Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Be careful what you say on Facebook. You might offend someone.

The other day, I came across an article written by a woman who, although wistful at realizing she would never have another baby was happy enough with her life to pen an article entitled, "Twenty-five reasons I am glad I will never be pregnant again."

This is the article.  I think it's funny. 

Trigger alert - don't read it if you have struggled with getting pregnant. It's only funny if you've been through pregnancy successfully and have a healthy child.

The author has kids, and recalls some very funny, albeit embarrassing facts about her own pregnancy, which I thought were hysterical.  Third boob, anyone?

I posted the article on my facebook wall and tagged  one friend in particular who, like me, is also pregnant with her third child.  She and I have routinely complained about how much harder it is being pregnant when you are older and we joke about it in a gallows humor sort of way.  It's how we get through nine months of being overweight, swollen, and exhausted from the demands of two other kids.

I posted it publicly because many of my friends here are done having children.  They have been vocal about it.  Many have come right out and said, "I don't know how you can go through this again!"  "Oh man, stay away from me!  I can't even imagine being pregnant!"  "Uhh!!  This summer is going to suck for you!"  And so on.  I laugh it off because they're right!  They aren't trying to offend me.  They're just expressing an opinion.

I can't believe I'm pregnant again either, this summer will suck because this humidity is a soul sucking phenomena.  But, I can find the humor in it, and I am excited about having another baby.  I will survive and I'm grateful my body is still thinking it is young enough to have another baby.

All of the comments on my post were positive and people thought the article was funny.  The woman I had tagged, even wrote back and said she had started contractions that morning (not because of the article!) and she could think of even more reasons why she was looking forward to never being pregnant again.

However, one person posted something on the wall that totally blew me away.  She deleted the comment, so I don't have it verbatim, but in essence, she said:

"I know the article was supposed to be funny, but you should really think about people who can't have kids and how they feel."

Well, I was gobsmacked, as they say here. 

My first reaction was defensive, in that I never meant to offend anyone.  I certainly hadn't written the article or thought there was anything offensive about it.  I never post anything on facebook about religion or politics, which are known triggers.  I posted this article because it was something I, and many of my friends could directly relate to.  When you've been pregnant, even if it's a pregnancy you've long planned for - it's a tough experience.  Your body is no longer your own, and for ten months, (yes, I said ten) you struggle with physical and mental demands that tax even the best of us.  If you can't find humor in the situation, it will be a long, tiring ordeal.

I  didn't understand why she had to call me out publicly on the post like that.  Why not just message me privately?  Rather than seethe about it, I messaged her privately and the conversation went as follows.  I'll refer to her as FF (facebook friend, to protect her privacy.)
Me:   I don't appreciate your comment on my post because it was sharing a light hearted link with one friend in particular who also happens to be pregnant and we've joked about it a lot. I kept it open because a lot of moms I know joke about this including several who I've hung out with this month that have rolled their eyes and told me they would never want to "do this all over again." Am I supposed to be offended by this? I let it go. And quite frankly if you were offended by my shared link, you could have messaged me privately. I'm kind of pissed you wrote that. I hold back plenty of times when people post dumb shit on FB, whether it's about religion or politics or links to other stupid shit. I can't believe you felt the need to embarrass me like that
FF:  I hadn't realized it would've been embarrassing for you. I will remove it
Me:  Thanks. I'm sorry if I offended you or someone you know
FF:  You didn't offend me. I just thought I would bring light to a situation that a lot of women are dealing with, including me. Clearly it was a wrong choice
Me:  I get it. I've never dealt with infertility. I can only handle what's on my plate and try to make light of the situation I currently find myself in. It's gallows humor but that's always been my style. Did I expect to wake up at 42 at find myself pregnant? No. But if I didn't laugh about it, how would I get through the nine months. I get it. I'm lucky and I am grateful. But it doesn't mean I'm going to curtail my dark humor and cynicism out of fear of offending someone.
FF:  Got it.
Me:  Ok. We good?
FF:  This has actually been really eye opening for me. It makes me realize that people are completely clueless as to what women with infertility go through. A little empathy would've been great but now I know not to expect it.
Me:  That's a little harsh. I'm sorry you are dealing with infertility. I don't know exactly what you are going through. I hope that you are able to have children. I love mine and can't imagine what life would be like without them. I'm sorry if what I posted came across as an insensitive attack on infertile women or a lack of empathy. Sometimes we joke about the situation WE find ourselves in (ie being unexpectedly pregnant) because it how we (I) cope. It's personal, and directed at myself. Not you. Not any other woman who is not pregnant, who wishes she were pregnant or happens to be someone who just loved being pregnant and can't imagine any horror stories associated with it.
I hope you understand and I will keep in mind this conversation for future reference if I feel like complaining about being pregnant.

I never heard back from her.  I didn't pursue it further.  I've come to the conclusion that the above highlights one of the biggest problems with Facebook.  Apart from everyone knowing your business, people will only know the business you want them to know.  People who want to be offended will also be offended when you aren't sensitive to their personal business you were blissfully unaware of.  As in this case, I had no idea my friend was having trouble conceiving.  I knew she had recently gotten married, perhaps slightly later than many of us, for a number of reasons.  But I didn't know anything else.

I also don't know that I would have held off posting a funny article, and tagging a pregnant friend. 

Just because it's on Facebook, doesn't mean it's directed at you or you have to comment about it.

There's a private messaging feature for a reason.

I also think if someone does post something you think is personally offensive, how about giving them the benefit of the doubt - especially, when the only things they normally post is pictures of their kids and food.  Are those offensive too?  To people without kids?  To people on diets?  Where do you draw the line?

Anyway, I've chosen to "unfollow" her, so that nothing else I say during my pregnancy will upset her.  I'm also sick of looking at her pit bull dog rescue pictures which she posts at least five time a week. 

Not to offend pit bull owners.
Post a Comment