If you're expecting others to refrain from getting riled up about unnecessarily non-vaccinated children, then you can also refrain from getting riled up about 'unnecessarily' harsh comments.

#17 AmityD

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:27 PM

Thanks for your comment, some interesting points.

Firstly I would argue that calling something child abuse is still uncalled for - unless it actually is child abuse.

But I totally agree that robust debates about parenting topics are an important thing, something I actually included in this post when I first started writing it last week. We are dealing with children's lives and they are serious topics, so discussion and debate is vital and forums provide a great avenue for that. But it's when it turns into personal attacks that you lose all the potency of the argument and reduce it to pure nastiness.

So by all means lets disagree, but do it in a way we would if we were speaking in person. That is probably a Kumbyah wish, but it's still a good one!


QUOTE (Original Greenbag @ 04/06/2012, 06:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
People have always been like this. The Internet just amplifies it.

There's not really much difference between calling someone a child abuser, and saying that what they're doing is tantamount to child-abuse. But you would defend the latter statement as being part of healthy, robust public debate. So I don't really understand what kind of a situation you would prefer, since you acknowledge that we don't all need to agree on every subject.

Perhaps you would prefer if things weren't discussed at all, or if they were, that protecting people's feelings is more important than having a frank discussion about the issue.

You ask why we care.  Debates about vaccination, sleep training, childhood obesity, etc are going to be robust- they are going to be emotive because they deal with incredibly important subjects relating to the health and well-being of children.

Frankly, I'd prefer the freedom to call someone a child-abuser, and have them call me an hysterical judgmental cow, than I would us all hold hands and sing Kumbyah.  You're taking advantage of that freedom now by rousing on all the nasty pasties.  So while I agree that some people are just biatches, you judging them for being judgy is a tad rich.

Alternatively, you could follow your own advice and just not read nasty comments on the Internet. If you're expecting others to refrain from getting riled up about unnecessarily non-vaccinated children, then you can also refrain from getting riled up about 'unnecessarily' harsh comments.



#18 RichardParker

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:42 PM

I disagree with the high school analogy too. We don't have a choice about attending high school. We do have a choice about participating in online debates.  In high school, bullying happens for no reason. An online flaming is usually the result of someone saying something incredibly stupid.

Also, a teenager's whole world is at their high school, and everyone knows their identity.  Cyber bullying, particularly in highchool, has such a detrimental effect because the real identity ofbthe victim is known to the perpetrator and bystanders.  For most adults participating in something like EB, their whole world is not online. If someone has said something nasty to you on an anonymous forum, chances are that once you close down the computer, the people in your usual life will not be influenced by it unless you tell them about it.  So nasty comments here don't have the effect that a nasty FB comment might have for someone in high school.

Fair enough that you'd like us all to be respectful in argument and refrain from personal attacks. But unless you have enforcement, it's not going to happen on the Internet. Some people are b**chy and that's just life.

#19 Helena Handbasket

Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:53 PM

I say what I think both in real life and online. I am blunt, tact isn't one of my strengths, but rarely am I intentionally vicious (although I have been, both online and IRL) I have been guilty of posting and speaking in the heat of the moment, and being very blunt about topics I feel strongly about.

Attacking a woman over her weight. That is horrible and something I wouldn't do. Having a go at someone like Meryl Dorey and her AVN minions, yeah... Let me at 'em.

I don't think much of someone though who bemoans the nastiness online while calling people high school b*tches, nasty pasties, angry mob and mean brigade though. I'd rather be someone who is blunt and lacks a bit of tact than a hypocrite.

#20 ubermum

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:08 PM

QUOTE (AmityD @ 04/06/2012, 05:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for your comment, some interesting points.

Firstly I would argue that calling something child abuse is still uncalled for - unless it actually is child abuse.


Well, since you mentioned the circumcision debate, it is considered to be child abuse for a female child, but not a male child. Is it any wonder those of us completely opposed get so riled up?

As for the other stuff, it unfortunately happens anywhere there is too many women. Parenting forums, the nursing profession, and aged care facilities. I am intimately associated with them all and they are all very very biatchy. It's not just high school. Women just generally are not that supportive of each other and tend to form cliques. It's the way it is. I've just got in the door from ballet lessons and it was happening there, both between the four year olds, and waiting outside amongst the mothers. So what's the solution? If it causes you "despair" perhaps just avoid places that are so female dominated because nobody is going to break into Kumbaya any time soon.



#21 PooksLikeChristmas

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:23 PM

QUOTE
But maybe the rest of us need to speak up more, in order to drown them out.


I agree with this bit. This is what some of the ebers I admire best do brilliantly well.

QUOTE (Original Greenbag @ 04/06/2012, 05:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Frankly, I'd prefer the freedom to call someone a child-abuser, and have them call me an hysterical judgmental cow, than I would us all hold hands and sing Kumbyah.


Sometimes, however, when a dead horse has been flogged to the point of being nauseating, a good sing along is in order. And roasted marshmallows, obviously.

#22 RealityBites

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:30 PM

Amity - I think you will find these are mostly examples of media beat-ups. Chrissie Swan, for example, is just the latest in the celebrity tell-all brigade who is putting her small children in the media eye for publicity. Call me a b**ch all you want, but I don't like it and I don't like her.

#23 nicebitch

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:36 PM

In highschool and other places of work, this sort of nasty behavior does happen, but usually never to the persons face or within their hearing and always behind their backs. On the internet you can say it to the persons face so to speak. You don't have to face up to how that person responds, you have no idea if you have made them cry or scream. So people do, they post their nasty words for everyone to see.

As for what is said on the internet not having as much affect on the person as what is said by people in real life, i disagree. On the internet, its usually more than one person having a go at you. Generally if someone is having a go, everyone else will join in and the victim will end up feeling as though the whole world hates them. In my opinion the affect is exactly the same. Hearing through the grapevine that one person said something nasty about you at work compared to 50+ people all having a go at you on the internet, its all not nice to experience.

But nobody on the internet thinks about that, only how fun it is for them to abuse someone else. It goes to show how depraved society still is. I'm with you Amity. Sometimes the internet makes me want to go bush.

#24 mudskippa

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:50 PM

I was reading a forum about celebrity apprentice and people were describing Aubrey O'Day (http://latestcbsnews.com/wp-content/upload...-Apprentice.jpg) and Lisa Lampanelli (http://0.tqn.com/d/comedians/1/0/w/G/-/-/109904022.jpg) as being exactly the same size.

It is true that once you are past size 12 you may as well be size 24 as far as one section of the population is concerned, but they are kind of crazy.

Edited by mudskippa, 04 June 2012 - 06:51 PM.


#25 Clever Clogs

Posted 04 June 2012 - 06:52 PM

No one is forced to live a public life. Being a model, actor, writer ... all these things are a choice. I think choosing a public life means knowing the possible consequences.

FWIW I do happen to think some parenting practices which deny a baby love and comfort are abusive. I choose not to get involved. But why am I not able to voice an opinion if I want to?




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