Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Civility holds its tongue

There was a lot of discussion on the interwebs yesterday about the benefits of blogging raw, so to speak. Specifically, Lori has been writing very openly about her emotional responses in the aftermath of her husband’s suicide. While the vast majority of readers have been incredibly supportive and appreciative, a few have suggested that she should tone it down.

This sort of thing really sticks in my craw. Partly because Lori is my friend and it bothers me to see her get so upset over a few idiotic comments. Partly because I think they're just flat out wrong. But also because I too blog raw. I fall firmly on the side that believes that transparency and honesty always trump secrecy.

Secrecy is a poison that has torn my family apart and robbed my children of a father. When we speak, we bring things into the light and give them a chance to heal. Sometimes the things we need to speak about are taboo. They still need to be spoken. In fact, they need to be talked about all the more, because it then gives others struggling with the same difficult issues the courage to speak as well, and thus heal.

Two days ago I received an email from a woman who reads my blog. She told me she had followed a link to Lori’s blog and read her posts. She shared with me some of the circumstances in her life which led her to the point of wanting to take her own life. But after reading Lori’s post and seeing firsthand the brutal reality of the aftermath of suicide, she had changed her mind. She wanted me to pass her email along to Lori, to thank her for writing that post and saving her life.

There are some that suggest that they make these critical comments out of concern. I call bullshit. Calling into question a mother’s parenting choices and basically accusing her of triggering suicide, at a time when she is experiencing the depths of grief, is not something one does out of concern. At best it is incredibly insensitive. At best.

When you spend enough time on the internet you are bound to come across the occasional commenter who loves to swoop in and throw barbs at another, apparently getting a rise out of causing strife to someone else. They are almost always anonymous. Some people call them trolls, some call them flamers. Perhaps we should call them by their clinical name: sociopaths.

Harsh? Perhaps. I think I’m just in mama lion mode. But anyone who kicks another person when they’re down just riles me. Unfortunately, they’re out there. Fortunately, they are by far outnumbered by generous, caring people.

It’s so easy to express compassion and support. Ridiculously easy. Here, watch this:

  • Lori, you’re amazing and I fully support everything you’re doing right now. Listen to your heart.
  • Jodie, thanks for your support of Lori and her decision to write through her grief.
  • Milk, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I'm hoping for the best outcome.
  • "R", I'm glad you chose life. I hope you keep choosing that every day. You are worth so much more than you think.
  • I’m feeling frightened for all my friends in Queensland, and all the people there I don’t know. Stay safe.

The blogosphere is a big place full of lots of opinions. If you like what you’re reading, it’s a wonderful way to connect with someone new and share some support. If you disagree, why not just click away? I'd like to think that civility knows when to hold its tongue.

 

 

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50 comments:

  1. Agree. what is the point. Piss off Lurkers and take your hate elsewhere. You cannot bring down any member of our community.

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  2. Damn straight. Thanks K. I love you. Weeks, baby, just weeks now!!

    "Secrecy is a poison that has torn my family apart and robbed my children of a father"

    Yup. That. In a different way, of course- but that.

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  3. *Stands up and applauds* Bravo! Civility does know when to hold it's tongue so obviously there are some pretty uncivilized folk out there.

    I must say that I cracked up laughing at "Perhaps we should call them by their clinical name: sociopaths." So true.

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  4. I just don't get it....If a person has their own blog, they can write whatever the hell they want. And if some reader doesn't like it, they can simply go elsewhere. I don't get these people who feel the need to leave discouraging comments, what are they trying to achieve??

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  5. @ Lori - yes, only weeks!

    We are half a world away but we see the same moon. xo

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  6. I have some voodoo dolls, want some?

    But yeah, some people are just assholes.

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  7. beautifully written! there are so many opinions flying around at the moment that are completely unneccesary. people should think before they speak in this circumstance - take a walk in the shoes of the person you are judging before verbalising that judgement. all it does is cause unnecessary pain to a woman who is already hurting way too much...

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  8. Absolutely. Some people are just jerks. Thank God there are also many many good guys on the net.

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  9. @ Woog - that's what I love. We are a community and we have each other's back.

    @ Rachel - that's just it. We can never know what it is to walk in someone else's shoes. If someone is breaking the law or willfully harming another person, that's one thing. But expressing their grief? Give me a break.

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  10. I totally agree....If you don't like a post, you don't have to continue reading it!

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  11. So true! I think a lot of blogs out there are online diaries for people - why shouldn't they be able to write about what they're going through? If you don't like it, don't read it!

