Did you know it is “be nice on the internet” week?

I think this is SUCH an interesting topic.  We all hear horror stories of middle schoolers commuting suicide after being tormented by online bullies.  We know it’s awful, we tear up at the thought, we want to shake the offenders and say “do you see what you are doing?”

But do we always think about what these kids are doing before WE reply to an online forum?

Last week babble.com posted on it’s facebook page the question “Are you excited for your kids to go back to school this week?”

I laughed, because I had posted a similar sentiment on my personal facebook page earlier that week.  I felt “brady and I have clearly spent too much time together this vacation….when does preschool start?”

So when I read babble’s question, I clicked on the replies and chuckled along with the moms who were singing the praises of school starting.   And there where also moms who said “no, I wish we had more vacation time.” Great! After all we are all entitled to our opinions, that’s the point of these online forums, right?

But one mom’s post really stung, she said something to the affect of

“I don’t understand you people, why do you even bother having kids if you don’t want to be with them?”

You people?

Like other bullying (and yes, this is online bullying), I should have blown off the comment, but like other bullying, it made me question myself and my role as a mother.

I am sure we all experienced some type of bulling growing up, for wearing the wrong jeans, for not being athletic enough, for wearing your hair a certain way.

But now I’m being bullied by a mom, in an online support site FOR MOMS, for having a feeling about motherhood that is not 100% sunny?

Now let me stop.  None of my facebook friends said anything negative to my post on my personal facebook page and I didn’t even comment on the post that did generate the bullying comment.  But it did affect me.

Here’s the thing about online bullying.  Your digital footprint reaches millions of people.  So where as you may NEVER approach a stranger on the street and tell her she is uncool because of the jeans she is wearing.  When you make a comment about a belief system or about what some people do or do not do.  You reach MILLIONS of people with your opinion.  And your opinion might sting, or worse.

(and don’t even get me started on the horrible online comments that are racist, homophonic and demeaning all under the guise of ‘jokes’)

The internet is such a wonderful place to connect, create community, make friends and get support.  So, in honor of “be nice on the internet week,”  lets all vow to only respond to strangers we don’t know online as if we were talking to a stranger in the grocery store.

Better yet, lets respond like we are talking to one of our closest friends.