It’s Okay to Disagree, Just be Fair About It

There’s a huge brouhaha circulating on social media these past few days, and lately mainstream media has turned it into “news”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, read this, but only for a minute. Let’s not fuel the fire.

I thought long and hard about covering this debate here on Mumtastic, but the fact is, we are not a “news” site (whatever constitutes news these days) and I didn’t think it would help either of these mums recover from the onslaught of hatred that has been directed at them. Making women feel bad about themselves is completely the opposite of what Mumtastic is all about.

As far as I can see, these women simply have a difference of opinion, and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. It’s okay to disagree, just be fair about it. We should all be allowed to express our differences. We shouldn’t be silenced just because we think contrary to the masses. As long as we deliver our alternate view with respect and kindness, all views are welcome, right?

Well, that’s where the problem is. In this case, both women appear to have expressed their views with respect, but their respective “tribes” have not. It would appear that when we go in to battle for our friends, we go in with the kind of viciousness and hatred that we would be horrified to see in our children. What is with that?

We are a long way past thinking that “online” and “real life” are two different things. URL, IRL, it’s all just life. The way we conduct ourselves online is the way we are conducting ourselves full stop. The screen is no excuse to hurl abuse at someone. It should not be seen  as a barrier to common decency, respect or kindness.

Think about some of the language and name calling you’ve seen hurled at other people online. We call it “trolling”, but it’s basically just abuse. Just because it’s been dumbed down with a cute name online, doesn’t make trolling less vicious or abusive than someone hurling random abuse at someone on the street.

Trolling, nastiness, abuse, unkindness, vitriol, why do we feel the need to attack others in this way? “She started it first,” is one excuse we see a lot, effectively proving the point that this is playground stuff. This is the flawed, immature way of seeing the world that we spend years educating our children to rise above. Actually, most kids would never need to be taught not to troll. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s something that is innate in a person.

So where to now? Will this massive “she said, she said” debate amount to anything in the end? I hope it does. I hope it has exposed the problem we are having as a society in allowing divergent opinions to exist harmoniously together. We have not yet mastered the art of being critical without being judgmental, nor have we managed to realise that disagreeing with the way someone does something, doesn’t automatically mean you are attacking them. We have not yet mastered the art of being vulnerable but strong and, perhaps even more importantly, allowing others to be vulnerable too.

Are you saddened by the way women are so quick to attack too?

Maybe we can parent our way out of this?

Image: Getty