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  12. I don't think anyone could have said it better! Brilliant post!!

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  13. Here Here! I have fucking had it with stupid people making remarks where it doesn't concern them. Especially when it adds to the heartbreak Lori has already endured. Great post and well said. x

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  14. Well bloody said!
    I just dont understand people that make comments like that. I have an easy solution - JUST STOP READING. If you dont like what Lori writes, or I write or whoever, dont read it. Douches!

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  15. Thanks, Kristin. You know I admire your writing and you know that I also blog raw. I am incredibly proud of Lori for writing as she is writing. This is what she needs right now and it's nobody's business but her own.

    I'm lucky that I haven't had any disparaging remarks on my blog, but it would add salt to some very raw wounds if I did.

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  16. I though the clinical names was Asshole?
    Great post

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  17. @ Pat - Asshat, actually (DSM-IV)

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  18. Beautifully written. I couldn't agree more. Xx

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  19. To quote Bridget Jones' best friend Shazza: "Fuck em. Fuck the lot of them. Tell them they can stick Lewis up their fucking arses." This does not make much sense, other than to emphasise that sometimes all you can do is swear at a situation.

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  20. If the world wasn't full of arseholes we wouldn't appreciate the awesome peeps. And you are all awesome!

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  21. Well said is an understatement. I love you in mama lion mode xx

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  22. There you go Kristin. Thanks for writing this. It was some day yesterday.

    One of the best things that comes with writing honestly every ugly truth is perspective, we start looking at things in a different way- mostly from a better point in view. And it always helps us to start again, hold on a bit longer, and believe again. Humans are characterised by emotions- good, bad, ugly, I don't understand why we have to withhold every thing within us even when we know it needs to come out. I support Lori, let her write. The world can suck.

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  23. You are absolutely right! I always think of you saying to "speak your truth", and it has motivated me a lot in my own daily life. Thank you!
    Your writing always amazes me, you are so expressive and eloquent.

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  24. Thanks for the mention, hon. xxx

    To be fair to the person who emailed me - they did it privately. I chose to address the couple of issues they raised on my blog because I figured there were others thinking it, and I wanted to make sense of it. Straight after, I wondered if all I'd done by mentioning it was upset Lori more, and I was very concerned about that. However, she assured me that she was glad she could address it anyway, and felt better for doing so. Phew. The last thing I intended to do was hurt *anyone* by writing what I did.

    I think talking about this stuff can only help others.

    Great post.

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  25. This issue constantly rears its head and makes me gnash my teeth in fury! Nobody has the right to tell someone else what they can or cannot write / express on their own blog. Nobody! Don't like it? Don't read it! So simple. Free speech goes hand in hand with other people's choice not to listen if they don't want to. But that's their problem!

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  26. I KNEW there would be backlash for Lori. Haters gonna hate.

    Well said, K. I think 'my blog, my words' and all thoughts are welcome but only if you can express yourself in a civil and pleasant way. Easy. x

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  27. I genuinely find the honest rawness of Lori's open emotions very refreshing. She needs it, if you don't like it don't read it, but why feel the need to kick her about it?

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  28. Well said

    I can't believe anyone in their right mind would say anything even resembling cruel during grief like that...not that they had any right anyway. Ignoring something doesn't make it go away...facing it will though and Lori is doing just that.

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  29. Well said you. Some people shouldn't be allowed near the internet.

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  30. In keeping with my "Pollyanna" approach to life.
    I just hit delete and pretend they don't exist.
    And mutter "dipshit" under my breath.


    sociopaths/arseholes - same same

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  31. @ Jodie - Understood. As I said, I was in (still am in) mama lion mode. I saw how upset Lori was and it upset me.

    I still think it's condescending for someone to suggest she hasn't thought about her kids one day reading what she's written, even if they do so in a private email to you. I myself have written about domestic violence, my fear of my estranged husband and his criminal investigation. I've thought long and hard about the fact that this will exist as a record my children may some day access. But like Lori, I want them to know the truth. This is their history, their legacy, their truth as well as mine. For someone to assume we, as mothers, haven't considered and weighed these issues and to second-guess our parenting is insulting.

    We all have the right to say what we want on our blogs and we will all pass along to our children that knowledge which we think will help them best navigate the unique challenges they face. For some nosy Nellie who doesn't know us to come in and suggest we are going about it all wrong... well, I have a special finger reserved just for her.

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  32. So here is me, putting myself out there, but putting the 'lets look at both sides of the fence' hat on.

