Six months ago, I wrote an essay about my son’s injury at Mt. Hood. I called it “Broken”, and you can read the original piece here. It was hard for me to write; I was going through some emotional times during the summer, and, as with any time a parent sees their child injured, his accident really shook me up. I needed to figure it out.
As with all my writing, I wrote it for me. I wasn’t out to impress anyone with his injury or our story. I didn’t intend to make my life seem harder/more painful/more dramatic or fill-in-the-blank with whatever word you would like. I was simply telling my story, my experience, and sharing how it made me feel. No judgement, no pity party, nothing but sharing my love for my son, and no evaluation or proclamation that our situation was more traumatic than any other.
My story was about healing, change, and adapting to the ‘new normal’ – something I was dealing with on several levels in my life. At the same time this happened, I was reading a blogpost by one of my favorite writer/bloggers, Katrina Kenison, who so eloquently pens the exquisite agony we feel as mothers adapting to different experiences with our children. It felt like the Universe was speaking to me, sending me ways to cope with my situation.
I ended my story with healing, with gratitude, and with thoughts of moving forward.
Today, the Huffington Post published the same story, with the title “The Phone Call No Parent Wants To Get”. Provocative title, I agree – that’s what happens when stories get published online.
Within minutes, there were dozens of comments. Surprised, I clicked over. I didn’t think it was the kind of post that would garner much commentary at all. It was just a retelling of an experience of motherhood.
What I saw was full of hate.
I fully realize that the Universe deals out trauma much more intense than what we were experiencing. No one wants to see their child – or any other child – experience pain, fear, or injury. I know that some have more than their share of heartbreak, suffering, and agony. I would never presume to understand the pain of losing a child, or watching a child suffer through any trauma.
But that’s not what my essay was about.
It’s too bad that those people who clicked on my post were “infuriated”, as one reader expressed. It’s too bad that they felt they just wasted their time reading it, or that they somehow had to insert their ego/story/opinion into mine.
Why they would waste more of their time spewing hate and vitriolic comments to me is amazing.
Kindness matters, people. Read closely:
You absolutely have the right to say what you think, just like I do. But please, think about how you say it.
This essay wasn’t a piece about politics or religion. It wasn’t a controversial topic. This was a reflection, a memoir, a snapshot of time. It was my experience, not meant to be evaluated or judged against anyone else’s. What would be the point in that? How could one possibly believe that their pain is any greater than another, that their suffering is any stronger? We never know each other’s back story.
While the internet offers an amazing opportunity for people to communicate and connect, why not do so with kindness and seek to understand and be understood? Why hide behind anonymity, freely condemning people for their ideas? Would you yell at me like that in person? Would you hunt down a book author, and plaster your words all over their home?
I’m not impressed by your hate. I’m not even agitated enough to write back and engage in any sort of debate. It’s pointless. I’m even laughing at much of your poorly written, ignorant assumptions you make about me and my son. You have no idea. You don’t know me, you don’t know my story – and to engage with you would be to proclaim that I know yours. Your assumptions make you look like an ass, and give you no credibility. Who are you to judge me?
Life is hard. We all have different challenges. In no way would I equate my son’s accident as anything even close to what many parents deal with on a daily basis.
THAT’S NOT THE POINT.
We are all on this life journey together. We all have a voice. I use mine to communicate, to understand others, and to make the world a kinder place to live in. By spewing your commentary, it makes me wonder what else you do in life that pushes us all backwards in anger, instead of forwards in compassion.
Remember, kindness matters. Maybe I could learn from you – but not if you try to teach me with your hate.
Understanding Our Backstory - A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way - mamawolfeJuly 17, 2018
[…] avoid it – or embrace it. It just is. It’s the gift of aging. Maybe all we can do is just choose kindness – simply asking someone what you can do for THEM. You never know whose story you might be […]Reply
My Inner ChickApril 18, 2015
You know what?
I received a MEAN, horrible comment (personal)
and I couldn’t help myself…I wrote back to them saying:
“I suppose you feel all save and powerful behind your computer, but I consider you a true asshole.”
I just couldn’t help myself.
Love from MN. You Rock.Reply
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Jennifer WolfeApril 18, 2015
Oh Kim, I love that about you. We need to speak our minds- silence equals agreement. Hugs.
