Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Mommy Forums

It's about time I made this post.  I've been procrastinating, always coming up with reasons to post something else, for fear of offending people.  But I've had a crappy couple of days, and I'm just gonna go ahead and be potentially offensive.

Without further adu, the pros and cons of mommy forums.

1) Adult conversation and interaction

2) Knowledge is power, and mommies are full of knowledge on every subject a la parenting that you could ever imagine.  From eating lunch meat during pregnancy to writing college essays for your teenagers, mommies know it ALL.

3) The ability to commune with adults who share your parenting beliefs and ideals.  A whole forum of people who are obsessed with baby names, love to breast feed, or had a baby born in or around April 2006.

4) The chance to show off how cute your kid is, and how advanced he or she is for his or her age.  This is also where you lament their delays, discuss their health issues, and (pretend to) celebrate the accomplishments of other babies, and lament with their mothers over whatever.

5) The opportunity to declare that you know the most about _____.

1) Is it really adult interaction if all you talk about is how your breasts are sore, and what color your baby's poop is? Shouldn't you be aiming for adult conversation about.. adults? Or at least adult situations and topics?

2) Does it count as conversation even when there is none?
Example A:
Mom 1: I am so mad.  This is why.
Mom 2: OMG that stinks, sorry.
Mom 3: OMG.  Here's what happened to me.

Mom 4: OMG.  Here's what happened to me.
Mom 5: Hey, mom 3, what did you about _____ in the situation you described?
Mom 3: Never checks the thread again, because she already read it once and responded and has no interest in what anyone else has to say on the topic.

Example B:
Mom 1: Can you please suggest baby names that fit these criteria?
Mom 2: Sure.  I like these names, and these.  And here's some random ones.

Mom 3: List of names.
Mom 4: List of names (a few of which are on the same list that mom 2 or 3 provided)
Mom 5: List of names that was mostly already suggested by the first three moms.
Mom 6: I didn't read the other responses, sorry for repeats! List of names that's already been 98% covered by other posts.
Mom 7: Has no original suggestions whatsoever.  Hope that helps!
Example C:
Mom 1: Who's baby is already ____?

Mom 2: Mine
Mom 3: Not mine
Mom 4: Long elaborate story about why her baby is or is not already ____.
Mom 5: Mine.
Mom 6: Mine
Mom 7: Not mine.
*Moves to a second page, and not one person comments on what another person has said.  Each person leaves an individual comment and moves on.

3) Bad Info. Mommies are full of knowledge, but unfortunately a lot of them are also full of crap, whether they know it or not.  Crap they pulled off Dr. Yahoo Answers, crap their parents and in-laws told them, crap their doctors told them.  They like to pretend they know what you're talking about, and when you tell me they are wrong.. well, see number 8.

4) Tunnel Vision. When you only talk to people who share your beliefs/values, you miss out on valuable insight into "the other side" and sometimes even become blinded to it.  You lose the ability to "think like the enemy" and understand their point of view.  Ever seen lemmings (start the video at 1:40)?

5) You have to put up with all the other show-off moms.
Example: Ichachekni (pronounced Ike) is already crawling!  I'm posting this to show off that my four month old is crawling, but I'm gonna end it with "who else is crawling?!" just so I don't look like a totally self centered braggart, even though I'm pretty sure my kid's the first to crawl, otherwise I wouldn't be posting.  How embarrassing if he was the SECOND!  Also, I will only be reading this thread to read the validation I'll get for my kid being the best already.

6) The Better Mom's Brigade.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  The moms who only comment on forum threads where they can swoop in and show how much better they are at nutrition, discipline, being green, whatever the topic is.  They never admit they are wrong, and the only time they start posts is so they can prove how awesome they are by cleverly displaying how they balance their busy schedule or successfully discipline their practically perfect children.

