I am a passionate person. I’m passionate about my family, faith, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and most recently being a positive voice for GMOs and biotechnology, among many other things. With being passionate about something (especially that can be controversial), you have to deal with a lot of the “anti” people. What I mean is that I run into people who don’t believe what I do, people who do not support breastfeeding mothers, moms who feel judged by using disposable diapers, and anti-GMO activists (to name a few). It’s part of life, especially on social media, and I believe it can truly be a good thing. If anything, it makes me stop and think and often pushes me even further into what I believe and why. But where I see a lot of people go wrong, is when they’re a bit too passionate and it almost turns into bullying. I am a firm believer that we are the only ones in charge of how we feel. If I tweet out something that inspires me, something about nursing in public, cloth diapers, or pro-GMO and you feel the opposite and that I’m judging you? That is not my intention, and sorry to be blunt – but that’s all on you. It happens to me on a daily basis and I constantly see blog posts about how pro-breastfeeders look down on formula feeders and more of the like.
So when does this cross the line into bullying?
One example I want to share with you is about the “lactivists” of the social media world. What is a lactivist, you might ask? Well it’s a woman who is an activist for breastfeeding mothers. To show support for mothers to nurse in public on Twitter. These women, and yes I have done this on occasion, seek out the ignorant on Twitter usually by searching the term “breast feeding”. Technically, they go looking for ‘trouble’ and start conversations with these people about how a mom has the legal right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere she pleases. Some of the people that they seek out, tweet absolutely hurtful, awful, ridiculous things which usually entail vulgar language regarding a woman’s breast and how “nasty” it is to have it “hanging out” and that they “don’t wanna see that” and “put a blanket over your baby”. BUT where I think it can cross the line is when 3 or more lactivists chime in and “gang up” on a person. What the ‘offender’ says is usually truly is ignorant – I agree. BUT do they need to read the same thing tweeted 10 different ways? Often my response, if I choose to engage, with these people is to state out the simple truth that “it’s only a baby eating – nothing more” or pointing out the legal matter that a mom is allowed to nurse her baby no matter what they think. There’s no need to be rude when engaging and start the name-calling game with these people, to me it’s just important to tell it like it is. Usually it’s not worth wasting my mental energy and I politely “walk” away, which is why I’m not much of a lactivist on Twitter anymore. I maintain my composure, try to educate them that it’s just a mother providing a basic need for their baby and that baby has the right to eat anywhere and everywhere just like they do. To me, it’s so so so simple. But to a lot of people? They think it’s sexual, disgusting, nasty – pick your adjective. I really do think that it has potential to be positive, because a lot of the stares and comments an (especially young) mother gets when she’s nursing her baby in public, can deter her from doing so and can potentially halt breastfeeding all together – not cool.
But, is there a better way?
I tweeted a couple of weeks ago about this to see what people thought. I think most of us women like to point out to these people who tweet of their disgust to nursing in public, that it is what it is – our legal right to feed our babies. I’m more than happy to leave it at that and if they start name-calling and offering alternatives, I’ll politely respond until I realize (which it almost inevitably will be) that it’s a waste of my time and energy. I like to kill people with kindness. “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” came up twice in my tweets, and I whole-heartedly agree! I’ve also encountered a whole new species of activists online – the anti-GMOers. Once in awhile I’ll see some banter in my feed between a person for and against GMOs and I’ll pipe in my two cents. What frustrates me so much with this group is that I will state a fact, as I did in my post a couple of weeks ago, and that gets automatically dismissed, they cannot acknowledge what I just said, and I get a meme or a rat tumor thrown in my face. I would love to run into 1 person – just 1 person on “the other side” that says “wow – I actually didn’t know that, thanks for telling me“. But it’s likely to never happen. The reason why I do engage is because the other side, “my side”, needs to be heard too. We can’t get sucked into the fear-mongering vortex of lies.
You know what? I have a lot of friends and family that believe in different things, that eat organic and try to avoid GMO’s at all cost – and that’s great. I love them just the same. I love my formula feeding and disposable diapering moms too. The difference is there’s respect there. They respect where I’m coming from and can see my point of view, and I respect theirs just as much. I guess it’s just so different when it comes to strangers on Twitter!
So are we going to change the world one tweet at a time? Probably not…but it’s something I’ll still probably always do in moderation!