The Value of Your Words, Online and Off

I admit it. My moms group and I have never really hit it off. Because of it, I'm actually in four different moms groups at the moment, but that's another story entirely...

This one came highly recommend. So although I often found them to be rather aloof, I chalked it up to all of us having to chase after kids at the park. Who can do that and truly be social?

So what if they're more interested in one another than welcoming the new girl in town. I figured it has something to do with group having been well established long before I arrived. Most of the kids attend the same preschool/summer camp/swim lessons. Perhaps they interact more often and just don't know me as well. Fair enough.

Maybe I don't make it to enough events. Ever since the birth of my second child, I just can't. That's not their fault.

Do you notice how well I've rationalized this?

Having recently moved to the area and grasping at any sort of sense of community, I stuck with it. For over a year and half, I continued to meet them for park dates and parties. I participated in planning meetings, book club, and moms nights out. I offered comfort when needed and advice only when asked.

While the tenor with the other moms is more cordial than friendship, they all seem perfectly agreeable. That is, until I open my laptop and read their Facebook updates...

One will go off on some tantrum rage about an anonymous mother/kid at a park or another member of our group and like jackals, the rest pounce on it, leaving behind a trail of the most catty, judgmental, hypocritical comments you could ever imagine. I'm talking feces on the wall.

How is it that these women who seem so wonderful and understanding as we share our most trying moments of motherhood over chai tea and book club selections can be so ugly on paper... er, screen?

I can't tell you which version of themselves is the real one, online or in-person, but I can tell you which one I trust. Neither.

I actually caught one of them in a bold-face lie via foursquare update. I'm just waiting for the day the rest of them forget that they "friended" me and suddenly I'm that "certain mom who..." and "if you're talking about what I think you're talking about..." referenced in their thinly veiled chatter, because here's this thing...

I'M. NOT. PREFECT.

...and neither are you or any of them. Shhh.

Understand that I am generalizing for the sake of brevity. Not every mom in the group is like this. Not by a long-shot. But you know what they say about one bad apple... In this case, it's four or five bad apples which have left a sour taste in my mouth.

I'm not sharing this story just to vent or set myself above it all. I believe it truly has relevance far beyond some silly stay-at-home-moms in Silicon Valley, California.

Last weekend, I attended Bloggy Boot Camp in San Francisco. Bar none, it was a fantastic event hosted by the "SITS Girls". That's "SITS Girls" as in "the secret to success is support", if that gives you any indication as to what this group is all about.

There were so many brilliant takeaways from the event, but one idea expressed by multiple speakers was "Be mindful of what you put online. Everyone is watching".

We all have a bad day (or more). We all have people in our lives who chaff or bristle or just plain annoy. We all have to wait too long at the grocery store.

I'm so sorry. Tell your husband. Whisper it to your best friend. Go for a run.

Do NOT post it online for the entire world to see. Forever. There's no such thing as Google Eraser.

As bloggers and blog readers/commenters, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our brand to meticulously guard our integrity. Choose your words carefully- not just what to say and how to say it, but what it says about you.

Perhaps none of the members of my moms group may be looking to "build a brand online" or "increase their influence, stats, or SEO". They are, however, publicizing a certain version of themselves and the rest of the world is forming an opinion.

So, what do your words say about you?

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