Tuesday, 11 September 2012

It is never okay to bring someone else down.

Usually, I take a while to create a title for my blog posts; to me, they are important indicators of the content of the post, and I like to select them carefully so that they gently, subtly ease the reader into the post topic. I like to play with words, capturing their particular nuances and implications to sell my point and give it a little more mystery, a little more allure before its full presentation. Today, subtlety and style seem far less important than the substance of the post itself. Which is exactly why today's post header has all the delicacy of a sledgehammer.

To give a little back story, and explain the drive behind this particular post, it's maybe important to tell you that I recently took a break from Facebook and deactivated my account for, at the time, an indefinite period.

Admittedly, the hiatus didn't last particularly long (around ten days), but the decision to reactivate was based solely on the fact that communication is far easier via Facebook, and unfortunately while trying to organise a wedding, communication is key. Perhaps once Michael and I are married, I can leave the site on a more permanent basis as, having been back online for a mere forty-eight hours, I am already highly disillusioned.

My departure from the site had been probably quite long in the offing now that I consider it, but the eventual prompt came from a couple of different sources, and a few rather malicious, spiteful comments flung my way regarding what I choose to post on my personal page. Now, having modelled for a year (and faced rejection from many different sources for a far longer period than that), I'm not all that unused to nastiness. It's just another one of those facets of life -  an unpleasant one certainly, but one that unfortunately we will all be confronted with at some point in our lives, and hopefully overcome. However, these particular messages were unnecessarily cruel, and were especially unwelcome considering that the focus of their disdain was my daughter, Charlotte.

This post isn't really about delving into the gory details of what was said, but suffice it to say that the main gist was a putdown of rather large proportions - that my constant status updates of my 'average-looking' baby were boring everyone to tears, amongst other casual slurs about my life as it is now. My pictures of my daughter, my anecdotes of our moments together, my happiness at my new baby, all were unwelcome, apparently, to these people whom I used to consider my friends. These opinions were offered up to me with no trace of remorse or compassion. Unprovoked, uncalled for, and gratuitously hateful.

Now, I am acutely aware that not everybody wants to read about every detail of my life with a new baby - I understand completely if somebody wishes to 'hide' my posts, or even unfriend me. It really is okay with me that you don't find me or my daughter all that interesting; a lot of the people I have on my Facebook friends list are, for the most part, young people, and I can imagine that motherhood and babies don't feature highly in their lives. Just because I'm a mum now doesn't mean that I think everyone else should be, or that everyone else should have a vested interest in my life as a mother. The lack of interest in itself doesn't offend me.

But here's the thing. You don't have to like what I post, but that doesn't mean I have to stop posting it. What makes people so fascinating is our differences; the quirks, the variations, the multiplicity in our separate interests that all weave together to create the richness and diversity of our society. The old adage "It would be a boring world if we were all the same" springs to mind here. Why can we not appreciate and even revel in the fact that we are all unique, all separate entities with our own joys, sadnesses and pursuits?

Even in the short time since I reactivated my Facebook account, I have seen numerous posts that have been created and published purely to lambast others' choice of posting material. I'm not just talking about people complaining about mothers oversharing (I have seen numerous of these, of which I'm sure a few have been undoubtedly aimed at me), there are a whole range of interests and topics being criticised, from people talking about their job to people talking about their pet, and almost everything in between. The level of scathing derision from one person to another is astounding, and somewhat saddening. When did it become so popular, so achingly hip, to start mocking someone else's lifestyle choices, and their subsequent decision to talk about those choices via their Facebook account? While you are taking the time out of your oh-so-riveting, exciting schedule to ridicule someone else's 'boring' status updates, maybe before clicking the 'post' button, you should reflect on your own posting style. It must be lovely to believe that whatever you post is relevant, interesting and worthy of attention from everyone on your friends list, but the sad reality is that no single post will ever be of interest to every person that it is being broadcast to. No matter how wonderful you believe your life and your status updates to be, there will always be at least one other person who couldn't care less.

That is precisely why every single person on Facebook should apply to themselves the rule of "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." As one day, that scathing, hilarious status update that you aimed at your 'boring' friend will come back around to bite you in the ass, when you yourself post a less-than-scintillating titbit and get called out for it with the same nastiness you yourself were so quick to apply.

Everyone has the right to select the material that they view according to their interests, and also conversely the right to not read any information that isn't relevant to theirs. This seems pretty obvious to me. There are plenty of posts that appear on my news feed that I have almost zero interest in, but the information is obviously important to that particular person, so using that logic I would never dream of criticising them for posting it. If these posts continue, I can quietly hide them - meaning I don't need to consistently view something that doesn't really interest me, but the person whom it does interest can carry on posting happily without intrusion or censorship from me, as is their right.

Of course you don't have to love everything that you see on your news feed; that in itself is a bit of an absurd concept. But what I am saying, is that as you have actively chosen to be a part of that person's Facebook network, you have chosen to view their posts and chosen to continue doing so when you are not being forced to, I would suggest giving that person, your apparent 'friend', a little courtesy and a little respect. I will again state that you have the right to view or not view whatever you like. What you definitely do not have the right to do, is belittle and demean someone else because of your own preferences. What may not be important to you is quite obviously important to them, and as such, as their friend or acquaintance, is worthy of your respect.

I will repeat my title.

It is never okay to bring someone else down.


  1. It's called trolling...like the miserable feckers who live under bridges....they are just miserable feckers who live under bridges. They hate themselves and love to deride others' joy. Welcome to the British underbelly.

  2. It's not really trolling that I'm referring to though, it's more about the pastime of friends bringing down other friends. There's no anonymity about that, but I guess the same still applies.

  3. Great piece of writing and your daughter is GORGEOUS! But I am sure you already know that ;)

    E x