What Happens When You Focus On Your Words? - mamawolfeApril 13, 2015
[…] when the reader pauses, looks up to wipe a tear or breaks into giggles. And we struggle with the pang of unkind comments, misunderstood intentions, and careless words flung thoughtlessly into the […]Reply
Leisa A. HammettMarch 29, 2015
Wow. Love this post. Nailed it. Thank you. Love your writing. Followed you here and on IG.Reply
Leisa A. Hammett recently posted…Taking Care of Children Means Taking Care of You
Jennifer WolfeMarch 29, 2015
Leisa, thank you so very much. I couldn’t be happier that you found me through this post- that is what keeps me writing! Looking forward to getting to know you!
DebiFebruary 28, 2015
I love this. Kindness is so important, so easy and yet so often overlooked.Reply
Debi recently posted…Bookish Bloggers: Review of “Big Little Lies”
Jennifer WolfeFebruary 28, 2015
Thanks, Debi. I love your comment – sometimes it keeps me up at night, wondering when we lose that sense of kindness. I teach middle school, and see it tip both ways at that age group. Wish we could emphasize this more as a society – as a world. Thanks for your commment!
AyseTFebruary 23, 2015
Jennifer – trolls troll! these guys did in different ways before the comfort of internet, but they always existed. i couldn’t believe to learn that these guys even convene at trolling conventions. they best way to deal with them is to ignore, which apparently disappoints them for not getting to the nerves of others. i agree they will keep looking for the most vulnerable and do so much harm. we just have to smother them with our compassion and empathy… thanks for writing with so much passion; your essays speak for so many of us who are not gifted as you are at putting words on a paper. 🙂Reply
Jennifer WolfeFebruary 23, 2015
Ayse, your words mean the world to me. Thank you for your comments, your support, your encouragement. Trolls are to be ignored-I completely agree! xoxo
Carrie PilonFebruary 22, 2015
Oh, Jenn… My 16 yo son once tossed off some words to live by: “mom. Don’t ever click on the comments for a public post. Just don’t.'” I’m working on that — and that’s generally as a reader, not a writer. As a writer it’s hard to not want to see what others think. To get that feedback the internet makes so immediate. But there are no filters. No way to stop yourself from reading the hateful words once your eyes fall on them.Reply
I too have been shocked and rattled by the vitriol, the hate, the dehumanizing obscenity of a strange’s response to … anything and everything. From somethg as benign as my winning a trivia match on Quiz- Up, to the ugliness of thread of v personal attacks in reply to a carefully crafted objection I wrote re a rape image on a baseball fan site, to posts in response to news reports re horrific events: the recent stabbing of a classmate at the university my younger daughter attends, the despicable behavior of a drunken star athlete at my alma mater. All of which items garnered cheers and jeers that defy comprehension and cause me to wonder: is this who we really are? Does the anonymity of the internet force us to look into a mirror we want to believe is twisted, but isnt?
I’d rather go with the faith that as proliferate as the trolls are, they are trolls – those twisted bitter figures from mythology – emerging from dark places to spew discord into a world that will continue to cross bridges into better fields.
Jennifer WolfeFebruary 22, 2015
Thank you , Carrie. Your words hold so much weight with me, and offer comfort not only to me, but to our humanity as a whole. Makes me think of how we teach our students to use online media, how to be savvy users and consumers, and how to think before we write. Knowing that live wins, that there are humans out there who live in negative spaces and can only crawl out in fear and pain are good reminders to us all. Xoxo
John caronnaFebruary 21, 2015
i remember when u read your article the first time.
It was heartfelt and I could relate.
I’m not wasting my time reading those negative comments.
It seems that those haters are really unhappy with their life or personal situation
Kindness would really help them but they probably wouldn’t even notice the effort
Keep making us see the beautiful things in life!!Reply
Jennifer WolfeFebruary 22, 2015
Thank you, John. Your support is so encouraging. I think we all are much less likely to let each other know when things are meaningful to us as opposed to when we react negatively. I try to comment online a lot, and to always frame my remarks with thought and gratitude.
Kathy RadiganFebruary 21, 2015
Perfectly put Jennifer!! Sorry that you had to deal with this, but so glad your beautiful words are getting a bigger audience. Love to you my sweet friend! xoReply
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Jennifer WolfeFebruary 21, 2015
Thanks, Kathy. It’s not so much what they say- it’s that people are so quick to be mean and hateful. It worries me about how our world is changing for the worse. Thank you for always supporting me- it means so much. Xoxo
Jennifer WolfeFebruary 22, 2015
Thank you, Kathy. I know as a fellow blogger you have experienced this as well- it’s hard to escape. I hope we can all model ourselves after you- you consistently leave such genuine and loving comments. Thank you.