I am having one of those weirdly auspicious days today, like the universe is conspiring to make me see a message and everything relates. Well the two main things that happened related anyway.
I woke this morning to see a post in my Facebook newsfeed about a bit of an awful event that took place between two Aussie bloggers this past weekend.
Do you guys know of Constance Hall? Constance is something of an internet sensation in this country. She has made a career out of #keepingitreal in the parenting sphere. She swears, she shows her post baby belly with pride and her spelling and grammar aren’t all that great but no one who loves her really cares. She is an incredible storyteller (despite the grammatical errors and to be honest, I think the grammar thing has also become part of her brand…it’s authentic) and even when I don’t agree with what she has to say I do enjoy the way she says it. She wins hearts through her authenticity. She is the real deal, a totally genuine woman and it shines through.
Anyway, she works hard to empower women, especially mothers. She calls them Queens.
We can all be Queens. There are no rules. #LikeAQueen trends online regularly and is the title of her book. Some women are even getting crowns tattooed on their bodies to represent the Queen movement. It’s big.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Like all movements (and this Queening bizzo really has become a movement) she has some quite fanatical supporters who are almost blind in their adoration. And she has some people who don’t really get her. She is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but who is, right? I have my fair share of disinterested peeps out there I’m sure. Some people love my posts and read every single one, some people follow me but only stop by for the odd post here and there and some people find me boring or I swear too much or find my posts too long (because they are). Whatever. It is what it is.
Over the weekend another Aussie blogger, Lisa at thenotoriusmum.com, wrote a piece on how she doesn’t really go for the Queening thing. I personally think she kept it pretty tame. Except for a bit of a backhander about grammar at the end, she mostly talked about issues related to the whole movement as opposed to picking at Constance personally.
(Not everyone agrees with me here so you can feel free to go and check out the post yourself. Whether or not she is right really has nothing to do with where I got to today on my little auspicious journey so you know, don’t feel you HAVE to read it.)
Anyway, Constance stopped by and chatted with her in the comments and apparently that all went smoothly (I never looked at this so I can’t say if this is all true). However Connie went off to her own page afterwards with her almost 1m likers (internet sensation remember) and posted about how upset she felt. Fair enough. I can see that the post probably had a bit of sting for her. And her adoring fans decided they wanted to go into bat for her and wore her down until she provided the name of the offending blog.
You can probably guess what happened here. They descended on poor Lisa en masse and tore her to shreds. A truly awful moment on the internet and hardly empowering for women.
I posted all about this on my Facebook page this morning and some interesting and varied view points came up. I went back to it now and again throughout the day so the whole incident was kind of playing in the background of my mind.
Was it wrong of Lisa to write that post? Hmmmm I think no, she has a right to her opinion and people give opinions about people and movements all the time online (like I am now). She wasn’t vicious or nasty in any of her viewpoints. I don’t necessarily agree with all that she said but hey, I see her point on some of the issues (blind adoration by the fans for example). Besides, we don’t want to go about censoring people when they aren’t being asshats and I don’t think she was being an asshat.
Was it a bit silly of her to think she wasn’t going to get smashed by the adoring fans when she published the piece? Yes, probably; doesn’t make the smashing acceptable though. Trolling is bad behaviour. We don’t need no genius to tell us that.
Essentially I could see the point of both parties but hated the trolling aspect. I kept thinking about the meanness though that people saw in Lisa’s post and while I didn’t see it quite so harshly I did start to ask myself was it a form of bullying?
Back in the real world we went on to have our usual Tuesday fun. Monkey played Little Rugby with his bestie and we hung out with them for lunch and a play afterwards. Today it was hot chips at the park.
The boys love each other to bits and usually play really well together but they also have their moments in that intense 5 year old friendship way. Today Monkey was getting a bit competitive which resulted in him being a bit mean to his buddy. His buddy was sad and then lashing out verbally to retaliate. Not so weird, right? When someone is mean to us our normal mode is to be defensive or even meaner in return. A bit like what happened with Constance Hall this weekend. She felt like Lisa was mean to her, so she got meaner in return.
I, of course, was trying to say to Monkey that he shouldn’t be mean but it was mostly “Please don’t be mean to your friend, it’s not nice to do that when you know it makes Buddy so sad” and so on and so forth.
It wasn’t a great explanation and it wasn’t really a good way to modify behaviour. It was full of DON’TS and did not provide an example of what he should do instead.
So I started to think about it. What do we want to do for our friends? We want to make them feel good, we want to build them up and give them confidence, empower them so they can feel strong and happy. Kinda like Constance is trying to do for her mama tribe. If we are mean to them or defensive when they are mean to us it becomes very hard to achieve our goal of empowerment.
We need to lead by example. Treat others the way we wish to be treated.
And when they go low, we always go high. So high. (thanks Michelle Obama)
So we started to talk about things we could say when our buddies are mean to us:
I’m not going to be mean to you because you are awesome and my friend.
I don’t want o fight with you because you are my friend. Let’s do something fun.
Let’s be nice to each other.
It’s pretty hard to keep being mean to someone who is nice to you (probably easier for kids to keep doing it though) and while not perfect this sort of response keeps the positive as part of the interaction.
So this afternoon we practicised saying these things together. And then we did a 1 min meditation together where we thought nice things about people in our lives (I sound like a massive hippy). We are going to do that 1 min together every day.
I want to have a habit of thinking positive things about the people in our lives.
I want to teach my kid to be kind.
I want to help him think of kindness in the face of the meanness.
I don’t know if this strategy will work but it has to be better than “don’t be mean” so we are going to give it a try.
As I had this epiphany this evening I couldn’t help but go back to the blogging war this morning and apply this same philosophy.
I decided that actually, Lisa’s post probably was a bit mean. She did say some nice things about Connie but they kinda got lost in the mix.
But in the emotion of it all Connie also missed a great opportunity to rise above and go high. Sure it probably would have tasted like sucking on a lemon but imagine the positive publicity if she’d managed to take that raw emotion and use it to go high. It could have been brilliant. Instead we had the equivalent of a playground brawl. Lisa shoved Connie, sure, but by setting the adoring fans loose, Connie put her in hospital. I think we can all agree this is a a pretty fucked outcome.
…there’s always next time.
I am not a perfect person or a perfect parent so who knows how this will go and if it will even work. I’m sure it is flawed for reasons someone will kindly comment and tell me but I like to think we are at least on the right track. Lead with kindness peeps. We will make the world so much nicer if we do.
Now I have to lead by example which basically means my homework this week when Eric pisses me off and I want to get defensive is to go high and not call him an arsehole. I am going to think nice things about him in my 1 min meditation to practice.
And now, I have stayed up until 11pm writing this piece which desperately needs an edit but I don’t have the time or the brain space for it as I need to get to bed before my baby wakes in a millisecond. Let’s hope I don’t have 74,352 messages in the morning calling me a fucking bitch for not choosing the appropriate side in this little stoush. I have deliberately not tagged either blogger in this post so I can maybe slide under the radar a bit. I don’t feel like dealing with trolls. Please universe, let me have my nice lesson and not be slammed for it. Ha!