7) Majority rules, and cliques prevail.  Mommy forums are JUST like high school.  Heaven forbid that you don't agree with the majority, are able to see the other side of a topic, or aren't a complete judgmental Nazi about your passion of choice.  You will be ostracized.

8) No confrontation without drama.  Mommies don't go to mommy forums to be told they are wrong.  They do not want to hear it.  They want to be validated in their choices, no matter how foolish.  They want someone to tell them that what they did is okay, because they lack the confidence in themselves and their parenting abilities to just KNOW it's fine.  Or, more likely, they know it's actually not fine, and just want to be lied to or reassured by other people who screwed up, too.  But if you ever DARE to tell them the truth, even nicely, all heck breaks loose.  Suddenly they are the victim, and you are the heartless be-yotch who judges everyone needlessly.  It's pretty much impossible to tell someone you disagree with them without people immediately complaining about the levels of drama.

9) Trolls.  Do I even have to go into this one? You get sucked into the tragic personal life of someone, your "heart breaks for them" and you "spend hours thinking about them all the time" because you're such a super awesome person to invest in complete strangers that you really know nothing about, and SURPRISE! They were lying.  Now you're heart broken, ruined, and can never trust a complete stranger with a keyboard ever again.  The shock. The horror. The repetition.

10) Other attention seekers (that aren't trolls).
Example A: We've decided to name our baby the most popular name from 2010, and we simply CAN'T think of a good middle name!  You guys should suggest popular and generic names for us to consider, because for some reason browsing the internet, the SSA top 1000 names, or investing in a $10 book of 100,000 baby names would just be too much work.

Example B: Does anyone know anything at all about this somewhat mundane topic I'm asking about? I don't want to Google because I'd rather interact with these people on a forum, so please tell me about this stupidly obviously topic.

Example C: OMGosh, guys.  I had sex, and now my period is late, and my boobs are sore.  Am I pregnant? I know I could just go to the dollar store and get a stick and pee on it, and that would answer my question, but I'd rather ask a bunch of other women to tell my fortune over the internet and decide whether or not I'm pregnant! Respond to my post so that I know you care, even though I'm being ridiculous.

Example D: I am such a bad mom because my kid managed to do something that every child does at some point (roll off a bad, trip and hit their head on a coffee table, eat yellow snow, etc etc).  Please respond to my thread and tell me that I'm not a bad mom for letting something perfectly normal happen to my child, even though I know that other people on this forum have also let this happen.  They aren't bad moms though, just me, because I'm bad.  Please tell me I'm not!

And there you have it, friends.  Why I hate mommy forums.  Maybe I'm just too cynical, past my mommy forum prime. Maybe I've been doing it wrong (hey, I'm not afraid to admit that might be the case).  Maybe I just never managed to get so invested in strangers that I was appropriately devastated by their sudden but inevitable betrayal, or maybe I'm just too fond of looking stuff up on the internet before asking obvious questions that I could find the answer to in 30 seconds.

My confessions:
I am ashamed to admit that I did some of the things above - I have succumbed to number 4, and I have pleaded for my fair share of attention.  And I'm not gonna lie: I learned a lot from mommy forums, and I met some super nice people that are still my friends on Facebook.  I said they have their uses in the Pros column, after all. ;)

1 comment:

  1. totally love this. totally true. after six months of dedicated time on the mommy forums, i realized that it was totally screwing with my head. but i met some awesome women and we still communicate, so if i need a " your kid doing this weird thing?" moment, i have it with a smaller population.

    but most of the time i find that what's posted is boring, inane, or repetitious. this can be helpful when, say, your kid starts waking up again in the middle of the night multiple times and doing weird stuff like not going back to sleep and you log on and are all "wow. 75 posts about the same thing. that's instructive." and you can move on with your life.

    otherwise, it really does screw with my head, i guess because i tend toward the lack of confidence thing you mention above. but...i'm working on it. one of the ways i am is by NOT NOT NOT going there as often/taking it as seriously/treating it as a real resource.