A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about vaccinations here, and it was republished on Scary Mommy. When I wrote it, I expected some backlash. Not much, since my readership here is small and cozy. When I pitched it to Jill at Scary Mommy at a suggestion of a friend, I didn’t hesitate though in the back of my mind, I knew that I had to brace myself.
Vaccination is a hot button topic. You either stand on this side (mine) or the opposite end. There is no middle ground, or so it seems. The passion for the subject is intense. Everyone thinks they’re right, everyone thinks that their research and reading into the topic is sound, and correct. Everyone has an opinion about someone on the other side of the spectrum.
I do too. I don’t agree with anti-vaxxers at all. However. I would NEVER call them names, or assume things about them. I would never judge them as people or parents, just because they decline to vaccinate their children. I only judge their choice (not the same thing, in my opinion).
I naively hoped that people who disagreed with me, would be the same.
Boy, was I wrong. I could have steeled my spine a million times over, and still would have keeled over from the vitriol that was hurled in my direction, especially on Scary Mommy’s Facebook page.
I won’t quote anyone, or embed the Facebook comments here (partly because I don’t want to have to scroll through her page, partly because I don’t want to revisit those comments.) Let’s just say that I was called many things – “stupid”, “ignorant”, “bitch”, and those were the milder ones. Many posted on Jill’s wall about being disappointed in her for allowing such a disgusting post to be on her website, and accused her (and by extension, me), of dividing the parenting community. Many people said they unliked her page. Many came to my page to say the same thing. Some left long comments trying to ‘educate’ me about the dangers of vaccines, and said that because I’m a “PR person”, I must be dumb and ill-informed (none of them were medical professionals either). Someone even wrote the words “dead baby” on my wall. The worst one was a comment on Scary Mommy’s wall about wishing me (and Jill), dead.
The timing of this wasn’t great. Two days after the post was published, I gave birth to the twins. I was going through an emotional time, and haters were still posting crap on my wall, sending me nasty emails, leaving me disgusting comments on my post here, on Scary Mommy, on her page, and mine. Even when I and a few friends pointed out that I was dealing with more important things, like my twins in NICU, some people said outright, “I don’t care. You still suck.”
I responded to comments by being respectful, yet standing my ground. I did not call anyone names (though inside, I really wish I could say, “Fuck you!”). I did not become a hater. Because, y’all, I have feelings too. I have long stood by my belief that if I can’t say something to someone’s face, I would never say it to them online. I refuse to hurt someone’s feelings just because they hurt mine.
And yes, my feelings were hurt by many of the comments, especially because they did not know me, except what they read in that post – basically, that I believe strongly in vaccinations. They know nothing about me as a person, a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, or a daughter.
These same people say, well, if you can’t suck it up, why put yourself out there? My answer: because I too, am entitled to my opinion. Just because I am, and that I express them publicly, does not give people permission to call me names, judge me beyond what they know, and wish me dead. Sure, question my beliefs – in a respectful, cordial and engaging way. Don’t shit bullets on me before you know me.
All in all to say, we all have feelings. Let’s try to be gentle with each other.
Have you ever encountered Internet hatred?
Linking up with Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out.