Yes, I’ve been gone for a few days. A lot of it was to contemplate ways to make my life match my convictions and my passions better than it does now. I hope to post about some of the things I’ve decided to do over the next few days.
One of the things I did was say goodbye to a group that I’ve been heavily involved in for the last almost-five years, the forums on mothering.com.
Those of you who are not visiting from MDC, ignore the following. It will basically seem like nonsensical blather, which it perhaps is anyway. This is for those inquiring about why I “left the building” when I was a major huge poster.
First, it was NOTHING about the Pets forum that influenced my decision. I don’t object to the moderation or anything like that.
It was because I’ve seen MDC drift from a “fairness to all; tolerance to all; love to all” group to a “fairness, tolerance, and love to you as long as you believe exactly the way we’ve decided is the correct way to believe.” So anyone who professes a mainstream opinion gets roundly and searingly ridiculed, and if anyone posted something critical of, say, not vaccinating if you’re visiting Africa, they’d be tarred and feathered. There’s not even any HINT of “what you believe is OK, as long as you respect my views as well.”
I am a Christian, and part of the reason I treasured MDC was that it gave people of all faiths a place to live out their convictions by sharing responsibility toward all people and all things. It allowed me to say “See? Christian doesn’t mean anti-environmental; Christian doesn’t mean homophobic, Christian doesn’t mean Republican.” That has totally changed. Any mention of something blatantly hostile to Christianity is applauded. This is not OK. It is no more acceptable to be Christianphobic (or conservativephobic, or fill in the blank) than it is to be homophobic or anti-Semitic, but that’s the kind of community that MDC has become.
Acceptable behavior has become totally insane. There are posters who come on the boards who say “I totally lost it; I beat the crap out of my kid today; I screamed at my husband and broke stuff; support me!” and they’ll get twenty posts about how they need to be gentle to themselves and forgive themselves–and then a week later they’re posting the same thing. At no point does somebody say “I think you’re an abusive mother, and you need to stop.” Anyone who cloaks their behavior in woe-is-me and support-only gets stroked and patted endlessly. But if a grandparent gives a kid a plastic toy, the poster is told that the grandparent is being manipulative and horrible and the only appropriate response is to break all ties. The only “family” that matters is the mother-child diad; fathers, grandparents, and the rest of the network is implicitly (and often explicitly) mistrusted and criticized.
The thing that really cinched it for me was the postnatal death of a baby because one of the birth forums gave her critically irresponsible medical advice. That death should have been met with absolute horror and contrition and a sense of personal, if not legal, responsibility. I’ve been waiting for those emotions to hit in some kind of administrative decision. And it was, finally, by a decree that you can’t even use the word “doctor” anymore in the birth forums.
Does this make sense? I believe in the mission of Mothering. I believe in this whole glorious modern hippie movement. I believe in wooden storage containers and cloth diapers and extended breastfeeding and hugging trees and loving your kids and loving others. I believe in communicating that our choices DO matter, that there is a better way to be spouses and to be parents and to live on the earth. I believe in evidence-based care and savvy medical decision making. What the MDC boards have become is an UNloving, UNfamily oriented, UNcaring, UNpeaceful, weird cult of intolerance.
For years I’ve defended MDC, which is known around the web as the “granola Taliban.” But things have gotten worse and worse, not better, and I just can’t in good conscience call myself a member anymore.
Again, I hope you can read the above and realize that it has NOTHING to do with individuals. I don’t have a beef with almost anyone. It’s just a supercreepy groupthink that I am tired of getting mad and yelling at the computer about.