Stuff

Twitter And Facebook: Ways For Moms To Bully You

By  | 

One would assume that mothers would have long since outgrown bullying, but some grabbing headlines from the last couple of years suggest otherwise. The latest onslaught of bullying is now being perpetuated by web-savvy mothers, using Twitter, Facebook, and other online forums as vehicles to pass judgment about all kinds of parenting choices.

At present, there are 3.9 million women with children who actively blog. Swapping advice and tips on prenatal yoga, dietary choices, or product recommendations, mothers who blog are considered a powerful and growing community – so active that advertisers are currently devising ways to woo them into advocating certain products.

However, with the thousands of Twitter followers and a closely linked community, scrutiny can arrive in hostile tweets and antagonistic Facebook posts. Such was the case for the infamous mother Twitter backlash in 2009 when Shellie Ross (@military_mom on Twitter) tweeted her son’s tragic death to her online community. Some fellow mother bloggers attacked Ross, accusing her of being insensitive to tweet about her son dying and questioning even the validity of the news. Ross, hurt by such a response, responded by saying that she did not “tweet by tweet” the incident.

Colleen Padilla, a blogger at ClassyMommy.com, told ABCNews that many mothers look to the online space for help during parenting crises anyway.

“In the defense of her tweeting during a tragedy, that is her community,” Padilla said. “I think today, the Internet is a place where mom’s are seeking support, advice, and answers.”

Given that some of these fellow bloggers responded so negatively though is no shock to one mother I spoke to, who found advice from her peers to often be laced with some kind of insult – both on and off the internet.

“I don’t even know if it’s a mother thing or just a woman thing, but sometimes I find the line of some questioning or advice, that is meant to be ‘supportive’, is just passive-aggressive judgment and superiority,” one mother observed.

“There’s a lot of insecurity, a lot of confusion, resentment, just about being a mother,” psychiatrist and blogger Janet Taylor told “Good Morning America.” “There’s a sense of ‘I have to be better than you and I’m going to prove it by writing negative things.’ Not supporting, just writing negative things.”

Nicole Sprinkle, a guest blogger on The New York Times “Motherlode” section, wrote about her emotionally charged experiences when she joined an “online mommy group” after becoming a mother. With questions on local nannies and daycare, the community seemed very accessible and a good resource. After disagreeing with a mother in an online public forum though, Sprinkle wrote that “the wrath of dozens of online mothers descended upon [her].” She notes that much more complex issues were often at play than just parenting tips.

“Often what began as a topic related to children morphed into political, social, and cultural discussions that veered off into unwieldy, hostile tangents with e-mail strings that I’m certain could circumnavigate our neighborhood playground at the very least,” writes Sprinkle. “What I was discovering was that there were more than a few ‘mom bullies’ in the group – women who posted multiple times a day, tended to be self-righteous about their beliefs and causes and who would react venomously if challenged.”

(Photo: mdanys)