Thick Skin

When you blog for a niche audience, as I did in the beginning, you come to realize most of your readers are either supportive or trying to help you through by sharing their own experiences. There were some negative comments, but they were few and far between.

When I broadened my reach — as I changed names from Tales of a Disordered Eater to Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater to Tales of a Recovered Disordered Eater and began blogging at WeAretheRealDeal — I knew my readership would change which meant, at times, so too would the commenting style and tone. 

Well, my Babble.com daycare webcam piece was picked up by the Huffington Post and there were 90+ comments … not any of which were supportive or encouraging or empathetic, save for maybe two commenters who got the point of the piece: that I was obsessive about the camera when I first got back from maternity leave but now have a healthy relationship with it. The piece details that journey.

In the comments, I was told I’m a “helicopter mom in the making” and that Maya will need therapy later and that I’m wasting my company’s time/money/bandwidth by occasionally popping on the webcam (which, in my mind, is no different than someone watching a 2-min YouTube video, getting a cup of coffee, taking a cigarette break, visiting a colleague, etc). I was criticized for pumping at work. I was told I shouldn’t have children if “someone else would be raising them” Someone even suggested I put my daughter up for adoption. It was implied that I work for money and that I shouldn’t work then and maybe sacrifice material objects. Well, I don’t work for the money. Money is only a small part of why I work. And while I might have looked at the webcam more than is healthy those first few weeks, it tapered off naturally. It didn’t impact my productivity.

The comments were mean, cruel, and without context. I don’t disagree that my productivity those first few weeks back might not have been stellar but not a single person I work with or for made any comments about it and it was my first few weeks back at work after having a baby. It seems many of the readers didn’t even bother to realize that this isn’t a chronic issue; I was sharing my POV of then and now.

Anyway, I share this because if I want to write for a broader audience (and honestly, it came as a surprise to me that HuffPost wanted to pick it up; when my Babble contacts told me I was floored) I will need to get thicker skin. For some reason, parenting and motherhood, in particular, is an open book for criticism and though it absolutely shouldn’t be, it is.

Lesson learned.

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9 thoughts on “Thick Skin

  1. Wow. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I think online commenting is the bane of our modern existence. I truly, truly hate/detest/loathe online commenting. I wish I didn’t have to know how judgmental and mean people really could be and that people I am fond of had to be on the receiving end of such comments. I read about five of the comments on your post and my blood is boiling. I don’t know how one builds a thicker skin to deal with such personal attacks – and I really think it shouldn’t be necessary, but I’m glad you seem to be taking it in stride.

    1. Thanks, Candice … me, too. I was very surprised at the harsh tones. I was also appalled at the assumptions being made about me … especially that I was abusing my employer. I am a hard-worker and get my work done. I work alone. I know it comes with the blogging territory … it used to be, a writer wrote something and people talked about it. Now … they comment and personally attack within seconds. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me what a strange mean world we live in. You are an excellant mother, as well as wife, friend, and employee. Anyone who thinks differently needs their head examined. I read your article. It was articulate and interesting. I truly enjoyed it and having no small children, still found it to be engaging. The kind of people who make those kind of comments are unhappy and try to bring others down to their level. Misery does love company. So glad you didn’t give their rudeness any merit.

    1. Thanks, Lisa–I appreciate it. I was enraged, but have simmered down. I don’t know these people, and they don’t know me. I really do think you’re right; misery loves company and I’m just not going to engage.

  3. To one of the best women I know: you are strong example of friendship, motherhood, and corporate citizen. THIS is the legacy you leave for your daughter, regardless of what some random who isn’t privileged to know you thinks. To borrow a phrase from another blogger friend: be proud, warrior mama!

    1. I love you. And loved tonight and our chat–you rock. I am a proud, warrior mama! Huzzah! 🙂 And my brother had a great quote on the drive home: “The internet is a megaphone for morons.”

  4. Don’t read the comments – especially on something like HuffPo. Those people are quite seriously idiots. Seriously. And I do not use that word lightly. Ignore!!!!

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