Thursday, 1 January 2015

Blogging and World Peace

Those of us who blog as part of the infertility community know that we do so in a place of great stress, of hurt and pain and disappointment. But it can also be a place of great joy, of surprises, of elation and happiness and hope. Unfortunately, sometimes these intense emotions collide, and fight for space. This happens from time to time – I have been watching it happen periodically for over 12 years.

It happens throughout social media - on forums, on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Technology has given us many ways to connect, but equally it has given us many ways to be exposed to hurt and pain. Unfortunately too, it has given us many ways to inflict hurt and pain. And of course, “hurt people hurt people.” People lash out, people express themselves poorly, insensitively, and thoughtlessly, are sometimes intentionally cruel, or sometimes unintentionally cruel, and as a result some are terribly hurt.

When we go online, we know we are opening ourselves up to potential pain. Things are inevitably going to hurt us, because no one can please all the people all the time. There’s no way to avoid hurting anyone, so we are going to be hurt. That’s a given. I accept that. And if I am hurt, then I try to look inwards, figure out why something upset me, and maybe how I can respond rationally and sensitively and kindly, rather than lashing out. Lashing out only spreads the hurt, and never solves anything. Telling someone not to be hurt never stops the hurting either. (If only it did!)

In my earlier career, I was a diplomat. Diplomacy is under-rated. Analysing a situation, interpreting motivations, and expressing our responses in a way that promotes understanding are all skills that help us in life as well as international relations. As a result of certain family dynamics, I think I’ve been doing this – with varying degrees of success - all my life. Thinking about what I am saying, when and where I am saying it, and why I am saying it, is the first step. Endeavouring to understand another’s position, their pain and their feelings, is the next step. Trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes, and figure out what I might do if I were them, or why they might have acted in a particular way, can help me understand, and grow, and perhaps realise that the hurt was never really intentional.  (I try to practise this, but as with anything, it’s a work in progress.)

I think it’s the same in global politics as it is in family relationships, in friendships or in online social media. I think the world would be a better place if we all tried to understand each other, rather than react aggressively, unthinkingly. I just hope those whose instinct is to lash out will in time step back, think, and find another way to deal with their emotions. The fact this community is so diverse – globally, situationally, generationally, whether we are just starting out or have resolved our infertility a decade or more ago, parenting or not – means that we can learn and grow and accept and understand, and ultimately see each other differently. Our diversity is also our strength. I have learnt so much from others in the community, seen new perspectives, and hopefully given others insight into my lifestyle as well. We all have a place here.

Ultimately, I believe that the IF blogging community is dominated by love and support. And I do believe that. Maybe every year or two, I’m aware of a blow-up in the infertility community. I think it’s inevitable. But mostly disagreements are dealt with respectfully, without blame, thoughtfully, informatively. I see so much love, so much support, so much caring and sensitivity, so much kindness, on a daily basis. There is a quest for understanding, for self-improvement, for personal growth. There is honesty and pain and joy and laughter. And we all – those trying to conceive, those parenting after infertility, and those pursuing a life without children after infertility – participate in this, contribute to a conversation that needs to be had, that builds a loving community, and that helps people know they are not alone. Let’s not lose sight of that.

7 comments:

  1. Happy 2015, Mali! Well said. I can see your diplomacy skills at work on a regular basis. I was so struck by the latest online kerfuffle I was up last night until 2 am and then back at it today trying to put my own thoughts in order. As I commented to Cristy: context and where our head is on any given day plays such a major role in how prepared we are to take in news in the infertility blogosphere that has the power to stop us in our tracks. This applies across society as well. I finally got my thoughts in order wrote about that here:
    Infertility Blogosphere: A Microcosm of Society Misunderstandings and All http://blog.silentsorority.com/infertility-community-microsm-society/

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    1. Pamela, I think your title really says it all. It was the angle I was going to take until I ready your blog. So went the World Peace angle!

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  2. I completely agree with you. I think a lot of the misunderstandings that arise are due to misinterpretation or lack of tact. I also agree that diplomacy is sorely underrated (and I LOVE that you are a diplomat). To learn this skill set would benefit so many, both within interpersonal relationships and global ones.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2015.

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  3. I haven't been a part of the blogosphere for long, this is the first bit of drama that I've witnessed, and quite honestly it disappoints me. If we can support one another through the depths of our grief, we should also be able to support them (or at least not hurt them) during their time of joy. And after going back and reading the post about the drama, it doesn't even seem like joy is an accurate description for this woman, "scared shitless" seems to be more accurate. She didn't need to be attacked-she has enough on her plate.

    To be completely truthful, I'm witnessing all of this second hand because I make a conscious effort to not follow blogs of those pregnant and/or parenting. It's just what I need to do right now for me, and there's nothing wrong with that. That being said people need to remember the old saying, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. And if you're angry and hurt, take some time to cool down before saying or writing something that you can't take back. It's not that hard.

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  4. Thank you for putting your diplomatic skills to such excellent use and summarizing what needed to be said (once again). I agree that more of us need to practice our own diplomatic skills and think before we speak or write when we're hurting.

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  5. Infertility brings out the worst in people. Sometimes it's difficult to not let it get the best of you. But you are right people are more likely to listen to someone who calmly explains themselves than someone who is ranting and raving. Granted I've let the latter get the best of me at times leading to the recipients to not hear me (as they shouldn't). But I've had my more productive discussions be when I've been calm and explained myself.

    Thank you for sharing my piece. I did share this piece on Twitter a few days ago as it is valuable lesson for all.

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  6. I read some of the blogs that you linked in your post. I am not as connected to the childless/childfree side of the IF world...even though that is where I am at the moment. I have not been very successful in finding them, so I am not as aware of the recent rift in the larger community. However, I appreciate your post and your response with the other postings. It saddens me for others to suggest that perhaps certain groups separate themselves from the rest or that they need to speak more loudly. It seems to me that the whole IF community is isolated enough from the rest and have to practice courage to speak up when it is so difficult. I would hope that those within the community would remember that and have the compassion to listen to the quiet voices, the scared voices and the isolated voices in an already diminished group from larger society. While it may be difficult to provide support for those who are on the different ends of the spectrum, having achieved pregnancy or parenthood to those who will not have children, both groups and all between benefit from that support. That is what is great about the community, it has the numbers to have a variety of people to step up and help within their comfort level. It lends space to those who need protective space to take a step back and give support to where they can. No one wants to feel forgotten. Sometimes you need to grow up and move past your personal guilt or bitter battles to help those in need. And actually, it may also help you heal in the process. Maybe not the easy kind of healing, but certainly the growing kind when you are ready for it.

    Thank you, Mali, for being an example of a person who is childfree who remains active in the IF community. Your perspective is valuable. Your experiences are valid. Your strength and compassion is appreciated. As I have said before, while I may or may not have a family, blogs like yours help me navigate the space I currently find myself. I appreciate being connected to those who are parents, those who are trying and those who have found another path. It helps me so that if I do jump back in TTCing, I am connected to support. But, if one day I come to a place where I may not have a family, I know I will be okay.

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