    If we say (and I do) that everyone should be able to blog - how, why and when they want to - about whatever they want to, in whatever state they want to, then do we have the right to deny commenters their right to say what they want? Especially if we choose not to have comment moderation on?

    I have read Lori's blog and it tears my heart out to see that she and her two little ones have had to deal with suicide and its aftermath. I admire what she writes, I love her honesty, I love the fact that she has the courage to be so raw, so open. I love your blog for the same reason.

    I would hope that every comment was supportive, that every comment showed her love and understanding. I wonder whether some of what people see as 'not fitting this mold' have in fact been left by people thinking they are in fact being supportive. I am always a little suss when people choose to comment anonymously and maybe that is the tell tale sign to whether someone is having a dig.

    Thanks for giving us the chance to debate. My ultimate philosophy is if I can not leave something positive then normally I choose not to comment at all (although in Lori's case I say nothing as I just can't find the words as what she has written has touched my heart and nothing I could say seems adequate).

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  33. @ Kakka - the comments I'm referring to have all been "anonymous". If someone wants to state an opposing opinion and leave a linkback to their own blog, I don't have a problem with that, as long as their opinion is stated civilly.

    I have a problem with people who (a) divebomb with no linkbacks and (b) make judgments on someone else's rather innocuous personal choices. Live and let live.

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  34. Love this. Except I just want to say, the fact that they are real people behind those comments is the thing that saddens me (and scares me, on behalf of the way the world turns). That this is their reality, one in which they feel it is their right, nay duty, to say something (albeit cowardishly anonymously) reminds me of the people I've known in my life who do the same thing. Blogging just seems to magnify what happens around us. To truly be devoid of any part of this, we have to find a way not to react, hard as it is. And this really does suck, as well-intended but vitriolic BS goes. I'll bet that emailer thought they were being very clever and giving. Scary.

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  35. @ Being Me, this reminds me so much of passive aggressive comments I've been on the receiving end of (mostly from my estranged husband). I think people who feel powerless use this as a communication tool. They have a need to control the environment around them (hence the people in that environment) but are afraid to be direct in their approach. So they end up interfering in other's lives in the guise of being helpful.

    But yes, when we can recognize it for what it is and allow it to roll off our backs, we are only doing ourselves a favor. That said, someone in the middle of intense emotion such as grief is not in a position to do that (as you point out in your post) and should rightly let their anger fly, IMO.

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  36. Kristin, you have such a beautiful way with word - even when basically telling someone to f$&k off, you come off reeking with class!

    Lori's message is so crucial and now we know from your blog it has already saved one life - and i've no doubt it will do so for so many more. I know she has made me much more aware of my own thoughts and actions and for that I'm so grateful

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  37. @ Donna - thanks, I like that. I'm going to put that on my resume: Able to tell others to f*ck off in style. I wonder in which career field that might serve me?

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  38. Thanks Kristin, great post and I love how articulate you are!! Rawness rocks!!

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  39. Anyone worried for Lori's kids needs to pull their heads out of their arses and wake up to one simple little truth. Kids aren't stupid. They know that something is terribly wrong - their father is gone for frigs sake. People will talk, and they'll think that they are being discreet and kids over hear, and kids repeat things and far better for them to look back in years to come and see their own mothers account of how things really were than to reply on whispers and innuendos that came to them second and third hand.

    I think Lori is incredibly brave to be blogging through this so openly and hope that it really helps her through.

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  40. @ Beet - couldn't agree more. Kids need to hear the truth from those closest to them; not second or third-hand whispers and mis-truths. Otherwise they won't know whom to trust and won't understand why mom won't just talk to them. Kids aren't dumb. They are very savvy and care deeply about their parents' stories.

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  41. You are a gem, gorgeous! Great post.

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  42. Yes Kristin, I agree. Those who are uncomfortable with Lori's blog should simply move on. She is under appropriate professional care and they approve. What's more, she has shown us the aftermath of suicide, whether intentional or by misadventure. I think she may have saved more than one life.

    My only comment is that secrets are hard to divulge. so much pain is embedded in secrets and often there is pain and/or disbelief if we tell our stories. People often want the truth to be substantiated with papers and the accounts of others. What if we just took people at face value and offered a little compassion?

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  43. Just wanted to say that the civility thing goes well beyond the interwebs and there's one person whom has offended me by presuming to know more than I do. Grrrr. I rarely get so angry I have to hold my tongue until I calm down.

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