Thursday, 21 April 2016

A supportive community

I hear a lot of trash talk about online communities and blogs and bloggers and trolls. To hear some people – often those who don’t get involved in online communities or read blogs – the internet is the Wild West, and as soon as you pop your head above the parapet (apologies for the mixed metaphor) by publishing something, you’re likely to get it shot off by the ubiquitous trolls.

This is not my experience at all. The forums at the EPT were not places men felt comfortable, given all the discussions of bleeding and symptoms and cycles. Worst of all, all those emotions probably sent men running from their computers in horror. These forums were full of warm, supportive women. Sure, there was the occasional bust-up, maybe one a year, which really was a remarkably small number given the vulnerable emotions, the stress and distress, of many of the women there. Likewise, the blogging communities I am part of (predominantly but not wholly female) have equally been open, supportive, loving, and wise.

So yesterday, as I was perusing the newspaper over lunch, I was pleased to find this quote in an article that noted the popularity of women’s websites:
"Communities are fundamentally different when they're just women," said Women.com founder Susan Johnson, giving voice to a piece of old, obvious wisdom that's enjoying something of a renaissance online.

"The cadence is different, the tone is more trusting... It's this safe environment where everyone can express herself without being trolled all the time."
I am so grateful for this, who come here and comment wisely, respectfully, honestly and kindly, and for the people who write wisely, respectfully, honestly and kindly on their own blogs. I am so grateful that you provide support and make me think in this way.

7 comments:

  1. There is truth about trolls and anonymity bringing out the worst in people, but I also believe there's a lot of good that can come out of online interactions. Like you, my experience with this community has generally been a positive one. Far more supportive than what I've found in real life. And for that I'm forever grateful.

    Plus I've met some amazing women like you.

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  2. There is always going to be trolls and those who seek to cause disruption. But for those few that are there, I have found way many more wonderful people online in games, forums, blogging and so on. My online friends are my family, at times. And without them, I would be a much sorrier state. :)

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  3. This has been an incredibly supportive community for me, too, and one I've very much enjoyed being a part of. I've been lucky enough to avoid trolls and spam on my blog (so far, at least). Like Cristy, I've also found my online friends to be far more supportive than my real life friends or family. I suppose that every so often there's going to be drama that pops up, but I try avoid that. And honestly I haven't really even seen much of that.

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  4. Okay, I burst out laughing with this: "as soon as you pop your head above the parapet (apologies for the mixed metaphor) by publishing something, you’re likely to get it shot off by the ubiquitous trolls."

    I've found this to be a supportive community. Supportive doesn't mean perfect. But in that imperfection, there is usually growth and strength. So I'll take it.

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  5. I love how supportive this community is. I am eternally grateful for all the voices, and how respectfully people disagree when things do come up that are sticking points. I have had the occasional commenter who questioned my choices but in the nicest possible way, but I enjoy that kind of disagreement. Trolling is something else. The only trolling I've experienced has been outside the community, and with a personal agenda that befuddles me. I have to say, I totally agree with that article about women generally being more supportive (which totally blasts the idea of catty bitching), because I've seen it in (of all places) a Sti.tch Fix group on Fa.cebook. You would think a bunch of women posting pictures of themselves in clothing and either asking for feedback or looking to sell something they don't like would become a hotbed of criticism and cattiness and mean comments. It is the kindest place on Faceb.ook that I've seen -- everyone finds something to compliment and it is so supportive. It makes me have hope for the future of humanity.

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  6. I think you make a really wonderful point here - while the internet can have its moments of ugliness, there is a lot of support in many communities. I've seen occasional dust-ups in the infertility community, but for the most part, I'm amazed and humbled by the amount of support and understanding that's present.

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  7. I think you're right. I remember feeling very leery about putting myself out there online in the early days of having Internet access, and for a long time, I would only post on message boards that were completely closed & private. Commenting on blogs & then starting one myself was a big step for me. I have certainly been on message boards & blogs (both infertility/loss related and non) where there have been occasional blow-ups and hurt feelings -- even a few skirmishes where I've been a target :( -- but they seem to be further & fewer between on those forums where women dominate the conversation. On balance, my experience online has been overwhelmingly positive.

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