As recent as last night I've been involved in two different situations with people online regarding disagreements of opinion. I've discovered that some people just don't like it when others disagree with them. I've also discovered that some people (mostly women) can be downright nasty and ill behaved. I've discovered that we (generally speaking) don't really want to GROW or CHALLENGE ourselves with new ideas and opinions. We like to cushion ourselves with things that enforce what we already believe to be "correct" and "just the way it is."
It's really a shame, ya know? That people behave this way when faced with opposing opinions or viewpoints. I saw it really for the first time back a few years ago when I got involved in a debate board on AOL regarding birth options. The venom and name calling and assumptions and sarcasm (oh Lord, it was horrible) were enough to choke a horse. Their debate techniques sucked too. Eventually I grew tired of the negative drain and left that discussion arena.
What ever happened to using our good manners? Do we as a society - or more specifically an online community - not know anymore what good manners are? Those of us who frequent Mel's Blog have seen first hand the childish behavior of someone by the name of anonymous. It isn't the opinion of the commenter that bothers me so much as it is the apparent belief that he/she thinks it is perfectly acceptable to leave comments that are rude and purposefully insulting....and then keep coming back to do it over and over. If you don't find pleasure or intellectual stimulation from a blog then why in the hell are you going there? What purpose does it serve to repeatedly hurl insults to a blog owner?
What purpose does it serve to launch a witch hunt because someone did something that you don't like or made a comment that you disagree with? Especially when it is possible that you misunderstood in the first place? I've seen the repercussions of this situation on another blog that I frequent. Since I don't want to draw anymore attention to the people who seem to be licking their wounds - I'll not mention the blog but some of you here know who I'm talking about. One woman got offended by something that was said. The next thing you know, everyone was being surrounded by "the troops" that this woman had rounded up. Next came the insults and the sarcasm and then the witch hunt. The inevitable conclusion was damaged relationships and division among a group of women who had so much potential to affect change. Even when an apology was issued along with an explanation - the damage was done and there was no turning back. Now there is nothing but silence among a group of women who used to be united by a common goal. Now the common goal seems to be to stand in defiance to others because each person must be right in his behavior.
Last night I challenged a comment that someone made in a birth group that I belong to. This woman rarely post anything that I consider of value - her post are mostly fluff and fillers (which is unfortunate because the woman has some life experiences that are of value to others). The thing that I notice the most about her post are that they all share a common thread. She post things that only support or enforce her beliefs - that all OBs are money hungry, self appointed brothers of God whose main purpose is to become rich and famous by butchering women and devaluing the power and value of women and whose first of 3 initials is "S" followed by the OB part. She immediately jumps on any research that is in favor of natural/homebirth but shreds with criticism any research that may disagree with her beliefs regarding food, birth, parenting, etc. I'm sure you know the kind.......
I've been just reading on this group and not commenting for a few weeks now. Last night my lurking ended. I tried to be general in my response so that she wouldn't feel attacked or singled out. I wanted to address the idea that everything is black and white and that "our own personal experience" must be the way that it is everywhere.
She didn't like it too much. She came back with more sarcasm and a long list of examples of why her idea is right. Apparently she felt that her "experiences" and memberships on several 'medical forums' where she is a lurker/member (and reads all their drivel and eavesdrops on their bragging of cars/money/fame) provided all the damning evidence needed to seal the coffin of all OBs. She never once (based on her behavior with words) indicated that she thought there was any room for an idea different than hers.
I was speaking more to the other members when I replied and said:
You are free to disagree with my statement, that’s ok.
There are thousands and thousands of OBs out there……I just don’t think that a few on a single forum can be an accurate representative of all of them out there.
Yes – I’ve had some experience with OBs in different parts of several states…..and some are buttholes to the core – just as some are not.
The purpose of my post is not to try and up your experience(s) or to say that you are totally wrong. Many does not equal “all” or even “most” and I personally think that its important that we remember that our experiences are not always the way it is everywhere with everyone.
Some may show their true colors in a forum like you mention – but is their behavior like it is because they are an OB or because they are an egotistical idiot and their profession just happens to be an OB/GYN?
My point that I wanted to make is that while our own personal experience is what we have as a point of reference – it is not always the way it is “everywhere” and we don’t really further cooperation in birthing by promoting that all OBs have an “S” as their first initial.
The whole underlying thought to all of this when I think of it this morning is one of "why do we do it?" Why do we only seek out information or acquaintances that enforce what beliefs we have? Is it because we like to be right? Want to feel safe? What? Why do we not challenge ourselves and our experiences and seek a greater understanding of what is beyond our beliefs or experiences? Why are we so threatened when exposed to something different than a way that we think or believe? Why do we beat other people with sarcasm when they believe differently than us? What is it about the "stuff" that is out there that we are so threatened by?
The "stuff" that is beyond ourselves is where we find the nitty gritty ingredients of wisdom and growth.
Perhaps some people don't value growth and wisdom? Perhaps some people find it more safe to remain cloaked in emotional UNhealth, resentment and the security of being right..........
Is it more important to be right or wise?
[edited to add: She responded to the group earlier this morning with an "ouch, gee whiz I didn't mean to cause so much conflict" and then went on to defend her statements (again).
I replied with the following:
I don’t see the discussion here as conflict as much as (what I hope) is a healthy exchange of ideas. I’m always trying to expose myself to the ideas and opinions and experiences of other people – especially those who have a different position than me. At the same time I appreciate the opportunity to express myself.