I don’t get to spend a great deal of time on social networking sites anymore. Most of my internet time is now restricted to the evenings when our girls are finally asleep for the night and I’ve managed to get semi organised for the next day.
In many ways I’m actually glad that I am now “free” of this burden, I say burden because to be honest that is what it seems to be nowadays. Browsing through Facebook or in the various baby forums I joined, they seem to be full of fighting and not a great deal else. People taking chunks out of one an other through words. Most of these people have formed purely online friendships and geographically will probably never actually meet up face to face. Which beggars the question – why? Why let a “virtual” friend or in fact “virtual” stranger bother you that much that you get into a full-blown, mud-slinging argument. Surely it isn’t worth the typing time or the obvious annoyance that it has caused.
I know in baby forums debates about breast and formula feeding will always get a little heated, in fact almost anything to do with parenting choices will become heated, as naturally enough everyone has their own methods and beliefs on how things should happen. However, to descend into full on fighting – bar getting physical, seems both pointless and unnecessary. These things inevitably seem to end with people leaving the group and vowing never to return, only to be followed by a string of posts from others begging them to stay. If the “flouncer” as they are known in chat circles, decides they’ve had enough begging requests, they will then create a post saying they will stay. For me reading this stuff regularly, it has all just become so tiresome. I open a thread, see the argument, read a few posts, sigh and then close it again. The truth is, I just can’t be bothered reading the same thing battered out day after day, instigated by different people. Generally the one who decides they need attention that day.
Surely if you post on an open forum like that, then you must know to expect differing opinions, you must know that you could come up against some harsh critics. These places are not flowery gardens of loveliness. Some of them are full of very opinionated people, people who believe it’s “my way or the highway”. If you don’t want an opinion that differs from yours, or you are not prepared to accept that every poster won’t agree with you, then perhaps an internet chat type forum isn’t the place for you.
I spoke before about Facebook and the silly status updates that people aim at each other, another bizarre behaviour in my opinion. What I don’t get though is that parenting forums are there for help, support, advice and friendship for people who share a common bond – our children. Why do we as parents insist on turning the raising of our children into a competition? Why can we not just get on with the important job of trying to raise these little people and turn them into well-rounded individuals.
Don’t get me wrong debate is good and the world would be a very dull place if everyone shared the same opinions and just agreed with one and other about everything. Does it have to turn into a battle though? Do people really have to have this major online bust up and then tout for supporters, split the group down the middle, form a new splinter group, fall out again in another few months and the splinter groups then form another splinter group? At what point do the splinter groups end up as just individual people going it alone all over again?